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New scenic cruise operation is for the birds

Marie Havenga • Oct 26, 2015 at 8:49 PM

Blue Water Cruises offers scenic cruises on Lake Michigan, Spring Lake and the Grand River.

There's no fishing aboard the 36-foot Carver named Parrot Bay, just, as you guessed it, two African grey parrots named Tiki and Toby; along with Dieselle, a friendly umbrella cockatoo.

“We've both been boaters all our lives,” Kim said. “When we got married (2001), we continued boating.”

They frequently took friends and family members out for rides, so they decided to get their master captain's licenses five years ago and launch a business.

“We do scenic pleasure cruises, we don't do fishing,” Kim said. “We go wherever people want to go.”

Minimum cruise time from their Keenan Marina-based slip is two hours, unless Parrot Bay is moored along the Grand Haven wall. Then, minimum cruise time is one hour for a minimum of four people.

“Nothing against fishing, but we have parrots on board and there are plenty of other options for fishing charters,” Kim said. “We do something a little different than what the other guys do. We don't want to be in competition with them.”

Kim said she's had birds most of her adult life, so combining those two passions was a natural.

“They're just funny,” she said of her birds. “They talk for attention. If you're standing next to them and they don't need to get your attention, they won't talk. They talk in our voices, and even laugh and sneeze like us.”

While Toby and Tiki remain in their cages on the boat's stern, Kim and Paul often take Dieselle for a stroll on the boardwalk where she meets and greets potential customers.

They adopted Dieselle, a rescue bird, after their other pet cockatoo of 10 years, Harley, died last December.

“The reality is, she rescued us because we had broken hearts over losing Harley,” Kim said. “She's melted our hearts and worked her way into our family."

As cruise director, Dieselle's duties are to entertain, according to Kim.

“She gets a lot of attention and people always want their picture taken with her,” she said. “Our passengers interact more with Dieselle because she is out. I think the birds add a lot of personality to the cruises, especially with Dieselle because she's so much fun. She interacts with passengers. They can hold and pet her.”

Cruises are available weekends and weeknights by appointment. If Parrot Bay is moored along the Grand Haven wall, the vessel is available for immediate departure.

Visit www.cruiselakemichigan.com for more information or to make a reservation.

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