July 27, 2013
Henry McDoniel’s eyes lit up he as peered out of the water taxi onto the glistening water of Frisco Bay on Saturday morning.
It was the 3-year-old’s first time on a boat. He sat secured snuggly in a bright blue life jacket between his mother and older brother, fascinated and content as he skimmed over the lake toward the Dillon Marina.
The taxi drifted by kayakers and stand-up paddle boarders. Then the vessel exited the bay, revealing dramatic scenes of mountain peaks, tree-covered islands and wildlife.
“Look over there, up in the tree,” the captain pointed. After the passengers spent a few seconds searching, a bald eagle came into view. The stately bird ascended from its perch and soared through the sky.
It was just another day at the office for captain Jason Brown, who works for Lake Dillon Water Taxi & Charters.
He said water taxi customers get a different perspective from those traveling on bike paths or roads.
“You get more of an experience with views from different angles of the lake, wildlife and the mountains,” Brown said.
The captain said a love for boats, water and people led him to his current job. It’s taught him a lot about the area, he said. “I’m a people person, I like to talk and help people out and let them know about the history.”
There’s rarely a dull moment being on the lake with a full boat of people for most of the day, he said. Last year the boat captain saw three bull moose swimming in the reservoir.
“It’s unusual to see three moose together, let alone in the water,” he said.
Brown was in the right place at the right time on Friday. After hearing a commotion he realized there was a disoriented dog in the water that needed help — and Brown snapped into action.
“I got the bow of the boat up to the dog. You could tell it was exhausted,” he said. “He was almost about to drown. His head kept going under water and he was gasping for air.”
With the help of a customer, Brown got the dog onto his boat and brought him safely back to a frightened but thankful owner.
“She gave me a hug and started crying,” Brown said.
Being hero for a day was unexpected for Brown. But he and Dillon water taxi owner Mike Russo said they pride themselves most on offering families memorable experiences every day.
“I think there’s a great need for a low-cost way to be able to jump on a boat and see the lake,” Russo said. The water taxi serves as a more affordable way for families to enjoy the sites without having to own or rent a boat, he said.
Water taxi employees also pride themselves on offering a multi-generation activity in Summit County.
“If you think about it, there’s not a whole lot of things to do in Summit County that can involve kids, parents and grandparents,” Russo said. “But we are great for that. Everybody can hop on.”
The Water Taxi is in its eighth year of operation on the Dillon Reservoir.
The taxi picks up at the “A” dock at the Frisco Bay Marina and at the courtesy dock near the boat ramp in Dillon. Fares are $10 for adults and children 12 and older, and $8 for children 3 to 11 for a one-way trip. It’s an extra $1 for each bike or child carrier, and children 2 and younger are free. The taxi runs continuously from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends. Charter taxi service is also available.
Call (970) 486-0250 or visit the Lake Dillon Water Taxi & Charters website, http://www.dillontaxi.com, for more information.