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Many thanks to the Holland Sentinel for a nice write up on our operation here!

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SAUGATUCK — This summer, a South Haven family will fulfill its shared dream of bringing an authentic schooner to Saugatuck’s Red Dock.

“Saugatuck is just a really awesome boating destination,” said co-owner Tim Morris. “In my former life, I had a family sailboat there. Instead of camping, we went boating. It’s always been a comfortable fit.”

Morris and his daughter, Erin, have been in the charter business for 10 years.

“She had just come back from the East Coast where she worked on a really massive schooner,” Morris said. “She came back to South Haven and said, ‘Dad, we should try to start a little sailing business.’ At the time, I had another business I was fairly busy with — we own a gallery in downtown South Haven — but we decided to try it.”

That company, Sailing South Haven, quickly grew.

“We made sure we had the right boat and the right location downtown and we started pretty quietly,” Morris said. “We weren’t on the internet. We did it the old fashioned way. But after a couple of years, people seemed to really like the way Erin was doing things as captain and we hired help for her. Over the years, we noticed more and more repeat customers.”

The time had come to move online.

“My son is really great with websites, and he supported us by building one,” Morris said. “Then, three years ago, we went to online booking, so you can make a reservation anywhere. And then, not by accident or by some grand plan, we became the busiest sailing charter in South Haven — aside from the nonprofit museum, which has a much bigger boat.”

Despite the size of the business, Sailing South Haven offers a personalized experience.

“We’ve been doing this six people at a time,” he said. “People seem to like the casual, low-key way we handle it. We treat it like your time, rather than your time on someone else’s boat. Last year, we did more than 325 trips during the season. The boat just never stops.”

The recent purchase of the Schooner Serenity led to Sailing Saugatuck. According to Morris, it was a natural expansion.

“People seem to love that trip up and down the river in Saugatuck with all the beautiful homes,” he said. “There’s also wildlife in the middle of the lake. Between the river and the lake and how cool Saugatuck is, it felt like a good fit.”

The schooner is currently in Virginia, but will be moved to Michigan this spring.

“Any boat this size has to be approved and regulated by the U.S. Coast Guard,” Morris said. “It’s about 65 feet, which includes the nose. It has a lot of the warmth we’re looking for. It has a lot of varnished wood. And they’ve approved it every year. It’s been updated and it’s in great condition. We’re completely proud to be able to own it.”

The Schooner Serenity will run in Saugatuck until September and can carry up to 29 passengers. Daytime trips are $39 per person and sunset trips are $49 per person — though discounts are available for children.