2nd cruise boat will be added to Canal Basin in Medina next year

Photo by Tom Rivers: Brian Hellner, captain of the North Star Cruises, is shown on July 14 when he took people on a ride on his 20-foot-long pontoon boat. He leases dock space from the village in the Canal Basin.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 26 October 2023 at 11:56 am

MEDINA – A second cruise boat will be coming to Medina’s Canal Basin next year and this one will be double the size as the pontoon boat that debuted this year.

Brian Hellner will be captain of both boats for the North Star Cruises. He srtated offering boat rides on a 20-foot-long pontoon boat in July. He did 30 trips in the first year with customers from 10 states, and a family from Paris, France.

His bigger boat will be a 40-foot-long cabin cruiser that can do longer rides with a bathroom on the boat.

The Village Board on Monday agreed to give him a dedicated spot at the basin at $125 a month, the same rate he pays for the smaller boat. His pontoon boat is at one of the finger docks. The bigger boat will be tied up along the basin wall behind the former NAPA building.

Hellner is a licensed charter captain the past 12 years and an avid boater the past 50 years. He also is a former vice president of the Buffalo Maritime Center. He lives in Newfane but has been to Medina frequently to see his son, Rollin, who lives in Medina and is a real estate developer.

Hellner said he is looking to partner with local businesses to promote the boat rides and services and products at other sites in Medina.

He expects to have both boats in the canal in May when the navigational season gets started on the historic waterway.

“I learned a lot in the first year,” Hellner said. “This other boat will give a different experience. We’ll be able to go for longer boat rides.”