Water taxi/shuttle service offers transportation from Fenwick Is. to Assateague
(May 31, 2019) After a year of testing the waters and receiving feedback on its product, OC Bay Hopper, a water transportation service, hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony with the Ocean City Chamber of Commerce, last Thursday.
OC Bay Hopper, co-owned by brothers Steve and Dave Butz, Adam Douglass and Jeff Mason, first came up with the idea last February because they wanted to do something that involved the water and Ocean City.
“We knew we wanted to do something that could eventually become a scalable business for us and we all have water experience,” Dave Butz said. “We all love the water and we lived down here at the beach, so we figured let’s put together an idea that incorporates all of those loves and passions.”
OC Bay Hopper has two water taxi boats and four captains available, as all four co-owners are registered Coast Guard licensed master captains. The boats are licensed to carry 16 people at a time.
The service provides transportation from as far north as Harpoon Hanna’s in Fenwick Island, all the way down to Assateague Island.
There are two primary services for the operation: a water taxi and a shuttle. However, the options are interchangeable as deemed needed by the owners and demand from the customers.
“Some people come up to us and say, ‘You’re just like Uber’ and the answer is yes,” Butz said. “Then some people will be like, ‘Hey you’re like a shuttle system like Baltimore’s water taxi,’ and the answer is [also] yes. The idea is that we will take you, like a taxi, anywhere you want to go along the bay side.
“There’s 24 bars and restaurants that are water accessible that love to see us come in, and then there’s places like Assateague Island that we can just go down and land and people spend the day [there],” he continued. “The second piece of it then is like Uber on demand water taxis just like a regular taxi.”
Restaurants that the service can assess by bayside include Harpoon Hanna’s in Fenwick; Seacrets, Fish Tales, Tailchasers, Lazy Lizard, Fager’s Island, M.R. Ducks, The Angler, Marina Deck and Macky’s Bayside in Ocean City; and Sunset Grille, Mad Fish and Haborside in West Ocean City.
There are several activities and options that can be offered while taking a ride on OC Bay Hopper. For instance, there are opportunities to watch fireworks go off during holidays and Sundays during Sundaes in the Park at Northside Park on 125th Street.
The service also offers guides to crabbing and other water related experiences.
“A lot of the folks coming to Ocean City from the mainland like Pittsburgh, Ohio … they love crabs but they’ve never caught a crab,” Butz said. “So we give them that experience as well.”
During Memorial Day weekend, the company ran around 300 trips throughout the resort. The most popular destination was, unsurprisingly, Seacrets on 49th Street.
“Everyone wanted to go to Seacrets,” Butz said. “That’s been our number one destination so far.”
Beyond the taxi and shuttle services the OC Bay Hopper provides for the bayside of the resort, the operation also has a coastline option with a 50-foot sailing catamaran called Sail Alyosha docked in West Ocean City, which is available for oceanside cruises and sightseeing.
“The company has a 50-foot sailing catamaran that has sailed around the world,” Butz said. “My brother, Steve, just completed a circumnavigation going around the world. So you get to go on that boat and he can share some stories about when he was going around the world, or you can just go and have a great evening sailing along the Atlantic Coast.”
The sailboat allows guests to choose between sighting-seeing, a romantic getaway or even lessons on how to sail themselves.
“If you want to learn how to sail, you can pick that kind of experience as well,” Butz said. “You’ll get out there and get to hoist the sails and learn about the trimming of the sails and mechanics about sailing.”
An app of the transportation service for on iOS Androids and iPhones are available on Google and Apple stores, respectively.
Departure times are listed on an odd-even time schedule. Even departures take place at the 118th Street OC Bay Hopper Kiosk at noon, 2 p.m., 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. Odd departures take place at 1 p.m., 3 p.m., 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Pick up for the downtown/Boardwalk location is located on the pier at the Island Village at Wilde Dawgs on Lost Lady Beach adjacent to Sunset Park.
Rates for the services vary by operation. To use the shuttle option costs $15 per person for a one-time rate or $25 to ride all day.
The on-demand taxi rates require a four-person minimum per ride and costs $15 between 12-4 p.m., $20 between 4-8 p.m. and $25 from 8 p.m. to 12 a.m. Youth 14 and under ride at a 30-percent discount.
Private trips are available and costs $20 per trip, which means the boat will not pick up additional passengers during the ride. Group rates are also available for a four-hour minimum ride with a limit of 16 people per ride.
Rates vary from $400 for 12-4 p.m., $600 from 4-8 p.m., $600 from 8 p.m. to 12 a.m. or $1,500 for the entire day.
For more information about the shuttle or taxi services, visit www.ocbayhopper.com or call 410-777-5145. For more information about Sailboat Alyosha call 410-376-5454.