When you’ve been a captain for thirty-five years, navigating the waters is something you do with ease no matter the situation. William Page, called Captain Bill by those who know him best, has surrounded himself with life on or near the water for most of his life.
Growing up in Zanesville, he lived close to the Muskingum River and had many daring adventures there as a child while picking up coal along the railroad tracks. Riding a log jam down the river while fishing was one escapade that got him in trouble. Often he and his cousins would climb up under the bridges to catch pigeons – they wanted a carrier pigeon.
Bill worked for Anchor Hocking Glass for 25 years as an engineering draftsman and mold maker. But the water was calling him and he opened Aquatics Unlimited in Zanesville. Here he designed and built swimming pools and spas, and taught scuba diving.
Because of his diving abilities, he was a reserve deputy sheriff in Perry and Muskingum Counties. There he was active doing search and recovery dive team training and rescue missions.
Then he took a vacation and fell in love with the waters of Florida. Soon he moved there, where he owned Knox Bait House Marina. When Bill decides to tackle a project, his persistence has always paid off. Since he had been a commercial diver, he decided to open a scuba diving center where he gave lessons on the Crystal River.
He set up a manatee training program at Crystal River because of their abundance at that location. His training program received international recognition. He fell in love with the manatees and enjoyed teaching people how to interact with these large aquatic mammals, who are very friendly when properly treated.
While managing the Port Paradise Dive Center, he was in charge of everything from boat and diving equipment rentals to training divers and giving tours. This is where he was lucky enough to wear one of the famous silver suits of Jacques Cousteau who said, “The best way to observe a fish is to become one.” Bill understood how to do that.
While in Florida, Bill’s life was filled with excitement. He worked at Walt Disney World with the dolphins, was part of the support team for a simulator space capsule with NASA, and directed scuba diving programs at the University of Florida and Bay Point Dive Center.
There’s a special experience of freedom while diving. The feeling of weightlessness in the water and in the space capsule were pure delights for Bill. One special pleasure was diving to view all the colorful fish, especially at night when some give off a fluorescent glow. “We dive not to escape life but for life not to escape us.”
In Florida, he received his captain’s license and took people on cruises from Ft. Lauderdale to the Caribbean. For three years he captained The Challenge, a 52′ charter sailing yacht.
An old friend from Zanesville, Dorothy Montgomery, pulled some strings and asked him if he would come back and temporarily captain the Lorena. He had never operated a sternwheeler before but decided to accept the challenge. That was fifteen years ago.
Since then Captain Bill and his wife “Admiral” Becky, social director on the Lorena, have enjoyed the Muskingum River and the people who ride along with them. They hope to be back on board by the end of May each year.
While steering the Lorena, he notices his environment. In the sky, he sees many different birds, eagles and an occasional seagull. In the water, herring and other fish make themselves known but he quipped, “I haven’t seen an alligator, but I’m looking.”
In his spare time, Bill drives tour buses and school buses for West Muskingum. He fills every hour of the day. If he would have one bit of advice for young people, it would be, “Education. Get it all.”
Everyone has dreams and Bill is no exception. One dive he would still like to make is off the coast of Australia in the Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest coral reef system.
His next project is fairly close to home as he has been asked to be project manager at Buckeye Lake as they complete the final steps on the restoration of Queen of the Lake III.
There’s no doubt that Bill and Becky enjoy life to the fullest these days. Bill enjoys playing keyboard, guitar and accordion but never took a lesson. He’s one of those true musicians that play by ear. Today he’s perfectly happy to just relax in their beautiful home near Zanesville.
Bill has seen things under the water that most have never seen. Memories float to the surface when he speaks of his adventures.
“The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonders forever.”