Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Posts tagged ‘William Page’

Captain Bill Calmly Cruises Through Life

Captain Bill at wheel

Captain Bill takes the wheel of the Lorena Sternwheeler.

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.

Captain - child

That’s Bill on the right with a diving helmet his dad found in a Pittsburgh River.

   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.

Captain - Aquatics Unlimited

Aquatics Unlimited in Zanesville was one of his first business ventures.

   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.

Captain - Swimming Pool

This swimming pool in Nashville, Tennessee was the last pool he constructed.

   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.

Captain Diving

Giving scuba diving lessons was something Bill truly enjoyed.

   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.

Captain - Manatee

Swimming with the manatee was a favorite Florida pastime.

   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.

Captain Silver Suit 2

He was honored to wear the Silver Suit of Jacques Cousteau.

   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.

Captain - Video Recorder

Bill still has the underwater video recorder that he used quite often.

   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.”

Captain - Yacht

Sailing his charter yacht Challenge led to many exciting trips in the Caribbean.

   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.

Captain and Becky

Bill and his wife, Becky, share a passion for the waterways.

   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.

Lorena Paddlewheel

Today Bill is Captain of the Lorena on the Muskingum River.

   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.

Captain - Queen of the Lake II

His next project is to direct the restoration of the Queen of the Lake III at Buckeye Lake.

   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.

Captain at home

The Captain’s home office is filled with nautical memorabilia.

   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.”

~Jacques Cousteau

Historic Lorena Sternwheeler Cruises the Muskingum River

Lorena On the River (2)

The Lorena Sternwheeler cruises up the Muskingum River.

Drift along the Muskingum River on the Lorena Sternwheeler, a piece of Muskingum County history. Sit back and relax as you take a break from the summer heat while listening to the sounds of the old paddlewheel and watching the world drift by.

Lorena Boarding Station

Boarding the sternwheeler takes place in Zane’s Landing Park in Zanesville.

   Walk the gangway to the sternwheeler at Zane’s Landing Park in Zanesville to start your smooth adventure on the Historic Muskingum River Water Trail. Lorena has a fresh coat of shiny white paint with red trim this year so looks extra special. She can carry seventy-five passengers, as they cruise down the same river that those early settlers traveled.

Mrs. Captain Bill

The Captain’s wife, Becky, serves as Social Director and greets visitors as they board.

   Captain Bill Page and his wife Becky, the social director, will greet you as you board ship. They’ll make sure you enjoy the cruise and are treated as special guests. Captain Bill earned his captain’s license when he had a marina in Florida and two scuba diving centers.

Captain Bill at wheel

Lorena Captain Bill has years of experience behind the wheel of a boat.

   After retirement, he and Becky returned to his hometown of Zanesville, where they were searching for a Captain for their sternwheeler. With a little coaxing, Captain Bill agreed to fill that position until they found someone else. That was fifteen years ago! He’s had 35 years of experience as Captain so you’re in good hands on the Lorena.

Lorena - Original at Putnam Landing

The original Lorena in 1800s is shown here at Putnam Landing.

   The original Lorena was launched on the Muskingum River in 1895 The sternwheeler was named for a love song, “Lorena”, written during the Civil War era by a Zanesville minister. It carried freight and passengers from Zanesville to Pittsburgh and back. Her docking place was at the foot of the canal on the north bank of the Muskingum River just below the Sixth Street Bridge.

   The round trip to Pittsburgh and back took about a week. They usually docked at Pittsburgh for two days to let passengers conduct any business they had on shore. There were even staterooms on board if they chose to stay there, rather than at lodging in town.

   No one seems to be certain what happened to the original Lorena. But those original boats were coal-driven and the boilers on many of them could not handle the switch to diesel.

Lorena Shore Scene

Scenes along the river add to the enjoyment of the trip.

   In 1972, Zanesville decided to search for a paddle wheeler to bring to the Zane’s Trace Commemoration on June 17-19. Their search led them to the Bryce M. located in Arkansas, where it had been used as a tugboat on the Arkansas River. It was renovated to look as close as possible like those boats that traveled the Muskingum in the early 1900s.

Lorena Paddlewheel

Sounds of the paddlewheel follow the Lorena on the river.

   This seemed to be a good promotion for the beautiful Muskingum River, Ohio’s largest inland waterway. Plus it would give area residents and visiting tourists a chance to take a leisurely hour ride on the river at a reasonable charge on the $100,000 sternwheeler.

   In order to arrive in Zanesville, the Lorena had to remove its wheelhouse to pass under the low bridge at McConnelsville, and some other low cables along the way. Though a little late, the Lorena did arrive on Saturday, when it began giving rides on the Muskingum River.

Lorena - Nearly Capsized January '78

This newspaper clipping shows the Lorena nearly capsized during a winter storm in 1978.

   It received worldwide coverage during the Blizzard of ’78 when it was within a quarter-inch of capsizing. This was one of the worst winter storms to hit Ohio in the 20th Century. With 13 inches of snow and winds over 50 mph, temperatures reached sub-zero wind chill. No wonder the Lorena had problems.

Lorena Muskingum River

The Muskingum River stretches from Coshocton to Marietta through a series of locks and dams.

   Cruises last about an hour and travel a three-mile stretch of the Muskingum River. Captain Bill reports that he has seen many varieties of fish and birds, some that he only thought would be in Florida. His sense of humor was evident when he smiled and said, “I haven’t seen an alligator, but I’m still looking.”

Lorena Driver

Kids of all ages enjoy “Steer the Boat Day” with help from Captain Bill.

   There are many events throughout August that you and your family are certain to enjoy. Coupons are being given for various other area attractions when you ride the Lorena. For example: “Libraries Rock” gives you a coupon for a free book at the Muskingum County Library.  On “Steer the Boat Day”, you can become Captain and steer the boat for a short time.  “A Tasty Cruise” provides a bag of Conn’s potato chips to each guest.

   It’s also available for lunch and dinner cruises, birthday and anniversary parties, or just to take your group for a ride down the river.  Meals are provided by Classic Fare Catering, who always provide tasty dishes.

   Parking is free and close to the sternwheeler entrance. Check out their schedule and see when you might be able to enjoy a relaxing ride down the Muskingum River.

The Lorena is docked in Zane’s Landing Park in Zanesville. Exit I-70 and head east a block and turn right onto Market Street. Take Market Street nearly to the end and look for the park entrance on the right-hand side. You’ll be ready to enjoy a ride on the Muskingum River.

 

 

 

 

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