Red Deer Advocate
The Mermaid will churn the waters again next summer — only this time on Gull Lake.
The large, paddlewheel-style boat that’s been part of Sylvan Lake’s history for the past 30 years is being transported to Gull Lake by its new owner.
Red Deer resident Mark Linton said he saw the familiar red-and-white vessel sitting in dry dock for sale and something about it tweaked his nostalgic interest.
“It’s been around as long as I can remember,” said Linton, who remembers the 14-foot-wide-by-48-feet-long boat being a fixture of Sylvan Lake since his youth in the early 1980s. “That’s why I decided to buy the boat, I wanted to preserve it,” said Linton, who paid $60,000 for it.
“I’m also a real Disney fan,” he added, referring to the Mark Twain paddle-wheel steamship that’s a feature attraction at Disneyland.
Linton’s wife convinced him to take his first Disney holiday while he was recovering from cancer treatments. Even though his cancer has been in remission for the past six years, he and his family have been back to the feel-good theme park multiple times since.
The owner of the DJ company On the Mark sees a kind of crossover appeal in running a dinner/dance boat on Gull Lake as well. “This will give me something to do seven days a week,” during summer months, said Linton, who’s already planning theme trips such as ice cream Sundays and pirate cruises.
He intends to renovate the boat’s interior this fall to wood panelling from its current carpeted pink and sea-foam green “’80s look.”
The new venture is a family affair, said Linton, who added his 10- and 13-year-old sons will be involved as hors d’oeuvres servers on the gas-powered vessel, and his wife will make a few appearances.
Linton will also train a few more people to captain the large boat with its open second-storey deck.
While the family has a summer place on Gull Lake, Linton saw no choice but to move the The Mermaid up to Parkland Beach on the north side of the lake. With changes made to the Sylvan Lake marina, there’s no easy-access docking for a boat as large as The Mermaid, he said, noting Sylvan Lake’s other tourist boat, The Zoo Cruise, is also for sale for the same reason.
Linton plans to see how much interest there is in cruises and wedding receptions on the vessel before investing in a second boat. But he believes tourism in the Gull Lake “was four times busier this summer from last year,” and will only get busier.
So far, a Facebook/mermaidcruises page he started has been getting a lot of hits.
Linton said there’s nothing like seeing a large red-and-white paddlewheeler on the lake to draw public interest — the boat really becomes its own floating billboard.