Making waves with Will Cole of Mahi Mahi Cruises and Charters in Salem.
It’s nearly impossible to miss the 55-foot festively colored boat cruising around Salem Sound in the cool October breeze. Sharing the harbor with lobstermen and migrating birds is quite different than the busy boating atmosphere of the popular summer cruises, and the costumed crew and passengers are no exception. Mahi Mahi Cruises and Charters is in its sixth season, and owner Will Cole is gearing up for Halloween aboard the Finback—gorillas, chickens, and Claymation characters welcome.
What was your inspiration for Mahi Mahi Cruises and Charters? I just knew I wasn’t going to work in a conventional setting for the rest of my life. I grew up on the water in Gloucester, so it just feels right to get on a boat and have a beer and a burger and interact with new people every day.
What should customers expect on one of the fall cruises? The fall schedule is made up of the lighthouse cruises and the Haunted Happenings cruises, so the focus is on the haunted aspects of Salem Sound. The weather is cooler and we get to turn the heaters on and enclose the boat and serve weather-appropriate drinks like “Grandma’s Spiked Hot Apple Cider.” It’s fun to be in that atmosphere out on the water without a single soul around.
Where do you get all of the Halloween facts for the narrated cruises? We mostly take our information from accounts of pirates or haunted tales of Salem’s past and the five historic lighthouses in the area. But we try to focus more on the maritime aspect of Halloween to keep our cruises different from all of the land tours around the city. In general, we get a lot of tales from the old timers who come on the cruises and share their stories with us, so the narration is always evolving.
Do people usually dress up for the Haunted Happenings cruises? Absolutely! We all dress up for the last few weeks of the season in anything from gorilla suits to chicken suits to keep the mood festive and lighthearted. We have a woman who is always in costume come out and narrate our Haunted Happenings cruises. Our customers also get into the spirit and dress up closer to the end of October.
What’s the craziest costume you’ve seen? We get a lot of fun costumes on board, but my favorite one was when someone showed up in a head-to-toe Gumby suit. That was awesome.