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Fort Ti ferry ownership resolved

SHOREHAM — Cornwall resident Jack Doyle has secured ownership of the historic Fort Ticonderoga Ferry and is targeting May 8 or 9 to return the ferry to service after a more than year-long hiatus.

Doyle on Monday said he’s hired around half the crew members he needs, with additional interviews to unfold during the coming week. He added customers will note ticket price increases that reflect inflation, increased wages and the recent surge in gasoline prices.

The ferry, which transports vehicles and people across Lake Champlain between Shoreham, Vt., and Ticonderoga, N.Y., remained inactive last year as a result of an ill-fated sale of the business by longtime owner Michael Matot to an entity known as “1759 Ltd.,” aka Neil Jensen of Clifton Park, N.Y. According to court documents, 1759 Ltd. finalized a deal to buy the business from Matot April 14, 2021, for $600,000. The assets included the tugboat, barge, cable, ferry equipment and two related, small pieces of non-contiguous land in Shoreham.

But 1759 Ltd. failed to meet its monthly payback schedule, arguing it was unable to do so because it wasn’t provided key mentorship to master the operation, according to court records.

Doyle came onto the scene late last fall offering to buy the note on the ferry and put the boat back into circulation for the 2022 season. Doyle is a 1978 Middlebury College graduate, a retired Wall Street investor and owner of Hibernia Farm in Cornwall.

Doyle entered into federal court-directed mediation sessions with 1759 Ltd. officials earlier this month that culminated in him officially acquiring the ferry, he reported on Monday.

The ferry consists of a tug and cable-driven barge that since 1759 has been transporting travelers across Lake Champlain between Ticonderoga, N.Y., and Larrabee’s Point in Shoreham. It’s a seasonal operation that generally runs from the beginning of May until the end of October, with seven-minute daytime crossings during “all but the most severe weather,” according to fortiferry.com.

Doyle said he’ll be implementing the first Fort Ti Ferry ticket increases in a decade. A round-trip ticket will cost $20, up from $18, though one-way service will remain at $12. And Doyle is introducing a new charge that he said is common among most other ferry services: A fee for passengers. So there will be the ticket price — which covers the vehicle and its driver — and an additional fee of $4 per adult passenger, $3 for seniors and $2 per child ages 6-12. Children younger than 6 will ride for free.

Doyle promised discounts for clergy, first responders, U.S. military personnel and local sports teams traveling back and forth across the lake. He promised 10% of his profits would go to support school programs in Shoreham and Ticonderoga.

“The business model is fairly simple,” Doyle said. “I think it will work, and we’ll see.”

Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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