If you’ve ever taken a walk along the Washington Waterfront, you’ve noticed the large vessel that is the Belle of Washington. John Butler, Jr. noticed the largest lady in harbor. During each walk, he’d stop and admire her and say, “I want to see that boat lit up as often as possible, and I want to turn that boat into the best hostess on the water.”
It just so happened that John was in the market for a boat to run around on the Pamlico, but he hadn’t initially bargained for the Belle. “I blame David Norwood at United Yacht Sales,” John laughs. John had called David about another listing, but asked his opinion on the Belle. “He not only tolerated my crazy idea, but helped our dream become a reality!” Prior to this purchase, John and his partner had never owned a boat.
John wanted a new learning experience, and he definitely got that! “From loans and insurance, to cultivating the right crew and navigating the North Carolina Alcoholic Beverage Control laws, we’ve faced many obstacles. But we think Washington has the nicest people in the world, and we’re lucky enough to have received some good advice and the warmest of welcomes that has helped us overcome those obstacles.”
As a small business owner in Washington, John loves being able to contribute to the local economy through offering locals jobs, drawing community members to the downtown area and giving people a reason to get on the Pamlico and connect with the river. “I love seeing people smile and enjoy themselves. If I can do that, I feel like I’ve really done something. It’s not really about the boat. It’s about the amazing people we meet on the boat and along the way. We are lucky enough to share in their moments and experiences. We’re not the experience, but we help make it happen,” John remarked.
Currently, the Belle is Washington’s premiere dinner cruise and event vessel. They offer ticketed cruises, private charters and the perfect place to hold special events on the water. Along the way, John and his partner have learned the importance of building relationship with other businesses in Washington. “It’s not just about one business succeeding; it’s about every business succeeding.”
In the future, John hopes to see the Belle as fixture in Washington. He wants to offer multiple weekend cruises which will draw more people to Washington to eat, shop, and enjoy spending time in Washington. Perhaps he’ll even be able to provide other additional ways to get people on the water and enjoying one of the most unique waterways on the East Coast.
To learn more about the Belle of Washington and what she has to offer, check out her Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/belleofwashington.