The Family Behind the W.W. Durant

Double Take

Have you ever seen a boat frozen into the lake in the middle of winter? You might figure someone waited a little too long to get their boat out of the water before the freezing temperatures hit. What if I told you it wasn't a mistake? What if I also told you it was run as a bar and restaurant frozen right there in the lake? The W.W. Durant Winter Boat is just one of the many endeavors the ambitious and successful Pohl family takes on.

The Pohl Family — Dean, Donna, Jim, and Rachel — work hard to make Raquette Lake Navigation the success it has become.

WW Durant Ice Boat at Night
WW Durant Ice Boat at Night

The Family Behind it All

The Patriarch

Dean Pohl got his start with his own contracting and construction business, Pohl Construction, in 1974. This background helped Dean with the construction of the W.W. Durant during the winters of 1990 and 1991. Today, he is still in charge of all of the maintenance of the boat as well as being the Captain! A self-proclaimed history buff, Dean has a unique historical spiel each time the boat sails. One of his many duties on board includes Marriage Officiant. To date, Dean has married over 300 couples.

The Matriarch

Donna Pohl is the "Major Domo" of this family-run business. In other words, she runs the show! Her responsibilities include filling seats on the boat for the many different cruises they offer, as well as scheduling private charters such as weddings. She keeps everything running smoothly. The W.W. Durant cruises from June to October and Donna is there training staff, conducting inspections of the dining room, helping guests to board, and expediting service from the kitchen. Donna understand the importance of advertising and social media so she also spends a lot of her time updating their website and managing their social networking posts, as well as distributing brochures and placing ads in local newspapers.

Executive Chef

Running the kitchen out of the small galley is Dean and Donna's son Jim. After receiving training aboard the Durant, he went on to attend the Culinary Institute of America and return as the ship's Executive Chef. He creates all of the menus for the many different cruises that are offered. He works closely with his sister Rachel to create wine and beer pairing menus. On top of all of his responsibilities as the Executive Chef, Jim also bottles and sells his own signature salad dressings.

Beverage Manager and Events coordinator

Dean and Donna's daughter Rachel also works aboard the W.W. Durant as the Beverage Manager and Special Events Coordinator. An experienced bartender with extensive knowledge, Rachel has tended bars locally at places such as the Copperfield Inn, but has also worked as far away as Alaska. She plans the bar menu alongside her brother's food menus. She is also the founder of Rachel's Adirondack Specialty Products, introducing her first product, Rachel's Elixir, in 2012. Since then, her business has been expanding throughout New York and Massachusetts.

WW Durant
WW Durant

W.W. Durant

The W.W. Durant is a unique experience with many different offerings. Their cruise season runs from June to October, with tons of different options. They offer daily lunch and dinner cruises. On Wednesdays they have a pizza lunch cruise for the kids. Their Sunday Brunch cruise is also a favorite. Throughout their season they also hold many specialty cruises including Murder Mysteries, Sip and Paints, and their Annual Jimmy Buffet Cruise! Don't miss out on Saturday nights in July and August when they host their Moonlight Cruises with live music. They also charter private excursions for weddings and other events. 

The Caboose Gift Shop
The Caboose Gift Shop

Full plates

On top of all of this, the Pohl's still have time for other entrepreneurial ventures, such as the housekeeping cottage they rent out: Birch Cottage. They also run The Caboose, a gift shop located at the dock where they sell locally made products (including Rachel's Exilir and Jim's Dressings) and souvenirs!

Dean Pohl Captain
Dean Pohl Captain

Book your cruise on the W.W. Durant for next summer, or take a snowmobile ride and stop by the Ice Boat - it is an experience like no other!  And don't forget your lodging reservations! 

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