Paddle wheeler to set sail soon

Paddle Wheel boat
The Pickwick Belle arrived in Bradenton Beach Friday. - Joe Hendricks | Sun

BRADENTON BEACH – The Bradenton Beach Marina now has a bona fide 65-foot paddle wheeler in its fleet.

“It’s a real paddle wheel boat. It’s propelled by the paddles. We just moved it 1,100 miles from Tennessee right here to the marina. It got here on Friday,” Marina President Mike Bazzy said of the recently purchased Pickwick Belle, which formerly did business out of the Port of Pickwick Dam, Tenn.

Paddle wheel boat
– Joe Hendricks | Sun

The ship will soon be renamed the Anna Maria Princess.

“We’re going to be using it for lunch and dinner cruises, special event cruises, weddings and other get-togethers. We’re going to have live music every time we go out. It’s probably going to start operating the second week of December, and it’ll hold up to 149 people. Nobody’s doing a dinner cruise in Manatee County, and people ask about it all the time. This is going to be a lighter fare and lower-priced because we want it to be affordable,” Bazzy said.