Craig and Lisa Snively spent some of their wedding anniversary getting to know their new hometown better, taking a cruise on Sweet Breeze.

The replica canal boat travels from Promenade Park to give historic tours around the confluence of Fort Wayne’s three rivers.

The Snivelys moved here in June from Salem, Oregon, to be with family and a new grandchild. After the boat ride Saturday, they planned to dine downtown.

“We thought it would be a nice thing to do locally,” she said. “We are eager. We’ve been looking forward to it.”

Sweetwater tours, which were sold out Saturday, attract people from all over the world, said Vicki Kruse, the docent who narrates the trip’s historic and modern points of interest. She starts each trip by asking riders who aren’t from Fort Wayne where they’re from, and she’s had passengers from South Africa; Taipei, Taiwan; London; and all around the United States.

Capt. Dan Jones said, “We’ve had a lot of international travelers.”

Kruse sees the future of Fort Wayne’s downtown growth in the boat’s visitors.

“I never thought of my city being a destination place, but it’s getting there,” she said.

The Sweet Breeze was put into the Maumee River on May 20, 2017, and christened June 5, 2017, according to its website. It looks like the flat-bottomed canal boats that passed through Fort Wayne on the Erie Canal from 1843 to 1874.

Jones said Sweet Breeze is capable of traveling in 2½ feet of water in dry times, and the rivers average 8 to 10 feet deep.

With an aluminum hull 54 feet long, it’s three-quarters the size of the originals so it can maneuver the rivers, the website states. It’s also powered by a 55-horsepower engine. Pack animals, such as mules, pulled the original canal boats from the shore using towlines.

Residents named the boat after Sweet Breeze, daughter of Miami chieftain Little Turtle and wife of soldier and Indiana advocate William Wells.

The boat seats 38 people and offers 45- and 90-minute rides on the rivers.

Rachel Johnston of Fort Wayne was taking her second trip on the canal boat Saturday. The first time on one of the short trips, it got rained out, Johnston said.

She liked the history on the tour. “I wanted to go back,” she said, and she brought friends Rachel and David Eck and their son Uriah, 7 weeks old.

Rachel Eck said the family had seen the boat being prepped in spring and were giving Uriah his first boat trip, as well as their first trip on Sweet Breeze.

She also said it was interesting seeing the growth of the downtown redevelopment. They’d just watched a mural being painted on a bridge downtown.

Fort Wayne resident Jovan Baloski said he didn’t know about Sweet Breeze until he took a trip with family Saturday as part of the Macedonian Patriotic Organization convention.

“It was very relaxing,” said Baloski, who moved to Fort Wayne when he was in high school. He knew some of the history but learned a lot during the boat ride, he added. Fort Wayne’s downtown redevelopment is a contrast to Gary, where he grew up, he said.

“I definitely want to be in a city that invests in its culture,” Baloski said.

Local Government and General Assignment Reporter

Reporter James D. Wolf Jr. began working as a journalist in 1987 while earning his bachelor’s degree at Purdue University Calumet. He has worked in Indiana, Iowa and Illinois.