The Founders: Captain Dean and Donna Pohl
Captain Dean did 85% of the piloting and 99% of the maintenance on the Durant for many years. Now that he’s approaching 80 years of age, concessions have been made. Three relief captains have been hired to reduce Captain Dean’s piloting to 50%.
His historic narration was professionally recorded so that no matter who is piloting, all guests onboard will be able to enjoy the sound of Captain Dean’s commentary. No one can tell the story as well as he does!
Our Major Domo – Donna
In case you’re not familiar with the term “major domo” the dictionary defines it as ” chief steward of a large household.” That’s a pretty accurate term for Donna’s role in the family business for the last 31 years! That role is now assumed by her daughter, Rachel. Rachel is now in charge of making sure each cruise is executed to the highest standards, handling the staff, keeping peace in the family, and a few other things!
Donna has not totally retired yet. Instead of hosting every cruise, she is stationed in the office, managing reservations and booking private charters. She finally has a 9-5 desk job and is able to enjoy her evenings without a care in the world! As the Durant cruises by her home every night, we all make sure to wave to her and the Captain toots the horn!
We are beginning our 32nd season with new ownership and leadership. Our two middle children, Rachel and Jim, bought the business in December of 2021. 2022 is the year the second generation of Pohls take the reins. Both Rachel and Jim have worked in the business since day one, performing the tasks of all the positions. They have had plenty of experience in fulfilling the Mission Statement of RLN: We are dedicated to the consistent and certain delivery of quality services as measured by increased customer and employee satisfaction.
Executive Chef – Jim
People are always amazed at the quality of food that comes out of the tiny galley on the WW Durant. And the quantity! Some say it’s like a magician who just keeps pulling scarves out of his sleeve!
Who is responsible for this magic act? James Dean Pohl, Dean and Donna’s younger son and number three child. Jim has been executive chef on the Durant for over 20 years- half his life! Hey, it’s a family -owned and -operated business. Earning a living is a family affair and you start working early in life! He has learned from some great chefs who worked for Raquette Lake Navigation during Jim’s youth. We salute Chef Gene Marks in particular. Chef Gene was impressed with Jim’s talent, drive and focus and encouraged him to work in the culinary field. In fact, it was his recommendation, himself a graduate of the CIA, that probably sealed Jim’s acceptance at the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park.
- Has worked on the Durant since the beginning, in 1991, in a variety of positions (Bussing and dishes when he was 10 yrs old; then pots and pans and cleaning as #3 in the kitchen; then #2; and finally executive chef)
- Pre-season in the spring Jim wears an apron, but it’s a leather nail apron as he assumes various carpentry jobs on the boat and the business complex. He and Rachel do all of the scraping and painting to the exterior of the boat every spring. They retrofitted the pilot house and did all the remodeling in three rental properties which serve as staff housing during the season and rentals in the winter.
- Responsible for creating and executing all menus on the boat
- Supervises the culinary crew
- Orders all food from purveyors
- Collaborates with his sister Rachel developing beer & wine pairing menus
- Works with wedding parties and other private charters in menu selection & costing out
- Has experience working at other fine dining restaurants from Las Vegas to New Orleans to Clear Water Beach to Rochester
- A member of Northwoods Lodge #849 F&AM
- For fun Jim likes boating & spending time with his family, woodworking and trying new and different restaurants
Major Domo – Rachel
Rachel Caroline Pohl, Dean and Donna’s older daughter and second child, is now the President of Raquette Lake Navigation. She is assuming Donna’s role as Major Domo.
- Has worked on the boat in some capacity since the beginning, for 30 years, since she was 13 years old
- Earned her Certification from the International Wine Guild headquartered in Denver, Colorado “one of the top five professional wine schools in the US for professional wine education” (Food & Wine, May, 2011)
- Develops and maintains the Durant’s wine, spirits and beer lists, as well as its cocktail program
- Leads wine and beer tastings; develops education programs for guests and staff
- Collaborates with her salesmen and Chef Jim to develop pairing menus for special event wine and beer pairing dinners
- Reaches out to different entertainers to book special events on the Durant such as our Jimmy Buffet or Murder Mystery cruises
- Collaborates with entire team to review cruises for upcoming season to evaluate the need for changes such as menu additions based on customer input, cruise schedule changes and ways to improve the smooth flow of productivity
- Acts as the day-of wedding coordinator for private charters and wedding receptions
- Has experience working in other bars and restaurants from Alaska to Las Vegas to the Adirondacks, including Whiteface Lodge, Copperfield Inn, Northwoods Inn, Big Moose Inn
- Has completed her 100 ton Masters license regimen. She is now qualified to pilot the Durant!
- Founder of Rachel’s Raquette Lake Elixirs and creator of 4 unique Bloody Mary mix variations
- For fun Rachel likes to ice fish and snowmobile in winter. During the other three seasons she likes to hike, camp, cruise Raquette Lake in her own boat, travel and scuba dive. Any time she likes to go out to eat delicious food and try different wines. Loves reviewing different wine lists, always looking for good ideas.
- Loves animals; adopted 3 rescue cats Lucifer, Rocky and Marmalade and for years was a Golden (Retriever) girl.