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Our Team

Captain Dean

Captain Dean does 85% of the piloting and 99% of the maintenance on the Durant. He’s the man who did all the woodworking and welding on the Durant when it was under construction the winters of 1990 and ’91.  This is after he built the family’s house over 4 winters in order to have a commercial kitchen for meal preparation.

He loves history.  He’s the one who developed the historic commentary he recites extemporaneously each cruise.  He resists recording the commentary because he wants to be able to customize, depending on who’s on board or circumstances.  We did create recordings of the various cruises to be used when our back-up captain Kip Pike is at the helm.  Captain Dean owns the commentary.  No one can tell the story as well as he does!

He is a marriage officer, appointed by the Town Board. Capt Pohl has married over 300 couples in his career.

When the season ends mid-October Capt Dean and Chef Jim make the transition from cruise boat to winter ice boat.  With the Covid 19 virus infections surging in winter of 2020-’21, in an abundance of caution, we will not be opening the winter boat.

Dean is an elected councilman, attending monthly town board meetings and numerous committee meetings throughout the year. He is also a member of Northwoods Lodge #849 F&AM. For fun Captain Dean likes to hunt deer from Thanksgiving through the first week in December.  He also likes to snowmobile and ice fish; and get his daily fix of news and current events, both on TV and reading the newspaper.

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.  She’s 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!

“Basically my full-time, year-round job is to fill the seats on the boat- to have as many sold-out cruises and private charters as possible between June and October. There are numerous strategies I use to try to accomplish this. First and foremost is to ensure each cruise is as good as any we’ve ever done. You never know who is scoping us out for a wedding or private party or thinking about a gift certificate to give someone. Word-of-mouth is our best advertising!

I also am busy all year updating the website, posting on various social media platforms, updating brochures and other collateral material and placing ads in print and digital media.

During the off season I recruit staff, answer the phone, cost out and book private charters for weddings and other happy celebrations, confirm group cruises, fulfill gift certificate orders, attend group travel trade shows and book moonlight cruise musicians. As a receptive operator I create one day and multi day itineraries for groups. In January Rachel, Wendy and I brainstorm new special events for the coming season, ways to tweak the system to make it better, review what worked and what didn’t work the last season. In early June I’m on the road doing brochure distribution. I like doing the brochure distribution myself rather than contracting it out.  I like meeting our tourism partners, hearing their stories, being in a position to admire their hard work and passion.  Personal, face-to-face meetings help solidify our relationship and commitment to each other.”

  • Daily operations manager when we’re cruising late May through mid October.
  •  Update our Personnel Handbook
  • Oversee staff training
  • Scheduling
  • Cleaning and dining room set-up inspections before boarding
  • Boarding of guests
  • Food check before sailing
  • In charge of timing during a cruise
  • Expediting food service
  • Greeting guests before, during and after a cruise.
  •  Any advertising and marketing that must be done on a regular basis, including social media posts, website updates and weekly newspaper advertising.

Hey, it’s a small family-owned and operated business. Wearing many hats and hard work goes with the territory!”

For fun Donna likes travel, reading, active outdoor stuff like hiking, snowshoeing, skiing and kayaking and TRX, yoga and other forms of exercise.

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 20 years. Jim is almost 40 years old so that’s 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, 30 years, 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, beverage, manager, 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 & skiing with his daughter Avery, snowmobiling, woodworking and trying new and different restaurants
Beverage Manager – Rachel

Rachel Caroline Pohl, Dean and Donna’s older daughter and second child, approaches her job with passion and creativity. Her adventurous spirit has been known to inspire some excellent mixology on the Durant.

Space on the Durant is extremely limited. Next to the guests the most precious thing on the boat is space! Rachel tackles this space challenge by offering a rotating selection of wines, beers and spirits- one that is smartly curated and filled with whimsical surprises.  Her selection of wines reflects the guests’ tastes, Chef Jim’s specials and what’s new or trending.

  • 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 cruise or Glass Armonica concert.
  • 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
  • Assists private charter and wedding parties in beverage selection
  • Offers her knowledge to diners looking for the perfect food and wine pairing
  • 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 her Joint Pilot and Engineer’s License and is completed her 100 ton Masters license regimen.  She is now qualified to pilot the Durant!
  • Created her own recipe for Bloody Mary mix called Rachel’s Raquette Lake Elixir
  • Founder & CEO of Rachel’s Adirondack Specialty Products with Rachel’s Elixir being the first product. Distribution started out covering the Adirondacks and has now grown to cover Northern and Central NY. She recently launched her mix in the Boston market. Her intent is to cover all of NY and then gradually expand into surrounding states.
  • The company’s second product is Rachel’s Raquette Lake Elixir with the addition of 1% neutral grain spirits- the key to being able to be sold to New York State liquor stores. She launched this product in 2015.   Opici Family Distributing carries this product, covering the 46 counties of New York north of Westchester County. She is working with another distributor to cover Westchester and all counties south into the New York metro area.  Rachel’s Elixir is one of only two Bloody Mary mixes in all of NYS to be on liquor store shelves.
  • 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 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. 

Key Support Staff

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