River Gorge Explorer To Log 5,000th Trip This Weekend

Thursday, February 11, 2016 - by Thom Benson
Captain Pete Hosemann
Captain Pete Hosemann

Captain Pete Hosemann has spent almost as much of his life on the water as he has on land. He grew up in a nautical family with a father and brother who were also riverboat captains. He has piloted vessels of almost all sizes and types including the Tennessee Aquarium River Gorge Explorer.

On Saturday, Captain Pete will log the Explorer’s 5,000th cruise. “To log that number of trips in an eight year period is pretty impressive,” said Mr. Hosemann. “I’ve always said I have the best office in the world, which is in the wheelhouse out on the Tennessee River.”

Throughout his career, he’s used his position to educate others about the importance of our rivers.  More than 216,000 guests have traveled with the Explorer’s crew on eco-tours to learn about the history, wildlife and protected habitat of the Tennessee River Gorge. Other specially themed cruises have carried guests to, and through, the Chickamauga Lock and recently to the Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge to witness the spectacle of migrating Sandhill Cranes.

As an extension of the “Mountains to the Sea” journey guests embark upon within the Aquarium’s two buildings, the River Gorge Explorer serves as a floating classroom to connect more people to the watershed that flows through our community. “As a society we ask a lot of our rivers, so I think we all need to understand and appreciate their importance in our lives,” said Hosemann. “Our rivers provide us with a water supply for our homes, industry, power generation, transportation, recreation and of course habitat for wildlife.”

When the Tennessee River Gorge Trust, TRGT, began protecting land 35 years ago, the idea was to preserve the biologically rich habitat and protect the scenic views that were best seen from the water’s edge looking up. The Explorer provides access to this reserve for tens of thousands of people each year who might not otherwise visit this treasured place. “The Tennessee Aquarium and the Tennessee River Gorge Trust have a long history of protecting the water and land resources within our community,” said TRGT executive director Rick Huffines. “We are deeply grateful to the Aquarium for sharing the beauty of the Tennessee River Gorge with the visitors and residents of this community.”

The 5000th cruise will depart the Chattanooga Pier at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday. Captain PeteCaptain Kyle Payne and Aquarium naturalist John Dever have been part of the top-rated crew since operations began. “Two of the things I have enjoyed the most is seeing the light of understanding click on whenever we have school groups on the boat and seeing repeat guests,” said Hosemann. “We try to go the extra mile for every passenger, so when you see people who come back with friends and family it’s a tremendous compliment to the entire crew.”

Check the daily cruise schedule and purchase tickets online: http://www.tnaqua.org/plan-your-visit/river-gorge-explorer

Register online http://www.tnaqua.org/events-programs for these specially themed cruises aboard the River Gorge Explorer:

- Sunday, Feb. 14: Valentine’s Sunset Cruise

- Saturday, March 19: Williams Island Kids Adventure Cruise

- Saturday, April 16: Secrets of the Riverbank Cruise

- Sunday, May 8: Happy Mother’s Day Cruise

- Saturday, May 14: Spring Fling with the Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute Cruise

Karen Estes
Karen Estes

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