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Date of Issue: February 25, 2009

Water taxi makes rounds

Capt. Mark Bebernitz aboard his water taxi in Cortez. Islander Photo: Lisa Neff

Mark Bebernitz’s taxi operates mostly in the evenings, shuttling passengers from Cortez to Bradenton Beach to Longboat Key.

Like most taxis in the area, Bebernitz’s taxi cannot be hailed with a whistle or a shout. A telephone call is generally required to arrange transportation.

But that’s the only similarity between Bebernitz’s taxi and Checker Cab of Bradenton.

Bebernitz steers his floating taxi on blue water, not blacktop roads.

Bebernitz started the water taxi under Capt. Mark’s Charters about a year ago, but he’s been on the water longer. Associated with the National Cremation Society in Bradenton, Bebernitz bought the 26-foot, one-piece catamaran to take families out to sea to scatter ashes.

He now takes families on sunset cruises, shelling cruises and operates the water taxi out of a slip in the shadow of the Cortez Kitchen in the Cortez fishing village.

The taxi shuttles passengers from the Cortez waterfront to the Historic Bridge Street Pier in Bradenton Beach or the Mar Vista Restaurant on Longboat Key.

Bebernitz said the service is available every day by reservation.

“It’s been well received,” the captain said of the service, which appeals mostly to those seeking a unique way to visit a waterfront restaurant. “I get a lot of calls, and I’m hoping that March is really busy.”

Bebernitz doesn’t encounter the typical traffic that other taxi drivers deal with, and the trek from Cortez to Bradenton Beach takes about 15 minutes.

“You have the no-wake zone and the manatee zone and all that stuff,” he said.

Rates for the taxi service and charter can vary depending on the number of passengers and the duration of the trip, the captain said.

“For the taxi, I play it by ear,” he said.

For more information about Capt. Mark’s Charters and Taxi Service, call 941-228-3504.