Peter Miles: from Miles music to Miles Marines

It started out as a hobby, with just one luxury boat to quench the owner’s insatiable thirst for a cruise on Lake Victoria.

Today, Miles Marines continues to make ever bigger waves on the Ugandan luxury boating scene, two years after it was officially registered as a marine transport and tour company.

The owner, Peter Miles (real name Peter Kanyike) is a Ugandan reggae and dancehall artiste and tourism ambassador whose name requires little introduction on the East African showbiz scene.

In just two years since it opened its doors to the public, Miles Marines has expanded not only the scope of its operations, but also the size of its fleet, from one to the current five fancifully named luxury vessels.

The company has put together a bouquet of services that range from sunset cruises around the shores of Lake Victoria, half and full-day fishing expeditions for the famed Nile Perch, island destination trips to the picturesque Bulago and Kalangala islands, and the famous Ngamba Chimpanzee Sanctuary, a tourist favourite on Ngamba island.

The company also facilitates birdwatching expeditions to the Mabamba papyrus swamp, as well as airport transfers from Entebbe International Airport to Munyonyo and Gabba landing sites on the outskirts of Kampala, the Ugandan capital. One of the newer packages is doughnut rides for water sports enthusiasts.

Boat restoration and pimping

With tourist activity currently on a halt owing to the strict coronavirus lockdown in Uganda and indeed the rest of the world, one unique and innovative package is keeping Miles Marines staffers fairly busy; the company does boat restoration and pimping, giving new life and form to old vessels.

Miles Marines also does boat restoration and pimping, giving new life and form to old vessels. Courtesy photo

Procured locally and from South Africa, all of the company’s own five boats have attained makeovers from the skilled hands in the boat restoration and pimping department to suit them to requirement. Most of the pimp work revolved around lighting, carpets, and classy leather and music fittings.

Each of the boats has its own story to tell, and that is partly captured in their names: Dragon, Panther, RIFA, Panache, and Cele.

“Rifa was inspired by my wife’s name, Sherifa, while Red Dragon acquired the name from the shape and colour of the boat. Panther’s engines roar like a panther, they are V8 engines,” Miles explains.

Born in 1980 in Entebbe, Peter Miles is a graduate of Tourism from Makerere University in Kampala. Growing up in Entebbe, his affinity for the lake manifested quite early, with swimming one of his first hobbies.

Later in his life as a music star and celebrity, he maintained this love for the lake, regularly hiring speed boats for cruises to nearby islands whenever he wanted to cool off. It is then that he noticed a shortage of high quality luxury boat services on the lake.

Miles Music

A household name on the East African dancehall music scene, Miles is best known to his legion of fans for such hits as Rackus, Nice and Polite, One Time, Nakutaka, Tumetokachini, Combination, and Kube, the last two with the Kenyan duo of Nazizi and Wyre.

Peter Miles takes a boat ride with Ugandan musician Bebe Cool and his wife Zuena. Courtesy photo

Internationally, he has recorded collaborations with big name Jamaican artists like Elephant Man (Nice and polite remix), Demarco (Blessings), and General Levy (Ooh Aah).

Regionally, it is Kenya that Miles fondly refers to as a ‘second home’. It is where his biggest fan base is to be found (after Uganda).

In the turbulent and often ego-saturated world of dance hall music, there is something that sets Miles apart, as captured by a female fan of his in a past media interview:

“The discipline he exhibits in public is the first thing that impressed me. Unlike other popular artistes, I have never heard him involved in any fight. The music he does and the way he conducts himself are commendable.”

Riding on clear-cut image

This clean-cut image has come in handy as the artiste now migrates to making a dollar from the water waves.

Last year, he clinched a lucrative deal from the United Nations’ International Organization for Migration (IOM) to offer boat transportation to over 2,000 Congolese refugees to resettlement camps in Uganda.

Lake Albert: Last year, Peter Miles transported over 2,000 Congolese refugees to resettlement camps in Uganda. Courtesy photo

Overall, however, he reveals that island destinations and sunset cruises are the most popular packages with his mostly tourist clientele.

Presently, one of the cheapest packages available is a two-hour cruise for up to six people, for $150.

“I’ve managed to secure my company’s trust through my persona which I’ve built over the years. When people hear about Miles Marines, they know they are dealing with a trusted and classy company,” he reveals unassumingly.

Quite predictably, Miles does not cut a boss-like figure on the job. “I believe in full-time business engagement. I oversee and actively engage in the Miles Marines restoration and pimping department which restores and pimps rundown boats.”

Onboard a cruise with clients, he frequently takes on the role of boat captain or entertainer.

“Sometimes I do some juggling and freestyle sessions on the boat. Clients can also connect their phones by Bluetooth to the boat music systems,” he says.

Asked if music was now a thing of the past, he retorted: “Music has always been a hobby to me. You don’t retire from a hobby, do you?”

He goes on: “I am working on my new album that’s 90 per cent complete, with some collaborations with international artistes.” He has also maintained his Roadblock Productions, a music recording studio based in Entebbe.