Boating in Boston drops oars in seven locations?including local lakes, ponds, the Charles River, and Boston Harbor?sending visitors on watery adventures with a fleet of canoes, kayaks, sailboats, pedal boats, paddleboards, and festive and essential lifejackets. Whether navigating the peaceful waters of Hopkinton State Park's Hopkinton Reservoir?the place that, in 2002, started it all?or campus-adjacent eddies of UMass Boston's Fox Point Landing, visitors can hit the water untrained or sharpen skills with solo or group lessons. The crew of instructors also instills a love of boating in the littlest landlubbers with youth summer camps that teach basic skills and safety.
In the early ?70s, Boston-area resident Mike Farny dreamed of creating affordable outdoor recreational activities for his community to enjoy. In May of 1973, Mike set up shop in the MDC Norumbega Police Substation of Newton/Auburndale and began realizing his dream. The location?directly next to the historic Totem Pole Ballroom?perfectly enabled the environmentally friendly practice of canoeing and kayaking. Mike's vision blossomed over the years to include four other locations, each offering rentals, tours, and instruction.
Today, on-staff guides lead tours of the Charles River and Boston Harbor to educate participants in ecosystem conservation, view the skyline and sunset, or explore historic structures. Select trips also include lunch to fuel participants as they navigate difficult waterways and jump through flaming hoops. To prepare customers entering the water for the first time, instructors coach riders of all levels in private or group lessons at the paddling school, which draws on more than 30 years of instructional tradition. Staffers can also equip boaters in the shop?where P&H and Bor?al kayaks hang alongside Tahoe paddleboards and Wenonah canoes, dreaming of one day being the inspiration for a traditional sea chantey. Crew members help clients choose their ride and accessories from these selections and others through free daily demonstrations.
Those who follow Deerfield River westward from the Catamount State Forest to the Mohawk Trail State Forest travel through the hilly terrain of historic Charlemont. There, in 1989, the Berkshire Mountains and other geographical spoils caught the eyes of Bruce Lessels and Karen Blom—a medaling member of the US whitewater team and a public health nutritionist looking to make the outdoors more accessible. They built Zoar Outdoor on the river, establishing an 80-acre facility to be a base for ziplining, rock climbing, camping, and solar-powered lodging. Today, a staff of adventurers keeps that base running. They not only sell an arsenal of outdoor gear and continue those establishing activities, but also lead whitewater rafting and kayaking trips down their home river, slicing through the waves and rearranging a slew of fishes' living rooms along the way.
Since its inception as a nonprofit organization in 1985, Community Rowing Inc. has guided more than 15,000 students in invigorating rowing sessions held on the Charles River. Their experienced staff of Olympians and coaches helps students to become familiar with industry-standard boats and rowing machines through comprehensive introductory lessons and extended handshakes with the rowing arms. After gleaning the skills necessary to properly use equipment, students gain access to locker rooms, training areas, and any additional courses on the Charles River. The full-body, calorie-burning workouts are available throughout the week, allowing students to learn essential techniques such as sweeping, sculling, and dealing peacefully with the water road rage of aggressive gondoliers.
Motorcoaches shuttle groups of skiers and riders to day, midweek, or weekend ski trips organized by New England Action Sports. In addition to scheduling transportation and lodging both local and international group excursions, the staff also provides ski-equipment rentals as well as tune-ups for clients who wish to bring their own skiing gear.
Osprey Sea Kayak Adventures' aqueous instructors equip riders with the building blocks for surfing success with comprehensive courses and hands-on demonstrations. During the two-hour intro-to-standup-paddleboarding class, certified instructors help small classes of students brush up on body-boating basics atop the calm, protected waterways of the Westport River. Armed with top-of-the-line equipment, including boards, paddles, and masks shaped like each rider's favorite waterfowl, students learn how to keep their balance, paddle properly, and navigate eddying currents safely and quickly. Osprey's intro lessons shove off at high tide every Saturday and are calibrated to all levels of surfing experience. In the event of days marred by inclement weather or Loch Ness Monster impersonators, lessons may be rescheduled for cleared conditions.