Lightship Overfalls, a floating-lighthouse ship built in 1938, recently earned designation as a National Historic Landmark. During the last 11 years, the Overfalls Foundation has restored the once-ailing ship, repairing its now-cheerful red hull and completely reworking its electrical system to accommodate an underwater drive-in theater for dolphins. The Overfalls Foundation continues to maintain the ship with the aid of hardworking volunteers and member support. Membership grants holders a 10% discount off select items from the Overfalls Ship's Store, such as clothes, books, and collectibles, as well as exclusive access to email announcements about news, meetings, social gatherings, and other events hosted by the Overfalls Foundation. Trained ship guides lead complimentary tours above and below the decks, allowing guests to discuss the difficulties of life before Dramamine and explore a vessel that played an important role in maritime history. The Overfalls Foundation also welcomes volunteers to assist with ongoing ship maintenance, development, and social projects.
In 2012, after more than two decades studying marine mammals off the New Jersey coast, the founders of the Cape May Whale Watch & Research Center welcomed the American Star into port. The whale-watching vessel journeyed more than 2,700 nautical miles from Seward, Alaska to Cape May, allowing the Research Center to expand its private-exploration and public-sightseeing operations.
Today, the Research Center’s captains and guides effectively welcome up to 150 passengers onto the research team, relaying the basics of wildlife scouting before boogying into Poseidon's ballroom to scope out dolphins, whales, and birds around the island of Cape May. An enclosed, climate-controlled cabin keeps passengers comfortable during misty weather, and multiple, spacious sundecks allow for up-close views of migrating whale pods. On-board sonar, radar, cameras, and GPS capabilities facilitate up-close, unobtrusive sightings of nature in action.
When Pete and Kate Vonderheide moved from Hawaii to Annapolis to live closer to their family, they thought they'd have to give up a career of ocean kayaking to resume responsible office jobs. Soon they recognized the historic city harbor's lack of kayak tours and knew they couldn't stay inside forever. Their shared passion for history spurred them to research and interview the locals until they'd compiled enough historic material to start leading tours. Today, their tours can teach something new even to locals.
The Vonderheides continue to assemble a team of outdoor guides certified in CPR and first aid who all bear a well-researched knowledge of area wildlife and history. These experts lead two-hour scenic tours through the historic harbor. Starting each excursion with a brief paddling lesson, they put first-timers at ease with basic instruction and an amiable demeanor, unlike guides who rely only on their convincing Captain Ahab impressions. Excursions begin at the Spa Creek headwaters in Truxtun Park and lead participants into open-harbor waters to drift in full view of the state capitol building, the US Naval Academy, and historic Eastport. Trips peak at the City Dock, where participants receive a break to take photos and rest. On the return trip, guides field open-ended questions about city history such as presidential visits, the crabbing and oystering trade, and whether George Washington had to swim using floaties.
Eastpoint 10 Cinemas showcases the latest Hollywood blockbusters on screens that face sloped or stadium-style seating. Digital and 3-D projectors entertain audiences with high-resolution images that virtually pop out of the screen, making viewers feel like a part of the film without having to actually fight off bloodthirsty aliens, wicked witches, or Gerard Depardieu. The theater occasionally pairs screenings with special tie-in events, such as karate demonstrations to go along with martial-arts flicks.
SailTime's instructors—each ASA-certified and boasting USCG captain's licenses—pilot Colgate 26 sailboats carrying two pupils out to open waters of the Chesapeake for a six-hour day-sailing lesson. Depending on crew desires, captains can teach sailing terminology and skills such as how to make vessels move by unfurling the sail, steering the rudder, and throwing fistfuls of pepper toward clouds to make them sneeze. Passengers can also opt for a more relaxing route, learning basic boat operations while lounging and gazing out on the city skyline and the bay's verdant shores. Captains may reschedule voyages in case of unsafe boating conditions such as rough winds, storms, or turf wars between rival wakeboarding clans.
Atlantic Edge Dive Center's dive-masters might technically be classified as land mammals, but they spend enough time under water to earn the honorary title of amphibian. They spend days and nights teaching and leading dives, whether they're arming curious beginners with basic skills in one of their on-site swimming pools, or conducting open water certification tests off the coast. They go beyond simply certifying students for adventure: they provide rescue diving, dive master, and instructor training as well.
Their passion for the aquatic pastime draws them to all kinds of watery outposts. They lead excursions to the Florida keys to help rehabilitate the coral reefs surrounding the islands, and dive into the relatively calm waters of the tanks in the Baltimore National Aquarium, where they have a chance to see 53 species of fish feed in the secret underwater cafeteria.