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. Team members also organize paddlers with sufficient experience to compete in Run on the Charles, an annual canoe and kayak race down the river. Staffers can also equip boaters in the shop—where Tiderace and Boréal 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 from this selection of new rides and accessories through free daily demonstrations.
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.