From its outpost on on Lake Quinsigamond, Regatta Point Community Sailing has trained recreational sailors to hit the water for more than 50 years. Since it opened in 1960, the member-based club dedicates itself to accessible, safe, and responsible boating programs that maintain a respect for the environment—another reason why the club will never try to cut corners by trading canvas sails for a bunch of gas-powered hair dryers. The staff of instructors imparts sailing fundamentals to experienced seafarers and newcomers as well as children. Three youth tracks are offered for future captains, including a ten-week summer camp, a junior membership program, and the Deckhands after-school program in the fall and spring.
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.
Nashoba Paddler traverses the bends and twists of the mighty Nashua River and its tributaries, giving tourists a view of the wild from the safety of rental canoes and kayaks. Soak up some natural vitamin D and ripple the wave tattoos on your triceps during a full day of paddling in Old Town river vessels. Before shoving off onto the waterway, experienced guides can provide field guides, maps, and safety and paddling advice, as well as tips for fun routes and how to harmonize on wildlife motets. Then explorers can solemnly begin shoving paddles into the Nashua and floating through habitats ranging from woodsy bends to marshy areas replete with swans and herons eager to perform splish-splash acrobatics. Nashoba Paddler is open through June 20 on weekends and holidays from 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. and on weekdays by appointment.
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.
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.
As the sun begins to dip below the skyline, the Providence River’s surface flares up, tinged with its flickering glow. In the hazy sunset light, a gondola emerges cutting through the still water’s surface, though it’s just as easy to hear as it is to see; as it glides down the river, the boat wafts strains of song from its live accordion accompanist. Led by owner Marcello, La Gondola’s group of gondoliers row with the mission to only furnish passengers with romantic sojourns and to celebrate the riverfront and the city’s Italian ties. Each of his Venice-built gondolas gleams with intricately wrought ornaments and solid brass trim, and at 36 feet, they comfortably hold a gondolier, guests, an accompanying musician, and the occasional hitchhiking tugboat captain. Each gondola trip his company takes gets Marcello’s custom touch, as he tailors every trip to passengers’ desires. “No matter who you are,” he says, “we strive to make you feel like the queen and king of the river.” In agreement with many other residents, Marcello considers Waterplace Park a city hub: “If the park is the heart of the city, the river is the lifeblood,” He says. He hopes the rebirth of the local riverfront parallels a local renaissance for gondoliering as well, which inspired him to plan the inaugural Gondolympics in May.