Nautical Escapes has one purpose: get people out on the water. The company’s CYA-certified instructors teach an array of courses that range from three-hour introductory sailing courses for beginners to more comprehensive 30-hour courses for those who seek a grander prize such as a sailing license or the password to Poseidon’s Netflix. In addition to a fleet of sailboats, Nautical Escapes docks a 27-foot yacht for private and group charters.
The Kajama's white masts billow in the wind as its sharp prow cleaves the waters of Lake Ontario. The three-masted, gaff-rigged 164-foot schooner casts the same striking silhouette as it did 85 years ago during its first incarnation as a trade ship that sailed from Spain to Norway. Today, Great Lakes Schooner Company has restored the German-built schooner to its maiden-voyage splendour. Though they've preserved the boat's 1930s charm, they also retrofitted the Kajama for its daily tours with such amenities as a licensed bar and galley where cooks bring selections from their menu of pub fare to life.
Though it serves as the crown jewel of the fleet, the Kajama is flanked by two other ships. Panoramic lake views and a retractable top-deck roof characterize the Obsession III, whereas the Challenge boasts two LCD TVs and a full-service bar. Great Lakes Schooner Company rents out their fleet for corporate cruises, charter tours, weddings, and pirate-school reunions, all of which launch from the scenic downtown harbourfront.
In a natural wharf provided by the Toronto Islands, Harbourfront Centre offers avenues to a world of unbroken horizons and wave-splashed winds. Along with education and licensing services and boat rentals, the knowledgeable navigators curate special events, such as a swashbuckling Tall Ships festival for Canada Day and annual voyages to prove the harbour is round.
Power- or sail-boaters with appropriate licensing and a completist's perspective on panoramas might pursue membership for multiple voyages. With rental options for all experience levels for power- or sail-boats and even yachts, Harbourfront Centre Sailing and Powerboating provides a sense of freedom otherwise accessible only to boat owners and their boats' wise-cracking GPS systems.
Aboard a fleet of vessels that have cruised the Toronto Harbour for more than a quarter of a century, Toronto Harbour Tours converts landlocked guests into sightseeing day-sailors during scenic one-hour voyages. A licensed captain and crew colours each trip with informative narratives, casting entertaining facts into open ears while pointing out a continuous deluge of passing landmarks along the route. As tours drift by thriving parklands and across tranquil lagoons, Toronto's skyline glides into view to present passengers with unique opportunities to photograph the Skydome and the CN Tower's rippling Superman cape. During the summer, guests can disembark and explore Toronto Islands, catching a ride back to the mainland from another tour later in the day.
Olympia Cruise Lines' 140-foot Enterprise 2000 houses an embellished atrium boasting 360-degree harbour views and a buoyant foundation for elaborate parties. Energetic sojourners can opt for the Dirty Dancing salsa night, during which professional tango-tamers teach basic steps as appetizers make the rounds and a DJ entrances casual dancers with Top-40 and Latin beats. Alternatively, the Czechoslovak Dinner and Dancing cruise whisks passengers off their feet for four hours of lively Slovak merriment, a folk-dance performance by the Vychodna Slovak Dancers, and a traditional feast featuring enough wiener schnitzel to make dachshunds consider a more original nickname. Along with the posh atrium, the luxury vessel also possesses an outdoor patio where revellers can scope the evening cityscape or scan Lake Ontario's ripples for off-course Ogopogos.