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.
Before helming Paddle Board RI, John Andel was working as an IT consultant, itching to hop onto his board as the hours crept by each day. An erstwhile surfer, scuba diver, and spear fisher, John had encountered standup paddleboarding while visiting Costa Rica and fell in love with the aquatic pastime faster than two cupids in an archer's duel. "You get a whole different perspective,” he says of standing up on the board. “Sometimes you can see 20 feet down into the water.”
Drawn to the sport’s flexibility, John has engineered a diverse selection of tours, including the full-moon paddle, the business’s most popular tour, which takes groups out on quiet waters to gaze up at the glowing orb and stake out real estate for the moon colonies of the future. Another tour, the Tuckered Dog, invites pooches to hop on board with their owners at a dog-friendly pond. Paddle Board RI also offers classes from introductory lessons to less traditional options, such as paddleboard yoga taught by a certified yoga instructor, meditative sunrise sessions, and muscle-sculpting workout classes.
Although his business has taken off, Andel still leads the vast majority of the tours: at the heart of the venture still beats his own passion for being out on the water and sharing his love of paddleboarding with others. “We’re not just a rental company,” he says. “We’re about enjoying the water.”
Continuing the mission started in London more than 160 years ago, YMCA Smithfield provides quality, accessible fitness and wellness programs to families. Members enjoy full access to the center's fitness opportunities, whether they're burning calories in the gym, gliding through laps in the pool, or joining fellow members in classes ranging from kickboxing to Pilates. YMCA Smithfield also houses the organization's signature children's programming, helping kids get ready for school with pre-K enrichment or prepping them for a semester abroad in Atlantis with swim lessons. Before- and afterschool programs also give kids a safe spot to play while parents are at work.
After winding its way past Foxborough and Mansfield, the Rumford River gurgles to a brief rest in the Norton Reservoir where 530 acres of shallow waters ebb around coves and a small cluster of islands. Amid the bald eagles and ospreys that frequent the reservoir's edges, the instructors of the Norton Kayak Company lead kayaking and fishing expeditions from May 1 to October 31. Whether undertaking everyday tours or hatching special seasonal trips to watch the harvest moon or celebrate holiday weekends, instructors make sure that paddlers of all ages and ability levels stay safe and engaged. They also helm fishing trips for anglers aged 15 and older with valid fishing licenses, floating groups to spots where large-mouth bass, pickerel, and panfish lurk like schools of sunken fishing waders. Since the leaders depend on Mother Nature for their livelihood and letters of recommendation, they enforce a carry-in/carry-out practice that ensures guests leave no litter behind.
With half of Cape Cod at its oar tips, The Paddler's Shop is a prime launching point for kayakers to safely explore the region in a 10-foot recreational kayak. Oar-wielding duos can cast off outfitted with top-quality life jackets and paddles in search of adventure or discarded tapes of Creed's basement sessions. The bicep-pumping voyage sets novice sea-strokers out in the sheltered waters of Toby's Island or traversing the autumnal beauty of the salt marshes. More advanced aquanauts can take on the waves of the open sea at Wings Cove or Mashnee Island, investigating the wiles of the Cape Cod Canal in its entirety or circumnavigating shores to avoid troupes of jealous bicycles.
Along an Australian riverbank, a baby calf is being born, opening its eyes to the world for the first time. Carolyn “Chick” Dowd floats just 6 feet away and watches silently as the events unfold. At this moment, she discovers for the first time the powerful experiences kayaking can opportune, and plunges headfirst into the sport. Since this moment, Ms. Dowd has worked as an instructor in Thailand, Nova Scotia, and California, where she is also a member of San Francisco's national kayak polo team.
It wasn't just a love for kayaking that led Ms. Dowd to overcome a human's natural tendency to melt in water. When younger, she dreamed of being Julie, the cruise director from Love Boat. To that end, Island Spirit Kayak is the junction of Ms. Dowd's passions; a place that mixes fun activities with the natural surroundings of her hometown, Martha's Vineyard. Here, Ms. Dowd and her team of ACA-certified instructors can lead tours into tranquil waters or more advanced excursions toward the Aquinnah Cliffs, where sunrises paint warm colors across the exposed clay.
From beginners to experts, Ms. Dowd and her crew cater tours to everyone. Before each trip, they help people belly flop out of their comfort zones with a game of kayak ultimate frisbee, during which many feel compelled to jump out of the boat. The staff—which includes a school teacher—also has a soft spot in their hearts for children, welcoming little ones as young as 5 into kayaks.