Chesapeake Bay is home to legendary beautiful waters, diverse flora and fauna, and Paddlefest, an annual paddle-sports event organized by the team at Ultimate Watersports. Held on the Gunpowder River, which flows into the bay, the festival shows off the industry's latest toys, allowing attendees to try out brand-new kayaks and paddleboards on the sparkling fresh water. For the rest of the season, Ultimate Watersports brings its know-how to the shores with kayak tours, paddleboard lessons, and sailing trips that have remained a bay fixture for more than 26 years. Waterfront enthusiasts seek out the company's reliably well-maintained and up-to-date watercraft to do everything from gain a windsurfing certification to practice heckling standup paddleboard comics. Additionally, seasonal kids' camps help youngsters to stay active while gaining an appreciation for watersports and the splendor of the outdoors.
Even as a flight attendant and marketing salesperson, Belinda Magruder never forgot her younger years as a crewmember aboard international sailing charters. The freedom of clinging to the wind as the boat raced across open waters continued to call to her, and one day she got an opportunity to go back. After a chance ad for a marketing position led Belinda to work for Getaway Sailing, she eventually took over the company. Since then, Belinda has filled Getaway Sailing's school with American Sailing Association–certified instructors, many of whom were raised on the bay and grew up manning the rigging of their families' ships. Some of the school's captains hold merchant mariner's licenses and boast year-round experience in running freighters via tugboat or beating Poseidon in weekend poker games.
A fleet of 17 boats at lengths of up to 35 feet conveys passengers through classes covering navigation and cruising, as well as certification courses and team-building trips. With the water gently patting hulls, boats cut through the sunshine and across the Inner Harbor or to the Francis Scott Key Bridge on day charters, or take longer trips to farther-flung stretches of aquamarine around Rockhall, Oxford, and St. Michaels. Evening races let larger boats jockey competitively with snails snapping a staccato rhythm against the darkening sky, and harbor sails put small groups out with a skipper, leaving them free to bar-hop or heckle passing schools of fish. Getaway Sailing's instructors immerse their students in the insular sailing world and have drawn members from as far as Hershey, including patrons who have volunteered to help staff the school's booth at boating trade shows.
The coaches at CrossFit Towson are living proof that each WOD?workout of the day?can benefit anyone, regardless of his or her fitness goals. The staff includes a rower, a marathoner, lacrosse players, a football player, and a world-ranked kettlebell lifter, all of whom would perform the same movements if they participated in a class. So, too, would a housewife or a high school student. That's because CrossFit's exercises scale by intensity, not by form. Its weightlifts and cardio drills can be performed by students of all experience levels, and the shared workout?not to mention the instructors non-intimidating approach?can lead to a strong sense of camaraderie. CrossFit Towson schedules standard CrossFit classes in addition to open gym time, when guests can plan their own routines and target weak points such as the one pack on their six-pack that creaks.
Chesapeake Bay is 200 miles long, but that’s not the only reason it’s the United States’ largest estuary. The Bay also serpentines off into hundreds of rivers and creeks, accessible with South River Boat Rentals’ vessels. Seafarers explore the estuary’s fringes in the powerboats and sailboats, cruising past historic sites, such as Jamestown and Tangier Island. Alternatively, fishing parties set sail for piscatorial hot spots, casting from the boats’ decks. To teach newbies the ropes before they hit the water, the company’s team hosts sessions on boating basics, from steering to stopping at fish crossings.
At Annapolis Sailing School, the instructors prefer hands-on teaching to traditional textbook methods. They’ve developed this approach ever since their first lesson in 1959, when the school opened. Many lessons later, the staff continues to introduce novice sailors to the sea aboard their fleet of vessels, which includes a rainbow sailboat and a cruiser. From the get-go, students are encouraged to man the jib and barter with Poseidon over the choicest sailing routes. In addition to these private and group sailing lessons, the staff also rents out sailboats and offers a certification program that adheres to the American Sailing Association’s program.
The J/Boats sailing vessels at J World Annapolis serve as floating classrooms for students of all skill levels as they improve their sailing techniques under the tutelage of expert coaches. Budding buccaneers can make smooth forays into the sport via one of the school’s many Learn to Sail courses, which range from three-hour group lessons to five-day comprehensives. Up to four students of similar experience levels control the ship from the time they unmoor until they return, rotating through the different onboard positions while the instructor keeps a close eye on safety, expounds upon sailing theory, and warns the team of upcoming whale mouths. From there, intrepid sailors can choose from a variety of courses geared toward continuous improvement, culminating in the advanced racing course for expert speedsters.