While waiting for a group of tour participants aboard his kayak on Cape Island Creek, Bob Lubberman made a new acquaintance when a 4-foot great blue heron landed on the nose of his boat. It's not an entirely new experience for the owner of Miss Chris Kayak Rentals and Tours, as opportunities to commune with nature came often as he crabbed and fished as a child from his grandmother's dock. Now he's able to connect visitors to this ecosystem as they independently paddle rented sit-on-top kayaks or as they participate in guided kayak or boat tours.
Paddlers on kayak tours often catch close-ups of ospreys, terns, and other birds, and see diamondback terrapin turtles sunning themselves on the shore or trying to hold their own ice-cream cones. Day and sunset tours let guests explore the wildlife-rich salt marshes, and night tours led during high tide let them paddle over grassy terrain to otherwise inaccessible areas. Guests explore similar territory on tours aboard the Osprey as they watch migrating shore birds or look out on the harbor's historic buildings. Kayak tour guides include an associate naturalist and a Cape May Bird Observatory field associate, and land-based staffers maintain a touch tank on the Miss Chris mooring dock, which they temporarily fill with conches, eels, and other sea life pulled up using open-sided conservation traps.
The ships that comprise The Starlight Fleet's squadron of vessels each transport passengers across the waves on a variety of sea adventures. The Starlight ferries fisherman on four-hour excursions to hook sea bass, flounder, croakers and triggerfish, the captain using sonar, GPS, and a knowledge of the currents to identify prime fishing real estate. The Atlantic Star typically serves as a whale-watching vessel and is kitted out with a snack-filled galley and a touch tank filled with horseshoe crabs and other local sea life.
The company even boasts its very own pirate ship, The Dark Star, a custom-designed vessel built by Naval Architect Michael LeMole. It takes passengers on swashbuckling adventures during which they learn what a swash is and how to buckle it, as well as participate in treasure hunts and face painting.
Nestled within the South Jersey Marina, the boats and charters of Cape May Lady traverse local waters under the steady hands of an experienced crew. From April to December, seafaring personnel whisk clientele away on four- to eight-hour daytime and, depending on the season and mood of the moon, nighttime voyages. During excursions, guests may see aquatic critters such as striped bass, weakfish, and drum fish. Each trek supplies guests with necessary gear, such as fishing licenses, rods, reels, bait, and tackle. In addition to fish-hunting excursions, Cape May Lady’s charters can accommodate burials at sea or private dolphin-watching trips.
East Coast Parasail leads wind-riders on thrilling aerial tours of historic Cape May and the Jersey Shore. In order to defy gravity without insulting it outright, sightseer duos ride the breeze in a two-man skyhook over the Cape May harbor while securely tethered to a U.S. Coast Guard–certified winch boat. Launching from the deck of the vessel allows parasailers to stay dry in-flight, unless they signal the USCG-certified captain for a reverse-Achillean dip. Once airborne, fliers surf the air waves suspended at heights of up to 500 feet. Many parasailing trips coincide with local dolphin-feeding patterns, giving hobby marine biologists the chance to survey sea-mammal cafeterias from above.
Under the direction of former Midwest Collegiate Sailing Association secretary Pat Leonardo, the Ocean City Sailing Foundation keeps the flame of wind-powered water sports alive. In the Great Egg Harbor Bay, the enthusiastic team of experienced sailors leads classes for beginners, experienced boatsmen, and aspiring racers alike. The foundation prides itself on its small class sizes, with a ratio of one instructor for every four students ensuring individual interaction and enough people for a well-refereed game of doubles tennis should they become marooned with racquets.
Dolphins so close you could almost touch them. Amazingly, that's a view most Stormin Speedboat boat trips encounter as they speed parallel to the shoreline. The captain of the 33-foot cruiser navigates swiftly and fluidly over the water, carrying up to 14 passengers during 45?50 minute boat rides. Each adventure shifts between thrilling speeds and calm moments of watching majestic dolphins jumping or playing Marco Polo.