Today's Groupon rents you a way to see the world without using your walkingwheels or automolegs. For $30, you can float or pedal with $60 worth of boat and bike rentals at Shoreline Lake Aquatic Center and Café. Shoreline Lake Aquatic Center provides equipment to explore Shoreline Lake, a safe and scenic waterway that was built for sporting on the doorstep of sunny Mountain View.
The folks at Kayak Connection outfit visitors with sea kayaks and standup paddleboards before leading them on guided tours or sending them out to explore Santa Cruz Harbor and Elkhorn Slough on their own. Tours vary from romantic sunset paddles to trips designed for families and include one tailored to getting glimpses of local birds. Intermediate and advanced paddlers can head out onto open waters to paddle past the Golden Gate Bridge, Point Lobos State Marine Reserve, and Monterey Bay Crossing.
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When Forest Roberts was 9 years old, he built a boat in his backyard with money saved from his paper route. Since 1989, Roberts has participated more officially in the maritime industry, working water-related jobs from commercial diving to boat building—and often living aboard boats—before opening his sailing-charter company in 2006. Today, California Classic Sail operates from Santa Cruz on the shores of Monterey Bay, earning praises from previous passengers and a Santa Cruz Sentinel feature story.
Roberts’s background in the building industry helped him recognize the superb craftsmanship in his current yacht, Sarah. The builder, William Garvie—who named the vessel after his granddaughter—constructed the 52-foot-long boat based on a line drawing published in an early 20th-century yachting-magazine spread. Made of wood instead of the fiberglass many modern boats are made of, its vintage style and wood hull set it apart from other Santa Cruz charter vessels. Dubbed a “Sharpie” for its long, narrow shape, rather than an ability to leave permanent wakes, the graceful yacht zips through the bay waters on chartered trips for groups of up to six. Passengers can relax onboard as Roberts steers, or choose to learn basic sailing maneuvers through hands-on instruction. Roberts can also tailor trips to special occasions such as engagements and birthdays, and can sail during many times of day, including more-scenic mornings and sunsets.
The party-loving minds behind Yacht Party Cruises wanted a creative way for locals and tourists to explore a city's late-night atmosphere. Eventually they launched a fleet of luxury yachts into the waters of eight of North America's most lively urban waterfronts. On each vessel, festivities abound as DJs spin everything from hip-hop to Sinatra, inviting passengers to shake a leg in between trips to the full bar or buffet lined with hot appetizers. All yachts boast extravagant details such as wraparound decks, fireplaces, or a glass atrium that hangs above the dance floor offering dancers a direct view of the man in the moon's game of solitaire. Guests can also step onto the decks for fresh air or panoramic views of city's skyline.
If you want to learn how to be a safe, knowledgeable sailer, then you can take a course at any sailing school. But if you want to be a safe, knowledgeable sailer who also knows how to get a boat to move faster than a rumor travels around a knitting circle, you might want to consider taking a sailing course from Nautic Sailing School's instructors.
Captain Dan, who has been sailing for more than 40 years, races various types of boats, and he owns a Catalina 30 that carried him to victory during the 2004 and 2009 Catalina 30 Nationals. He works alongside Captain George, who has also raced sailboats, and Captain Robert, a published sailing educator and race tactician who has trained more than 3,500 sailing instructors worldwide.
They lead everything from six-hour Discover Sailing lessons, which introduce complete beginners to the sport, to basic and bareboat cruising courses. Those who take those three- and four-day courses may even qualify to crew with Nautic Sailing School on special occasions.
A morning photo cruise powered by gentle sunlight and mellow breezes. A spirited afternoon jaunt toward the Golden Gate Bridge. A late-spring sunset trip over waters reflecting the city's skyline and the warm hues of the horizon. No matter the time of day, the waving sails of Afterguard Sailing Academy's vessels ferry passengers on adventures around the sun-kissed waters and iconic landmarks of San Francisco Bay.
Thanks to the academy's team of seasoned captains, tours are only one way to experience sailing's thrills. Their instructors also teach comprehensive American Sailing Association certification courses, which aim to transition ordinary passengers to crew members and skippers for more independent sailing adventures of all types. As students progress, instructors teach more advanced lessons, such as bay basics and ocean sailing. Aside from these lessons, the captains also run a nonprofit sailing academy for youth.