In the early ?70s, Boston-area resident Mike Farny dreamed of creating affordable outdoor recreational activities for his community to enjoy. In May of 1973, Mike set up shop in the MDC Norumbega Police Substation of Newton/Auburndale and began realizing his dream. The location?directly next to the historic Totem Pole Ballroom?perfectly enabled the environmentally friendly practice of canoeing and kayaking. Mike's vision blossomed over the years to include four other locations, each offering rentals, tours, and instruction.
Today, on-staff guides lead tours of the Charles River and Boston Harbor to educate participants in ecosystem conservation, view the skyline and sunset, or explore historic structures. Select trips also include lunch to fuel participants as they navigate difficult waterways and jump through flaming hoops. To prepare customers entering the water for the first time, instructors coach riders of all levels in private or group lessons at the paddling school, which draws on more than 30 years of instructional tradition. Staffers can also equip boaters in the shop?where P&H and Bor?al kayaks hang alongside Tahoe paddleboards and Wenonah canoes, dreaming of one day being the inspiration for a traditional sea chantey. Crew members help clients choose their ride and accessories from these selections and others through free daily demonstrations.
Since its inception as a nonprofit organization in 1985, Community Rowing Inc. has guided more than 15,000 students in invigorating rowing sessions held on the Charles River. Their experienced staff of Olympians and coaches helps students to become familiar with industry-standard boats and rowing machines through comprehensive introductory lessons and extended handshakes with the rowing arms. After gleaning the skills necessary to properly use equipment, students gain access to locker rooms, training areas, and any additional courses on the Charles River. The full-body, calorie-burning workouts are available throughout the week, allowing students to learn essential techniques such as sweeping, sculling, and dealing peacefully with the water road rage of aggressive gondoliers.
Boating in Boston drops oars in seven locations?including local lakes, ponds, the Charles River, and Boston Harbor?sending visitors on watery adventures with a fleet of canoes, kayaks, sailboats, pedal boats, paddleboards, and festive and essential lifejackets. Whether navigating the peaceful waters of Stoneham's Spot Pond?the pond that, in 2002, started it all?or campus-adjacent eddies of UMass Boston's Fox Point Landing, visitors can hit the water untrained or sharpen skills with solo or group lessons. The crew of instructors also instills a love of boating in the littlest landlubbers with youth summer camps that teach basic skills and safety.
From the hallowed field at Fenway Park to the educational havens of Harvard and M.I.T, Boston's history is written across its skyline. The area's nearby waterways allow for mostly unencumbered views of these sights, and guided boat tours let sightseers experience the city in a relaxing way. To this end, Charles Riverboat Company's vessels embark on journeys across the Charles River and Boston Harbor. Architecture tours guided by an expert from Boston by Foot and run together with BSA Space, Boston?s premier cultural institution on architecture and design, and home to the Boston Society of Architects, the tour's captains and crews point out historic sights such as famous buildings or the 100-story kettle used during the Boston Tea Party. Sunset tours offered under the warm glow of the setting sun wind through the river as music plays. Charles Riverboat Company also charters their boats for groups of up to 150.
Gray-hulled naval ships sit stoically by weathered docks, as sailboats and yachts dart to and fro in graceful traffic. The tide ebbs and flows around islands, piers, and against harbor walls under the Boston skyline. Hestia Cruises' four ships glide among this nautical throng, carving wakes across the busy waters on seasonal cruises in the morning, afternoon, at sunset, or under the light of the moon. As the classic 1948 motor yacht Full Moon rumbles through the water, on-board tour guides divulge facts about harbor history and point out ideal landmarks to photograph. The ship's open decks host passengers for sightseeing tours, and its staff also guides morning cruises with massage services or yoga classes, evening voyages with wine and whiskey tastings, and photo-shoot cruises.
Captains also ferry visitors past harbor sights on an EPA-acclaimed private catamaran or the 32-foot Catalina sailboat Hestia, where passengers can help pull lines, unfurl the main sail, and make a mix-tape of sea shanties. They also pilot a rigid inflatable boat—built to Navy Seal specifications—for adventures to far ends of the harbor at speeds of up to 40 miles per hour. The speedy craft lies low to the water, letting passengers feel the harbor's salty spray while hunched securely on saddle-style jockey seats.
RIB Adventure Tours conduct informative history tours and scavenger hunts around Baltimore Harbor, even when the horizon becomes a blur; all tours take place aboard 26-foot-long rigid, inflatable speedboats. Built to Navy SEAL specifications by a local Massachusetts boat manufacturer, the boats keep riders secure aboard jockey seats. On guided history tours, passengers snag high-speed glimpses of harbor landmarks including lighthouses and forts, whose history guides can expound upon. During scavenger hunts, guides prompt passengers to look for environmental clues and give individual scores. Captains and tour guides brief passengers on safety before all excursions and supply them with high-grade waterproof cameras to take pictures of passing scenery.
More relaxed cruises from partner Hestia Cruises, onboard the 32-foot sailing yacht Hestia, might drift past the USS Constitution or out into the outer harbor. The ship is manned by a captain, a full crew, and friendly cocker spaniel named Ensign. Guests can help with the sailing duties, but padded seats and a BYOB policy for those of age may encourage them to sit back and relax.