Humans built sailboats after failed attempts to parasail with stingrays and ride blue whales tied to kites. Master the sea atop a manmade tool with today’s Groupon to Spirit of Independence Sailboat Charter Service in Portsmouth. Choose between the following options:
• For $18, you get two tickets to a 90-minute cruise departing at 11:30 a.m. (a $32 value) or a two-hour cruise departing at 3:00 p.m. (up to a $36 value).
• For $24, you get two tickets to a two-hour sunset cruise departing at 7 p.m. (up to a $48 value). Sunset cruises run daily through August.
All cruises depart from the High Street Landing in downtown Portsmouth. Free parking is available in the garage at the corner of High Street and Water Street.
Spirit of Independence Sailboat Charter Service whisks groups of up to 40 passengers on nautical tours of Hampton Roads Harbor aboard the Spirit of Independence, a double-masted schooner. Depending on the wind and weather, tours may scoot upstream past Norfolk Naval Shipyard, where passengers can spot submarines, aircraft carriers, and giant children shouting "Battleship!", or downstream, where they can gawk at the USS Wisconsin, the Hampton Roads Naval Museum, and the Half Moon cruise ship terminal. Passengers can help the crew sail the graceful vessel or explore its shiny wooden interior while mer-bald-eagles serenade the captain with haunting renditions of “America the Beautiful.” At the end of the tour, the crew deftly pirouettes the vessel 360 degrees in order to dock in the High Street Landing's small harbor. All three tours follow much the same course, though the 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. tours meander for an additional 30 ocean-misted minutes to the applause of supportive seagulls and jeers of jealous dinghies.
Reservations are required. Smoking is not allowed aboard the Spirit of Independence.