As people search for social activities that strike a balance between safety and recreation, time on the water is time well spent.
The summer of 2020 became a season fraught with changing habits and expectations of how to enjoy the most treasured time of the year. Families and social circles were hungry for opportunities to gather together, all while being carefully conscious of remaining safe and healthy. It is therefore no surprise that getting out on the water suddenly became an attractive and viable option for both experienced and novice boaters. The boating industry as a whole has been significantly impacted by the increased interest and investment the public has had on available inventory, supply lines, dock space and overall activity. Whether you are in the market for a new or used vessel, looking to repair or restore a boat you already own or just want to get out and enjoy the Cape and Islands from a different point of view, there are plenty of options to experience one of the region’s greatest assets.
Matt Thompson from Oyster Harbors Marine in Osterville says that while some of the timelines for delivery of new boats extend into 2022, there is still selection within both their new and used boat inventory. “We are lucky that our relationships with our customers have been built over many years,” says Thompson about the venerable boat yard that has been selling and servicing boats for the better part of 35 years. “When a client is ready to buy a new boat, we often take their previous vessel in trade, so we are lucky to have inventory.” Thompson also explains that the surge in the popularity of boating last summer was eye-opening. “We sold a brand new boat to a customer in August so his family could use it for two weeks before going back to their home in California. That was quite telling for us,” Thompson explains. As a result the company pro-actively ordered as much inventory as possible in anticipation of another busy season, positioning them with plenty of product for a wide variety of buyers.
Oyster Harbors represents 10 different manufacturers of boats that run the gamut from center consoles like Regulators and Everglades to serious off-shore fishing vessels capable of landing marlin, tuna and swordfish such as the Viking line of yachts. In addition, the yard’s Custom Shop can fabricate custom interiors and specialized equipment installations for some of the most discerning powerboat and sailboat clients around.
Thompson says that boating doesn’t have to be an all-in commitment for individuals or families. In fact, he notes that some of his happiest customers are those that find just the right slice of leisure time to enjoy their investment. “The high-quality day boats we offer are the perfect solution for that person that looks out the window and sees a great day shaping up and decides to take a few hours out on the boat. They make a couple of calls, pack a quick cooler and that’s it. They are able to jump aboard, with a few friends or family and go out for a quick cruise.”
John Cornish of Wareham’s Atlantic Boats confirms the popularity of the smaller boats like the Sea Pro and Carolina Skiffs that they represent. “A lot of our boats are used for fishing,” Cornish shares. “But they are also great for families. They are the perfect option to get to beaches that are less crowded or just go out for a ride.” Atlantic boats not only sells, and services new and used boats and parts, but their full-service operation includes a impressively stocked marine store and a full-service marina in quaint Onset Village that offers slip and mooring dockage on a seasonal basis, and transient dockage by the hour or overnight, as well as a popular waterside family restaurant.
When asked why he thinks boating activities have exploded in popularity since the beginning of the pandemic, Cornish says it is simple. “People are looking for things they can do with restrictions. The past year has been an endless rollout of everything people can’t do. When you are out on a boat, with people you know and trust, it is like going back to a happier, simpler time. You can just have some fun.”
For those that aren’t interested in everything boat ownership has to offer, there are plenty of ways to enjoy the local waterways while someone else is responsible for the maintenance and everything else that comes with ownership. Fractional ownership companies like Freedom Boat Club, with Cape locations in Cataumet, Falmouth and West Dennis, offer the joy of owning a boat with fewer headaches. Fractional ownership is akin to membership in any other type of club—members are able to reserve and use the facilities and equipment, in this case boats, fully fueled and tied up at a dock, ready to go. The added benefit? Reciprocal privileges at other Freedom Boat Clubs as well as a roster of other clubs around the country.
The ease of getting out and enjoying our waterfront landscape can also become a delightful reality at a much slower pace. The world of kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding slows things down to a manageable and restorative pace that appeal to paddlers of all ages. Kim Fernandes of Cape Cod Kayak says they have been extremely busy from last summer right through this spring. The Bourne-based business sells new kayaks and accessories as well as provides rentals for a few hours or several days depending upon the clients’ needs. Kayaks can be delivered to local waterways and their kayak tours will introduce customers to local waterways, flora and fauna for a few hours with a knowledgeable guide.
Mike MacAskill, owner of North Chatham Outfitters in Chatham says his customers get the benefit of his knowledgeable staff that are passionate about the adventures his opertaion supports. The expansive retail operation has most anything anglers, paddlers and SUP enthusiasts are looking for. “We offer classes for people wanting to transition from spin reel fishing to fly fishing,” MacAskill explains. “Our guides will take you to a shore location where you are almost guaranteed success. But if you want to fly fish from a boat, we also offer excursion trips that run the gamut from out on the Monomoy flats to something more adventourous in the Nauset rips.” MacAskill says this summer they will also offer Stand Up Paddle Board lessons, tours and early morning yoga.
Adventure Chatham, a division of Cape Cod Beach Chair in Harwich, sells and rents Stand Up Paddle Boards, as well as offering SUP tours. One of their most popular tours involves a night paddle, around the monthly full moons. Their fully-stocked retail operation on Old Queen Anne Road has all the gear you need as well as countless other fun stuff you never imagined you were coveting.
Local cruise options can also provide a bit of adventure, an opportunity to learn about the region and of course the photo opportunities are endless. Falmouth’s Liberté, a classically built schooner that sails out of Falmouth Harbor does several daily trips in Vineyard Sound with glimpses of the Vineyard and Falmouth coastline while enjoying the quiet peace found while under sail. Insider’s tip: in August the sunset sail captures a “pocket-sunset” as the sun sets perfectly in Woods Hole Passage.
Provincetown’s Moment Sailing Charters also offers a serene adventure aboard a Sparkman Stevens designed sloop named Moment. Owner and captain Chris Bartic offers two-three hour daytime cruises, a sunset cruise and are available for chartered events like weddings or other special occasions.
Whatever the summer holds for visitors and residents of the Cape and Islands, there is no excuse to miss out on the adventures on the water.
Julie Craven Wagner is the editor of Cape Cod LIFE.
Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than those you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from safe harbor. Catch the wind in your sails.
Explore. Dream. Discover.