Making Waves: Community Boating on the Charles River

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Posted July 23, 2013 by Scott Kearnan in Downtown Boston
Sailboats on the Charles

If you think a sunny day of boating is an activity that’s reserved for summering (verb form) on the Vineyard, think again. Boston is an urban oasis with community boating in its backyard, right on the Charles River—a.k.a that strip of water that separates downtown from Cambridge, the home of Harvard and hipsters.

Say you don’t have a boat or even know how to use one. No problem. There are plenty of options for nautical novices on the Charles, from big sailboats to more modest canoes. Here are three top picks and how they can help you jump into boating headfirst. Figuratively speaking, I mean. (Otherwise, ouch.)

Community Boating Inc.

The Community Boating clubhouse on the Charles. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Community Boating, Inc.: Founded in the 1940s, Community Boating is a nonprofit that looks to spread the love of boating in the community. Sign up for a membership, which can start with an “Intro to Sailing and Kayaking” package, and you’ll have access to beginner, intermediate, and advanced classes that are offered daily through October. Whether you need to learn the vital jargon (like “jib”), train your sea legs, or just want unlimited access to a fleet of 100+ boats, you’re in luck. Plus, members get access to social events such as night sails and summer BBQs alongside fellow boaters. Ahoy!

Community Rowing, Inc.: Lose the mast and build muscle with Community Rowing, which offers classes that’ll have you power paddling down the Charles in no time. And just think how well those nifty new biceps will fill out your polo shirt at summer shindigs. Bonus! There are options to row “sweeps” and build teamwork in an 8-person boat or, for the independently minded mariner (raises hand), go “sculling” solo. Need to build morale or just drag along some hapless friends as you embark on a new skill? This year, CRI introduced the Charles River Rowing League, designed to bring together colleagues (or pals, for that matter). Create a team of 10 and you’ll receive a weekly lesson for four weeks, capped by a celebratory cookout.

Charles River Canoe & Kayak.: Though it’s based in the suburb of Newton, Charles River Canoe & Kayak has a convenient rental facility right on the Charles, on Soldiers Field Road in Allston/Brighton. They’re super enjoyable, and for an especially great sightseeing option, book a one-way trip from the Allston/Brighton location to the Kendall Square rental facility. You’ll get a picturesque five-mile glimpse of all the schools that line the river and the skylines that surround it.

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