In the fabulous playground for the wealthy, Newport, Rhode Island, one of our long-time sightseeing tour operators, Sightsailing, takes tourists out on one of three sailing vessels to explore the scenic coastline. I recently had the opportunity to join owner, John Hirschler, and his assistant, Courtney, for a sail on a perfect sailing day.
Sightsailing's Location on Bowen's Wharf\
Captain Hirschler has been operating tours around the harbor for over 20 years. His boat slips and store location offer an interesting juxtaposition: his shop is alongside that of his competitors. In many industries, operating next to competitors provides a symbiotic relationship. Many performing arts theaters are located in single city’s “arts district”. This relationship allows theater patrons to take a chance on securing tickets in a spur of the moment purchase at one of several shows. Conversely, a profitable gym might bristle at the thought of a competitor opening up next door.
John explained that the location of multiple sightseeing tours allows them to market the area as a destination with many options for sailing. Surrounded by outdoor restaurants, shops and places to enjoy a cocktail while watching boats pass, the Bowen's Wharf area offers something for everyone.
19th Century Schooner
Our tour was on the 19th century reproduction schooner, Aquidneck -- a beautiful sailing vessel with gorgeous teak appointments. Our tour began with an overview of some safety rules, although the calm winds probably made those unnecessary. From Austin and thin-skinned against the cool day, I was thrilled when our captain, James, pointed to blankets provided for warmth. They even carry light ponchos in case of rain -- an item we didn’t need on our picture perfect day.
Our two crew members, Sam and Chris, joined Captain James, and regaled us with stories about the sites we passed. The clear favorites among the passengers were Jackie Onasis’ family estate, Hammersmith Farm, and the mansion-on-an-island, Clingstone. We were invited to share in the duties such as lifting the main sail, and I even took a turn operating the steering wheel or “helm” in sailor’s parlance.
The crew straddled the perfect balance of allowing us to quietly enjoy the sail and sharing the history of the area. Our tour lasted for just over an hour and a half and was the perfect excursion to really enjoy the history of the beautiful colonial town. On my next visit, I plan to try a sunset cruise or a brunch cruise with mimosas!
Take Your Sightseeing Tour with Sightsailing!
If you visit Newport, please contact the staff at Sightsailing to book your sightseeing tour tickets. They fill up quickly, so advance booking is recommended. Even so, their outdoor ticket booth takes advantage of our mobile ticket system to efficiently process ticket purchases, so do stop by and ask about upcoming cruise. You can always enjoy a meal or beverage while awaiting for your cruise.
Tell Captain John we sent you, and happy sailing!
Sightsailing of Newport
32 Bowens Wharf
Newport, RI 02840
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