available for charter and for three-hour public champagne sunset cruises on Saturdays (sips and snacks are included in the fare). She sails from Harbor Island, at 1380 Harbor Island Drive (619.572.3443, sailjada.com). Sailing from Cabrillo Isle Marina on Harbor Island, the yawl Orion’s specialty is wildlife tours. Captain Keith possesses a degree in biology and a passion for marine life. Public sails operate morning and afternoon in the summer, and Orion also operates sunset cruises (619.574.7504, orionsailing.com). The topsail schooner Amazing Grace is available for charter only; she sails from Shelter Island’s Kona Kai marina (253.278.8672, amazinggracetallship.com). THE SPLASH: Dennis Connor’s America’s Cup Experience fleet is home ported in San Diego but will be called away for the summer as the preparations for the 2013 Cup begin in San Francisco. You can, however, try your own hand at this classic race aboard the famous Abracadabra or Stars and Stripes. With enough signups, these vessels will race each other, America’s Cup style. Call ahead to see which days are good for speed and which will be more cruise-like (800.644.3454, stars-stripes.com).
ROMANCE AND SUNSETS The San Diego Maritime Museum’s little Pilot vessel, built in 1914 to guide large vessels into port, provides a unique two-hour twilight cruise on Fridays and Saturdays in July and August. Wine, beer and soft drinks are included (619.234.9153, sdmaritime.org/ twilight-cruises). Xplore Offshore provides a modified Navy SEAL Rigid Inflatable Boat (RIB) for a lazy evening of “Concerts and Cocktails.” Spend a few hours drifting by San Diego’s various on-the-water music venues, curled up in bean bag chairs as you listen to music from bayside concerts (858.361.9494, xploreoffshore.com). The Gondola Company offers an array of tours, from winetasting to floating under the moon, departing from Loews Coronado Bay Resort. Their sleek little vessels are available for couples or groups (up to 14 in the largest gondola). Snuggly blankets and appetizers or dessert are provided, along with an ice bucket and glasses so that you may bring your choice of beverage. A violinist can be commissioned, and rumor has it that a gondolier may be coaxed to croon on occasion (619.429.6317, gondolacompany.com). THE SPLASH: To impress your sweet one, it’s hard to surpass the waterborne decadence of a couples’ massage aboard a gondola. This one-hour treat includes a 40-minute back-and-shoulder massage, champagne and strawberries. Bathing suits are the best option, and robes are provided. Two gondoliers and two masseurs will help you drift out of this world in the large Carolina gondola, which otherwise carries up to 14 passengers. A musician can be arranged as well (619.429.6317, gondolacompany.com).
FAMILY-FRIENDLY The official tall ship of the state of California, the tops’l schooner Californian is permanently berthed at 1492 Harbor Drive as part of the San Diego Maritime Museum. She sails daily from 12:30 to 4:30 pm, and passengers can assist in line-handling and sail-raising, or just sit back and enjoy the cruise and the can-
non fire aboard this classic vessel (619.234.9153, sdmaritime.org/ adventure-sail). THE SPLASH: Treasure Seekers Cruise is your childhood Peter Pan dream come true. Though Treasure Seekers is aimed at kids during the 90-minute day sails, movie-costumed crew ramp up the action for corporate team-building and charter sails. At least one cruise per day involves an actual treasure hunt with booty to be split among the smallest buccaneers aboard (call to confirm times). Equipped with a snack bar featuring “grog punch” for the youngsters and more potent potables for the grownups, the ship leaves on day and evening cruises from Cabrillo Isle Marina at Harbor Island (619.224.4386, pirateshipparty.com).
HIGH-OCTANE Many local equipment rental shops let you choose your own waterborne adventure. Seaforth Boat Rentals has several offices for chartering sail and fishing boats, wakeboards, Jet Skis and power boats, as well as a two-hour offshore waverunner tour from Mission Bay along the La Jolla coastline (888.834.2628, seaforthboatrental.com), while the Adventure Center is a one-stop shop for everything from parasailing to Jet Skis (844 W. Mission Bay Drive, 619.224.4386, supercooladventures.com). THE SPLASH: Xplore Osffshore features a boatload of packages, including “Half-day at High Speed,” which packs in a customized variety of activities, from high-speed rafting to snorkeling, and also includes lunch (858.361.9494, xploreoffshore.com).
ADAPTIVE Mission Bay Athletic Club builds and provides beach-accessible wheelchairs, which are available at lifeguard stations around Mission and Ocean beaches at no charge—just stop by a station and ask (ombac.org/wheelchair). THE SPLASH: Challenged America lets everybody get into the boat. Modified Martin 16 sailboats equipped with a “joystick” accommodate mildly to severely challenged sailors. Larger racing vessels are also available, and you can bring your non-challenged mates aboard to join in the fun (619.523.9318, challengedamerica.org).
FOURTH OF JULY AND SUMMER FIREWORKS
Most charter and public-sail vessels have opportunities for viewing Independence Day fireworks around the Big Bay. Some take advantage of the San Diego Symphony’s weekend displays at the Embarcadero as well as SeaWorld’s nightly summer shows. Many often have boats available for more intimate experiences by sail, paddle or raft. The San Diego Maritime Museum has places aboard the classic schooner Californian and the little Pilot boat for on-the-water viewing of July 4th fireworks (619.234.9153, sdmaritime.org/4thjulycelebrations). THE SPLASH: Seaforth’s rental kayaks offer the opportunity to paddle out and view SeaWorld’s nightly fireworks show from the water in Mission Bay. Call ahead to confirm the schedule and join the flotilla (888.834.2628, seaforthboatrental.com).
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