Getaway Guide to small craft voyaging

August 22, 2018 - 12:19 pm

By Jay Lloyd

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) -- "Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing --absolutely nothing -- half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats." These words of wisdom and truth came from a water rat to a mole in Kenneth Grahame's, "Wind in the Willows." And, of course, being a rat and a mole, the subject was small water craft, the most popular floating fun for we humans, as well. They take many forms from paddle boards to peddle boats. Let's explore the what and where of getting on the water in these waning days of summer.


An eyeball survey would certainly indicate that the kayak, an Eskimo mode of travel, has replaced the canoe and rowboat as a small recreational boat of choice in our tri-state region. They can go most anywhere from near shore fishing to exploring creeks, streams, rivers and lakes. They're easy to transport and a one or two person inflatable can be bought for under $100. And they are available for rent everywhere from the Jersey shore to Pennsylvania state parks, on Pocono Mountain waterways and Chesapeake Bay tributaries. See Annapolis Harbor by water on a guided kayak tour with Kayak Annapolis. 

Kayak Tours
Jay Lloyd / KYW Newsradio


How about paddling, standing up? Good exercise and a balance challenge. Calmer water is suggested. But it's a great way to power your way in a scenic harbor or creek. I've even seen paddle boarders cruising the Hudson River from New Jersey to mid-town Manhattan. Looking like a beamy surfboard, the average paddle board can range from $200 to $400. Try em' first with a rental. Look up Harbor Outfitters in Ocean City and Stone Harbor. Lessons too.

Paddle Boarding
Jay Lloyd / KYW Newsradio


The venerable canoe allowed the Lenape Indians to travel over water highways though the Delaware Valley long before Billy Penn was born. As the 20th century dawned, they were viewed as conveyances of romance. Young men would leisurely paddle on lakes and streams while serenading a young lady of choice. The canoe soon became a sport challenge as daring canoeists battled river rapids. Plan on spending $800 to $1,000 on an average rigid canoe for two. To test the waters with a rental, check out Port Providence Paddle on the Schuylkill Canal, just outside Phoenixville.

Schuylkill Canoe
Jay Lloyd / KYW Newsradio


The sturdy flat bottom rowboat with creaking oarlocks was sure to create blisters. But it was the simplest craft for navigating lakes and streams for a leisurely day on the water or for fishing. Unless you're a serious fisherman, don't bother buying, just rent. The iconic Central Park Lake Boathouse was my introduction to rowing, I was 5 years old. Dad pulled the oars. Little did I realize that 12 years later I would be hauling oars on a nine man Coast Guard lifeboat in the Atlantic.

Central Park
Jay Lloyd / KYW Newsradio


If you have sailing experience, those small but zippy, "Sunfish" can be found as close as Marsh Creek Lake in Chester County. They carry two people, but better stick to a solo sail - easier to handle. For $45 an hour or $115 for four, you get close to the wind and turn on a pinhead. Small sailboats from the sunfish to larger day sailers and catamarans can be found for rent on lakes and bays around the country. And they are just as popular on Caribbean and European getaways.

Sail Boats
Jay Lloyd / KYW Newsradio


Jet skis have become a rage, combining small craft with high power. They're fast, fun to drive, go where you want and no license required. But Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland require Boater Safety Course certificates and have age restrictions - minimum of 12 in PA, 14 in DE, 16 in NJ and MD. While these get wet versions of motorcycles are a small percentage of boats on American waters, they represent 30% of all boating accidents and 36% of boating injuries. Want to learn and try? Look up East Coast Jet Ski at Utches Marina in Cape May. There are strict rules for use in a designated "safe" area, a minimum age of 18 and you'll be under the eyes of "Rangers." The price is $80 for 45 minutes.

Jet Ski
Jay Lloyd / KYW Newsradio

Other small craft to be found at waterside getaway locations include peddle boats, wind surfers, surfboards, rafts and tubes.

Enjoy and stay safe!