What You Need to Know/FAQs

What should we bring and wear?


Bring appropriate gear for going on the water. In the spring and fall we recommend a lightweight jacket and a pair of pants. In the summer, unless it's really hot, you'll want a jacket or sweatshirt for sunset sails. If you're sailing during the day, bring sun block (not tanning oil which makes the decks slippery) and wear a hat. Any type of soft soled shoes, sneakers or sandals is fine. No high heels please. If you wear high heels you will probably need to go barefoot or you may twist an ankle. And if it looks like rain, bring a rain jacket! Lastly, don't forget a camera, maybe binoculars and your sense of adventure!

What about the weather?


Our sails do run in light to moderately inclement weather.  We we won't send you out in heavy rain that is unlikely to stop, thick fog, high winds or if threatening weather appears imminent.  However we will sail in cloudy, overcast conditions, on and off light rain, and in light to medium fog.  If the weather looks questionable, we'll check the radar before we leave and if it looks like it's going to start pouring and rain for most of the sail, we'll cancel.  If it looks like there might be a light sprinkle and then be fine, we'll go!  Bring your sense of adventure!  We have ponchos available in case of a pop-up shower.  Keep in mind that unfortunately we can't guarantee you a post-card picture-perfect sunset and we won't cancel a "sunset sail"  just because it's overcast.  


There is an old saying in New England that "If you don't like the weather, just wait a minute, it will change!" Therefore, we don't call off our trips when we first get a five day forecast that invariably calls for "a chance of thundershowers."  Some days it may be pouring in the morning only to be beautiful in the afternoon, or pour all day only to stop just before our sunset sail. There are many times we have sailed when it has stopped raining only 10 minutes before departure!  The timing and path of thunderstorms is very hard to predict, therefore a decision to cancel a sail becuase of a thunderstorm watch is typically only made 30 minutes before departure.  


For Public Sails:


We will give you a 100% refund if you cancel 5 days before your departure date.  Once inside the 5 day period, tickets are refundable only if we cancel your sail.  If we cancel, you can reschedule for another time, receive a gift certificate for a future sail or receive a full refund. If you've purchased a ticket for a Public Sail and decide not to show up because of the weather and the boat sails,  the ticket is non refundable.


For Private Charters:


We will give you a 100% refund if you cancel 10 days before your departure date.  Once inside the 10 day period, charters  are refundable only if we cancel your sail. If we cancel you can reschedule for another time, receive a gift certificate for a future charter or receive a full refund.  If you've booked a charter and decide not to show up because of the weather the charter is non refundable.


 Over the years, we have had many enjoyable trips in less than spectacular  conditions. We think this policy is fair and appreciate your cooperation.  For the latest forecast, click on the Current Weather link in the footer of this page.

Will I get seasick?


Absolutely not!  You're sailing in protected waters of the bay and the boats  are very smooth sailing.  Every day we probably sail with close to 100 people who are nervous about getting seasick and no one ever does!

What about children?


We are often asked about our policy of having children aboard. Unless it's a private charter, we do not allow children under the age of six on any of our boats. Every child is included in our head count. Your child counts as a person, and there is a charge for every child.   We do have lifejackets onboard for children but most of them are the stiff, uncomfortable, orange type. If you have a comfortable, vest style lifejacket for your child, by all means bring it with you.


If you are trying to decide whether or not to bring children, consider this: Our trips are generally quiet and relaxing. If your child is at the age where they may not be able to do close to two hours of quiet and relaxing, you probably don't want to bring them along.


Children are  not allowed to roam about the vessel on their own, so plan on spending quality time velcroed to your child while we sail. You know your children best. If you think your child won't be able to handle the length of the trip, you are probably right. Many young children have sailed with us and loved it. However, some parents who have brought their children have ended up wishing they had not. If you have other concerns about children onboard, please ask.

What about food or snacks?


If you're doing a public sail you may bring a small amount amount of food aboard.  Food on public sails should be contained to your lap. If you are doing a private charter and want suggestions on food and drink or a catering menu, see our Food and Drink page.


How do we get there?


You cannot drive onto Bowen's Wharf; you need to park and walk onto it.  Bowen's Wharf is off of America's Cup Avenue. A good address to put into your GPS is 49 America's Cup Ave which is the address for The Newport Hotel which is next to Bowen's Wharf.  Once you're at 49 America's Cup Ave., look for the very tall flagpole with all sorts of colorful flags on it.  Walk to that flagpole and at the foot of the small parking lot you will see our small house and big blue awning which says Sightsailing!  If you're walking around, ask anyone where the Black Pearl Restaurant or 22 Bowen's restauarants are.  We are located right between them.  


There is a small parking lot at Bowen's Wharf just past 49 America's Cup Ave that holds about 20 cars.  It's first come, first served and fills up fast.  The  largest and least expensive parking garage in Newport is at the city garage at the Discover Newport Visitor Bureau at 23 America's Cup Ave.  The lot is less than a 1/4 mile or 5 minute walk from the dock.  There are also other lots and meters all along Thames St and America's Cup Ave.  Click on our Where to Park FAQ for a parking map.


 


From New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Points South:


Take Interstate 95 North


Exit onto Route 138 East Kingston/Newport


Continue on Route 138 to Pell/Newport Bridge


Take first exit off bridge (Scenic Newport exit)


Take right off exit ramp and drive straight through 1st set of traffic lights.


At 2nd set of lights turn right on America's Cup Ave.  Bowen's Wharf will be 1/3 mile on right.


From Cape Cod and Points East:


Take 195 West to Fall River 


Take exit for Route 24 south Newport


Follow Route 24 south which turns into Route 114


Follow Route 114 into Newport.


Approximately one mile from city line, just past City Hall, turn right on Marlborough St.


Take a left at traffic light and Bowen's Wharf will be a 1/4 mile on right.


From Boston:


Take Interstate 93 south out of Boston to Route 24 south.


Take exit for Newport Route 24 south.


Follow Route 24 south which turns into 114 .


Follow Route 114 into Newport.


Approximately one mile from city line, just past City Hall, turn right on Marlborough St.


Take a left at traffic light and Bowen's Wharf will be a 1/4 mile on right.


 

Where do we park?


Keep in mind that there are often major events occurring weekends in Newport and it can take longer than usual to get into town and find a place to park. If you're coming on a weekend, give yourself plenty of extra time. If you're late and miss the boat, we unfortunately can't give you a refund!

You have several parking options. There are lots along America's Cup Ave and Thames St. which offer a flat rate for all day and night parking, typically $10-$20. Next there are meters all over Newport. These have a three hour limit which is strictly enforced and are $1/hour. There is a very small lot here at Bowen's Wharf which holds about 20 cars. It costs $1.50/hour and gets full quickly. You can also use a very large lot at the Newport County Convention and Visitor's Bureau at 23 America's Cup Ave which is about a six minute walk from us. There is another good size lot on Mary Street which is about three minutes from us. The rates at the Visitor Center and Mary Street are the lowest and there is plenty of space.

Downtown Newport Parking Map

What is the best time of day to sail?


It really depends on your schedule. In the summer, the prevailing wind in Newport is from the Southwest. It tends to be light in the morning, increase by late morning, build all afternoon, then moderate and sometimes die close to sunset. Morning sails are generally gentle, afternoon sails exhilarating and sunset sails relaxing. If a cold front has just come through, the wind will be strongest in the morning. This is more typical in the fall. If you see a flag flying straight out there is plenty of wind to sail. Sightsailer and Starlight sail in the slightest of breezes. Aquidneck generally needs around 10 mph of wind to sail. Keep in mind that unfortunately we cannot control the wind. While we strive to sail as much as possible, if the wind dies or is too light to sail, we'll probably start and run the motor so you can at least see things!

What about wheelchairs?


None of our vessels are wheelchair accessible.  For more information see our FAQ on Minimum Mobility Requirements.

Can we smoke aboard?


No cigarette, cigar or pipe smoking is allowed on any public sails or private charters.

Do the boats have restrooms?


Yes, all of our boats have marine "heads" on board.

What about drinks?


Guests sailing on any of our public sailing cruises may bring a small amount of alcohol aboard with them, i.e. a bottle of wine, champagne or six pack of beer. No cases of beer, large coolers, or hard alcohol are allowed. On public sunset sails, guests receive complimentary champagne, beer, soda or water.   We will serve a few rounds, however none of our sails are unlimited booze cruises.  We aim to create an elegant, relaxing, peaceful and safe experience for all on board. During the day bottles of spring water are available for purchase at the dock for $1.00.


Guests sailing on private charters may bring their own drinks, again no hard alcohol, or arrange to purchase them through Vickers' Liquors (401 847-0123).  Vicker's does not markup the cost of alcohol and  delivery to the dock is free!  For more info see our Food and Drink page.

Can I steer the boat and help sail?


Unless it's extremely windy or the bay is very congested, we encourage anyone who wants to take the wheel and sail our boats.  Discover sailing in Newport the sailing capital of the U.S.  It's a thrill and a great picture-taking opportunity!

Do you allow dogs?


Sorry, but with the exception of service dogs, we do not allow dogs under any circumstances. If you have a service dog that you need to bring with you, please let us know.

When do tickets for public sails go on sale?


Tickets for Public Sails on Aquidneck go on sale 21 days before departure.  Tickets for Public Sails on Sightsailer go on sale 14 days before departure.  Private Charters on any of the boats including Starlight, may be booked year round.

What's your cancellation/refundpolicy?


Cancelling Tickets & Charters:


Public Sails: Your tickets are valid only for the date and time purchased.  Tickets may be cancelled and a 100% refund received, if you cancel at least 5 days before your sail.  You may schedule a different date and time providing you make your change 5 days in advance of the sail. Once inside the 5 day period, tickets will be refunded only if your sail is cancelled by us due to weather.  See below.


Private Charters: Private Charters may be cancelled and a 100% refund received, if you cancel at least 10 days before your sail. Your charter is valid only for your scheduled date and time.  You may schedule a different date and time providing you make your change 10 days in advance of the sail. Once inside the 10 day period, your charter will be refunded only if your sail is cancelled by us due to weather.  See below.


Weather Cancellations:


You really don't have anything to worry about.  We want you to enjoy your sail, so we won't send you out in heavy rain, thick fog, high winds, or thunder and lightning.  We won't leave the dock if it's about to start pouring rain. However we will sail if it's overcast, in light to medium fog and in very light, on-off sprinkles.  We can't guarantee you a picture-pefect sunset and we will not cancel a "sunset sail" simply because it's cloudy.  Over the years, we have had many enjoyable trips in less than ideal conditions.


There is an old saying in New England that "If you don't like the weather, just wait a minute, it will change!"  Therefore, we don't call off our trips when we first get the five day forecast that calls for "a chance of thundershowers."  There are many trips that we have sailed when it has stopped raining only 10 minutes before departure!  As a result, a decision to cancel a sail is usually only made very close to departure time.


The final decision to sail resides with us.  If you've purchased a ticket and decide not to show up because of the weather and the boat sails, your ticket  is non refundable.  

Minimum Mobility Requirements


Our boats are really not suited to anyone with mobility issues.  None of our boats are wheelchair accessible. 


To get on and off Aquidneck and Sightsailer, a person needs to be able to walk down a steep ramp, then about 40 feet down a floating, wobbly dock, up 5 steps with a rail, step up and over a 12 inch step and into the boat.  You also need to go down the same steep stairs at the end of the trip and  the wobbly dock.  Our crew can certainly offer a hand to get up and down the stairs, however we're not able to pick someone up and carry them aboard.  Once aboard, you must have use of your legs in order to brace yourself in all sailing conditions.


To get on and off Starlight you need to be able to go up and down a fixed ladder with narrow rungs. Unless you can go up and down a ladder unassisted,  a person with a disability cannot sail on Starlight.


We suggest calling Sail to Prevail in Newport which operates sailing vessels specially designed to accomodate people with mobility issues.  Their number is 401 849-8898. 


 

What exactly do we see on the sails?


While none of our boats follow an exact route, on all of the sails you will see Fort Adams, the largest coastal fortification in North America, Hammersmith Farm, the old summer Whitehouse of JFK and Clingstone a one-of-kind house on an island.  You'll also get great views of the bridge.  The scenery is always changing so no two trips are exactly alike!

Is there narration on the sails?


All of our captains and crew are well versed on the various sights in the area.  There is some light, informative commentary offered aboard and trust us, we can talk a blue streak about the sights and history of the bay if you ask, however this is not a fully narrated tour.  This is sailing with leisurely sightseeing.

Why do I not see the entire schedule for Sightsailer & Aquidneck when I look at the online calendar?


Aquidneck and Sightsailer offer both public sails and private charters.  Private charters are quite popular, therefore we only release tickets for public sails 21 days before sailing for Aquidneck and 14 days before sailing for Sightsailer.  Once tickets for public sails go on sale for Aquidneck and Sightsailer, the dates and times appear on our online booking calendar.  Call us at 401 849-3333 with any questions!

 

 

 

Unforgetable Harbor Sail, Newport RI