FAQ’s

What you need to know

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.  Don't worry, 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 sprinkles 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. The timing and path of thunderstorms is very hard to predict, therefore a decision to cancel a sail because of a thunderstorm watch is typically only made 30 minutes before departure.

If we cancel your sail due to adverse weather conditions, you will receive a 100% refund or can choose to reschedule, or receive a gift certificate for a future trip.

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 tickets or 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 Local Weather link in the footer of this page.

What's our cancellation/refund policy?

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. 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 have one "courtesy switch" and may schedule a different date and time providing you call us and 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 our FAQ about weather.

Weather: If we cancel your sail due to adverse weather conditions,  you will receive a 100% refund, can choose to reschedule, or receive a gift certificate for a future trip.

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 tickets or charter is non-refundable.

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 seeour 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

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.  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!

What is the best time of day to sail?

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 the sights!

What about food and drink?

PUBLIC SAILS:

Drink:

On Public Sails,  a small amount of alcohol may be brought  aboard.  No cases of beer, large or roll-on coolers are permitted.  For safety reasons and to ensure the enjoyment of all, excessive drinking is not allowed. No hard alcohol is permitted aboard at any time.

Food:

On Public Sails, any food brought aboard must be contained to one's lap.  No platters of food or large spreads please.

PRIVATE CHARTERS:

Drink:

If you are privately chartering one of our boats you may bring your own drinks or arrange to have them delivered.  Most guests arrange to have drinks delivered, since delivery is free and there is no markup in cost. We allow beer, wine, champagne, soda and water, however no hard liquor is allowed on our boats at any time.

For ordering and free drink delivery, call Vickers’ Liquors at 401 847-0123.   You should also order about 2-6 bags of ice. One if sailing on Starlight, two if sailing on Sightsailer and six if sailing on Aquidneck.  Once your drinks are delivered, our crew will put your drinks and ice into coolers and on the boat.

Please tell Vickers' to deliver your drinks a half hour before departure time.  This will ensure that our crew has enough time to get your drinks aboard and help you depart on time.

Food:

Food adds to what is sure to be a great outing!  If you are privately chartering one of our boats, you may bring your own food or use a caterer of your choosing.  Our crew will put aboard, clean-up and remove any food or drink you bring or have catered.

Whether you're using a caterer or decide to prepare and bring your own food, keep in mind the limitations of serving food on a moving sailing vessel on a potentially breezy day.  Potato chips in bags will give new meaning to the term fast food.  Think finger foods that are easy to pick up and eat with one hand without further preparation.  Suggested servings are sandwiches, wraps, skewered food etc. Food can be upscale and elegant or more casual fare.   There isn't room for place settings, knives, forks or carving stations, however there is room for small plates and napkins.  We do not have equipment to reheat or warm-up appetizers, so cold appetizers are best.  We find that guests sometimes order too much food.  Better to have just one appetizer platter left than ten!

For private charters on Aquidneck, we set up a large, elegant, varnished table on which to place platters of food and wine or champagne bottles.  There is plenty of space to accommodate appetizer platters to feed up to 49 guests.

Sightsailer has a small narrow table, that can accomodate two or a maximum of three platters. Starlight has a very small cockpit table so food should be kept to a minimum.

Please tell any caterer you use to deliver your food a 1/2 hour before your scheduled departure time.  This will allow our crew enough time to get your food on board, set up and help you depart on time.

There are many good caterers in Newport and you're welcome to use any caterer that you'd like.  If you are chartering Aquidneck, we can email you a couple of Yacht Charter Menus from some outstanding local caterers that many of our guests have used with menus specifically designed for larger groups aboard boats. 

If you're chartering Starlight or Sightsailer, we suggest you stop at a local market and pick up food on your own. Try Newport Wine and Cheese or Panera, both of which are close to Bowen's Wharf. There are also several markets close by on Thames Street and on America's Cup Avenue.

What exactly do we see on the sails? Is there any narration?

While none of our boats follow an exact route, on all of the sails you will get great views of the Pell Bridge, 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. The scenery is always changing so no two trips are exactly alike!

All of our captains and crew are well versed on the various sights in the area. There is some light, informative commentary offered aboard of the highlights, i.e. Clingstone, Fort Adams, Hammersmith Farm and trust us, we can talk a blue streak about the sights and history of the bay if you're interested, however this is not a fully narrated tour with constant talking.  This is sailing with leisurely sightseeing.

Can I steer the boat and help sail?

Unless it's extremely windy or the bay is very congested, we encourage anyone who is interested, 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!

What about children?

We consider a child to be ages 6-12.  To ensure the enjoyment of all our guests, no children under the age of six are permitted on Public Sails on Aquidneck or Sightsailer.  On Private Charters aboard Aquidneck and Sightsailer, children under 6 are permitted.  For safety reasons, and since it is operated by only one captain, no children under 6 are permitted on Starlight.

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 about wheelchairs?

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

What about dogs?

With the exception of service or companion dogs, no dogs are permitted aboard our boats at any time.  If you have a service or companion dog that you would like to bring aboard,  please notify us in advance.  No dogs are permitted aboard Starlight at any time.

What are our policies for large groups on public sails?

On public sails, we do not allow coolers, cases of beer, large spreads of food, Bluetooth music speakers, or party props of any kind. We promote a family-friendly environment and ask that all groups are respectful of other guests on board.   If you're looking for a sail with food, coolers, drink, music, etc. then consider a private charter. 

The largest group of people that are part of one party that we'll take on a public sail aboard Aquidneck cannot exceed 24, which is about half the capacity of the boat.  If your group is larger than 24 people, it can start to overwhelm the rest of the guests aboard. Therefore, we require that groups larger than 24 privately charter Aquidneck.  For information on private charters aboard Aquidneck, call  us at 401 862 4718 or send an email to: info@sightsailing.com.

While we're happy to take out  large groups on  public sails,  if you have a large group, please call us at 401 849-3333. We require that any blocks of tickets be purchased under one name. For groups of 10 or more a 15% crew gratuity will be added to the total ticket cost.