Sightsailing strives to give you a fun sailing experience and show you the best of Newport. 
We have been operating for more than 20 years and are are the oldest, locally owned company
in Newport offering both regularly scheduled sails and private charters to the public.

“We're a merry bunch who all love what we do and are lucky enough to do it in one of the prettiest places in the world!”

-John Hirschler

John Hirschler

Sightsailing Inc. was started by John Hirschler, who still works here almost every day.  John is a native Newporter who was lucky enough to be introduced to sailing by his parents in their Pearson Ensign and Herreshoff Bullseye. Like many local youngsters bitten by the sailing bug, he sailed summers in the Newport Yacht Club Junior Sailing Program, going on to race dinghies and 420s all over Narragansett Bay. After graduating from Boston University and a stint of office work, he decided it might be a good idea to start a business before returning to business school.

John started Sightsailing doing all the sailing himself in a 22 foot Pearson Ensign while his girlfriend ran the ‘office’…basically a phone, tattered notebook and a rickety chair. After a season or two, John added another boat, and then a few more. He received his MBA but decided that even though it was a boatload of work, he really enjoyed running his own business and "messing about in boats." John's a serious "boat-junkie" who likes nothing more than strolling through boatyards looking at boats.

In the winter, John can be found covered with muck in the boatyard, reading the Sunday New York Times, dreaming of visiting far away places and catching up on everything that got put on the back burner during the sailing season! If you have read this far and want to know more about John, scroll to the bottom of this page and watch our History video.

Favorite Quotation:"You win some, you lose some and some get rained out, but you gotta suit up for them all." J. Askenberg.

Meet The Captains

South Kent School, Connecticut College

John Hughes

Originally from Pennsylvania, John Hughes spent many summers in Rhode Island before becoming a year-round resident in 1996. He grew up around boats and learned to sail by age nine. He has raced dinghies and keel boats on Narragansett Bay. He has cruised in the coastal waters of New England and on the open ocean. He has also spent several months as a deck-hand on a salmon troller in southeast Alaska. John has worked for Sightsailing in alternate summers since acquiring his captain’s license in 1994. In addition to sailing, John loves traveling. He spent nearly seven years overseas (including four and half years in Japan), and he has visited over twenty-five different countries. When he is not working for Sightsailing, he and his wife like to sail their 23' sloop out of Wickford, RI. From September to June, John teaches history at the Rocky Hill School in East Greenwich, RI.

Viginia tech

Ed Early

Hell, with a name like Ed Early, you can bet that Ed will always be on time.  Ed's sailed here so long we're not even sure when he started...9 years ago?  Maybe 10?  Anyway, Ed is our primary Starlight captain and does a really nice job running Starlight.  He knows every inch of Newport Harbor and all of its history.  A former instructor for Offshore Sailing School, Ed is always happy to give his guests the helm or have you just sit back and relax. Ed hangs his hat in Newport for the summer and then migrates to Florida for the winter. Ed's extraordinarliy well read, and a tennis pro. We'd wager that he would destroy any of us on the tennis court!


James Peters

James is from Marietta, Georgia and is the only captain we've ever had who has driven boats with all types of propulsion be it sail, motor, jet drive and... steam! James' sailing career has taken him from coast to coast.  He has sailed aboard the Hawaiian Chieftain, the Californian, Corwth Cramer, Sloop Providence, ferries and private yachts. James holds a 500 ton license, is never afraid to get his hands dirty and enjoys climbing, biking and his guitar!  


Kevin Murray

Kevin has sailed aboard Aquidneck on and off since 2011, starting as crew and working his way up to captain.  In between his work on Aquidneck, Kevin has trekked all over the world sailing with SEA and Call of the Sea. He also enjoys the family Bullseye and racing in Shields.  Kevin is a professional mariner who is always looking to learn and expand his knowledge base and brings a wealth of experince to the positon.  He enjoys teaching, his fellow shipmates and, regardless of the day, always maintains a sunny disposition.


captain captain captain captain captain

This section would not be complete if we did not pay homage to the people who really do the heavy lifting around here: the crew and the front desk team. The front desk team is the one who answered your phone call, explained our different boats, booked your reservation and greeted you upon check-in. They also wear many different hats, sweat all the details, tackle a multitude of office tasks and are the glue that holds this place together!

The crew aboard Aquidneck and Sightsailer are also phenomenal. Every season we get a boatload of applications from all sorts of people: college sailing team skippers, merchant mariners, teachers, boat nuts, you name it. We try to hire people who not only know how to sail, but really like working with people. Our crews are the ones greeting you, raising, lowering and trimming sails, pointing out sights, ensuring your comfort and sharing their knowledge of Newport with you. They have the largest impact on your experience and always try to do an outstanding job!