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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 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 is 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

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Tyson Bottenus

When a man shows up for his job wearing a ball cap embroidered with  a bicycle that reads: "Livin' the Effin' Dream" you know you've probably met an interesting guy.

Tyson has  bicycled all over the world including long distance treks to Japan, New Zealand and just this winter, a long trek down the Baja into Mexico. Let's just say he's a serious bike-junkie.

Tyson has sailed aboard Aquidneck on and off since 2008.  Like most of our captains he started out as crew and worked his way up to captain.  Referred to as "The Minister of Narragansett Bay" by one of his sailing school students, Tyson knows the history of every sight and is extremely knowledgeable about the coastline, bay, ocean and issues affecting them. 

He has sailed on boats ranging from Lasers, 420's and FJ's, to J 22's, SEA sail training vessels including the Corwith Cramer and Robert Seamans and even a stint on Dodge Morgan's solo round the world boat, Americian Promise.

His past work experience includes sailing instructor, fisheries observer and serving as the Sustainability and Educational  Program Director for Sailors for the Sea. In his off time you might catch him rebuilding a bike to give to a friend, or picking plastic out of the harbor.   

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Jessica

Jessica is a local Aquidneck Islander born and raised in Portsmouth.  She got her start in sailing by going out with her Dad for "wild and crazy" sails on the family sailboat.  She's related to a Newport Harbor icon, the legendary Louie Jagschitz, a.k.a. 'Louie the Lobsterman".  Jessica is a self-admitted adrenaline junkie.  Although she's mellowed, she still loves the thrill of danger, be it a fast motorcycle ride or climbing the rig on Aquidneck.  She loves physical work which we have a lot of around here!  When she's not crewing on Aquidneck, you can find her behind the lens of her old school 35 mm film camera, swimming, or creating stunning, large format paintings.

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Erica

Erica started sailing at the Savannah Yacht Club in Georgia, as soon as she could swim.  Erica is a graduate of the Savannah Arts Academy and  in addition to being an awesome crew member, is an incredibly talented metalsmith.  Need a fancy ornamental handrail, designed, fabricated, welded, painted and installed at your place?  Erica's your gal.  How about a rad piece of jewelry?  Ditto.  When she's not sailing, Erica can be found hitting up estate sales, fabricating at the Steel Yard, playing bike polo or tending bar in Providence.

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Kelly's sailing has taken him all over the world including stints in Florida, the Caribbean, New England and Palma de Mallorca. He's worked on classic sailing yachts and motor vessels.  Along with a friend, he helped rehab an eco lodge and turned it into one of the most sought after places to stay garnering top reviews on Trip Advisor.  Kelly exudes warmth, friendliness and hospitality as only a Southern Gentleman can. When he's not working on Aquidneck, you'll find Kelly playing music, practicing massage, yoga or snapping pictures with his Polaroid.

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Chris

Chris is a native Rhode Islander, born and raised in the Wakefield/South Kingstown area.  A graduate of Maine Maritime Academy, Chris holds a 1600 ton license. He has run a variety of inspected vessels both power and sail.  His work  has taken him all over the world including a trip aboard the Bowdoin to Antarctica, work aboard vessels run by Ocean Classrooms, SEA and Portland Discovery Tours, and more recently as Operations Manager for the sail training vessel Oliver Hazard Perry. Never one to shy away from getting his hands dirty in the yard or on board, Chris is an exceptionally talented rigger, sailor, navigator and teacher and brings a boatload of useful experience to our program.  When he's not helming Aquidneck, he's busy at home with his Dr. wife and three tykes.

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Sam

Sam, a.k.a. Tallsam, hails from Ipswich, MA but has called Newport home for years.  Sam started out as a crew on Aquidneck and worked his way up to captain. He knows every inch of Newport Harbor and town from having spent several summers as a pedicabber in Newport.  A graduate of IYRS, Sam is a talented shipwright and worked on the restoration of the Coronet as well as several classic yachts and along with a friend built a beautiful "tiny house".  A former liveaboard in Newport Harbor on his Pearson 30, Sam now resides on land with his faithful four-legged companion Scupper and significant other.  When he's not sailing Aquidneck, you might find Sam messing about in or sailing his own boat, making wood stuff in his shop, or playing bike polo. Sam's an all around nice guy and does a heckuva job on Aquidneck.

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Jeff

Jeff hails from Massachusetts but now lives full time on Aquidneck Island.  Jeff had a successful career in high tech and when he's not sailing Starlight, can be found rebuilding classic American muscle cars, building furniture or rehabbing houses.  Jeff enjoys skydiving, races regularly aboard a Beneteau and has taken sailing vacations with his wife and friends all over the world including sailing charters in Greece, Croatia and Turkey. Take a sail aboard Starlight with Jeff! 

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Paul

Originally from England, Paul now  lives in Newport full time with his wife Margery.   Paul's captaining work has taken him all over the world.  He's run sail and powerboats up to 140' and even ran a boat for a Saudi sheikh.  He has sailed extensively in the Eastern and Western Med, France, Italy, Yugoslavia, Greece and Turkey.  He's also spent a good amount of time in the Caribbean and sailed from Puerto Rico to Venezuela. 

Paul lived underwater for seven days in saturation diving conditions and participated as a scientist diver in  NOAA's Hydrolab and Aquarius project which, according to the Smithsonian Institute where Paul's work is noted,  "reflects the longest running and most successful underwater laboratory programs in the history of underwater living." 

Paul holds a 1600 ton USCG license and and loves sailing and chatting with guests on Starlight.  

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Eric

Captain Eric winters in Melbourne Florida but spends his summers seeking cooler climes.  Eric has been captaining boats for years and has also worked as a yacht rigger and home  builder.  Eric lived on Maui for ten years and captained a fleet of large sailing catamarans catering to hotel guests on the beach.  Eric does a great job sailing the "Red Sled" all over the bay and along with mate Bayard, showing guests a great time. When he's not captaining Sightsailer, you'll find Eric surfing, swimming or  diving.

STAFF & CREW

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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!

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Courtney

Courtney also know as 'Special K" for her MacGyver like skill set, ability to figure out the impossible and accomplish the toughest tasks, tackles all sorts of special projects. With a degree from Boston College, experience with small business startups and gas volume analysis in the energy industry, Courtney has a wide and diverse skill set. No task stumps her. She's curious and loves a challenge. When she's not juggling an incredible number of odd-shaped balls, you'll find her running (and winning) triathlons, putting her posse of clients through high intensity exercise routines, skiing, surfing, making unbelievably good and creative food, or relaxing with friends while enjoying a Mudslide on Block Island.

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Bella

Isabella, better known simply as Bella, is our dock manager and runs our sales and reservations front desk as well as a host of administrative and marketing tasks. She helps keep everyone in line, takes crap from no one and is the glue, along with chewing gum and duct tape, that helps hold this place together. Bella grew up a military brat and has lived all over the world including Naples Italy, Kings Bay Georgia and luckily for us, Rhode Island! When she interviewed with us, we didn't hesitate to bring her aboard. She wasn't walking out the door without an offer. Unflappable and graceful under pressure, Bella knows all the ins and outs of running the front desk. She's the one who may have booked your charter, greeted you at the dock or provided helpful information. Smart as a whip and multi talented, Bella helps run our Instagram and Facebook accounts and helps out with a myriad of back office tasks. When she's not working, you'll find her walking her Boxer Diamond, relaxing at the beach, eating oysters or sipping an Espresso Martini.

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Gwen

Gwen is a bundle of energy and a barrel of laughs. Originally from Connecticut and now a resident of Newport, Gwen is a recent graduate of Salve Regina College where she played on the school soccer team and participated in the dance club. She's extremely knowledgeable about Newport and the surrounding area as well as all of our boats and sails. Gwen is bright, very caring and compassionate and a lot of fun to work around. She is a public school teacher in Newport during the offseason.

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Marty

Marty is terrific. She's like Vineyard Vines, Lilly Pulitzer and Nantucket wrapped into one. Now in her second season at the front desk, Marty is a full time student at Salve, studying elementary education. Smart, calm and cool under pressure, Marty is always friendly, positive and professional, all great traits to have when you're fielding hundreds of questions about our boats a day! When she's not working the front desk, you may catch Marty sailing on her family's boat, relaxing in Nantucket, shopping or at the beach.

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Tessa

Tessa is a smart as a whip. A graduate of Boston College with a degree in English, Tessa is extraordinarily well read and curious about her surroundings. She is almost always in the middle of a book and has a list of "must reads" in her library. Mild mannered, observant, reserved and professional, Tessa has a wild-child side to her that few see. She is adventurous and loves to travel be it foraging for rare and exotic mushrooms, or antiquing at estate sales. Now in her second season at the front desk, Tessa knows all our policies and processes like the back of her hand and she's extremely helpful to all of our guests and staff.

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Andrew

Andrew is the latest addition to our staff. Originally from New Jersey, Andrew now calls Middletown his home. Armed with a degree from Johnson & Wales University in Tourism and Marketing, Andrew has experience in the marketing and customer service side of the hospitality field. His past experience includes working in Charleston, SC for Charleston Food Tours, sales and marketing work at Newport Helicopter Tours and working for major hotel chains including Wyndham and Hyatt. Andrew is one of the friendliest people you'll meet and is knowledgeable about all that Newport has to offer.

History