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Eight Ways to Enjoy Yourself on the Water
Throughout the centuries, human beings have loved the water. Water has fed us, cleaned us, quenched our thirst, and given us a convenient highway since long before there were real highways—indeed, for as long as our species has been alive. We’ve built most of our major cities near rivers, oceans, or lakes. We compose poetry and songs about the ocean, write stories about adventuring on mighty rivers while floating on nothing but tiny rafts, and build expensive waterfront properties so we can live next to water year-round. We’ve devised thousands of ways to travel, play, and live off-land. Following are just a few ways we’ve come up with for experiencing the thrill and joy of being out on the open water.
Yachts. Nothing compares to the elegance of a yacht. Powered by wind—the ancient engine that Polynesian wayfarers used to populate the far-flung islands of the Pacific, Viking explorers used to discover Greenland, and Magellan used to circumnavigate the globe—a yacht will take you where you’re going, and make you feel like a king or queen while you’re en route. Lots of yachting companies offer trips that involve fine wine, gourmet food, and a luxury experience.
Powerboats. Couple the thrill of being out on the water with the excitement of high speeds, and you’ve pretty much summed up a trip on a powerboat. We love skimming across the glassy surface of a lake or riding the waves, the wind scraping the hair back from our faces, the sun shining down on the surface of the water. The best powerboats are like convertible sports cars on water—an unbeatably thrilling experience.
Windsurfing. For centuries humans have been harnessing the power of wind to navigate on the water. But windsurfing is a relatively new invention that involves balance, strength, and timing. Windsurfing gives you more range than a surfboard—you can traverse wide lakes with no waves or perform daredevil stunts in the surf, depending on your style and that of your board. It takes practice, but it’s a sport that’s growing in popularity worldwide.
Kitesurfing. Similar to windsurfing, except the “sail” is really a kite—located at the end of a rope instead of attached to your board. Kitesurfing is a fun and challenging sport that requires some coordination to do well—you need to be able to guide both the kite in your hands and the board that’s strapped to your feet. The sport has become far safer and more accessible to beginners due to recent advances in kitesurfing technology.
Zapcats. Never heard of these? You’ve been missing out. Zapcats are small, motor-powered catamarans that can move at thrilling speeds and turn on a dime. They’ve got the speed of a powerboat and the flexibility of a jet ski—an undeniably exciting combination. Most rentals will usually send an instructor out with you, like they will with a powerboat. A zapcat ride is much more hands-on than the typical powerboat ride, however, because both parties are needed to steer the craft. They’re a blast to race in aquatic obstacle courses.
White water rafting. Even if strong currents and big waves make you nervous, white-water rafting is a fun and amazing experience that will give you confidence on the water. Most white-water rafting companies will send you out with an experienced guide and in a durable craft specially designed to handle the rigors of the rapids—so you’re perfectly safe. It’s a fun and thrilling way to experience the power of nature firsthand. Because of the size of the crafts and its accessibility to all levels of ability, it’s also an ideal way to bring a group together. White-water rafting is an ideal activity for an office outing or family trip.
Rapid running. You’d think this sport would be better for people who are more experienced in white-water rafting—but actually, it’s popular with all ability-levels. With rapid-running, you get your own inflatable two-person craft, and are sent without a guide down a rapids course. You’re prepared beforehand, of course—most companies that offer rapid-running activities will include a course on how to navigate the rapids safely. It’s a lesser-known but no-less-fun variety of white-water rafting, perfect for those who like a little more autonomy in their boats or who just want to try something a little different than the typical white-water rafting trip.
Jet skiing. It’s been described as a motorcycle on water. Jet skis are one-person watercraft that accelerates with a throttle in the handle. They’re very flexible, with the ability to accelerate quickly and make sharp turns. Jet ski tours of bays, rivers, and otherwise-inaccessible islands are becoming popular tourist activities in locations near water.
Whether you prefer relaxing yacht cruises, heart-pounding motorboat rides, the hands-on excitement of white water, or the balance and skill of wind or kitesurfing, there’s sure to be a water activity you’ll love. Don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone and try something new—you may find more than one activity you’ll enjoy for years to come.
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