Newbie sailors and easy-access paddlers
Congratulations, you're a member of St. Mary's Boat Club! The neighbourhood boat club is open to the public and it doesn't get any better than this. SMBC offers various sailing lessons and camps to anyone over the age of 10. (And ranging to upwards of 85!) All instructors are nationally and regionally certified, and they teach according to the Canadian Yachting Association---in other words, they know their stuff. Most adult lessons fall on evenings and weekends and run from now until October.
SMBC welcomes sailors of all abilities, from never-set-foot-in-a-boat, to intermediate levels. You can work your way up from basic knowledge and terminology, to sailing without supervision. The club has alsomade it easy to test out your skills in acanoe or kayak. If you're over 16 you can rent a canoe any weekend from 11am-7pm for a measly $8 an hour---and that includes all necessary safety equipment. This is perfect if you're new to canoes, lacking transport or just interested in a leisure cruise since the canoes aren't allowed to leave the Northwest Arm.
SMBC also runs paddling clubs, on Wednesday evenings from 6pm to dusk for adults, and Tuesdays if you're under 16. While kayaks aren't available for rental, you can use them during paddling clubs. Instead of seeing a movie, spend your $10 getting a quick lesson and dipping your paddle into the Arm for a few hours. Hey, if you're lucky maybe you'll even stop by the Dingle for an ice-cream. With some of the most reasonable prices around, SMBC can be found on Fairfield Road on the Arm, just off Jubilee Road. For rental info call Jean Clements at 490-4688 and for program info it's Sherri Moffatt at 490-4538. Or, check outhalifax.ca/smbc.
Maybe you're looking to expand yourkayaking horizon from the city to the seabut aren't quite confident enough to do iton your own. This is where East Coast Outfitters comes into the picture. ECO can help you to see Nova Scotia's coastline with the comfort of having a guide with you. You don't need experience as a sea kayaker; there'll be a short run-through of safety and the basics at the beginning of each trip.ECO offers half-day, full-day and sunset escapes to the sea. To top it off, they're incredibly flexible and can help you plan a multi-day trip. That way you can have a say on where you go and what you see. This summer they'll offer the Sunday Coasting by Kayak series where you can paddle your way to an island, then take in a workshop on a topic such as yoga, photography and coastal ecology. And for those who love music just as much as the salt-water breeze, check out the Wharf Concert series which combines kayaking with an acoustic island performance (such as Old Man Luedecke in July). To find East Coast Outfitters head down route 333 towards Peggys Cove, then take a left onto Terence Bay Road and head to 2017 Lower Prospect Road (it's about half an hour from Halifax). For their other location, take Highway 103 and exit 10 to Main Street, Mahone Bay. Call 877-852-2567 or see eastcoastoutfitters.net.
If you're a more experienced paddler and don't need instruction or supervision, you'll probably want to rent a canoe or kayak and skip town. Take a picnic and explore some of Dartmouth's lakes or escape for a weekend kayaking down the eastern shore. If you're a member of Mountain Equipment Co-op on Granville Street, Halifax, you can rent kayaks, canoes, paddles and safety equipment to help outfit your personal getaway. Both plastic and fibreglass kayaks and general purpose or performance canoes are available for prices starting at $30 a day. If you're looking for an extended vacation, they have weekly rates, too. And if you're not a MEC member, and don't plan to be, you can rent kayaks and canoes from East Coast Outfitters starting at $15. The MEC Halifax store is at 1550 Granville (421-2667, mec.ca).Authentic sailors
Nova Scotia Sea School lets youth and adults alike get down to the nitty-gritty elements of being a sailor, promising an adventure rather than a lesson. The sea school offers expeditions lasting from five to 21 days, from July to September---and they don't call them expeditions for nothing. In groups of about 10, plus two instructors, you pile into a 30-foot wooden boat---built by young people at the NSSS Youth Camp---and begin to live like a real sailor. Each excursion starts out from Lunenburg and makes its way around the LaHave Islands, Mahone Bay and Sambro Island. You'll anchor in harbours each night and sleep aboard the boat. Sailors will take turns doing night watches on deck under the stars, learn how to sail in all conditions by reading maps, compasses and forecasting the weather, and even cook meals onboard. These excursions teach not only the basics of sailing, but the importance of teamwork. Nova Scotia Sea School offers separate expeditions for both youth and adults. Experience isn't necessary, just curiosity (some bursaries are also available). If you'd rather stay on dry land, check out NSCC programs teaching boat building and surfboard building at 2057 Gottingen, Halifax. (423-7284, seaschool.org.)Local tourists
If you love to be on the water but aren't so keen on doing the work yourself, the Halifax waterfront offers a variety of different opportunities to let your inner sea-self shine. Help raise the sails and steer the ship onboard the tall ship Silva, see favourite local sights on both land and water while onboard the Peggy's Cove Express or catch cod, mackerel and haddock while deep-sea fishing on the New Dawn. Most of the boats on the waterfront run daily tours---and you don't have to be a tourist to enjoy them. And there's always the Harbour Hopper. Tall ship Silva is at 429-9463 (tallshipsilva.com), Peggy's Cove Express can be reached at 422-4200 (murphysonthewater.com/peggyscove) and the Harbour Hopper is at 490-TOUR (murphysonthewater.com/harbourhopper). Otherwise, just stroll on down along the Halifax waterfront and have a chat with the tour operators.