NEWBURYPORT — A local sailing charter is the first and only one from the Clipper City to expand its expeditions beyond the Merrimack River and to the Isles of Shoals.
Ninth Wave Sailing Charters, at the west end of the boardwalk along Waterfront Park, began offering trips to the Isles of Shoals this summer, Mondays and Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The company is the only scheduled sailing charter out of Newburyport to travel to these islands off the coast of New Hampshire and southern Maine.
Traditionally, sailing charters to the Isles of Shoals depart from Portsmouth or Hampton, New Hampshire, due to the proximity. From Newburyport, it’s about six miles off shore. Half of the islands are in New Hampshire waters and the others are in the Gulf of Maine.
To expand its trip offerings, Ninth Wave added this trip to its list. The first voyage, nearly five and a half hours on the ocean, was July 3, according to crew member Will Stinson, 19.
“Mondays and Tuesdays are usually pretty slow, so we were looking at something new to do to drum up business,” Stinson said.
Jonathan Van Campen created, co-owns and operates the 48-foot catamaran docked along the boardwalk. He takes out passengers several times a day, with sunset charters being his most profitable run, Stinson said.
The catamaran was built in 2001 and can accommodate up to 48 passengers and three crew members, Stinson said. The sailboat can travel up to 15 to 16 knots, he added.
All of Ninth Wave’s public sails are typically two and a half hours and go to no particular destination along the coastline or directly out to sea.
Traveling to the Isles of Shoals, however, offers a unique destination. Although passengers are unable to leave the boat to tour any of the islands, Stinson said visitors will be able to see several types of seabirds, University of New Hampshire research buildings and even a hotel.
Stinson also said there is a vast amount of untapped history about the Isles of Shoals he hopes to research.
“I’ve heard about some cults that traveled to the islands,” said Stinson, who first traveled to the Isles of Shoals alongside his mother.
Lisa Christie of Newburyport sailed as a passenger to the Isles of Shoals on Ninth Wave’s first voyage.
“It was a stifling hot day and you wouldn’t believe how much cooler it is out on the islands,” said Christie, who serves as a first mate for Yankee Clipper Harbor Tours. “We even saw whales in the distance.”
Christie said it was a positive experience and she would recommend it to those who enjoy sailing and exploring new habitats.
“Any time out on the water is great,” she said.
The Ninth Wave also offers three-hour private charters for corporate outings and private parties, according to its website.
As conditions permit, the sailing charter encourages its passengers to take an active role in the handling of the boat, including raising the main, trimming the sails or taking the helm under the tutelage of one of its captains, according to the website.
Stinson said the charter is a positive learning experience for passengers to learn about the region’s colorful past and to experience a relaxing sail.
Amanda Getchell covers Newburyport and Seabrook. Follow her on Twitter @ajgetch.