Severn River cruise offers relaxing view Scenery: Tours on the Severn River, starting in Annapolis, give tourists and residents a chance to explore a different world.

August 20, 1998|By Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan | Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan,SUN STAFF

Perched on the stern of a boat plowing down Severn River Saturday afternoon, Annapolitan Ginny Carr, 55, figured it was an almost perfect way to spend an afternoon with the two young members of her "granddaughter reunion."

Soak up some sun, let the light breeze wash over your face, take in the sights along the river and learn how human beings have harmed the river and what's been done to fix it.

The Severn River EcoTour, organized by Chesapeake Marine Tours and Charters, is a 90-minute cruise with an informative, environmental angle. The narration broadcast during the tour offers tidbits on plant and animal life in the river and the Chesapeake Bay, how development has affected the waterways, and points out the breakwaters meant to stem erosion.

"I like water and I like to learn about it," said 16-year-old Sarah Eubank, who is visiting her grandmother from Beaver Creek, Ohio, and who suggested the eco-cruise. "Everyone can benefit from learning."

EcoTour is one of several cruises available for those who want to hit the water for a couple of hours. All leave from Annapolis and cost between $6 and $55 for adults.

Apart from the EcoTour, Chesapeake Marine Tours and Charters also offers 90-minute narrated cruises -- one features Thomas Point Lighthouse, while the other is a scenic tour that points out homes and offers historical information. The cost is the same for either of those offerings: $13 for adults and $6 for children.

The company also offers cruises along Spa Creek or cruises featuring just the Annapolis harbor and the Naval Academy at $6 for adults and $3 for children under 11. The only daylong tour it offers is a "Day on the Bay" cruise to St. Michael's, which takes 7 1/2 hours and costs $49 for adults and $25 for children under 11. All cruises leave from the Annapolis City Dock.

Schooner-Woodwind offers four two-hour sailing cruises from Tuesday through Sunday, leaving from the docks of the Annapolis Marriott Waterfront Hotel. On Mondays, the company offers its sunset cruise from 6: 30 to 8: 30 p.m., which Ellen Kaye, co-owner of the company, said is the company's most popular. Some regulars attend their sunset cruises to join the beer-tasting on Tuesday nights or to listen to Them Eastport Oyster Boys perform on Friday evenings.

The daytime cruises cost $24 for adults, $22 for seniors and $12 for children under 12, while the sunset cruises cost $27 for adults, $25 for seniors and $15 for children.

Guests "can help steer the boat, they can sing some of the songs that the captain invites them to sing," Kaye said. "It's definitely an interactive experience -- if they want it to be. We don't force anybody to do anything they don't want to."

The other cruise company in Annapolis, Captain Paul's Cruises, offers an even more interactive and personal sailing experience. Its boat has a capacity of six, which makes for interesting possibilities on its three-hour cruises three times a day.

"On our boat, everybody drives whatever they want to do," said Paul Resch, who owns the company and sails the boat five days a week. "If they want to steer for three hours, God bless them. They're perfectly welcome to do that."

But up close and personal has its price -- the cruise costs $55 for adults and half that for children 7 and under. Resch jokingly said he has rules for who gets on his boat and who doesn't.

"Our motto is: 'We sail thrice daily,' and a lot of people pass by and say,'What does that mean? You sail two times?' " Resch said. "We don't let them on the boat. We have to have some standards."

On the EcoTour, some on the tour seemed content to ignore the narrative and just enjoy the ride.

"It's good to learn some random things about the river," said Kim Parker of Silver Spring, a 20-year-old University of Maryland senior basking near the stern with Theresa Cronne, 21, of Laurel, a senior at the University of Dayton, Ohio. Best friends since high school, the two are enjoying the last few days of summer vacation before returning to school.

"It's amazing how much we don't know about where we live," she said. "But it probably would be better if we were ready to listen."

Pub Date: 8/20/98

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