Jul 22, 2022 - Things to Do

Cycleboat gains traction as more people flock to Boston Harbor

Several bicycle seats and pedals attached to the floor of a small boat.
The cycle boat "Sweet Caroline" balances its 12 pedal stations with ten coolers built into the table. Photo: Mike Deehan/Axios

If you're looking for a way to beat this summer heat, pedaling your way across Boston Harbor while sipping a mimosa might do the trick.

What's happening: Cycleboat Boston offers tours of the harbor, Fort Point Channel and the mouths of the Mystic and Charles Rivers aboard one of four paddle boats.

State of play: The boats became more popular during the pandemic, when people looking for an escape found some normalcy on the water, according to owners Ed and Rosie Cardinali.

Why it matters: As more housing and business construction pops up in waterfront neighborhoods like Charlestown, East Boston and the Seaport, residents and tourists alike are looking to the harbor for recreation and practical transportation.

  • A city plan to further develop the waterfront was struck down earlier this month, but developers are still enthusiastic about building housing and commercial buildings along the harbor.
A paddleboat in Boston Harbor.
Big wheels keep on turning — if you're pedaling. Photo: Mike Deehan/Axios

How it works: The boats are smaller than typical harbor tour craft, and can get up close and personal with the shoreline, fishermen, other watercraft and some of the sights on the water.

  • Cardinali tells Axios that groups of six to 26 could propel the boat for the whole trip, but most pedalers are content to quickly become just riders and let the gas engine do the work.
  • If the bicycle-style seating isn't for you, there's a lounge area where a passenger can take in the harbor views without feeling like they're at spin class.
  • You'll be in safe hands. Captain Ed can pilot pretty much anything. He's a kayak guide, retired international airline pilot, and hot air balloon operator.

Here's the best part: The 90-minute tour is BYOB, and the crew supplies each boat with several coolers, ice and koozies.

  • Cardinali says the tours are popular with bachelor and bachelorette parties, corporate groups and anyone else who wants to enjoy a beverage and a little exercise out on the water.

Details: Cycleboat Boston launches from Pier 6 in Charlestown in the Navy Yard.

  • For private charters, Cardinali will even pick up a party at any of several docks around Boston Harbor.
  • Tours start at $49 a person.
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