Pedaling Into the Sunset : Views, Harbor Breezes and Leg-Power

Heading off into the sunset on the Harbor now includes a great cycling workout.

Or if one would rather – a relaxing time watching others pedal away.

The sunset going down over Charlestown – with the Constitution and Monument framed next to it – from the Harbor last Friday during a CycleBoat tour. It is the first CycleBoat on Boston Harbor and will be leaving from Pier 6 in the Navy Yard all summer.

The new CycleBoat operated by Ed and Rosie Cardinali is the first-ever pedal-powered, Coast Guard approved, vessel on Boston Harbor, and it is leaving all summer from Pier 6 in the Charlestown Navy Yard.

Cardinale said he and his group, CycleBoat Boston, had submitted a proposal earlier this year for the activation of the Navy Yard – planning to do kayak rentals and a CycleBoat that would leave from DryDock #2. However, issues came up with the infrastructure and that plan has been put on hold. However, the CycleBoat remained and the group decided to put it on the water leaving from Pier 6 and a secondary stop in Fort Point.

So far, so good, Cardinali said last Friday while leading a sunset cruise.

“With the short time period and the heavy financial costs of the infrastructure needed at DryDock #2, it didn’t make sense right now,” he said. “However, we decided to go ahead with the CycleBoat on our own without any connection to the BPDA process. We took delivery of the CycleBoat in May and began operating it on June 1…This is a first for Boston. They’ve only produced 40 of them and we have one…I think they have some in Chicago. They came to be very popular. It’s become so popular that a lot of people are looking to get them.”

The CycleBoat also has a motor, and while there are 10 stations for pedaling – which abut a bar with a built-in cooler for cold drinks and snacks – people can also choose not to peddle and just enjoy the scenery. The pedal-power works using a coordinated chain drive – much like a bicycle – that turns a paddle wheel at the back of the vessel.

The boat can accommodate up to 16 passengers.

Cardinali – who has a Master Captain’s license – said the boat can go up to 4 or 5 knots with everyone peddling. However, he can add or subtract power with the engine in order to keep the tour running on time – and to make sure everyone enjoys themselves first and foremost.

“I kind of supplement the motor power depending on how much people are pedaling,” he said. “Guests can pedal as much or as little as they would like. We have had some cruises where people don’t want to pedal much at all, and we’ve had others where people pedal a lot for the first half, and take it easy the second half. We’ve also had a lot of people who wanted a workout and they pedaled hard the whole time we were out.”

Cardinali said they have had a lot of interest from walk-ups on Pier 6 during open cruises, and also from private parties renting out the CycleBoat.

“There’s so much activity on the Harbor this year like I’ve never seen before, whether it’s this CycleBoat, the water taxi, the new ferry from Lovejoy to the Seaport and even the Encore running three or four shuttles,” he said. “That activity has carried over to this boat; everyone wants to be on the water. Everyone has had a great time who went out…We’re thinking about adding another one in the future. We’ve had such a great response in a month and a half, we want to think about that.”

The 90-minute trip offers some of the best views of the Boston skyline. Public tours are offered Thursday through Sunday while private charters are available 7 days a week. For more information go to CycleboatBoston.com.

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