Many people think charter boats are all about fishing and for some captains, that’s true.  However, many are just as happy to do a birding tour; a Fourth of July fireworks viewing from the water; a wine, dinner or picnic cruise; a sightseeing cruise; or help you hunt for a waterfront home.

Logo: Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic TrailVirginia is home a large portion of the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail.  Four hundred years ago Englishman John Smith set off with a small crew in an open boat to explore the Chesapeake Bay. Between 1607 and 1609 Smith mapped and documented nearly 3,000 of the Bay and its rivers. The trail, which follows his travels, was officially launched on May 12, 2007 and was the first national historic water trail established by Congress. Visit the National Park Service’s trail website at for information, resources, and maps.  A professional captain can help you choose a part of the trail to follow for an afternoon’s excursion or a series of in depth trips to better learn about Smith’s historic exploration.

If you are a birdwatcher, see egrets, herons, and ospreys in the creeks and marshes; bald eagles soars along the tidal rivers; and rejoice in the fall migration of weary ducks who stop in late fall for a rest on the creeks and rivers of the Eastern Shore and lower Bay.

If you are a wine aficionado, pick up a couple of bottles at the Williamsburg Winery to try on a sunset wine cruise along the James River.  See the majestic waterfront estates along the James, York, Rappahannock, Potomac and lesser rivers.  Enjoy a whale or dolphin watching cruise off Virginia beach.  Or just pack a lunch and take a picnic cruise to nowhere.  Your professional captain will know the best “nowheres” to see.

And, if along the way you decide to try a little crabbing, swimming, or fishing…well, that’s OK.