Cape Cod Boat and Watersport
The silhouette of a small boat outlined against the distant horizon evokes thoughts of a life filled with romance and adventure. Escaping the routines of daily life by sailing away on a boat is a common fantasy. But here on Cape Cod, fantasies come true. The spray of salt water on your skin, gentle sea breezes, and simple, carefree living can be your reality.
In this chapter we explore the different ways you can safely get out on the water for an enjoyable day of power-boating, sailing, kayaking, surfing, jet skiing, or diving. Boating for pleasure is well suited for relaxing get-togethers, family celebrations, or a carefree day out on the water with a friend. With the advent of summer, present-day Cape Cod sailors in pleasure boats follow in the watery wake of their earlier ancestors who went to sea to earn a living.
Whether you’re bringing your own boat, or plan on renting one here, you’ll be happy to know that each town here has numerous boat ramps, marinas, and boatyards, as one would expect in a land surrounded by water. If you are renting a boat, be sure you are qualified to handle it. Boat rentals are dwindling, primarily because of increased insurance; that should serve as warning enough that handling a sail or powerboat is no simple matter. Not to worry, though, the Cape still has plenty of rentals available and also a number of instructors to help you find the boating experience that best suits you. Another delightful way to explore the Cape’s many inlets and creeks is by kayak or canoe. Paddling is an increasingly popular sport on Cape Cod, and there are many guides and rental opportunities from which to choose—or bring your own kayak or canoe and launch it from one of the Cape’s many boat ramps.
Water sports have become the rage for those who like to push the edge of the watery envelope. The Cape has some of the best windsurfing beaches on the East Coast, and the surfing is superb on the Outer Cape’s oceanside beaches. For an unusual water sport adventure, how about diving for shipwrecks in the untamed Atlantic? Jet skiing is another popular sport—and also a red-hot topic here. Personal watercrafts are being prohibited from certain areas to protect sensitive marine life and its habitats. If you plan to bring a Jet Ski or other personal watercraft on your vacation, remember that you are considered a boater and are required to follow boating regulations. We can’t tell you here what you can or cannot do on a personal watercraft, so we recommend that you check with the local authorities before launching yours. You’ll want to avoid areas that are habitats for shore birds and marine mammals.
Also, whether you’re in a small personal watercraft or large boat, remember to keep lifejackets and first aid supplies on hand. Carry emergency supplies and make sure they’re in working order. If you’re cruising the coast, carry an accurate navigation chart since the Cape’s sandy coastline can change with just one storm. Keep an eye on the weather and don’t take any chances if you see fog rolling in. The waters around the Cape, especially along the Outer Cape and the Buzzards Bay and canal areas, can be a little tricky.
But most of all, have fun! That’s what it’s all about, folks. Enjoy!
Cape Cod Sailing Instruction
There are more than 40 yacht clubs and sailing associations around the Cape and Islands that offer sailing lessons to members and nonmembers. The instructors at many of these places are seasoned locals—many of them having learned to sail at the clubs where they now teach.
Since junior sailing programs are very popular here, early registration is recommended. After an initial instructional period and sailing with an instructor, you’ll soon be sailing around in a dingy and instructors may then move you up to the bigger 16foot day sailors, boats specifically designed for a day of sailing in local bays and coves. In no time you’ll be a master of terminology and seamanship, helming and crewing, rigging and docking. In short, you’ll have mastered the basic fundamentals of navigation, and even more importantly, you’ll know about safety on the sea.
A number of towns offer instruction including Barnstable, (508) 790-6345; Falmouth, (508) 457-2567; Harwich (to residents), (508) 430-7553; Sandwich, (508) 888-4361; and Yarmouth, (508) 398-2231. Here are a few other possibilities to get you out on the water.
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Mid-Cape Sailing Instruction
South East Sailing School
115 Walnut Ave., West Barnstable
Rather than a vacation on Cape Cod, why not have an adventure and learn to sail on beautiful Lewis Bay and in Hyannisport Harbor. South East Sailing School will teach you the basics that every excellent sailor should know. Group and individual lessons are available, call the number listed above for more information.
Wianno Yacht Club
101 Bridge St., Osterville
The Wianno Yacht Club has a junior sailing program dedicated to teaching kids how to sail in a fun and encouraging environment. From the Seamen level (ages 7 to 9) to Mates (ages 8 to 10), Ensigns (ages 10 to 13), to Advanced Sailing for non-racers and the Racing Team, which practice skills in 420s, Wianno Yacht Club offers a program for everyone. The summer is divided into three sessions, and you may register for one, two, or all of them. The full eight-week program is $750; each of the three two-week sessions costs $300. For adults who want to join a sailing program, the Wianno Yacht Club offers private sailing instruction to adults by appointment.
Lower Cape Sailing Instruction
Saquatucket Harbor, Mass. Rt. 28, Harwich
Bob Rice shares his more than 20 years of sailing experience in an extensive, hands-on six-hour course. His “classrooms” are either a small boat (in Brewster’s Punkhorn Parklands) or large boat (Saquatucket Harbor in Harwichport). He promises to have the patience of a saint with novices; intermediate sailors will love his overnight learning excursions on Nantucket Sound. Lessons are held from Memorial Day to early October. For information on charters, see the entry in our Tours and Excursions chapter.
Arey’s Pond Boat Yard Sailing School
Arey’s Ln., South Orleans
One of the best sailing schools on the Cape, APBY operates on beautiful Pleasant Bay all summer long. Under the guidance of experienced instructors, APBY Sailing School specializes in teaching folks of all ages, from those just starting out to those brushing up to those interested in learning racing techniques. If you’re a beginner, you’ll take the tiller and sail a boat during your first lesson. They offer one-, two- and three-week group lessons and private lessons for the individual, couple, family, or group. Sailing Camp, from 8 AM to 12:30 PM, is $275 per week. Private lessons start at $60 for one person with a two-hour minimum.
Chequessett Yacht & Country Club
Chequessett Neck Rd., Wellfleet
In season, from early July through the end of August, Chequessett Yacht & Country Club offers eight–weeks of junior sailing clinics at a cost of $95 per week. Private instruction for adults is available at $75 per hour.
Flyer’s Boat Yard
131A Commercial St., Provincetown
(508) 487-0898, (800) 750-0898
From mid-May to mid-October, Flyer’s offers personalized lessons on beginner and intermediate levels, including hands-on and video instruction.
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Cape Cod Marinas and Boatyards
Cape Cod boat ramps come in a variety of forms: sand, gravel, and asphalt. Some town landings provide free use while others require a sticker, so you’ll want to inquire at the local town hall
(phone numbers are listed in our Overview chapter).
You’ll find public boat ramps are very busy during the summer.
Try to arrive before 10 AM; otherwise you may not find a place to park your vehicle and trailer.
When it comes to boating, there isn’t much that you can’t get with one stop to a local marina or boatyard. You’ll find the necessities like fuel, launch services, repair workshops and in most cases, a retail store that carries marine essentials. If you have a specific question, Harbormasters are a good source of general information, but they certainly have enough on their hands and can be hard to track down. We recommend relying on the numerous personnel you’ll find at the various town piers, marinas, and boatyards around the Cape to provide an overview of boating activities, along with places to go and people to see to help make your boating experience memorable.
Cape Cod boasts 45 marinas, nestled in protected harbors and coves in some of the most picturesque parts of the peninsula. Most have repair service and an extensive array of full-service conveniences. You’ll also find boat-yards and boat builders not only right on the water but scattered about in such unlikely locations as industrial parks and along major roadways miles far from the nearest waters. Take advantage of their knowledge. Marina personnel and boat builders understand the demands the sea makes on a boat. Many can incorporate the best designs and techniques into restorations, modifications, and repairs, while others offer new construction and sales of new boats, to which they often add their name. For instance, Nauset Marine, with locations in East Falmouth, (508) 457-0778, and Orleans, (508) 255-0777, is one of the largest Boston Whaler distributors in the country. Arey’s Pond Boat Yard (see entry below), builder for the world-renowned APRY catboats, is a wooden-boat center. At Crosby Yacht Yard in Osterville (see entry), in business since 1850, they build a classic gaffed rigged sloop, the Wianno Senior. Function, quality and durability—what else would you expect from Cape Codders?
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Upper Cape Marinas & Boatyards
The hurricane season coincides with prime boating time. Even though the local radio stations air hourly weather updates, it’s not a bad idea to contact the National Hurricane Center at (900) 933-2628 for advisories. To prepare your boat for bad weather, seal hatches, portholes, windows, doors, and vents with duct tape. At a slip or tie-up, make the lines as long as possible, set extra anchors and add extra fenders and chafe protection. Most importantly, do not stay on board during a hurricane.
One Academy Dr., Buzzards Bay
In town, within easy walking distance of shops, restaurants, and family recreational facilities, Bourne Marina has 156 slips and can accommodate 60-foot boats with a 6-foot draft. It has fuel, water, 30- and 50-amp electrical service, and pump-out facilities as well as restrooms, showers, lockers, and a laundry area. You’ll have use of a community lounge, a pressure washer and pump-out, and a marine and grocery store. The marina is open from May through October.
68 Red Brook Rd., Red Brook Harbor, Cataumet (Bourne)
Located in picturesque Red Brook Harbor, Parker Boatyard carries both gas and diesel fuel and has 130 seasonal and transient moorings and slips with launch service and limited overnight dock space. The facilities include bathrooms, showers, and a picnic area with grills. A complete boatyard that specializes in sailing yachts, Parker’s does repairs, re-powering, awl grip work, rigging and spar work, hauling, launching, and winter storage. Though the boatyard is open year-round, the marina is closed for the winter months.
One Shipyard Ln., Cataumet (Bourne)
The 235 dock slips here can accommodate vessels up to 100-feet long. The marina offers water, 110- and 220-volt outlets, and fuel. There are also restrooms, a laundry, and showers on-site as well as a restaurant, shops, and a marina store. The marina is open year-round.
The Sandwich Marina
Ed Moffitt Dr., Sandwich
This marina on the Cape Cod Canal has 200 commercial and recreational slips and offers water, electricity, and diesel fuel as well as showers, parking, a playground area, a boat ramp, and winter storage. Stores are within walking distance. Open year-round, the marina can accommodate boats as long as 80 feet.
Brewers Fiddler’s Cove Marina
42 Fiddler’s Cove Rd., North Falmouth
Well located for access to the Cape Cod Canal, Fiddler’s Cove is a marina and boatyard with complete marine service. The facility has no moorings, but it has 135 slips and offers power, fuel, water, and cable. It can accommodate boats up to 80 feet in length and up to a 7-foot draft. The marina has a 34-ton travel lift for launching or hauling. The marina is open year-round.
Woods Hole Marine
91A Water St., Woods Hole
Woods Hole Marine has a full-time mechanic available and can handle boats up to 65 feet long with about 37 moorings and 28 slips. Facilities include dinghy docks, showers, toilets, and a pump-out boat that services five harbors in the area. The facility has water and 15-amp electrical service and is within walking distance of a convenience store, shops, and restaurants. It’s open from early spring to the end of October.
Quissett Harbor Boatyard
36 Quissett Harbor Rd., Quissett Harbor, Falmouth
Set in a small harbor in a wooded area, this boatyard is a lovely place to tie up for the night. It has 86 moorings and offers repairs, water, electric hookups, and ice, but no fuel. Quissett Harbor Boatyard is open year-round with limited hours during the winter months.
Cape Cod Marine Service, 145 Falmouth Heights Rd., Falmouth
MacDougalls is a full-service boatyard with a sail loft and an engine shop. It rents 70 slips and 20 moorings, has electrical service, gas, ice, and a marine store, as well as a railway and a 50-ton travel lift. The facility is open year-round and offers storage. A sailboat dealership on the premises, CWS Yacht Sales, (508) 548-7700, sells new and used sailboats from 16 to 72 feet.
Falmouth Harbor Marine
53 Falmouth Heights Rd., Falmouth
Falmouth Harbor Marine offers gas and diesel fuel and repair service for inboard and outboard motors, including Yamaha and Mercruisers, as well as hauling, launching, and storage. The boatyard, which is open year-round, has four slips but no moorings.
Falmouth Town Marina
Scranton Ave., Falmouth
This marina has seasonal and transient slips, which can be reserved, but there is a waiting list for seasonal slots. The marina accepts boats up to 100 feet. It offers water, electricity, and shower facilities, and you can get fuel nearby. The marina is open from the beginning of April to the end of October.
Falmouth Marine Service
278 Scranton Ave., Falmouth Inner Harbor, Falmouth
Falmouth Marine has 30 slips and 16 moorings. It can accommodate boats up to 90 feet with an 11-foot draft and haul boats weighing up to 70 tons. A full-service yacht yard with stock room, gas and diesel fuel, electrical hookups, and pump-out service, Falmouth Marine also offers a passenger ferry service to Edgartown. The year-round facility is within walking distance of restaurants and shops.
Mass. Rt. 28, East Falmouth
Edwards Boatyard has seven moorings and 48 slips, with showers and restrooms, gas and diesel fuel, ice, pump-out facilities, a marine store, four railways, a boat-launching ramp, and storage. This is a full-service yard that does safety and environmental inspections, has a factory-trained staff for repairs, and is a Boston Whaler dealer. A family business for 45 years, Edwards is open year-round (daily in season and five days a week in winter).
Little River Boatyard
15 Riverside Rd., Waquoit (Mashpee)
Little River Boatyard is a rack-and-storage facility that does repairs, sells gas and ice, and rents ice eaters (things that keep ice from forming around docks). It is open daily from 7 AM to 7 PM year-round.
New Seabury Marina
Rock Landing Rd., New Seabury, Mashpee
New Seabury has five transient slips and gas, water, and electric service, as well as a marina store. It can accommodate boats up to 39 feet in length. The marina is close to tennis, golf, and restaurants. New Seabury Marina is open from May to October.
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Mid Cape Marinas & Boatyards
Boating safety is no accident.
To build sound knowledge, proficiency, and confidence, take a boating safety course. Be sure you know the equipment on your boat, including safety devices, and wear a personal flotation device. For more information on boating courses, contact the Boating Safety Hotline at (800) 336-2628.
Crosby Yacht Yard
72 Crosby Cir., Osterville
A popular rendezvous place for yacht clubs and boating groups, Crosby Yacht Yard can accommodate power and sailboats up to 105 feet. It has both slips and moorings, shower and laundry facilities, fuel, water, ice, electricity, and a marine store. Repair service is available seven days a week. The facility has travel lifts, marine railways, inside and outside storage, and launch service. The home of the Cape Cod catboat, Crosby’s is also a boat builder and an authorized dealer for J-Boat and Phoenix power boats, and offers full brokerage services. There is a restaurant on the premises. Crosby Yacht Yard is open year-round.
West Bay Rd., Osterville
This marina is open from May to November and can accommodate boats up to 120 feet with a 6-foot draft. It has 100 feet of transient dockage and 15 slips for seasonal use. Electrical, water, and cable service are available, but the marina has no gas nor does it offer repair service. The marina is within walking distance of village shops and restaurants.
Oyster Harbor Marina
122 Bridge St., Osterville
Oyster Harbor Marina has 110 slips and 30 moorings; it can accommodate boats from 8 to 100 feet long and has gas and diesel fuel, pump-out facilities, a 55-ton travel lift, and storage. This full-service boatyard offers a marine store, restrooms, showers, carpentry, and mechanical and electronic repairs, as well as sales for yachts and outboard motors. It is open year-round.
Barnstable Marine Service
Barnstable Harbor, Off Mill Way, Barnstable
Barnstable Marine, on Cape Cod Bay, has 35 slips for boats up to 52 feet. It sells diesel fuel and gasoline, has showers and restrooms, bait and tackle, ice and snacks, haul-out facilities with a 20-ton travel lift, and full mechanical, carpentry, finishing, and repair services, as well as yacht brokerage services. It is open year-round and is a short walk from village shops and stores.
21 Arlington St., Hyannis
Offering a calm, sheltered refuge, Hyannis Marina has more than 160 slips, diesel fuel and gasoline, water and electrical hookups, and a complete parts and service department. The marina can accommodate everything from motor boats to mega-yachts up to 160 feet. It has a full restaurant and bar, swimming pool, cabana bar, courtesy and rental cars, showers, complimentary telephone and TV service, a coin-operated laundry, and game room. The facility also includes an electronics and canvas shop, valet rack service, a marine store, and emergency service. It is open year-round.
Pleasant St., South Yarmouth
Ship Shops is a full-service boatyard in South Yarmouth with a limited number of transient slips and moorings. It sells gas and diesel fuel and has a marine shop. Ship Shops is open year-round.
Bass River Marina
Mass. Rt. 28, West Dennis
Bass River Marina is open year-round and offers 185 slips. This mid-Cape marina on the beautiful Bass River has gas and pump-out facilities.
Sesuit Harbor, 357 Sesuit Neck Rd., East Dennis
This north side marina on Sesuit Harbor offers 120 slips, storage, gas, diesel, and pump-out facilities. The marina is open year-round.
Mayfair Boat Yard & Marina
181 Old Mayfair Rd., South Dennis
There are 85 slips at the year-round Mayfair Boat Yard. It also has gas and a sewage dump facility.
Harwichport Boat Works Inc.
4 Harbor Rd., Harwichport
A year-round facility, Harwichport Boat Works offers a handful of guest mooring spots both here and in the inner harbor. This is a full-service marina, offering storage, gas and diesel fuel, boat and engine sales, and repairs. The yard is also renowned for its restoration work; wood and glass are its specialties. Tie-ups are short-term only.
Allen Harbor Marine Service Inc.
335 Lower County Rd., Harwichport
This year-round facility on picturesque, protected Allen Harbor was founded in 1927 and is another full-service yard, offering 52 slips and 35 moorings, a gas dock, repairs, sales, and storage (they’ll shrink-wrap your boat for the winter). Next to Allen Harbor Marine is a town-owned docking ramp.
Municipal Marina, 715 Main St. (Mass. Rt. 28), Harwichport
This marina was voted the No. 1 marina in the Lower Cape by Cape Cod Life magazine. The marina, a quarter-mile from the village, has 192 slips and a dozen visitor slips, making it the largest municipal marina on the Cape. Services and amenities include washers, dryers, restrooms, showers, pump-out service, and 20/30-amp/110 volt electrical service. The marina is open from early May to mid-November.
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Lower Cape Marinas & Boatyards
Keep our waters clean.
If you come across the discharge of oil or oily waste, or notice a film or sheen upon the surface of the water, call the local harbormaster’s office or the U.S. Coast Guard.
Woods Hole (508) 457-3253;
Chatham (508) 945-3830.
Outermost Harbor Marine
83 Seagull Rd., Chatham
Outermost Harbor Marine offers 65 slips but only three moorings. It has a gas facility, hauling and launch service, storage facilities, and a marine hardware and supplies shop. It also specializes in fiberglass repairs. The facility is closed in January and February.
Stage Harbor Marine
Bridge St., Chatham
Stage Harbor Marine has 33 slips and 33 moorings, gas and pump-out facilities, and a first-rate repair shop. Stage Harbor is open year-round.
Chatham Yacht Basin
Barn Hill Lane, Chatham
Open year-round, Chatham Yacht Basin has 30 moorings and 70 slips on pretty Oyster River. Chatham Yacht Basin is a full-service marina.
Oyster River Boatyard
Barn Hill Ln., Chatham
Instead of moorings, Oyster River Boatyard offers 20 floating docks. It also has 22 slips, but don’t count on getting one anytime soon as there is a long waiting list. The year-round boatyard also has a gas facility and repair service.
Ryder’s Cove Boatyard
Town Landing, 46 Ryder’s Cove Rd., Chatham
Ryder’s Cove, in Pleasant Bay, has 36 slips and 73 moorings. The marina offers gas and seasonal rack storage, and is also a certified Johnson motors specialist. Ryder’s Cove is open throughout the year.
Arey’s Pond Boat Yard
Arey’s Lane, Orleans
This year-round boatyard has 60 protected moorings off Pleasant Bay that can accommodate boats up to 30 feet. It also offers custom wooden boat building and repairing, and sells new and used boats and skiffs. Arey’s Pond Boat Yard offers a sailing school in the summer.
Off Barley Neck Rd., Orleans
Open year-round, this marina has 55 slips, 45 moorings, and 40 dry rack storage spaces. Gas (no diesel) and pump-out facilities are available.
Rock Harbor Rd., Eastham
There are 39 municipal town slips at Rock Harbor, but the waiting list is 12 years! There are five transient slips available through the Eastham Natural Resource Office on a reservations basis.
Town Pier, Wellfleet
This year-round marina offers seasonal moorings by the night, week, and month on a first-come, first-served basis. It has a gas facility as well as diesel; pump-out is done via the harbormaster’s boat. Several slips are available through the harbormaster.
Fisherman’s Wharf, Provincetown
Smack in the middle of town, Provincetown Marina has more than 200 berths and 100 moorings, with launch service from 7 AM until midnight (later on weekends in season). Three launches operate from Memorial Day through Columbus Day weekend. The marina also has a pump-out station, trash dumpster, and gas dock, as well as showers, telephones, soda machines, and a coin-operated laundry. Information is provided 24 hours a day on Channel 9. The marina is open from Memorial Day through Columbus Day weekend.
Provincetown Yacht and Marine Marina
MacMillan Pier, Provincetown
This newer marina has 22 slips, available by the night, week, or month. The marina also offers water and electrical hookups, showers, and a pump-out station. Though this is one of the smallest marinas in New England, it can accommodate large boats since there is 10 feet of water even at low tide.
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Cape Cod Boat Rentals
Operating a vessel under the influence of alcohol became a specific federal offense effective January 13, 1988.
If you’re in the mood to do a little sailing or motoring upon the waves and you’ve got some prior experience, you may want to consider renting a boat. There are several rental outfits across the Cape to help you out, and some of them are listed below. Those people looking for charters and cruises, where you can sit back and enjoy the sights while someone else does the sailing, should refer to the Tours and Excursions chapter. Or, if you wish to mix in a little fishing, see the Fishing chapter.
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Upper Cape Boat Rentals
Waquoit Kayak Company
Mass. Rt. 28, East Falmouth
Waquoit’s offers sailboat rentals. Here is your opportunity to rent a 13-foot sailboat for $95 per day or $395 for five days; or an 11-foot sailboat for $75 per day or $295 for five days. Discover and enjoy Waquoit Bay and its many beautiful rivers and ponds at the helm of an Escape sailboat.
Mid-Cape Boat rentals
Cape Cod Waterway Boat Rentals
Mass. Rt. 28, Dennisport
You can rent manually powered and electric paddleboats, canoes, and kayaks here, and, since it is located right on Swan River, between Swan Pond and Nantucket Sound, renters can enjoy a variety of nearby Cape waters. The shop is open from May through October, and rentals are flexible in terms or hours, days, or weeks.
Lower Cape Boat Rentals
Mass. Rt. 28, Saquatucket Harbor, Harwich
Looking for a great Cape sailing experience? Cape Sail offers a range of opportunities from congenial captained charters to hands-on learning expeditions. Experience offshore Cape Cod on a three-hour private charter, or a more adventurous overnight trip to Nantucket. Trips of other durations can be arranged. Captain Bob Rice shares his 35 years of sailing and teaching experience on his 35-foot boat, the Southern Cross, or in smaller day sailers. Charters are available for a three-hour trip. Lessons are also available as a six-hour course for two people. Reservations are needed for all charters, trips, and lessons.
Jack’s Boat Rental
Mass.Rt. 6A, Nickerson State Park, Brewster
Almost nothing beats sailing on Flax Pond on a warm summer day, and Jack’s Boat Rentals is the place for one-stop shopping. It’s all here: Sunfish, sailboards, seacycles, pedal boats, canoes, and kayaks. Jack’s also offers windsurfing and sailing lessons. Jack’s has other locations at Gull Pond in Wellfleet, (508) 349-7553, and a retail shop on U.S. Rt. 6 in Wellfleet, (508) 349-9808.
Town Pier, Wellfleet
From mid-June to mid-October, Wellfleet Marine rents (by the hour or day) Stur-Dee Cat 14-foot sailboats, 14-foot skiffs (with 6-horsepower motors), 19-foot Rhodes sloops, and 21-foot MacGregor sloops for use in Wellfleet Harbor.
Flyer’s Boat Yard
131A Commercial St., Provincetown
(508) 487-0898, (800) 750-0898
Since opening its doors in 1965, Flyer’s has satisfied the needs of all kinds of boaters since it has one of the largest rental fleets on the Cape. Here they offer powerboats (ranging from 8- to 90-horsepower) and sailboats from a Sunfish to a 27-foot Irwin. There is a two-hour minimum on rentals, with options for renting by the day or week. Flyer’s also rents fishing equipment and is open 8 AM to 6 PM from mid-May to mid-October.
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