Boating is one of America's favorite pastimes. Water sports offer something for everyone, whether you prefer to scream across the water in a jet motorboat or spend a quiet afternoon canoeing along a meandering creek.
Recreational boating takes various forms, and the specific activity you'll choose depends on your personal preferences and your budget. It's easily possible to take to the water with minimal investment and very little prior experience, if you have someone in the know to show you the ropes.
It's an incredible feeling to move across the smooth surface of the water buoyed by the wind in your sails. Sailing takes skill and concentration far beyond what most recreational boaters are willing to contend with, but the rewards are worth it. There is a tremendous, peaceful beauty in skimming across the water powered by the flapping of your sails.
Rafting includes everything from riding an old inner tube down a peaceful stream to whitewater rafting through death-defying rapids and turbulent whirlpools. Rafting is an affordable way to take part in water sports, since all you'll need is a collapsible vessel and an air pump. Many manufacturers are also producing fishing vessels that can be classified as rafts, which are available in a wide variety of materials.
One-person or two-person kayaking is an adventure that knows no bounds. Boating supply houses now offer a phenomenal selection of kayaks that include every shape, size, color and weight. Smaller kayaks are great for paddling backwaters and natural shorelines, while ocean-worthy kayaks can handle strong waves without capsizing. Water sports fans nearly always include kayaking among their favorite activities.
When Lewis and Clark crossed the country by canoe before the United States was fully explored by European settlers, they didn't know they would spark a trend that has yet to slow down. Canoes remain very popular for use on both still and active water, and they're equally effective on both. Many boaters find a sense of accomplishment in exploring waters they'd never otherwise see. Canoeists of all skill levels can spend days and days paddling through wilderness areas across North America.
Yachts are a step up from sailboats. These vessels can cruise deep lakes or even the high seas with ease, and it's possible to travel hundreds of miles and live for weeks at a time on a large yacht. However, most leisure boaters prefer yachting day trips.