Cruising the Capital | July
As you pass under the George Mason Memorial Bridge and see the tidal basin off your starboard bow, you’ll start to spot them through the trees. First comes Jefferson. Then Roosevelt. Then Lincoln. If you look a little farther inland, you can see the top of Washington. (I am referring to the monuments, of course.) Now would be a good time to cue up Ray Charles’ “America, the Beautiful” on your boat’s stereo system and make sure Old Glory is flying high. This is our nation’s capital in July, and that feeling in the air is patriotism.
The Potomac River weaves its way through Virginia and Maryland, acting partially as a border to the two states, before curving around the west side of Washington, D.C. The views of the city from the waterway are spectacular on any day, but I’ve found the best spot to watch the fireworks explode over the National Mall on the Fourth of July is on the cockpit of a boat. Who knows? You might even see the former Presidential yacht U.S.S. Sequoia pass by, reminding you that such historical figures as Franklin D. Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and John F. Kennedy also cruised these very same waters. Other events held on the most celebrated of American days include a parade, a reading of the Declaration of Independence on the steps of the National Archives building, and evening concerts by world-renowned singers on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol.
Though the summer months can be hot, there are plenty of other reasons to visit D.C., not the least of which is the lack of school trips. With the kids off to the beach or summer camp, the crowds get a little lighter, making it possible to visit multiple attractions in one day or even get a table at one of my favorite upscale restaurants, the Old Ebbit Grill. Lawmakers break for the entire month of August, slowing down the hustle and bustle, but the city is still a vibrant place to be in July. Take the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, for example. Thousands gather at the ten-day event to celebrate cultures from locations all around the world. This year’s highlights will include the Mekong River, Northern Ireland, and nearby Virginia.
Make your plans early enough, and you should be able to secure a slip at one of the local marinas. Gangplank, James Creek, and Washington marinas are all located on the Potomac, are a short distance from the attractions, and offer transient slips. Whichever marina you tie up at, once you get settled in, you may want to take a walk around. From the looks of our subscriber list, we can safely say you never know who might be docked next door.
January: British Virgin Islands
February: Great Abaco Island / Bahamas
March: Little Harbor Cay / Bahamas
April: Los Sueños / Costa Rica
July: Washington, D.C.
August: British Columbia
September: Montauk, Long Island
October: Hudson River, New York
November: Half Moon Cay / Belize
December: St. Barts
This article originally appeared in the December 2006 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.