Ask the Expert: Sightsailing of Newport

Ask the Expert: Sightsailing of Newport


📷: Leah Haydock

A native to Newport who grew up sailing its waters, John Hirschler  founded Sightsailing of Newport in 1990, shortly after graduating from Boston University. “I’ve always enjoyed taking friends and guests sailing and seeing how much they liked the activity as well as seeing Newport from the water,” he says. “It was a passion that I managed to turn into a business.”

Sightsailing of Newport has been offering public and private sails ever since, even venturing into the local wedding market in 1995. And boy, are we sure glad they did; it’s the perfect solution for couples looking to have a truly unique Newport wedding experience. Seems too good to be true? Check out our Q&A with Hirschler below, where he shares just what your big day (or pre-nuptials activities) with Sightsailing of Newport would entail.

by Kaitlyn Murray

What type of wedding-related private charters do you offer? Do some of your vessels lend themselves better to some activities than others? What is the price range?

Starlight is our most popular boat for people who want to get engaged. Two people can charter the boat for two hours for a private sail for $285. Sightsailer is also very popular with bachelorette parties and sails with a maximum of thirteen guests. A private charter on Sightsailer is $540 during the day and $595 at sunset.

Aquidneck is our eighty-inch flagship sailboat; she sails with up to forty-nine guests and is popular for pre- and post-wedding sails for wedding guests and the bridal party. A private charter on Aquidneck is $1650 during the day and $2100 at sunset. When you figure that you can take close to fifty people out sailing for almost two hours and add some food and drink, the cost is pretty reasonable. A private charter in Newport’s beautiful harbor is an especially memorable way to celebrate.

sightsailing-newport-wedding-aquidneck📷: Leah Haydock

If a bride or groom is looking to tie the knot on the boat, are you able to help them find the right officiant or other local vendors?

That’s easy. We can definitely help them locate an officiant or Justice of the Peace or they can arrange that on their own. We have several excellent caterers in Newport that we refer guests to.

sightsailing-newport-wedding-aquidneck-5📷: Leah Haydock

What is the food / drink situation?

People can either bring their own food and drink or use a caterer. We have several outstanding Newport caterers that have special Yacht Charter Menus that guests can order from. Guests usually have their drinks delivered by one of the area’s liquor stores since delivery is free and there’s no markup in price. The only thing we don’t allow is hard liquor.

What type of views can guests expect to see  while on board?

The views are stunning. Guests see the Pell Bridge, Fort Adams, Hammersmith Farm, Castle Hill, lighthouses, mega yachts and Newport’s beautiful rocky shoreline. They also get a great view of Newport’s waterfront from the harbor. If they want, they can steer the boat or help pull up sails. There are several gorgeous photo opportunities.
sightsailing-newport-wedding-ocean-view📷: Leah Haydock

What information do you need when interested parties contact you about booking a private charter? What’s the best way to get in touch with you?

The most important thing is to know the approximate number of guests they want to take sailing.  If there are more than thirteen guests, they should look at Aquidneck. Six to thirteen, they’d charter Sightsailer. Six or fewer, and Starlight is your boat. You may book a private charter online or call 401-691-0202. Our website is packed with additional info.

Have you hosted any weddings that really stand out in your mind?

One in particular that stands out in my mind is an Australian couple we hosted who got married at the Chanler Hotel and then came straight from the Chanler to the boat. The bride went sailing with her wedding gown still on! Plus, so many of the guests were so excited to sail in Newport because of the history Newport has with Australia and the America’s Cup races.

How does Sightsailing of Newport make for a more unique and exciting experience over a more traditional ballroom wedding or the typical bachelor/ette bar crawl?

You can have a traditional ballroom wedding or bachelorette bar crawl in any city or town. But sailing provides guests with a unique backdrop and a quintessentially Newport experience. They get to escape the noise and distractions that are common with public spaces. On the boat, it’s just their party and friends in a stunning surrounding.

sightsailing-newport-wedding-aquidneck-4📷: Leah Haydock

Is there anything else you would like to add?

For many of our guests, it’s their first time ever on a sailboat. We sail in protected waters the entire time and the sailing is super-smooth; so no one ever feels queasy! Hands down, their sail is often the highlight of their time here!

sightsailing-newport-wedding-aquidneck-3📷: Leah Haydock

The Details

Public Sail Tickets on Aquidneck & Sightsailer: 401-849-3333

Private Charters on Sightsailer & Starlight: 401-619-0202

Private Charters on Aquidneck: Call John Hirschler at 401-862-4718



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