Sunday Cruise: Washington, DC

Now that warmer weather is here I can get back to one of my favorite activities, boating.  This is one of my favorite forms of travel.  Each Sunday we're going to share a different cruise or destination.   This week, I'm starting in my home port of Washington, DC.  

Cruise Details

Destination: Potomac River near Three Sisters (Georgetown)

Cruising Time: About 45 Minutes each way due to the no-wake zones.  

Highlight: Anchor in the river for a BBQ and R&R

Cruising 101

There are many types of boating.  I own a cruiser, a SeaRay Sundancer 350.  This type of boat is designed for day cruising, overnight cruising and longer range cruising.  If you don't mind paying for the gas, this boat could make it all the way to Florida.  I tend to stay on the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay.  If you are a boater we want to hear you cruise stories.  Share them with us and you may be featured on TAR.  

Cruisers include a cabin.  This is usually the big distinction between a cruiser and a sport boat.  A sport boat is usually what you see towing water skiers or tow tubes.  My 350 can comfortably sleep four adults (and my two dogs).  It's also equipped with a large galley for preparing meals, a head (boat bathroom) and a generator to run all of the electronics when we're away from the dock.  

Cruisers can be stocked with all of the comforts of home.  I basically think of my boat as a floating vacation home.  While boating is not an inexpensive hobby, there are boats for just about every budget.  I've included some helpful boating links at the end of this article.  

My cruiser, as with many boats, is equipped with several important items for an enjoyable and successful trip.  This includes a GPS chart plotter, radar system and various other weather and navigation tools.  If you are thinking of going for a cruise, plan in advance and make sure you have everything you need before you leave the dock.  This includes safety gear.  

Potomac River

The Potomac river runs right through the heart of the Nation's Captial.  It runs about 400 miles from north of DC to the Chesapeake Bay in Southeastern Virginia and Southern Maryland.  The river separates the District of Columbia (Washington, DC) from Virginia and is also the dividing line between Maryland and Virginia.  

Washington, DC and the surrounding communities are home to several marinas as well as US Coast Guard Headquarters.  If you have ever flown into Reagan National airport you flew over the Potomac which surround the airport on three sides.  

Today's Spot

Today's cruise will take us from the Anacostia River on the south end of DC to an area of the Potomac referred to by boaters as Three Sisters.  While boats can go north of this point, the river is not navigable north of Washington, DC.  Three sisters is an outcrop of rocks in the center of the river just north of the Key Bridge.  This is the bridge that runs from Arlington, VA to Georgetown in DC.  

What I like about this spot is that the river is usually calm and you can enjoy a nice day on the water.  It's quite, in fact you will be amazed that you're still in the middle of a large city.  Both sides of the river are lush and tree lined at this spot and you have a fantastic view of DC to the south.  From this point you can see Georetown, The John F. Kennedy Center, the Watergate, and the top of the Washington Monument.  

This cruise includes passing Reagan National Airport, passing under the 14th Street Bridge, the Memorial Bridge, the Roosevelt Bridge and the Key Bridge.  Off the starboard (right) side of the boat passengers have an excellent view of the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, John F. Kennedy Center and the Georgetown waterfront.  There are no-wake (go slow) zones under the bridges and the river is no-wake from the Memorial Bridge north.  

Once we get north of of the Key Bridge we normally anchor in about 10-15 feet of water on the east side of the river.  While the river is calm, the current is fast.  Make sure your anchor is holding and keep an eye on any movement because you can drift in a hurry.  

When we're set we welcome our guests to sit back and relax.  If the weather is warm we often throw some inflatables off the stern for guests to float in the river.  We tie the tubes to the boat so they don't float away.  We also have a floating island that can comfortably hold four adults.  

A day on the water is often coupled with a BBQ.  We grill everything from salmon to burgers and steaks.  We try to rotate the menu.  Also, I always recommend several snack foods that are easy for people to nibble on throuout the day.

In summary, the upper Potomac River, near Georgetown in Washington, DC is a great spot to spend the day out on the water.  If you don't have a boat you can still enjoy time on the water in DC.  There are several tour boats that run up and down the river and give you the opportunity to snap some great photos.  See our list of resources below.  If you do have a boat, and you're near the area, check out Washington, DC.  Just remember all boaters in DC waters, regardless of age, must have proof of a US Coast Guard approved boater safety course.  

Potomac Cruising Resources

The Potomac Riverboat Cmpany provides tours on the river as well as water taxi service.

Odyssey Cruises offers dining cruises on the Potomac.

The Spirit of Washington also offers dining and cruising tours.

Boating Resources

USCG Boating Safety

BoatUS - Membership of Boaters in the US

West Marine - Boating Supplies and Accessories

SeaRay - While there are many boat manufacturers, I'm partial to SeaRay and I'm biased becuase I own one

iBoat Forum

The Hull Truth

Club SeaRay

Travel at Random does not endorse and did not receive any compensation from any of the companies mentioned in this article.  Got a good boating story?  Submit your cruise and photos for a chance to appear on Travel at Random.