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FAQ

General Questions

Do I have to wear a life jacket?

Absolutely! Wearing a life jacket when you use our equipment is one of those things we won’t budge on. But we’ll give you one that fits perfectly, and our team will help you however they can with putting it on, checking the zippers, and making sure your it’s safe and you’re snug as a bug! You must wear your life jacket for the entirety of your rental.

Is the boathouse still open when it's raining?

Yes! As long as there is no thunder, lightning, heavy winds, rains, or other weather risks we will be open. If we are open and you choose not to come for your reservation because of the weather, you must contact us 24 hours before your reservation. If you do not contact us or show up, our cancellation policy applies.

Will I tip over in a kayak, canoe or paddleboard?

Possibly, but you know what? It’s actually quite normal. The boats are very stable when you’re sitting in them, but when you stand up, you shouldn’t be surprised to find that capsizing is very likely! Please don’t stand in the kayaks.

But don’t worry. You will be wearing a life jacket, and if you really want to make sure capsizing is no problem, try our Kayaking Orientation or Stand-up Paddleboarding Orientation classes.

Can we hop out of a boat and explore?

Unfortunately, there aren’t many great places to get out of the boat in the D.C. area, so we ask that you remain in your boat while you are out on the water.

You can’t jump out or go swimming from any of the boats. It’s not because we don’t want you to have fun, but there are many other motorized and non-motorized vessels on the water and underwater obstacles, so it’s just not safe. It is also illegal to swim in the Potomac River within DC.

Can I bring my dog with me on the boat?

Dogs are allowed at all units except for tidal basin. We have doggie life jackets at some sites to make sure your pal is as safe as you are. Please feel free to bring your own doggie life jacket to the sites that allow dogs if you have one.

Do I have to reserve a boat? Can I reserve a boat?

Reservations are highly recommended & you need to fill out a waiver before you arrive. The link to the waiver will be in your confirmation email.

Do I need to fill out a waiver?

Yes, you MUST fill out a waiver before arriving for any reservation, class, or tour. Waivers can be found in the confirmation email you will be sent after making your reservation. If you do not see it, please check your junk mail folder.

Do I have to wear a mask?

Masks are not required at the Boathouses or Marinas.

How old do I have to be to rent a boat/what age can I take my child on a boat?

We want everyone to love boating as much as we do. We only ask that:

  • If you are age 15 and under, your parent or guardian signs the agreement form and you have an adult present on the water.
  • Children younger than 8 can go in a double kayak or canoe with an adult.
  • If you’re an adult with a group age 15 and under, each child must have an agreement form signed by their parent/guardian and have a supervising adult on the water with the group all the time.
  • If you’re age 16 or 17, you have to have an agreement form signed by your parent/guardian, but then you can go onto the water on your own. No children under 15 can be on the water without an adult. Parents cannot make a reservation for their children on their own.

When can I take out a kayak or SUP in the spring?

We try and open as soon as the weather gets warm. However, we wait until the water temperature gets above 65 degrees and air temps must be above 75 degrees for SUP. This usually happens sometime in the middle of April in Washington, DC.

What should I wear and bring with me?

You should wear any clothing that will protect you from the sun. Hat, sunglasses, clothing you don’t mind getting wet, and close-toed shoes. If it’s cool outside, or rain is in the forecast, remember that it’s often cooler on the water than it is on land!

Also bring a snack, water, and a plastic bag to pick up trash or put your wet clothes in. Ziplock bags are useful to seal up anything you really want to keep dry. Lockers are available at some sites.

Do you rent out the motorboats?

No, all motorboats are privately owned and are not available to be rented.

What are your hours?

Hours change regularly. Check reservations screen for availability.

How do I get to the Thompson Boat Center?

Thompson Boat Center has a unique location at the intersection of Rock Creek Parkway and Virginia Ave in Washington D.C. adjacent to the Watergate and right down the parkway from the Kennedy Center. You can find specific directions on the Thompson Boat Center page on our website. Be sure to check for road closures before you leave.

What are the boating boundaries?

Ballpark Boathouse: Frederick Douglas Bridge to Yacht Club/Anacostia Community Boathouse
Thompson Boat Center: The Key Bridge to the Memorial Bridge
Key Bridge Boathouse: The Chain Bridge to the Memorial Bridge.
Fletchers Cove: The Chain Bridge to the Francis Scott Key Bridge (Key Bridge Boathouse).
National Harbor: Pedal boats must stay in the cove, paddle boats may go out to Alexandria Rowing and back
Wharf Boathouse: Please stay in the Washington Channel. Be aware of paddling too close to the houseboats, and other motorboats in the marina. The 14th Street Bridge to Hains Point.

What classes do you offer?

You can check out all our classes and tours on our Classes Page.

Do you have boat storage?

Yes, we offer storage for kayaks, canoes, SUPs & rowing sculls. We offer boat storage at our Key Bridge Boathouse, Ballpark Boathouse and Thompson Boat Center. There is currently a waitlist for storage. The estimated wait is approximately one year. Sign up for the waitlist here.

Will my rowing class be canceled due to inclement weather?

We do our best to hold rowing classes regardless of inclement weather. If the weather makes it impossible for us to go out on the water, our coaches will develop a land-based activity for that day’s session. As a last resort, we may be forced to cancel a class. If that is the case, we will have a member of our call center team contact you either via email or telephone. If we do not reach out to you regarding a cancellation, you should plan to attend that day’s session.

Do you sell gift cards?

Yes, we sell gift cards by site. Please head to the specific boathouse page you wish to purchase a gift card for, and you will find the option once you click on the type of activity you are interested in.