Sailing Austin on Lake Travis — Photo courtesy of Kimberly Suta
When you think of visiting Texas for the first time, usually your head is filled with images of cowboys, cactus and armadillos. When you think of Austin, perhaps you also envision music and hipsters. But it's probably a safe bet that you don't imagine sailing on a vast lake hundreds of feet deep.
Surprisingly, just minutes from downtown Austin is the most beautiful and expansive lake, known as Lake Travis. At almost 64 miles long and up to 4.5 miles wide, Lake Travis is actually a reservoir on the Colorado River that was formed in 1942 by the construction of Mansfield Dam on the western edge of Austin by the Lower Colorado River Authority.
Travelers and locals alike can take advantage of this gorgeous destination by chartering a luxury sailing yacht for the day or evening. Charter company Sailing Austin offers a variety of incredible pleasure cruises, including a full eight-hour daytrip, half-day trip, two-hour moonlight sail or two-hour sunset cruise.
Island Time sailing yacht — Photo courtesy of Joshua Simmons
This 34-foot Catalina MKII luxury yacht – which is decked out with all the bells and whistles, including A/C in the cabin, a nice bathroom and a sun area on deck – is perfect for groups of two to six and ideal for couples looking for a romantic excursion or just a fun getaway.
"We see a lot of proposals because it's just geared more towards romance and kicking back and relaxing," says owner, Captain Sam Darlington.
Romance or not, Darlington offers guests a once-in-a-lifetime experience and a rare view of the sublime Texas landscape. As an Irish gentleman, he's also dedicated to providing the utmost customer service. He pampers guests with wine and hors d'oeuvres. And as a proud sailor, he's always thrilled to share his sailing knowledge.
"I encourage people to take the wheel," says Darlington. "I'll stand by and talk them through the whole thing. It really turns people on to sailing."
On a recent excursion, Chef Luis Morales of Humble House in San Antonio prepared an exceptional meal of Peruvian ceviche, grilled NY strip and locally sourced vegetables — Photo courtesy of Joshua Simmons
Sailing Austin also offers guests the option to have a private chef on board to prepare them a sumptuous meal – even by candlelight, if you prefer. There's nothing quite like enjoying a delicious meal surrounded by the serene water and a billion stars overhead.
Most people don't realize that winter is often the best time to go sailing. Sure, you might not want to go swimming. But with a 75-degree day, clear blue sky and calm waters, you couldn't ask for anything more!
"The experience is unique for each group," explains Darlington, who takes you all across the lake, into the coves and near the dam.
Occasionally, you'll see a few ducks or other birds on your sail. But otherwise, the water is quiet, peaceful and simply breathtaking!