Entrepreneurs bring parasailing, zip lining to Dutchess
Frank Carhart, captain of the For Sail Parasailing speedboat, travels north on the Hudson River as John Patterson, 28, of Beacon, is guided back to the stern by Christine Carhart, Frank's wife and owner of the business. The Walkway Over the Hudson is in the background. A parasailing flight costs $75. / Spencer Ainsley/Poughkeepsie Journal
Two new Dutchess County adventure-minded businesses take customers soaring through the air, providing a spectacular view that is second only to the excitement .
For Sail Parasailing opened in June, offering parasail flights from the Shadows Marina in the City of Poughkeepsie.
Big Bear Ziplines has been taking people flying through Hyde Park's treetops since February.
"It was a blast," Jason White, 26, of Accord said about Big Bear Ziplines. "There was something in the half of a second of stepping off the platform and the cable catching you that is so addictive. You get that flying feeling."
John Patterson, 28, of Beacon said he's afraid of airplanes but that parasailing on the Hudson River with For Sail Parasailing was "peaceful and quiet. I could fall asleep up there."
For Sail Parasailing was conceived in order to bring the excitement of a "vacation adventure" to our backyard, said owner Christine Carhart, 50, of Hopewell Junction.
After a parasailing excursion in Florida, the former high school chemistry teacher decided she could bring the activity to the mid-Hudson Valley, where the scenery, she said, is unmatched.
Dieter Beisiegel, a very active 64-year-old Orange County resident, had a similar vision for his zip-lining course.
On daughter Carolyn Beisiegel's 21st birthday, they went to Whistler Zip Lines in Canada, and Carolyn told her father, "We should do this," she said.
In 2007, when he retired from American Airlines as a Boeing 777 captain, and again found himself on zip lines in Hawaii, the idea started to take hold.
"We hope to give our guests the thrill of a lifetime," he said.
At Big Bear Ziplines, guests are strapped into a harness on a pulley that rolls along cables strung between poles or trees.
The cables are 10 to 50 feet above the ground, and they range from 300 to 1,400 feet in length, with participants traveling up to 30 mph.
Most of Big Bear's guests are in their 20s and 30s and are local. However, Hudson Valley tourists from all over the country have added a canopy tour to their itinerary, Beisiegel said.
For Sail Parasailing's custom-designed powerboat accommodates six guests and can fly singles, doubles or triples, ages 6 and up, depending on their weight.
Parasailers step into a harness and are hoisted up to 300 feet above the Hudson River. The boat travels between Kingston and Peekskill, Westchester County.
Carhart and her husband, Frank, are certified U.S. Coast Guard captains and lifeguards with CPR and first aid training. They also joined the Professional Association of Parasail Operators.
Frank Carhart, 51, is a City of Poughkeepsie firefighter and operates a party rental business, Jump-N- Fun.
"We have stars on our boat and in our logo because we want to make everyone feel like a star," Christine Carhart said.
Mary Kay Vrba, president of Dutchess County Tourism, said these businesses have given metropolitan New York ers two new reasons to head north.
"We can tell by the number of click views on our website, people are checking them out," she said.
In about three years, Vrba expects word about the activities will spread and the businesses will begin to see many more tourists as their clients.
But for now, Vrba said, Big Bear Ziplines and For Sail Parasailing give local residents the opportunity to have fun in their backyard.
"I can't wait to do them both myself," she said.
The Association for Challenge Course Technology, a trade association of which Big Bear Ziplines is a member, explains on its website that zip lines were first used by biologists seeking to study the ecosystems of the rainforest.
Big Bear Ziplines charges $99 per person for the roughly three-hour excursion that begins at its Route 9G satellite office behind the Inside Scoop ice-cream parlor and includes van transportation to the wooded course.
The business also provides a shuttle from the Poughkeepsie Train Station to its office for those who make reservations in advance.
For Sail Parasailing has hourlong tours from 11 a.m. to sunset Friday to Sunday and by appointment on weekdays, operating until the fall.
The cost is $75, and there are discounts for groups of four or more and for college students. For $99, clients get a T-shirt and a photograph.
Reservations are suggested.
An information booth will be set up at the marina on weekends to book flights.
"Our goal is to be a destination, and we think people will be saying, 'You gotta do this,' " Carhart said.