ITHACA, NY — This summer, Discover Cayuga Lake has added new cruises aboard the MV Teal: weekly discounted community sunset cruises Wednesday nights, Friday volunteer eco-cruises and “Club Cayuga” on Sundays.

Since the M/V Teal first set sail on Cayuga Lake in May 2018, Discover Cayuga Lake has renewed its mission to create opportunities for the local community to have access to the lake. The Ithaca-based non-profit continues to run educational programs and public tours, but since July has expanded its offerings to provide more opportunities for locals to engage with the lake.

“These community cruises are meant to create opportunities that are both interesting and more affordable, and to learn a little bit about the lake,” said Astrid Jirka, program manager of Discover Cayuga Lake.

Community members can enjoy pay-what-you-wish cruises each Wednesday, complete with sunset views and a variety of experts on board discussing the watershed’s ecology and history.

In the coming week, Ithaca College and Cornell University environmental studies professors Susan Allen-Gil and Jose Lozano will discuss emerging contaminants of concern, including micro-plastics. They will speak on the Wednesday, Aug. 28 cruise. And the following Wednesday, Sept. 4, Paul King, winemaker at Six Mile Creek Vineyards, will join the cruise and offer a tasting.

“It’s not too late, summer’s not over. If you haven’t been out on the Teal yet, come check it out, and even if you have, come back. The weather’s always changing; the sunset is different every night,” Jirka said.

If you’d rather take to the lake for a party atmosphere, Club Cayuga features local DJs spinning rotating musical genres, from reggae, hip hop/soul, salsa, with LGBT night “Rainbow Cruises.” Club Cayuga cruises run $25 per person, or bring your dance partner for a two-for-$40.

In addition to the regular Club schedule, DCL will host a special Caribbean Calypso night from 7 to 10 p.m. Friday, Aug. 30 for $45 per person.

Related: Tracking Harmful Algal Blooms: Are they here to stay?

Jirka’s favorite cruise are the eco-cruises every Friday from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. These cruises are free for volunteers who are interested in training to work with their Floating Classroom and Trout in the Classroom programs, in addition to routine lake monitoring and detecting Harmful Algae Blooms (HABs). Local interested in volunteer opportunities should email discovercayuga@gmail.com.

“These cruises are more informative, but also recreational. People can learn about what we do with our science programs and can learn about the lake itself and just kick back and relax—a nice combination,” she said.

Visit www.discovercayugalake.org/community-access for the full community cruise schedule through September. The M/V Teal’s dock through October is at the Allan H. Treman Marine State Park, 1000 Allan H. Treman State Park Rd., Ithaca.

Jennifer Wholey

Jennifer Wholey is a feature writer and Head of Dining Partnerships for the Ithaca Voice. Contact her at jwholey@ithacavoice.com.