The boating parties pedaling in such stately fashion across the Tidal Basin are coming as close as any of us are going to get to walking on water. Save spending the day in the bathtub, they also are the cheapest of Washington's watery pleasures.

There is the pedal boat for the penny-pincher, and, priced on up, canoes, rowboats and sailboats. The lazy river will lure us all.


The Tidal Basin Boat House, 15th and Maine Avenues SW, 488-9730. A boat, which holds two, rents for $2.45 an hour. Renters must provide one piece of identification, usually a driver's license, and there must be one person over 16 in the boat; 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.


Jack's Boats, 3500 K St. NW, 337-9642. Both canoes and rowboats rent for $4 an hour or $8 a day on first-come, first-served basis. Open daily, 8 a.m. to dark.

Fletcher's Boat House, Canal and Reservoir Rds. NW, 244-0461. $5.50 a day for both rowboats and canoes. Daily 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Del Ray Rental Center, 2609 Mt. Vernon Ave., Alexandria, Va., 549-5410 (canoes only). For longer trips, the center's take-out canoes are $15 a day, plus $2 for each additional day. Paddles and life jackets are $1 the first day, 20 cents each day thereafter.A $40 deposit is required and reservations are recommended for holidays. Open Mon.-Sat. 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.


Mariner's Sailing School, off George Washington Parkway, one mile south of Wilson Bridge (exit Belle Haven picnic area and marina), 768-0018. Sunfish rent for $4.50 an hour or $28 a day on weekdays, $6 an hour or $35 a day on weekends; a Hobie Cat 14-footer is $7 an hour or $38 a day during the week, $8 an hour or $45 a day weekends; a 19-foot Flying Scots is $8 an hour or $42 a day weekends, $9.50 an hour and $52 a day weekends. There is a two-hour minimum. Renters must pass a proficiency test. If you think you might fail, the marina also gives lessons. 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays, to 6 p.m. on weekends.

Washington Sailing Marina, on George Washington Parkway south of National Airport, 548-0001. A 12-foot O'Day Widgeon with main and jib sail rents for $4.50 an hour. A $20 deposit and a driver's license are required, and renters should have had sailing instructions. No reservations, but boats are usually gone shortly after 10 a.m. Daily, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Buzzard Point Marina, end of First Street SW, 488-8400. Sunfish through 20-footers rent for $10 an hour, with a two-hour minimum. A driver's license and a $25 deposit are required and the renter must be able to rig the boat to take it out. Daily, 9 a.m. to whenever all boats are rented. CAPTION: Picture, no caption, By Larry Morris - The Washington Post