Q: Some New York–savvy friends are visiting this spring, and I’m trying to think of new things to do. They’ve already tried the Circle Line. Are there any other ways to spend a day on the water?
A: There’s room for six—and no more—aboard the small but mighty W.O. Decker (Pier 16, between South Street and Fulton Street; 212-748-8786), a brightly painted wooden tugboat that’s been a fixture in New York Harbor since 1930 (she served the Newtown Creek Towing Company for years). Weekdays, the tug sits in the shadows of the schooner Pioneer and the four-mast Peking, which tower over Pier 16. But on Saturdays from May through October, she sets sail on a four-to-six-hour behind-the-scenes tour of New York City’s working waterways ($125 per person; reservations required).
Your crew can lunch on the sunny deck of the W.O. Decker as she charts a course from the Gowanus Canal to the banks of the Hudson, following routes that larger excursion vessels can’t, through hidden backwaters and waterfronts. And tell your friends to bring a camera: Photo buffs can zoom in on tentative snowy egrets and night herons—or a maintenance worker sweating away along Brooklyn’s gritty docks.