How to Get Off the Island

Updated June 2005

A sailing boat rented from the North Cove Sailing Charters.Photo: Mark Heithoff

You think you’re soothed by looking out on the water, until the inevitable next craving—to be out on it—strikes. And neither the Circle Line nor the Staten Island Ferry is going to properly transport you. With as little as a week’s notice, you can charter a sailboat, captain included: Even if you don’t know your topping lift from your boom vang, it’s possible to get out on New York’s waters with a couple of friends and a picnic.

The North Cove Sailing Charters in Jersey City (201-915-4398;, a ten-minute ferry ride from downtown, will put up to five people and a captain on a comfortable J-36 for $600 to $700 for four hours. You’ll go up the Hudson as far as the Intrepid or around Governors Island. “We stay out of the East River because that’s a tough current,” says owner Len Butler. “Other than that, you can go anywhere between the Verrazano and the George Washington Bridge.” There are few experiences more thrilling than looking up at lower Manhattan from a small boat.

You can often reserve just a few days ahead from New York Sailing Center (718-885-0335; on City Island, a nineteenth-century shipbuilding community that’s famous for producing winning America’s Cup yachts. An afternoon or evening on its Columbia 32, which accommodates up to six people along with a captain and a mate, costs $300 to $500. Close to shore, the views of condo developments and Potters Field are less than picturesque, but it’s not long before you’re out in the middle of glorious Long Island Sound.

See also
Where to Enjoy Kayaking, Surfing and Other Watersports

How to Get Off the Island