Anchors Away: How to Spend a Day on a Boat in NYC

Boat bars, day trips and yacht rentals make taking to the seas a breeze

Pilot, docked at Brooklyn Bridge Park, Pier 6. Doug Lyle Thompson

Boarding a boat, on a beautiful summer day or clear star-filled night, and breathing in that fresh sea air has always been one of the ultimate summer activities. The beach is great, but nothing quite beats actually being out on the water. You may even find it even more rejuvenating than a yoga class. New York City (what with it being an island, and all) is the perfect place from which to take to the seas. But quick, take advantage of Manhattan’s waterways before fall properly arrives.

Your Vessel

First, you need a boat. Unless you already have one (and good for you), it’s actually pretty easy to get a boat for the day in NYC. You can rent a beautiful small vessel or sailboat with a captain (so more time for you to kick back and relax) starting at around $350. A private schooner or a yacht experience, however, will set you back something in the range of $1,600 per day, but can accommodate up to a dozen of your closest friends. Check out, Atlantic Yachting and Prestige Yachts for options.

You could also try one of the day trips Gild Hall is offering. The historic Wall Street property has three unique summer packages for guests who want to get out on the water. The Historic South Street Seaport Summer Package (Package Code: SEAPORT) offers a boat ride for two aboard the Pioneer, a 130-year-old schooner, and includes admission to the South Street Seaport Museum. You can also have a picnic at Gild Hall’s Felice, followed by two pints back on shore at the historic Paris Café.

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You'll always be our baby

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They also offer the Red Hook Local Makers Experience Package (Package Code: REDHOOK) if you are looking to explore more of Brooklyn on your boat ride. For this day trip you catch an early ferry to Red Hook to tour Brooklyn’s Rakka Chocolate Factory, followed by a tasting at nearby Widow Jane Whiskey Distillery. Then grab dinner at Brooklyn Crab, a lobster roll at Red Hook Lobster Pound, or sweet American treats at Baked.

And if you want to actually go to the beach, their the Rockaway Beach Retreat Package (Package Code: ROCKAWAY) is for you. Take the ferry out to Rockaway Beach for sun, sand and a guided surfing lesson with Locals Surf School. After attempting to catch a wave you can reward yourself with tacos and summer cocktails at Rockaway Taco.

A king premium room at Gild Hall. Gild Hall

Where to Drink

Luckily, you will never be without a delicious drink at any of the main New York City ports. Dockside restaurants and boat bars have become all the rage in the last few years. With the launch of Grand Banks at Pier 25 a few summers back, and then City Winery a few years later, that strip on Chelsea Piers has become one of the hottest spots (and most Instagrammable) for New Yorkers looking to beat the heat.

Luckily Grand Banks co-owners Alex and Miles Pincus realized how much people love a good nautical themed drink, and opened up not one, but two new bars this summer. In July they introduced Island Oyster on Governor’s Island (the ferry ride to get out there means you’re definitely justified in wearing pants with anchors on them) and just this past week they opened Pilot in Brooklyn Bridge Park at Pier 6. All of the new locations have the same great aesthetic as their original outpost, along with some fun new drinks like Life at Sea and Spirit Animal. Pilot, which was sailed down from Boston, was built in 1924 and though originally meant for racing, it spent much of its prior life as a ferry. That’s almost as good as going to a museum for the afternoon, plus you get a great view of the Manhattan skyline.

Where to Eat

Everyone loves to brunch so why not do it on a boat? The Shearwater Classic offers a two-hour champagne brunch sail ($95 for adults, $45 for children ages 3 to 12) with a buffet (and, of course, champagne). Just be sure to be there by 11 o’clock or you’ll miss the boat, literally.

For dinner or lunch try Hudson’s at Pier 81. Aboard this three-story, 160-foot yacht you will see breathtaking views of the New York Harbor as you sail to the Statue of Liberty and nibble on shareable plates and full entrees. This is a more formal dining alternative to its partner restaurant, North River Lobster Company, and perfect for a more casual but delicious bite (are you full of lobster rolls, yet?).

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And! It's National Oyster Day…

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What to Wear

Nautical themed clothing is perhaps the most fun part of boating, and certainly easy to come by (looking at you, Ralph Lauren, Vineyard Vines, and Lilly Pulitzer). As for footwear, a cute summer sandal is always tempting, but do remember that climbing aboard (and off again, after a few drinks) is always a little tricky, so you may want to consider something more practical. You could opt for the classic Sperry Top Sider, invented by sailor Paul Sperry in 1935 after he slipped on the deck of his boat and went overboard. Clearly, these boat shoes are purpose built. They’ve also recently released a sneaker line, 7 Seas, developed in partnership with America’s Cup athletes. It is part sneaker, part boat shoe and totally cute.

Anchors Away: How to Spend a Day on a Boat in NYC