Photos by Dori Arrington
The Big Apple is down but not out:
Here’s why you should plan a return in 2021.
Its skyline is unmistakable. Its delis are to die for. It’s busy, it’s brash, it’s New York.
There is no other city like the Big Apple, and it’s surprisingly easy to visit by boat. Many years ago, as a young couple with only a modest amount of experience, my wife and I had the daring idea to take a small Silverton from Baltimore to New England and back over a three-week vacation. Three days spent at North Cove Marina near the Battery left an indelible impression.
Of course, Covid-19 leaves a shadow longer than a skyscraper. Some eateries have closed permanently. Broadway’s theaters are on an indefinite hiatus. While I find no joy in the tough luck of others, having the opportunity to visit New York during these troubling times could be the opportunity of a lifetime. Traditionally, early spring is one of the best seasons to visit the city. Afternoon temperatures rise enough for a comfortable stroll through the park, and summer tourist buses are still months away. Visiting New York early this year will give you the chance to enjoy a rare, quieter metropolis. Restrictions on some activities and businesses will likely stay in place into summer, but many are open and would welcome the income visitors bring. According to nycgo.com, “Businesses across all five boroughs are working toward a common goal: to welcome back guests, employees and the community at large, while ensuring everyone’s health and safety.” While you may not get to enjoy a Broadway matinée, you will get to enjoy museums like MOMA and the Guggenheim with shorter entry times and smaller crowds.
New York, New York
Attempting to see New York in a short visit is daunting; it’s best to see the city as a collection of small neighborhoods. Yes, you can stroll sections of Central Park, enjoy the view from the observation deck of the Empire State Building and take in the sights and sounds of Times Square. But rushing to check one box after another leaves you exhausted and wanting a more authentic experience. New York as a whole is memorable, but the perfect espresso you found on the Belgium-brick and bottle-glass sidewalks of Soho will forever stick with you.
Marinas are plentiful in and around the city, including North Cove on the southwest tip of Manhattan or Chelsea Piers on the West Side. From North Cove, it is a short walk to One World Trade Center, with its spectacular view from the top floor, the unforgettable and moving experience of the 9/11 memorial, the Battery, Tribeca, Soho and the Financial District.
Walking distance from Chelsea places you in the chic Upper West Side and nearby High Line, an abandoned elevated freight railway transformed into a public park. Area residents fought for the High Line’s preservation and transformation, and it is unlike any other place you will find. Walking the elevated pathway takes you past public art displays with amazing views of the skyline and Hudson River. Tucked neatly along the path are relaxing nooks where you can take a seat and drink in the scenery.
If you prefer to stay outside the hustle and bustle of the city, but close enough to take in the sights, there are two great options. Across the Hudson in New Jersey, boaters can tie up at Liberty Landing Marina, a first-class marina with easy access to the city by way of the hourly ferry service running from the marina to the Battery Park city terminal. Across the East River from Manhattan, the One°15 Brooklyn Marina recently opened as the first new marina built in New York City in 50 years. With over 100 slips that can accommodate yachts up to 200 feet, it’s a popular spot. Located on a busy stretch of waterway, the Brooklyn Marina is a masterpiece of engineering, its custom-designed wave attenuators offering boaters some of the calmest water in the area.
All of the waters around New York see steady boat traffic. Ferries of all sizes and speeds, tugs with tows, seaplanes and cruise ships come and go 24/7. Be attentive and you’ll be fine. Monitor VHF channels 13 and 16 when in areas of heavy commercial traffic, and don’t go out in fog or after dark if it can be avoided. Having a dedicated watch-stander is also helpful—there’s just too much activity for one person to command the helm, navigate and watch for intersecting vessel traffic. Completing a successful visit to New York City by boat is almost reason alone to take on the challenge. Everything you get to see and do while there is the icing on the cake.