Last night at Chelsea Piers, Vince and I boarded an 80-foot mahogany-trimmed sailboat called the Schooner Adirondack. Docked near six or seven mega-yachts, the Schooner, with her sleek wood surface and tall masts, was the most beautiful boat in the marina.
We sat near Captain Peter, who’s originally from Belgium. With only a few other couples in attendance, we had picked the perfect night for a “private” tour of NY Harbor. Captain Peter assured us that although there were more than 49 life jackets below deck, in the 11 years since the boat first set sail, they had never been needed.
“For your sailing pleasure, there is also complimentary soda and water. And for some of you,” he paused, grinning, “wine, beer, and champagne.” (This certainly wasn’t the Circle Line.) “Welcome aboard!” he said, and started the engines to back out of the pier.
Here Vince and I were, relaxing on an 1890s-style sailboat that provided flowing champagne, history of the Hudson, and the gentle sounds of creaking wood. All right beside the majestic evening skyline of Manhattan. Imagine!
Capt. Peter would occasionally sign to his two-man crew to raise the four sails, tack, or look out for oncoming boats. When a passenger asked a question, Capt. Peter launched into a fascinating story about immigrants arriving at Ellis Island, pointing to the place where few people know they all went next. He spoke of the abandoned Governor’s island off to the East, of celebrity-inhabited buildings along the river, and the Italian who discovered Manhattan. When we felt a chill, blankets appeared to keep us cozy and warm. The service, and especially the charming, entertaining captain, gave the night that special touch. The stars came out, party boats passed blaring reggaeton, and it was silent again.
The Statue of Liberty was our destination. This I won’t elaborate on. I was there once as a child, and seeing it again – albeit off land – is something everyone must experience for themselves. Staring up at the statue from the sailboat is more moving than standing in her crown looking out at Manhattan. Aboard the Schooner Adirondack, you can have both views.
How to get there: Take the A, C, or E train to 8th and 14th Street. Or take the cross-town bus on 14th street that stops near Chelsea Piers on 18th street. The Schooner Adirondack and its sister ship, Schooner Imagine, operate from May to November (see calendar for details and reservations). Day sails at 1:00 p.m. and 3:30 p.m, Sunset sail at 6 p.m., and City Lights sail at 8:30 p.m. Cost: $40 per adult, $50 after 6 p.m. (Classic Harbor Line, Chelsea Pier 59, 212.627.1825, sail-nyc.com)
Photos: Susan Kavett and Lauren Matison
The co-founder and editor-at-large at offMetro, Lauren is a sustainable travel specialist and freelance journalist with frequent bylines in National Geographic, Bicycling Magazine and Shape. Follow Lauren’s adventures at @laurenmati.