Melding styles is something that daring designers do. Getting it right can make one a legend, but the risks attached to failure are great in a business where you’re only as good as your last design. This is why so few naval architects and boat builders, like their couturier counterparts, are truly daring, and why should they be in times like the present when cash seems to be more abundant than imagination. Play it safe offerings embalm the classics at one end of the market while ever more ostentation and gimmickry supply the other end. Once in a while inspiration does break through – unpredictably, innovatively, daringly. In marine design it is rare because naval architecture is by definition more evolutionary than revolutionary. But there’s no mistaking when it occurs, the instinctive awareness that one is looking at a design that is somehow familiar but decidedly new, where it all works together in the right way and with the visceral certainty there will be emulators. MV Manhattan is such an occurrence and for now, there is only one, a working girl in New York harbor created by the Scarano Boat Building Company. Like her namesake, Manhattan embodies grace, charm, power and seduction in one beautiful package. Marilyn would approve.
A Trio of Design Concepts
MV Manhattan subtly combines elements of three design styles from the 1920s. Dominant among them is her Commuter heritage. The fast, waterborne limousines of the Roaring 20s sped to downtown docks in cities like Boston, Detroit, Philadelphia, New York and San Francisco while their captains of industry owners dressed and breakfasted at leisure. Manhattan’s plumb stem, narrow beam and tumble home transom are all topside reminders of her dominant genes. Below the waterline, the flat run and twin 34” x 36” five-bladed props powered by a pair of turbocharged diesels (John Deere 6125 AFM 526 HP at 2100 RPM) through 2.54:1 reduction gears (Twin Disc MG5114 SC) easily put a bone in her teeth. Manhattan achieves 22 knots with ease. This classy dame will loiter for admirers but is fast on the getaway when she wants or needs to be. In the trade it’s called giddy-up and Manhattan has plenty to get her morning commuters to work in a style to which they, like their forebears, are most certain to become accustomed. The morning commute across the Hudson includes complimentary coffee service, bagels, muffins and seasonal fruit juice, Bloody Marys, and Mimosas, complimentary newspapers and fresh flowers. If going to work we must, this is the way to get there!
Notably, the first Commuters were not yachts by the standard of their time. Originally, yacht-like luxury was subordinated to speed, since true lavishness was reserved for sedate, floating mansions inhabited by people who never needed to hurry. But big wallets, huge egos and natural competitiveness were no less drivers of innovation eight decades ago than they are today. In time, greater elegance, comfort and capacity also accompanied speed as the role of Commuters expanded from pure transportation to entertainment as well. The Commuters evolved into the Commuter Yacht. With enough mahogany bright work and white enamel to require sun shades on a cloudy day and inside capacity for 50 guests (80 total including outside seating) MV Manhattan personifies the height of Commuter Yacht development, but with modern comforts.
Manhattan’s décor is elegant understatement, starting with plush cushioned seating for the climate-controlled main saloon accented by innovations like large opening skylights to maximize use of natural light to accentuate the beauty of natural woods and to provide vertical viewing from inside the cabin. Hand-woven throw rugs highlight the teak deck.
Every detail aboard Manhattan whispers personal warmth, from the fully stocked bar to full-size marine heads below decks. The galley (not pictured) is immaculate and efficient. Ambiance and style aboard Manhattan are more akin to a private club than to larger size dinner yachts or excursion boats.
Finally, there’s Manhattan’s semi-enclosed pilot house that harkens back to the open bridge destroyers and sub-chasers of World War I. Open at the aft end, it enables a level of communication and intimacy between the captain and passengers in the cabin behind him that was replaced years ago on larger craft by intervening decks, junior officers and “Do Not Enter” signs. One has to have skippered a yacht like Manhattan (this writer has) to understand the respect, interest and admiration passengers have for what the captain does – for many passengers this is a more novel experience than viewing the sights. It’s kudos for captain and crew when all goes right, it’s live entertainment when it doesn’t. Subconscious awareness makes every cruise a more personal and memorable shared adventure.
Manhattan blends saltiness and elegance. Eighty years ago she might have chased submarines or rum-runners or been a bootlegger herself!
It is not hard to picture Marilyn Monroe offering her playful comparison of yachts and destroyers in Some Like it Hot as she steps aboard Manhattan (the yacht in the famous movie was Caledonia II). Tony Curtis’ reply to Marilyn’s remark is also memorable. Playing the part of an oil-baron’s son, he says:
“Oh, it’s just regulation size, we have three [yachts] like this.”
We are not all Marilyn Monroe or Tony Curtis but thanks to MV Manhattan we don’t have to be to experience the glamour of a bygone era and the excitement of a modern day designer / builder betting on his instincts and coming up aces. If Al Capone were still with us today, he’d probably send flowers!
It’s summer, which means that along with the overbearing heat, the streets of New York City are teeming with people. While I usually don’t mind bumping shoulders with strangers, sometimes we all need a break from the chaos. Instead of holing up at home or in your hotel room, let me let you in on a little secret: local cruises.
Classic Harbor Line, a local boating company that features sailing, boat tours and private charters, allows for a mini vacation with their special interest day cruises. The vessels depart from downtown Chelsea Piers and sail on the Hudson River.
Classic Harbor Line gives you numerous options. Offerings range from having top scholars speak about the history and future of the NYC waterfront to foodie experiences of past Morimoto sushi & sake fights. Other options include the AIA (American Institute of Architects) NYC Architecture Tours. With this event, you sail down the Hudson as the NYC skyline sprawls around you in a 360 degree panorama. All the while, members of the AIA tell you how it came to be.
There’s a cruise to spark every interest. Check out the Jazz Cruise, the Spanish Wine Pairing, and Flamenco Guitar. These are just some examples, but you can enjoy anything from wine tasting, beer and cheese pairings, brunches, sunset dinners, jazz shows and more.
Beginning on May 23, the new America 2.0 is ready for boarding. It’s an 11-foot eco-friendly schooner and one of the leading boats for Op Sail 2012.
Here’s an idea. With Independence Day around the corner, why not hop onboard? Classic Harbor Line has all it takes for a spectacular Fourth of July evening. You can get aboard the Schooner Adirondack or the Yacht Catskill. You’ll sip champagne and watch the beautiful fireworks display over the NYC skyline, all in the company of Lady Liberty.
New York Harbor tour boats, work boats, private boaters and charter yachts will gussy up their vessels with twinkling lights and holiday decor (including a very special maritime old St. Nick on the last boat). The lit boats will gather at Pier A, travel up through Brooklyn Bridge Park, then move north along the Brooklyn Waterfront, passing under the Brooklyn Bridge and doing a tight pass along Manhattan’s waterfront at South Street Seaport.
Here’s a map of the best places to catch the ships, and there are tickets available for a seat on the glamorous Adirondack Schooner, which will lead the parade this year. Don’t forget to winterize your Topsiders!
CHELSEA — Keep your eyes on the fore-and-aft sails and hold on to your captain’s hat: This weekend marks the sixth annual New York Classic Week schooner races.
The three-day-long series of sailboat races kicks off on Saturday and the action goes through Monday.
Several new kinds of yachts will test their mettle during the races, including the Chelsea Piers-based America 2.0, a 105-foot, 85-passenger carbon fiber boat that designers are hoping will outrun its 17 competitors.
“It’s a classic,” said Will Candis, a spokesman for Classic Harbor Line Yachts, the boat’s owner. “It’s brand new, but it looks like it’s from the 1800s.”
The boat was delivered two weeks ago, and its owners are hoping to use the race to show what it can do.
Along with many other yachts in the race, the America 2.0 will carry about 40 passengers who want to see the races from up close — while sipping on wine and snacking on hors d’oeuvres, of course.
The America 2.0 is expected to sail at about 13 knots, or 15 miles per hour — which owners said is fast for a boat that’s also serving as a bar.
Organizers said they are confident that the fall winds will really start to kick in this weekend, and spectators from around the city will be in for some speedy sailing.
The races begin in the New York Harbor each day at 12 p.m. and will feature some of the city’s most iconic sites, including sails around the Statue of Liberty and the Verrazano-Narrows bridge.
Classic yacht race:
Under the brilliant sun of Columbus Day weekend, seven classic vessels plied New York harbor in a dazzling display of tall masts and sails. On each of the three days, they were to have raced each other up and down the harbor, but said Michael Fortenbaugh, commodore of the North Cove Marina, “The high pressure system that brought the sunshine and warm temperatures also meant light winds. There was also strong current because of the approaching full moon.”
The course for Saturday’s race from North Cove to the Verrazano Narrows bridge “was altered to be a one-way race that finished at the bridge,” said Fortenbaugh. “America II crossed the finish line first but Black Watch won on corrected time. What that means is that each boat has a rating that reflects its theoretical speed. After the finish times are recorded, they are adjusted based on the rating to see which boat actually performed best in that race.”
On Sunday, the boats were supposed to race to the Statue of Liberty. The race started but light winds caused the race to be abandoned after two hours. On Monday, the boats were slated to race around Governors Island and back, but because of the light winds and strong currents, the course was again changed to a one-way race. “Salty won this race on corrected time, beating America II by two seconds,” said Fortenbaugh.
If the guests aboard the vessels minded that the racing didn’t materialize as planned, no one seemed to mind too much. The weather was gorgeous. The harbor looked beautiful. Aboard Classic Harbor Line’s new schooner, America 2.0, which was launched just three weeks ago, champagne and beer were poured and the crew brought out box lunches.
The Pride of Baltimore II, a reproduction of an 1812-era topsail schooner privateer, preened and posed as she scooted around the harbor. Commissioned by the city of Baltimore as a goodwill ambassador, she evokes the days of the famed early 19th-century Baltimore clippers, whose speed helped to win the war of 1812 against the British.
“This regatta will be held at North Cove again next year over Columbus Day weekend,” said Fortenbaugh. “The public can participate by buying a ticket to race on one of the boats. This year, America II offered six tickets at $390 per race and sold out. The Pride of Baltimore II offered 35 tickets at $90 for each race and sold out as well.” Tickets for America 2.0, whose design is based on a vessel called “America” that was built in 1851 and won the first America’s Cup, were $125. The Columbus Day regatta marked her last appearance in New York harbor until May. She will be sailing in Key West for the winter.
Battery Park City in bloom:
The ruby-throated hummingbirds (Archilochus colubris) that are currently stopping in Wagner Park on their way to Mexico and Central America for the winter find welcome sustenance in the “firecracker” plant, so-called because of its long, red blooms, well suited to a hummingbird’s slender bill and taste for nectar. Cuphea “David Verity” was hybridized by botanists at the University of California (U.C.L.A.) from two species of cuphea native to the parts of the world for which the hummingbirds are bound. Unlike Battery Park City’s specimens, few members of the genus “cuphea,” which has 260 species, are used for ornamental purposes. Most are raised for their seeds, which can be turned into oil.
Hummingbirds have good color vision and prefer red or orange flowers. They can see parts of the ultra-violet spectrum that are invisible to humans.
The hummingbirds now in Wagner Park are all female. The males migrate south several weeks before the females, and return earlier in the spring. These remarkable birds that are around three-and-a-half inches long and weigh one-eighth of an ounce are fueling up to fly thousands of miles, including a non-stop journey of around 500 miles over the Gulf of Mexico that will take them 18 to 20 hours.
Pier A update:
At the meeting of Community Board 1’s Battery Park City Committee on Oct. 4, Anne Fenton, assistant to Gayle Horwitz, president of the Battery Park City Authority, had some news about Pier A. “We’re still working on the core and shell,” she said, but added that the restoration was taking somewhat longer than planned because of “the delicate nature of working with a historic building on the water.”
Pier A, which was completed in 1886 for New York City’s Department of Docks & Ferries, is the last surviving 19th-century pier on the Hudson River in Manhattan. It is expected to reopen in 2013 with restaurants and a visitor’s center. “That plan has not changed,” Fenton said.
The mini yachts at the Chelsea Piers Classic Harbor Line hold about 35 people and are reminiscent of an intimate Gatsby party on the Hudson. Champagne is poured into flutes as the Catskill or Beacon yacht circumnavigates the southern tip of Manhattan, and people excitedly take out their cameras when the Statue of Liberty looms nearby. Dusk sets in as a multi-hued panorama. More champagne flows, and soon strings of night lights magically festoon New York City like so many pieces of jewelry.
If you’re yachting with, for example, a freckled 10-year old boy, you can also have gingerale, water, and sodas; and for adults who prefer beer to champagne, there’s that option as well. Three drinks are included in the cruise, and you’re encouraged to bring your own snacks on board since no food is served. Pick up tickets at the northern end of Chelsea Piers on the water, and line up early if you have a favorite spot on the boat.
You’ll feel grateful to live in the greatest city in the world as you cruise underneath the majestic Brooklyn Bridge in all of its glory at night. This is exactly the type of New York experience you and your loved ones or friends will always remember. Find more details and photos for cruising aboard these NYC yachts click here!
Few things go better together than fresh sushi and perfectly chilled sake, but throw in warm summer weather, the sunset against the NYC skyline, and a yacht cruise through the harbor and you’ve got an absolutely sublime dining experience. Classic Harbor Line Yachts and Morimoto are happy to enter their third year of NYC’s Morimoto Sushi & Sake Sunset Yacht Cruise.
The celebrated upscale dining experience is now offering an extended schedule and a choice of watercraft for the evening – the Schooner Adirondack sailing yacht or the motor Yacht Manhattan – to be boarded at chic Chelsea Piers. And, because of Morimoto’s close proximity to the dock, the food remains famously fresh as it is prepared just minutes before passengers board and stored in special coolers until it is served within the first hour of the cruise. Diners will take off into the sunset and enjoy a variety of decadent Morimoto sushi impeccably paired with fine sake. Take time to savor the meal as the sun slowly dips behind NYC’s dramatic skyline, kick back, and enjoy the ride.
To book your spot or for more information, visit https://fareharbor.com/embeds/book/sail-nyc/items/25994/?full-items=yes&flow=4566.
Spare Times For May 13-19
NYC Boat Architecture Tour (Sunday and Tuesday) Architecture buffs with a love of boats can enjoy both, on a tour of Manhattan architecture from a boat cruising around the island, offered by Classic Harbor Line Yachts and the New York City Chapter of the Center for Architecture: Sundays at 2:15pm and Tuesdays at 1:15pm through October. Pier 62, West 22nd Street and the Hudson River (212)627-1825, www.sail-nyc.com: $75, including a beverage and hors d’oeuvres.
In the concrete jungle that is New York, sometimes visitors — and even New Yorkers themselves — forget that the city is surrounded by water.
There’s the isle of Manhattan, of course; Coney Island (which is really a peninsula); and the hottest piece of land these days, Governor’s Island, situated right in New York Harbor. On your next foray to the Big Apple, catch the breeze on one of these wonderful water adventures.
Cruise with Classic Harbor Line
Sail around the city on the Yacht Manhattan. A predictable boat trip would be the Staten Island Ferry — free, yes, but hardly glamorous. Water Taxis are adorable, but only take you a few short hops. And sightseeing tours like those offered the Circle Line and the Beast are notoriously crowded.
For a more exclusive tour, check out Classic Harbor Line, which gives you the choice of cruising around in an indoor/outdoor motorized yacht, the Yacht Manhattan, or getting all salty dog on the swift-moving schooner Adriondack. The extensive list of tours makes these boats a great option whether you love brunch (which includes complimentary Bloody Mary or Mimosa), sunsets and Champers (Champagne Sunset Cruise), live jazz (Sunday Evening Jazz Cruise), booze and brie (NY State Beer & Cheese Pairing), or architecture (Around Manhattan Official NYC Architecture Tour). Tours start at just $45.
New York Harbor offers all types of cruises for all kinds of budgets, ranging from dinner and dancing to guided history tours. NY1’s Valarie D’Elia filed the following report.
Summer is cruising season on New York Harbor and there is a nice selection of sailings for practically every budget and interest.
Classic Harbor Line’s new skyline and high ling tour combines a Hudson river cruise on the motor Yacht Manhattan with a historical guided walking tour of the High Line, Manhattan’s new elevated park. This two-part, three hour experience departs at 2:30 p.m. on Fridays from Chelsea Piers for $65 a person.
The Yacht Manhattan also offers a wine tasting cruise that departs once a week varying nights at 6:30 p.m. for $85 per person. A sunset sushi and sake evening on board a sailing schooner sets sail every Monday night at 7 p.m, with food provided by Morimoto in Chelsea Market, for $105 per.
From my midship perch on the sharply slanted deck of the 80-foot schooner Adirondack as it slices the swift crosscurrents of the Upper Bay of New York Harbor, gritty Manhattan is transformed into the shimmering silver city of our dreams. Only the view from the troposphere in a passing jet offers a comparable perspective.
From sea level, as from on high, the anxious cacophony, the urgent currents of street and sidewalk traffic, the crowding, the bustle, the grind and the grime all evaporate, leaving a pristine, breezy urban paradise, its sharp vertical planes glinting in the late afternoon sun like a jewel in a sea green setting.
“Every sail,” says the Adirondack’s sun-soaked skipper, Greg Freitas, a Coast Guard-licensed captain, “is a day in the country.”
Operated by one of several charter companies that offer landlubbers similar escapes aboard wind-powered schooners and sloops, the Adirondack made its maiden sail of the season late one afternoon this month. Brought south from her winter berth in an Albany dry dock earlier that day, the boat, Captain Freitas said, was as stiff and creaky as, well, a middle-aged writer who hadn’t been getting his exercise. “The masts were removed for the winter, they still needed to settle fully,” the skipper said. “She was newly rigged and she needed to stretch and get the kinks out, like you would if you were laid up all winter.”
I wasn’t, but you wouldn’t know it to watch me board the two-masted, cedar-and-birch beauty as it bobbed at a floating dock in a cove at Chelsea Piers. Although I live less than half a block from the shores of the Hudson River– if the sea wall at Battery Park City can be called a shore — I lack the sea legs of a seasoned sailor. Somehow the two crewmen stationed at the rail seemed to sense this when I stepped from dock to ship just as a swell rocked the boat. Swaying drunkenly, my knees bending as if on a Bongo Board, I might have pitched into the drink between the dropping platform and the rising port side of the hull if not for a helping hand from the crewmen, who were kind enough not to smirk.
“Welcome aboard, sir,” one said, betraying not a hint of derision as I made my graceless way aft. “Take a seat and we’ll soon be under way.”
My fellow passengers included Richard Saez, a sailing enthusiast from Manhattan who said that he cruised the harbor aboard the Adirondack at least 20 times last year. “I love this; it’s in my blood.” The son of a son of a sailor, Mr. Saez claimed a long line of seafaring forebears, including his father, a merchant marine who worked on the great transoceanic passenger ships, and a grandfather from the Canary Islands, a seamen’s haven that legend holds “is all that’s left of the lost continent of Atlantis,” Mr. Saez said with a knowing wink.
Also on board was a temporarily out-of-work Broadway child wrangler. “I chaperone and take care of kid actors,” said Bobby Wilson, who once worked as a steward aboard a private yacht, among other colorful pastjobs. (“I was a tassel catcher on ‘This Is Burlesque,’ a traveling burlesque show in the 60’s,” he said.)
Idle since “Music Man” went dark last year on Broadway, and with many of the truck and bus tours that usually crisscross the country curtailed since Sept. 11, Mr. Wilson was hoping to land a part-time job on the Adirondack. “Even if it doesn’t work out, it feels great just to be out on the water,” said Mr. Wilson, who lives in Greenwich Village. “It’s a way to get out of the city without actually leaving.”
While we passive sailors chatted and didn’t lift a finger except to accept the free Champagne, wine, beer and soda offered by a steward, the crew members cast off lines and got busy organizing the rigging — a bewildering network of ropes and pulleys — and preparing to hoist the sails.
Captain Freitas, meanwhile, executed the countless tricky moves required to unpark the schooner from the tight confines of its berth and, with a series of quick, low-power thrusts from a stern motor, maneuvered it out of the cove and into the river.
With his deep tan, white Hemingway beard, calm manner and easygoing good humor, Captain Freitas is the vely picture of the weathered seafarer. Hailing from the old whaling town of New Bedford, Mass., the 53-year-old skipper runs a charter sailing service from his home port in St. John, Virgin Islands.
As we motored slowly out of the cove, the captain gave us a quick history lesson, noting that Chelsea Piers had been built at the turn of the last century to serve ocean liners. From Pier 54, just south of the sports complex where golfers now swat tee shots into a web of black netting from a four-tiered driving range, the British liner Lusitania had steamed to its doom in 1915. It was sunk and 1,198 died when a German U-boat fired a torpedo into it. Nearby, he said, was the site of the Cunard berth where the unsinkable Titanic was supposed to tie up at the end of its history-making maiden voyage in 1912.
Steering the Adirondack toward the Hudson’s far shore in Hoboken, N.J., about two-thirds of a mile away, Captain Freitas referred to the Hudson as the North River, just as Henry Hudson had done in his ship’s logs four centuries before. “Why the North River and not the West River?” I wondered, having always assumed that the East River was so named because it bordered the east side of Manhattan.
“Because il~s the river you sail to go north,” Captain Freitas explained. “To sail east, to Long Island Sound, you would take the East River.”
The Hudson flows 300 miles from the Adirondacks and “isn’t really a river at all once it reaches Lower Manhattan,” he said, further eroding my fanciful notion that living near the river made me something of a nautical expert.
“These waters are part of the Atlantic’s tidal estuary,” he said, explaining why the currents might run upriver toward the George Washington Bridge in the morning and out toward the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge hours later. Skylines and Waterlines
Whatever it’s called, we crossed the body of water between Manhattan and New Jersey. Once we came a few hundred yards within the shoreline below Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, a passenger pointed out River Street, the road where Charley, Rod Steiger’s character in “On the Waterfront,” met his doom. Then Captain Freitas turned the schooner’s distinctive blunt bow south.
Raising first the mainsail, then the foresail and the two headsails, the captain and the crew members had us speeding south before a strong wind that a fellow passenger, Noah Barnes, the Adirondack’s 29-year-old weekend skipper, estimated at 15 knots, or 17 miles an hour. Captain Barnes was along for the ride with his girlfriend.
Sailing past the Pavonia and Newport ferry stops on the Jersey City waterfront, where new steel-and-glass residential and office towers are rising to create a boxy, gap-toothed answer to the Manhattan skyline, we were carried by wind and currents back across the river until we were gliding past Battery Park City in Lower Manhattan.
Onboard chatter died away as all eyes turned to the void left by the World Trade Center. “It’s like an amputation,” Mr. Wilson, the child wrangler, said quietly. “It’s gone but you can still feel it,”
Before sailing with Captain Freitas, I had heard from one of my Battery Park City neighbors about his actions on Sept. 11, when he sped south from the Piers aboard the Chelsea Screamer, a 1,600-horsepower excursion boat that he captains on weekends. At the North Cove marina, west of the collapsed towers, he helped organize volunteer boaters who carried Out the makeshift evacuation of thousands of panicked office workers and residents stranded on the esplanade in the blinding cloud of smoke, ash and pulverized dust that had once been the Twins, as neighborhood children liked to call the World Trade Center towers.
Captain Freitas made trip after trip that day, ferrying 50 and 60 people at a time from the esplanade to Liberty State Park in New Jersey, directly across the river, and to and from the Chelsea Piers, where thousands more people fleeing Lower Manhattan took refuge in the hours after the collapse.
“He was really one of the unsung heroes that day,” my neighbor, Capt. Scott Shields, a city Parks and Recreation Department marine rescue specialist, had said of Captain Freitas.
From the river at the southwest corner of North Cove, you used to be able to look down Liberty Street and see the geometric patch of blue that separated the two silver pillars one block to the east. Now there is nothing but sky to be seen, and as we sailed past the emptiness and out into the Upper Bay, the Adirondack’s captain didn’t say a word.
Traversing the vast Upper Bay, we watched the city recede aft as we sped past buoys that mark the shipping lane that oceangoing cruise ships and freighters follow from the Lower Bay’s deep-water Ambrose Channel through the Narrows to their berths on the Hudson.
With sails scooping at the stiff wind and our deck at a steep 45-degree angle, we followed an exhilarating, sweeping tack that carried us across the harbor and north again. As we sped close by Bedloe’s Island and the undulating skirts of the Statue of Liberty, it occurred to me that we were being pushed by the same North Atlantic winds and buffeted by the same fierce tidal currents that Giovanni da Verrazano encountered in the spring of 1524, when he entered the harbor seeking a route to Asia.
That same quest may have led the Portuguese explorer Estevan Gomez to the harbor a year later. Ship captains from France and the Netherlands followed Gomez, and in 1609, Henry Hudson sailed the Half Moon into the mouth of the North River, which now bears his name. A British subject who claimed the harbor and its hilly, richly forested islands and the river valley beyond for the Dutch consortiwn that commissioned his voyage, Hudson reported in his log that his ship was greeted by “the people of the country who came aboard us, seeming very glad of our coming, and brought greene tobacco, and gave us of it for knives and beads. They goe in deere skins loose, well dressed.”
The waters are the same as they were then, but where we watched the sun reflecting off the silver-and-glass towers of the financial district from the deck of our schooner a mile or two out in the harbor, 17th-century colonists arriving by ship at the Dutch West India Company’s New Amsterdam settlement in New Netherland expected to behold a paradise. They had heard of unicorns gamboling under palm trees and natives who behaved like lambs.
From their decks, the colonists saw a tiny settlement on the southern tip of what is now called Manhattan that consisted of a few windmills and low buildings in the protective shadows of a military fort. The settlement was home to a succession of autocratic director generals (Peter Stuyvesant being the most famous) who ran it like a feudal manor and abused the same American Indians whom Hudson had found so friendly and well dressed.
In 1643 a premeditated act of terror occurred in New Amsterdam and across the river at the Pavonia settlement when on successive nights Dutch soldiers attacked two peaceful riverfront Indian villages, murdering and mutilating scores of innocents.
Twelve years later, Indians led an attack to avenge the death of an Indian woman shot by a Dutch landowner for picking a peach without permission in his orchard on Dey Street, a road that then traversed the site of the future World Trade Center.
The day after the shooting, an armada of 70 canoes sailed from Pavonia to New Amsterdam, where rampaging Indians killed the landowner and burned the village before moving on and destroying a struggling Dutch settlement on Staten Island.
A different sort of terror stalked the waterfronts of New York Harbor in later years, when, according to Herbert Asbuiy’s book “The Gangs of New York,” troops of river pirates in rowboats preyed on the ships and businesses that flourished on the Hudson River piers in the 19th centuty. In 1869 the Charlton Street Gang, led by a vicious woman named Sadie the Goat, flew the Jolly Roger from the mast of a hijacked sloop and terrorized the waterfront.
When one Manhattan pirate, Albert E. Hicks, was hanged for murder, as many as 10,000 people floated off Bedloe’s Island to watch. A gallows had been erected where Lady Liberty now stands.
Peace reigned in Lower Manhattan on the day the Adirondack made its first sail of the season. By the time we returned to Chelsea Piers, the wind and water surface had calmed considerably. As we coasted toward the cove at Pier 62, a fleet of nine small sloops glided past like a group of belles at an antebellum ball. On shore, to the north and east, the rays of the lowering sun played on the crown of the Empire State Building.
As soon as we entered the cove, the familiar noises of the city, though not the city’s tensions, returned with the bleat of a car horn and a static blast from a public-address speaker at the adjacent skateboard park. The sounds reminded us of how soothing it was to spend two hours listening to nothing but the rush of the wind and the slap of the waves on the Adirondack’s resonant hull. It is a music I won’t soon get out of my head.
A sampling of schooner and sloop cruises around New York Harbor. Schedules are subject to change:
THE ADIRONDACK. Designed by Scarano Boat Building Inc. of Albany, the Adirondack docks at Pier 62 in the northernmost cove at Chelsea Piers, at West 23rd Street and the Hudson River. It was modeled after the pilot boats that carried 19th-century ship captains and harbor pilots to oceangoing vessels anchored offshore. “They were built to go out in nasty weather to meet the clipper ships,” said Capt. Noah Barnes, the Adirondack’s weekend skipper. “They had to get the pilot to his ship as fast as possible.” The schooner offers two-hour sails daily at 1:30 and 3:30 p.m., for $30 on weekdays and $35 on weekends. Also daily are two-hour cruises at 6 and 9 p.m., with free Champagne on the later trip. Those sails are $40 on weekdays and $45 on weekends. Children 16 and under are $25 on all trips. Reservations are recommended: (800) 701-7245, (917) 447-7245 or (646) 336-5270. Information: www.sail-nyc.com.
THE PIONEER. This steel-hull schooner was built in 1885 and sails from Pier 16 in the East River at the South Street Seaport, at the foot of Fulton Street, in Lower Manhattan. “She’s an example of a coastal schooner,” Captain Barnes said, “the 19th-century cargo ships that were the 18-wheelers of their day; a real workhorse.” Run by the South Street Seaport Museum, the Pioneer offers sails six days a week through mid-September: Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 7 p.m.; Thursdays and Fridays, 7 and 9:30 p.m.; Saturdays, 1, 4, 7 and 9:30 p.m.; Sundays, 1, 4 and 7 p.m. Trips that set sail at 7 p.m. and earlier are $25 for adults, $20 for students and 65+, $15 for children 12 and under. The 9:30 p.m. trip (also on some holidays) is $20 for adults, $15 for students and 65+, $12 for children 12 and under. Reservations recommended: (212) 748-8786. Information: www.southsreetseaport.com.
SHEARWATER. This 82-foot-long 1929 schooner docks at the North Cove marina in Battery Park City at the World Financial Center. Built in Maine, the Shearwater has circumnavigated the globe twice and during World War II served on submarine patrol for the United States Coast Guard. With teak decks and brass fittings, it is “a beauty,” Captain Barnes said. Beginning on Monday, the Shearwater will offer daily sails: Mondays through Fridays at noon (one-hour trips), $18. Mondays through Thursdays at 5 p.m., $30; 7:30 p.m., $35. Fridays at 5 p.m., $35; at 7:30 p.m., $40. Saturdays at 3 and 5:30 p.m., $35; 8 p.m., $40. Sundays at 1, 5:30 and 8 p.m., $35. Reservations required: (800) 544-1224. Information: www.manhattanbysail.com.
THE VENTURA. This 72-foot-long sloop built in 1921 has a mahogany-plank hull, Indian teak decks and a spruce mast. Like the Shearwater, the Ventura docks at the North Cove marina at the World Financial Center in Battery Park City. It offers a two-and-a-half-hour sunset harbor cruise on Fridays at 6 p.m. ($35) and a take-your-own Sunday brunch cruise at 11:30 a.m. ($35). Information: www.sail-nyc.com. Reservations: (212) 786-1204.
BOOKS AND CHARTS. Books and sea charts related to New York Harbor and the Hudson River are available at New York Nautical, 140 West Broadway, at Thomas Street, in TriBeCa. Open Mondays through Fridays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Information: (212) 962-4522; www.newyorknautical.com.