A Plea for Boater Caution
Boating in NYC can be a fantastic way to "get away" just minutes from our crowded shores. However, you need to know what you are doing. In NYS, you don't need a license to engage in recreational boating which means you can't be sure that a recreational boater knows what he or she is doing. We recommend taking boating classes. If nothing else, we encourage you to remember some safety concepts and share them with your friends:
Know the rules of the road. Sailboats do NOT always have right of way; Coast Guard Navigation Rule 9 explains this.
If in doubt as to who has right of way, play it safe and get out of the way of large commercial vessels. They generally have right of way since they can't move out of narrow channels; and if you collide with them, you will lose.
Barges can be out of sight behind tugs while being towed on long cables. Do not cut close behind a tug, especially not at night, if you don't know how to read the towing lights that indicate if, and how, the tug is towing another vessel.
While fishing, do not anchor in the channel; do not tie up to navigational aids.
Carry a VHF marine radio and wear a Personal Flotation Device (PFD).
Safe Boating Info
The Safe Harbor a website solely about safe boating in NY harbor
Kayaker's Guide to New York Harbor by Graeme Birchall
I Boat NY Harbor created by Ed Bacon, an NYC sailboat charter captain, has info on safe Boat Handling, Tides + Currents, planning your route, + more.
NYS Boating Regulations (note the "zero tolerance" for alcohol)
Boating Safety Resource Center, Coast Guard
VHF marine radio tips from the Coast Guard
how to help keep the harbor water clean
NYC has an archaic sewer system. Street litter goes down storm drains at the corner of each block; and we have shared storm drain and sewer pipes which means that, when there is a big rain, the rain fills up the storm drains and all the litter, plus a lot of sewage, washes into the harbor. Go look at the harbor right after a rain. Solutions?
Don't litter! Street litter gets washed into the harbor when it rains.
Don't flush the toilet when it is raining!
Sign up for alerts from NYC DEP about when not to flush. The DEP (Department of Environmental Protection) is responsible for both delivering our tap water and removing and processing our wastewater.
Marine Weather, Tides, Tips
NOAAforecast for NYC area
Tide info for New York area from Tides4Fishing
NOAA GIS mapping portal
US Coast Guard NY website
Knots - animated illustrations by Grog make learning easier
NYC Waterfront Access points
Access hours and rules will vary due to the great number of owners of the waterfront parks. Note that many of the new, large waterfront parks are not run by the Parks Department (Hudson River Park, Brooklyn Bridge Park, Governors Island, for example), and many waterfront public spaces are on private property.
You need a permit to launch from City property: "The success of the City's boat launches — both for hand-powered and non-hand-powered craft alike — is dependent upon our safety record. To assure compliance with safety requirements, the City requires a permit for the use of all City kayak and canoe as well as power and sailboat launch facilities. Permits may be obtained by mail or in person for a fee of $15.00 at the following permit offices." More info
Department of City Planning (DCP) interactive database of waterfront access points that leads to Parks Department webpages for public parks and DCP summaries of public-access areas on private lands.
NYC Water Trail map launch sites for human-powered boats
NYC Water Trail "Shared Waters" chart shows degree of mixed harbor traffic
New York Harbor Beaches - a mapping project
Swimming the Hudson - a Riverkeeper report
Info on where to go fishing in Red Hook here.
Though local waters are much cleaner, often clean enough to swim, many fish accumulate poisons in their system and are not good to eat on a regular basis. Fish from New York City waters can contain chemicals like PBCs, dioxin, and cadmium. These chemicals build up in your body over time and may lead to cancer or birth defects in children. Here is some info to help you learn more about eating fish you catch. There are ways to protect yourself in terms of you clean and cook the fish, and knowing which fish to avoid eating.
See this July 2009 Daily News story Fishing for Danger
Read the NYS Health Advice on Eating Fish You Catch brochure (pdf)
Daily News story Fishing for Danger.
recommended bluespace blogs
H2O Blogs (Excerpted from Tugster with additions by us)
a NYHarbor Shipping Cooperative
Henry’s Obsession recommended
old salt recommended
sailing (top 40 sailing blogs)
Images courtesy of