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).  

NYC Waterfront Access points

Access hours and rules will vary due to the welter 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. In our neighborhood of Red Hook, two well-known examples of the latter are the Erie Basin Park at IKEA and the esplanade on the O'Connell property that runs from the Beard Street Pier, past the Fairway Cafe and Museum Barge to a small park and ends along Pier 41. Less well known is that the Atlantic Basin complex (a waterspace and a lot of asphalt) on Port Authority property, where PortSide NewYork and our tanker MARY A. WHALEN are located as of 5/29/15, is also publicly accessible.

Historical Resources

Old Streets guide to lost street names in Manhattan. Includes info on how maritime industries shaped that island at Canals, Wharves, Piers,  Slips, Ropewalks

The North River is an alternate name for the southernmost portion of the Hudson River in the vicinity of New York City and northeastern New Jersey.

More PortSide bluespace reporting & testimony

Our webpage Advocacy

Safe Boating Info

Marine Weather, Tides, Tips

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Fishing Advisory

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.  There are ways to protect yourself in terms of you clean and cook the fish, and knowing which fish to avoid eating.

  • See our info on our BoatBox page for more info.
  • See also this July 2009 Daily News story Fishing for Danger
  • Read the NYS Health Advise on Eating Fish You Catch brochure  (pdf) 
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