OpSail 2012: PortSide NewYork's role

We stepped up to promote the visiting ships and the neighborhood.  Our OpSail web content was accessed by over 26,000 people in May thanks to our PR push.  We created a guide to the ships docked in Red Hook, and OpSail handed out the ship map we created.  1,000 people downloaded the guide we made to the Columbia Waterfront District, the area's first ever comprehensive guide. We approached the Brooklyn tourism office of Borough President Marty Markowitz who then printed 5,000 hardcopies of the guide, most of which were distributed that weekend.  We provided neighborhood guides to the ships and helped OpSail get volunteers.

OpSail & Fleet Week make historic visit to Red Hook port

Ten spectacular ships will make the Red Hook, Brooklyn waterfront the place to be on Memorial Day weekend.  OpSail has organized the ship visits, PortSide is helping spread the word about the ships and the neighborhood near them.

Take a sneak peek of the ships docked in Brooklyn here

There are also ships in Manhattan and Staten Island. This page is only about Brooklyn ships; see www.opsail.org for info about the other ships.

Brooklyn rocks! We will have more ships than at the two other OpSail locations in NYC, Manhattan and Staten Island.

Ten ships representing eight nations will be open to the public.

Official OpSail 2012 info

Our info on Brooklyn ships

  • Directions to OpSail Bklyn here
  • PortSide OpSail press release here
  • PortSide sneak peek of ships here
  • Our guide to Red Hook ships here
  • PortSide OpSail poster here

Quick links to the local area:

  • PortSide Red Hook webpage here
  • Our Columbia Waterfront guide here
  • Red Hook Visitor Guide here

PortSide Pop-up Museum & Gallery


Ship viewing in Brooklyn

Memorial Day weekend, Tour ships in Red Hook, get inside an active containerport!

Saturday 5/26/12, Sunday 5/27/12 and Monday 5/28/12, 10am to 4pm

Piers 7 and 8 in the Port Authority Red Hook Marine Terminal, Brooklyn

Enter the Red Hook Marine Terminal gate at Congress Street off of Columbia Street.

Note:  The ships in Manhattan and Staten Island will also be open on
Thursday, Friday, Monday and Tuesday: May 24 - May 29.

Visitors need to show a government- issued photo ID and go through metal detectors (due to the presence of Navy vessels and the need to secure an active containerport). 

PortSide guide to ships with directions + viewing hours. here

2 US COAST GUARD: USCG Cutter Seneca and USCG Cutter Willow


HMCS Iroquois, Canada

JS Shirane, Japan

FNS Pohjanmaa, Finland

RFA Argus, United Kingdom


Juan Sebastian de Elcano, Spain

Cuauhtemoc, Mexico

Etoile, France

Belle Poule, France

OpSail, the nation’s premier tall ship event, began in NYC  50 years ago but has not been in these waters since 2000.  Now, in 2012,  OpSail is joining forces with the US Navy's Fleet Week to bring to New York an exciting week of  ship events aboard seventeen tall ships and ten warships, domestic and foreign.  This year's celebration will commemorate the bicentennial of the War of 1812 and the anthem The Star-Spangled Banner, written during that war.  (The US Navy and NOAA both have more about the commemoration of the War of 1812 from their unique perspectives.)

How to make a day of it

Directions to the area here

The historic neighborhoods ringing the Red Hook Marine Terminal, the Columbia Waterfront District and Red Hook,  are part of Brooklyn's creative crescent, the kind of place where a garden center and furniture designer team up to make a pop-up gallery (see photo at bottom right).  We are part of the new urban chicken movement and have shops repairing container ship parts.

The Columbia Waterfront District is a thin ribbon lying between the Red Hook Marine Terminal and the Brooklyn Queens Expressway. Red Hook is a storied peninsula, only a mile square, bounded by water on three sides.

The area's mix of maritime activity and artistic and entrepreneurial energy make the perfect context for a day-trip focused on the appreciation of visiting tall ships and other vessels.

In addition to PortSide’s historic tanker MARY A. WHALEN , Red Hook is home to the historic barge LEHIGH VALLEY 79 of the Waterfront Museum (open Saturday only that weekend) as well as containerships, cruise ships, tugboats, the huge cement-silo ship LOUJAINE near the Columbia grain terminal, and the homeport of New York Water Taxi, the official water transportation of OpSail.  This is urban Brooklyn, but the tang of salt air is never far away. 

The low-rise shoreline of the Columbia Waterfront District and Red Hook offers views of blazing sunsets, the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan skyline.  Relax in five community gardens in the Columbia Waterfront near the tall ships, or enjoy visit Valentino Park in Red Hook for spectacular harbor views and free kayaking with the Red Hook Boaters on Sunday.

In Red Hook, the 20th Annual spring BWAC art show will be in full swing with three floors of art.  Antiques and vintage shops are sprinkled through Red Hook and the Columbia Waterfront District and line nearby Atlantic Avenue.

Red Hook has an IKEA and the 40,000 square-foot Fairway Market. 

In this area, you can dine on some of the best of Brooklyn’s artisanal food, eat Latin American food outside at the Red Hook Food Vendors in the Red Hook ballfields, visit the urban farm Added Value, and listen to bluegrass at the Jalopy Theatre

You can even come by water! 

Come on the IKEA ferry, walk and munch your way through Red Hook--or take a short ride on the B61 bus from IKEA to the OpSail ships.

Take the East River Ferry to Pier 1 and walk through Brooklyn Bridge Park, or take a short ferry to Pier 6 from Governors Island which has great events that weekend--or come here first and then take the ferry to Governors Island.

Governors Island Events:

Sat 5/26/12 12-4pm
Family Festival

Arts and crafts, storytelling, musical and theatrical performances, harbor education for kids.
Sponsored by the Governors Island Alliance.
For more information, visit governorsislandalliance.org.

Sat– Sun, 5/26/12 & 5/27/12 11:30am - 4:30pm
Boro PicNYC

The Governors Island season kicks off with a two day celebration of craft beer, gourmet eats, and live tunes. Visit more than 20 food stations, with chefs from the five boroughs, enjoy a grilled cheese cook off and start the summer off right! Tickets are available at http://5boropicnyc.com/tickets/

Local events and promotions

PortSide has spread the word to local businesses who offer these special OpSail discounts and events.

  • military ID.

  • Lilla Café offers 10% discount to sailors in uniform or showing military ID.

  • Freebird Books offers 10% off all books on Saturday and Sunday (closed Monday).

  • Margaret Palca Bakes is creating a line of ship-shaped cookies for the kids.

  • home/made brunch special on Saturday & Sunday, get a free sparkling cocktail "Barnacle" if you mention PortSide.

  • Make a day & night of Red Hook OpSail 2012! stay at home/made B&B!  Only Saturday left!  Room service from the restaurant during open hours.

  • Waterfront Wines & Spirits "Tall Ships Big Sale" offers 10% off purchases of four or more bottles Memorial Day weekend.

PortSide NewYork is an innovative waterfront-themed, non-profit organization. Our mission is to show NYC better ways to use the BlueSpace, or water part of the waterfront, and to help revitalize our home neighborhood of Red Hook, Brooklyn while doing that.  We use a historic ship, the coastal oil tanker MARY A. WHALEN, as a museum ship, mobile cultural platform and teaching tool.  She was built in 1938 and is 172' long. 

PortSide NewYork Director Carolina Salguero said about OpSail 2012, "PortSide is all about connecting people and ships, so we are very excited to have OpSail visit NYC--and especially Red Hook. We are proud of Red Hook's assets that make us a perfect home for OpSail. We have deeper water than Manhattan and piers built for ships. PortSide salutes the Port Authority for embracing this historic maritime event and opening the containerport to the public. We stand by to help in whatever way possible. We hope thousands will come enjoy these ships, discover the unique appeal of our area and come back again."

Operation Sail, Inc. is a non-profit organization established in 1961 with the endorsement of President John F. Kennedy backed by a Joint Congressional Resolution. OpSail’s mission is to advance sail training and promote goodwill among nations. OpSail has produced five international sailing events in 1964, 1976, 1986, 1992, and 2000, each tied to a patriotic or historical event.