“The Hudson River is always a dangerous place to operate.” We’re not on it.

Those aren’t our words, but we could well have spoken them ourselves – and they also apply to the East River and NY Harbor. And it’s why we would never have you learn how to sail there.

There was a fatal accident on the Hudson recently, near the Intrepid aircraft carrier and museum. An adult woman and a child died when a motorboat overturned. NY Waterways (ferries) were on scene quickly rescuing other passengers.

On any very busy waterway, there will be an occasional accident, and more rarely, a tragedy such as this. But, some places are just less suitable for recreational boating, and all the more so for beginners. The Hudson River, where a number of sailing school/clubs operate, is one of those.

So are the East River and New York Harbor where the rivers join it.

The quote in the title? Words spoken by Inspector Anthony Russo of the New York City Harbor Unit after the accident. Three other people were critically injured in the accident.

One accident by itself doesn’t make an area inherently dangerous. It’s the potential for other accidents, or how much effort goes into preventing them, that matters. In these areas, one contends with…

  • strong currents
  • narrow waterways
  • erratic windshifts
  • high speed commuter ferries
  • cruise shiops
  • huge medium-speed ferries
  • any number of other large commercial vessels

Plus, the water is basically so dirty that you can often smell it as you get within half a block or so. Ugh.

So, why learn to sail there? Because you can?

There’s a guy who, as of 2018, regularly swam in the Hudson about two blocks from where I live. He was featured in the NY Times; link below (photo here). Note the off-color water. He swims there to promote that one can, and to increase awareness and access. But..? Because one can? Should one?

Intrepid swimmer on the Hudson. Chang W. Lee, NY Times, photo.

There are so many other places people can safely and enjoyably swim – and sail. Some of them are in NYC. Some off them are further away, but accessible by public transit and car.

The Hudson, East River, and NY Harbor offer no benefits to sailing – or learning how to sail – other than potential proximity to ones work or home. But why have a short commute to a crap-ass location? And, we’re talking literally – there’s sewage being pumped into these waters! Sure, much or maybe most of it is treated. But, there are frequent overflows of untreated sewage. Still smells. Not sanitary.

On the other hand, our Brooklyn and Bronx locations at Sheepshead Bay and City Island have swimmable waters with public beaches – and lifeguards – nearby. And, fish. And, birds. And the waters are hospitable to sailing and learning how to do it. Our locations have five yacht clubs with mostly (overwhelmingly) sailboats in their fleets. Hudson? East River? NY Harbor? None. Nor do they have college sailing teams. Ours do.

If you have to hold your nose to go to the waters, or are afraid to get them in your eyes, or if you read too often about accidents on them in the news, or if public officials say they’re basically dangerous… Why? Just, why? Ride the subway or your car a little longer (if at all), and enjoy the sights, smells, and success of sailing where NYC ends and sanity begins!

And now, all about the Kookaburra who Could…

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