Riverside Park South

The Daily Plant : Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Parks Hosts Marina Day at the 79th Street Boat Basin

Boat in a slip and a marina

On July 25, Parks and Recreation opened the doors of its flagship marina, the 79th Street Boat Basin in Riverside Park, to the public to learn about boating and meet expert dockmasters. First Deputy Commissioner Liam Kavanagh offered welcoming remarks to those that had strolled or paddled over to the Boat Basin for the event.

Over 500 people received guided tours of Parks’ popular west side boating site where they were able to learn about some of the exciting challenges—like large moving ice floes—that go with operating and maintaining a marina on the Hudson River. Visitors were able to examine the myriad of components that go in to construction of a floating dock while receiving a first-hand description of the process from a Parks’ dockbuilder.

Exhibitors form The River Project offered the public an opportunity to “touch the river” and many of the creatures that inhabit it via Hudson River touch tanks. Urban Park Rangers were on site with games and puzzles offering a wealth of facts and information on the Hudson River, the organisms that live there and best-practice ecological tips on how to keep our waterways clean.

More hands-on activities for the public included clinics on how to tie a range of different boating knots as well as the proper procedure to secure a vessel to the docks. Land-lubbers were instructed in how to put on a life vest as they boarded the beautiful 42-foot sailing sloop “Go Lightly” for free sailing trips to the George Washington Bridge. Those waiting to set sail were excited to board other unique vessels that had docked at the marina for the day. Parks Enforcement Patrol’s silver aluminum patrol vessel cruised up from Hudson River Park. The opportunity to try out the elaborate lights and sirens of this modern patrol vessel drew more than one potential future water patrolman to the control cabin.

Another vessel offering deck tours to all who had come to the event was the 106-foot wooden Hudson River Sloop Clearwater. Launched by music legend and environmental activist Pete Seeger in 1969, Clearwater—a majestic replica of the sloops that sailed the Hudson River in the 18th and 19th centuries—was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 2004 for its role in the environmental movement. Hosting educational programs each summer at the Boat Basin, the Clearwater’s 40th anniversary was recognized by Commissioner Kavanagh with the presentation of an official Parks’ routed sign.

Other highlights of the day included a FDNY fireboat water display just off of A-dock. A stentorian blast of the vessel’s horn drew all eyes waterside as the Marine 1 Fireboat powered up its six large fire-extinguishing hoses, spraying arches of the river’s water high into the air. After watching the display, people were invited to take part in the popular Parks’ yellow “rubber-ducky” tugboat races. Kids wrote their names on their tugboats before placing them in the water where they experienced first-hand the effects of the Hudson River’s winds and tides on the path and speed of their small boats. Participants were happy to learn that whether first or last in the race, they all got to keep their personalized Parks’ min-tug, a reminder to keep an eye out for Marina Day 2010!

About the 79th Street Boat Basin and Parks Marinas:

The 79th Street Boat Basin accommodates over 200 boats daily including power boats, charters, historic sailing vessels, and kayaks. The marina has 110 permitted slips, 76 moorings, 6 transient slips for daily customers, and serves charters and yachts on its western wave wall. Over 600 transient boaters visit the marina each summer. There is a free kayak and canoe launch and storage for up to 90 hand-powered craft. A-dock is open 6 days a week for the public to stroll and patrons can enjoy a tasty meal with a view at the Boat Basin Café.

Parks & Recreation oversees 13 marinas and boat clubs citywide and serves over 3,000 boaters annually, along with hundreds more kayakers and canoers who use Parks’ citywide Water Trail. Among Parks’ well known marinas are World’s Fair Marina in Queens and Sheepshead Bay Piers in Brooklyn. These marinas support a full spectrum of vessels including hand-powered kayaks and canoes, powerful motorboats, large commercial charter boats, fishing vessels, and more. Parks offers a wide variety of useful information on the “Boating and Marinas” section of the Parks website.

Every year Parks’ Marina Division hosts hundreds of kids from schools, recreation centers, summer camps and youth groups to learn about boating, water safety and marine ecology. Parks’ expert dockmasters instruct groups of students in nautical safety. Visitors learn about marine ecology and identification of the many species of birds and fish that inhabit our bays, rivers and estuaries. Parks’ marinas coordinate programs with Urban Parks Rangers and a host of educational tall ships each summer to offer students diverse and memorable experiences on the city’s waterfronts and waterways.

Written by Nate Grove, Marina Manager


“I decided that if I could paint that flower in a huge scale, you could not ignore its beauty.”

Georgia O’Keefe
(1887 – 1986)

Directions to Riverside Park South


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