On the Westchester Waterfront
From sea to shining sea (or from the Sound to the Hudson), here's where to park your yacht or rowboat.
On The Waterfront
When your ship (yacht, powerboat, or dinghy) comes in, you can dock it at one of the county’s many marinas, boatyards, or yacht clubs. Still waiting?
Start your wish list here
By Malerie Yolen-Cohen
Photography by Rich Pomerantz
I’m the daughter of a son of a sailor, to take license with a classic Jimmy Buffett song, and, as such, I spent a good deal of my formative years hanging out at marinas and yacht clubs. I grew to understand that each dock forms its own personality based on the makeup of its customers and the nature of the owner/dockmaster. As for yacht clubs, which are the maritime equivalent of college fraternities, this personality is generally dictated by longstanding traditions—be they laid back or Skull and Bones select.
My summer weekend “home away from home” was a Westchester marina tucked away in Rye—Tide Mill Yacht Basin. Nestled among banks of mansion lawns, it was my family’s escape from the worlds of work and school. The marina office and a few bathrooms were housed in a vintage 1700s mill building—a romantic structure, I felt back then. It’s still there. And so is the family who ran the place when I, with all the strength of a skinny nine-year-old, would haul tote bags and boxes from our car to our slip.
Our yacht club, Sheldrake—with its active weekend cruising schedule and no actual address (a “paper club”)—is also still around and still encourages interested parties, with or without boats, to join. My parents chose Sheldrake because they sought friendliness and inclusion over stylish exclusivity, though, for sure, more “elite” clubs still abound (membership is, for the most part, by invitation only).
Westchester County—with waterfront on both the Long Island Sound and the Hudson River—offers boaters ample choice when it comes to tying up.
Marinas and yacht clubs on Long Island Sound, with quicker access to the Atlantic Ocean and New England shores, generally harbor larger boats and have a higher price tag than those on Westchester’s other “coast.” Clubs tend to be more exclusive—blazers and regattas prevail—and membership is accorded only to those few invited to join.
As a rule, the Hudson River side is a bit more mellow, a bit (sometimes a lot) less costly, and the cruising routes are much more straightforward. The views are killer, the people friendly, and clubs tend toward the “Working Boat Club” variety, which is to say about as socialist and commune-like a group of folks as you’ll find in Westchester.
In the Shadow of the Tappan Zee
Tarrytown Boat and Yacht Club
Tarrytown, NY (914) 524-9005
Rate: $74 ft,. plus membership dues
Slips: 200, up to 65 ft.; avg. 35 ft.
Facilities: bathrooms, laundry, restaurant, fuel, water, electricity, storage, repairs, pumport
Availability: call for information
Ted Tenenzapf is the Crocodile Dundee of dockmasters. With his suede safari hat, perceptible English accent, and a no-nonsense approach to business, Tenenzapf oversees 200 boats (and the people who own them) with a certain impish flair. Sailboats and powerboats, most in the 30-foot range, dance at the docks. Janitors and executives alike make use of the facilities. “Social class doesn’t exist here,” Tenenzapf says. “This is a family-oriented club. I keep the number of performance boats down, so families can enjoy boating without too much noise.” To obtain a slip, membership in the club is required—though this is not a “working club” (seasonal repair work is done by Tenenzapf and associates through his independent repair company). Protected within a breakwater on the north side of the Tappan Zee Bridge, guests are wowed by dead-on views of the Manhattan skyline. And the dockside restaurant, the Striped Bass, is a happening place when the weather warms up. You don’t have to be a yacht club member to join the party.
Current Events Marina
Charles Point Marina
Peekskill, NY (914) 736-6942
Rates: $69 ft. summer
Slips: 100, up to 42 ft.; avg. 28 ft.
Facilities: bathroom, showers, fuel, electricity, water, restaurant, repairs, storage
Peekskill has some ill-starred history. George Washington handed the keys to West Point over to Benedict Arnold here. In 1992, a 30-pound meteor fell on a car in town (no one was injured). And both Pee-Wee Herman and Mel Gibson were born in Peekskill (which is either fortunate or unfortunate, depending on your political views). Luckily, it also happens to be a beautiful spot for boaters on the Hudson River.
Charles Point Marina is within walking distance of town and gives its mostly Hudson Valley patrons the usual marina amenities, and an on-site restaurant, Crystal Bay Caterers, will also help captains with all necessary provisions.
Verplanck, NY (914) 739-5090
Rates: $60 ft. summer, $25 ft. winter
Slips: 230, up to 50 ft; avg. 25 ft.
Facilities: restaurant, store, water, electric, bathrooms, showers.
Viking is the largest northern Westchester boatyard on the Hudson. With 230 slips on the Verplanck waterfront, it could pretty much accommodate the whole town population of 777. Two generations of Johannsens, Molly and Fred and their son, Einar, keep Viking running and are good at keeping customers coming back year after year. If they desire, customers can do their own repairs. “We don’t force our boaters to use our repair services—which is unique in this business,” Molly says.
Half Moon Bay Marina
Croton-on-Hudson (914) 271-5400
Rate: from $85 ft., up to 106 ft.; no winter storage
Facilities: bathrooms, showers, sauna, pool, clubhouse, restaurant delivery, gazebo, grill, electricity, water, wireless Internet, cable, dock ownership option
Spanking clean, bewitching views, cushy clubhouse with sauna and pool—what’s not to like about Half Moon Bay Marina? You can even live here—in a hillside condo just a footpath away—and buy your own boat slip as well.
As development explodes on the banks of the Hudson, condos with dock-ownership options (called dockominiums) will multiply as well. For now, though, Half Moon Bay is the only dockominium in Westchester County. The place looks more like a yacht club than a full-service marina. In this magnificent setting, you can hook up to cable TV or the Internet, order food from nearby restaurants to be delivered to your runabout or cruiser, unpack a picnic on the hillside gazebo, or just gaze at the Hudson River landscape.
Ossining, NY (914) 941-2203
Rate: $60 ft. summer, $26 ft. winter
Slips: 170, up to 100 ft.
Facilities: bathrooms, ship store, rack storage, electricity, water, full-service repairs
“Traditional marinas are becoming a thing of the past,” laments Joe DeMarchis, whose family has owned Westerly Marina since 1959. His boatyard offers mariners the one-stop-shopping experience that many old salts have come to expect: water and electricity at the dock, gas and diesel to power the motors, mechanics at the ready to service your boat in the water or out, and a marine store that stocks everything from nautical charts to Evinrudes.
There’s a mix of professional and blue-collar clientele, with various groups going off on trips together. “Our best feature? The view!” DeMarchis exclaims as he points across the river to an unobstructed panorama of the Palisades.
LONG ISLAND SOUND
Valet Service Marina
Nichols Yacht Yard
Mamaroneck, NY (914) 698-6065
Rate: $165 yr. in water, $120 yr. on rack
Slips: 165, up to 100 ft.
Facilities: bathrooms, showers, water, electricity, full service, valet-rack system
Availability: lots of rack space available; waiting list for slips
“Yacht yard”—not boat yard—should say it all. Nichols, with its fancy stonefront entrance sign and six acres of “upland” space, is the king of the Mamaroneck marinas, the yacht club of boatyards. Clientele here tend to be professional and upscale—doctors, lawyers, and those “Wall Streeters who go out to fish with six guys on a boat and just one pole,” says operations manager Dennis McCarthy with a hearty laugh.
Nichols is the largest marina in Westchester that handles boats for winter storage. It’s also one of the only marinas to offer unique rack storage during the summer—keeping smaller boats on three-tiered racks scattered around the property. With a special marine forklift, marina workers can put in and take out 70 boats a day from the valet racks. “We can install so many more racks here,” says McCarthy. “Six acres is a lot of space to use.”
To the Marina Born
Tide Mill Yacht Basin
(914) 967-2995; www.tidemill.com
Rate: $125 ft. summer, $50 ft. winter
Slips: 55, up to 70 ft.
Facilities: bathrooms, showers, ships store, electricity, water, repair, storage
Availability: long waiting list
The fire-engine-red mill, built in 1770, ran for 100 years before becoming a boatyard in 1870. Not much has changed in the 130 years since. “This place is a classic,” says contemplative owner Pete Donahue, whose family has run Tide Mill since 1972. The landscape is so bucolic, it’s tough to imagine an often-dirty enterprise—with activities that include sanding fiberglass, fixing engines, painting hulls—ensconced here. “This is one of the last small viable marinas in this area,” Donahue sighs.
Surrounded by mansions with lawns sloping ever so gently down to the water, Tide Mill’s 55 slips are coveted by boaters who seek protection from the worst storms and who don’t mind a bit of a trip to get out into Long Island Sound. Of course, these inspired views do not come cheap. But, it’s like a sophisticated boutique hotel in a sea of Holiday Inns; you get what you pay for.
Advantages of Membership Marina
Brewer Post Road Boat Yard
(203) 698-0295; www.byy.com
Rate: $140 ft. summer, $84 ft. inside winter, $49 outside winter
Slips: 50, up to 65 ft; avg. 50 ft.
Facilities: gas, electricity, water, repair, store, restaurants, indoor winter storage
Availability: waiting list
Part of the Brewer Empire (20 marinas from New York to Maine), Post Road Boat Yard houses mostly large boats. “Most people don’t know we’re here,” says Manager Paul Muenzinger. With a massive enclosed hangar for drydock boat repairs, a well-stocked marine supply store, and a millwork shop on site, the small piece of property is crammed with services. And service is the Brewer hallmark. It takes every inch of space to get all the boats on land for winter storage.
Brewer customers have “frequent-flyer” type benefits. When you sign on for winter and/or summer storage, Brewer issues you a card which entitles you to gas and store discounts, and you can earn two to six free nights, depending on how long you store.
McMichael Rushmore Yard
Mamaroneck, NY (914) 381-2100
Rate: $115 ft. summer, $45 winter
Slips: 60, up to 35 ft; avg. 24 ft.
Facilities: bathrooms, water, electricity, repair, storage
Availability: some slips early in season
A 20-something-foot Grady White sailfish named Downsized rocked at one of 60 slips at McMichael’s Marina. One can only imagine how large the owner’s previous yacht, perhaps named Year-End Bonus, was.
“Eighty percent of the boats here are powerboats,” reports office manager Debbie Sganga. With one crane and 212 boats to get in the water in a few months, this marina is busy from flounder season (St. Patty’s Day) to Memorial Day.
Mamaroneck Boats & Motors
Mamaroneck, NY (914) 698-2500
Rate: $110-$130 ft. summer, $1,750, up to 23 ft., winter
Slips: 65, up to 40 ft; avg. 25 ft.
Facilities: bathrooms, water, electricity, repair
Availability: some slips early in season
Small boats (20ish footers) rule the 65 slips here, and when boat owners “go up” (purchase bigger boats), as they invariably do, dock space opens up at this bare-bones marina. Mamaroneck Boats & Motors has a crane and forklift on-site, and it is a Mercury/Mercruiser dealer. This past winter, it had 184 boats on land for service. In addition, it is also available to deliver your recently serviced vessel.
Marinas That Think They Are Yacht Clubs
Castaways Yacht Club
New Rochelle (914) 636-8444
Rate: membership dues required
Slips: 100, up to 80 ft.; avg. 45 ft.
Facilities: pool, clubhouse, restaurant, playground, tennis courts, bathrooms, showers, laundry, repair
Availability: call for availability
Across the street from an array of swanky beach clubs, Castaways sits on a protected branch of New Rochelle Harbor. Extravagantly sleek muscle boats populate the slips here. That may have to do with the fact that this marina is a Sunseeker (chic performance cruisers from England) dealer. The docks, clubhouse, and pool are impeccably well tended. There seems to be a very fine line between marinas and yacht clubs in New Rochelle. Essentially, if you have a boat 27 feet or larger and there’s space to keep it here, you can join. The only difference between Castaways and a marina is that here you pay a “membership” fee which gives you access to the pool, restaurant, clubhouse, tennis courts, and playground. No jumping through hoops or sucking up to the Commodore required.
Imperial Yacht Club
New Rochelle (914) 636-1122
Rate: membership dues required
Slips: 90, up to 65 ft.; avg. in 30s
Facilities: pool, tennis courts, restaurant, cable on docks, laundry, shower, fuel, full service repair
Availability: call for availability
Owned and operated by the Giacobbe family, Imperial is little sister to Castaways Yacht Club just a few hundred feet away. It docks smaller boats, but has one big advantage—its 70-ton open-end travelift can haul enormous ships, as evidenced by the 75-foot Health and Racket Club ferry on dry dock for repairs. Membership is similar to Castaways, but Imperial also offers an Olympic “pool-only” option for those without boats. In addition, Imperial manages a “slip-space only” annex across the inlet—offering docking for 25 boats and requiring no membership fee.
Glen Island Yacht Club/Marina
Rate: call for rates
Slips: 30 (sailboats only); avg. 35ft.
Facilities: bathrooms, repair
Availability: call for availability
“We’re snobs—we just take sailboats,” declares Manager Art Karpf, who staunchly defends Glen Island’s low profile. The tiny marina is dense with ragboats, and there are no glamour mongers here. Wedged in a hidden part of New Rochelle Harbor, the docks are tough to find—for driver and sailor alike—and Karpf likes it that way. One or two spaces come up a year, but those generally go to customers who purchase boats from Karpf through his yacht brokerage business, A. LeComte Co. Every Thursday night in the summer, eight to 60 members race eight boats from the club in the Sound—then retire to the Huguenot Yacht Club lounge next door for some good-natured drinking and scoring.
City Island Refugee Marina
Wright Island Marina
New Rochelle, NY (914) 235-8013
Rate: $110 ft. summer, $35 to $50 ft. winter
Slips: 150, up to 65 ft.
Facilities: pool, restaurant, full-service repair, boat dealer, laundry, bathrooms, fuel dock
Availability: some slips available
With two sets of docks—one harborside, one inside a small inlet—Wright Island Marina feels a bit disjointed, but obviously takes advantage of every nook and cranny. The glass-enclosed second floor of the Dockside Bar and Grill (which seems to have been haphazardly plopped down in the marina parking lot) floats above the wharves—and provides patrons with decent views of the harbor. Contractors and cops share dock space with doctors and lawyers. “As the City Island marinas close to make way for condo developments,” says a staffer, “boaters are coming here.”
Private Oasis with Public Mission
New Rochelle Municipal Marina
New Rochelle (914) 235-6930
Rate: residents, $45-$60 ft. summer, $29 ft. winter. Non res. $70-$100 summer
Slips: 350, up to 45 ft., 150 moorings in the harbor
Facilities: full service with repair, launch prep, fuel, bathrooms
Availability: waiting list
Gritty and spare, this town dock, housed in a nicely tucked-away cove, vibrates with the energy of boating work. Docks are crammed with boats of all sorts—from dinghies and small motorboats to larger cruisers. An institutional office bespeaks that of a Department of Motor Vehicles facility, the aroma of motor oil drifts in from the repair workshop nearby. And the New York Sailing School runs its summer programs from here. There’s a waiting list and town residents get first preference.
Harbor Island Municipal Marina
Mamaroneck, NY (914) 777-7744
Rate: $30 ft. residents, $60 ft. non residents
Slips: 375, up to 25 ft.
Facilities: water, bathrooms
As the town dock, Harbor Island’s 375 slips hold mostly dinghies and small outboard boats, the kind that can be easily trailered. Set within Harbor Island Park, the town marina takes up waterfront space on two sides of the small peninsula—and, as is typical with a municipal marina, has almost no services, repairs, electricity, winter storage, but the cost, and the locatio