New York City has 578 miles of coastline, with much of it in Queens.
And the borough has about as many ways to enjoy water recreation as there are arguments about who in the borough makes the best pizza.
Kayak and canoe enthusiasts have 10 sites in Queens and nine in Brooklyn where they can launch their crafts. Some sites are operated by the city Department of Parks and Recreation while others are run by private organizations, but a lot of the regulations remain the same.
No craft can be launched without a $15 permit obtained form the Parks Department. In Queens permits can be obtained in the Passerelle Building across from he outdoor tennis courts at Flushing Meadows Corona Park. The phone number is (718) 393-7272.
For those living closer to Brooklyn it may be more convenient to go to Litchfield Villa at 95 Prospect Park West and 5th Street. The phone number there is (718) 965-8919.
Launch sites in Queens include Bayside Marina, Little Bay Park-Fort Totten, Francis Lewis Park, the World’s Fair Marina, Hallet’s Cove, Manhattan Avenue, Newtown Creek, North Channel Beach in Gateway National Park, Bayswater and Idlewild.
Brooklyn sites include Brooklyn Bridge Park, Governor’s Island, Louis J. Valentino Park, the Gowanus Canal, Plumb Beach, the Salt Marsh Nature Center at Gerritsen Inlet, Floyd Bennett Field, the Mill Basin Marina and the Sebago Canoe Club at Paerdegat Basin.
Power and sailboat launches in Queens are limited to the World’s Fair Marina on Flushing Bay and Bayside Marina on Little Neck Bay.
An interactive map of New York City’s water trail is available on the internet at nycparks. gov.org/facilities/kayak.
A permittee may have more than one boat listed on his or her permit, but each canoe or kayak must carry a permittee.
All persons must wear a personal floatation device, and no canoes or kayaks may be launched before sunrise or complete a trip after sunset.
All federal, state and local boating regulations apply.
For those who are not do-it-yourselfers, lists of party boats and charter fishing vessels are available online from the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation at nycgovparks.org, and sites such as nycfishing.com
There also are regular party and passenger ships that take passengers on signtseeing or dinner cruises, such as the Skyline Princess ships that sail from the World’s Fair Marina.
Venturing further to the west people can enjoy partial and full trips around Manhattan on the venerable Circle Line at 42nd Street and 12th Avenue on the west aide of Manhattan near the Intrepid Air and Space Museum.
Other companies offer sightseeing and dinner cruises on New York Harbor and up the Hudson River to Bear Mountain.
The United States Coast Guard tackles safety issues from ocean liners serving American waters down to kayakers in Queens.
Lt. Jeff Janaro of the Coast Guard Sector Long Island Sound said in a telephone interview last week that even experienced boaters should take every safety precaution seriously.
He also said that one or more of three factors usually play major roles in most of the fatalities the service responds to.
The lieutenant said a serious danger in April and early May can be deceivingly and dangerously cold water temperatures.
In a news release issued on April 9, the Coast Guard stated that boaters should not be fooled by warmer air temperatures.
“The water is still very, very cold,” the statement said.
“It can be a beautiful day with an air temperature of 75 degrees, but the water temperature may be 45,” Janaro added. “And if you get submerged in 45-degree water, a lot can go wrong very quickly.”
Hypothermia, a potentially fatal lowering of body temperature, can begin when the body’s core temperature falls from the normal 98.6 degrees to 95 degrees or lower.
The statement said even mild cases can impair physical and mental capabilities, thus increasing the possiblities for an accident.
Janaro said all boaters or people planning on being just passengers should be mindful of the water temperature, the weather for the time and places they will be out, and the possibility of strong tides, fog or factors that could make for choppy or unpredictable water conditions.
Second, he said, is the failure to use lifejackets or similar personal floatation devices, or sometimes just the failure to use them properly.
“And if you look fatal accidents on the water, more than half of them involve alcohol,” Janaro said. “We get a lot of calls where some guys have been drinking on the beach, it’s 10 at night and somebody decides to go kayaking. And they don’t come back.”
The Coast Guard has press releases on cold-water boating at uscgnews.com. A full range of helpful tips for both children and adults is available at the Coast Guard’s Boater Safety Resource Center at uscgboating.org.
New York State offers lists of boater safety courses through the Department of Environmental Conservation on the web at nysparks.com.
All courses require a $10 fee for a boater safety permit. Some also require an additional fee for the instructor.
The city’s Parks and Recreation Department also offers a list of some of basic boating’s “rules of the road” on its website at nycparks.org.