The boat house at 11th and Sinatra Drive at Maxwell Place looks spanking new. And it is. The first kayaks were launched from there in 2008. But it occupies an historic spot. It was here that the New York Yacht Club had its first clubhouse—in 1845.
The modern Hoboken Cove Community Boathouse launched its first kayaking programs from 5th Street and Sinatra Drive in 2003, in partnership with the Downtown Boathouse of New York City (DTBH), which supplied kayaks and volunteers. In the past 10 years, Hoboken boathouse has served some 9,500 paddlers.
“We wouldn’t be around without DTBH,” says Eileen McCarren, board member, Hoboken Cove Community Boathouse (HCCB).
Weather permitting, the annual kayaking season runs from early June through September. The boathouse holds 25 kayaks. Community partner Recreational Equipment Inc. joins HCCB with stand-up paddle boards, and the American Canoe Association offers certified instructors to give 20-minute lessons during HCCB’s “embayment” days.
McCarren says that HCCB does 12-15 public dates on what’s known as the cove embayment. She says, “As long as people know how to swim, sign a waiver, and wear a life jacket, they can paddle around the cove.”
When the weather and the currents cooperate, participants can take short, guided trips out into the channel.
Three-hour voyages include trips to the 79th Street Boat Basin in Manhattan, or, on this side of the river, north toward Weehawken or south toward Jersey City. “We always check the tides, and have five to six guides on the longer trips,” McCarren says. “We take about 12 people at a time, and they have to show us that they are strong paddlers.”
Stand-up paddle boarding requires the paddler to stand on a board similar to a surf board or windsurf board, using a long, single-bladed paddle, with a leash connected to the board.
The boathouse was lucky not to have suffered damage from Hurricane Sandy. “The water stopped 12 feet in front of our door,” McCarren says.
Another boathouse is planned for the cove between Weehawken and Hoboken. “We’re working in conjunction with the city,” McCarren says. “It will double the size of what we have now. We’re completely supported through donations and the support of the city.”
In fact, public support for the mission of the boathouse has been strong.
McCarren says, “Our goal at the boathouse is to promote free river access to the community.”—Kate Rounds