paddling to the statue of liberty

Hey everyone, I live in Manhyattan and with that comes being surrounded by water that we all attempt to ignore (and gaze at the glory of concrete instead). So I just bought my first boat (advanced elements convertable 1-2 person inflatable...I want a solid body but lets face it my apt. is the size of the 17 ft. sea kayak I want) and am starting to plan some paddles. Anyway, has anyone kayaked to the statue of liberty? What's the trip like, where can I get some info on it? What's the distance, how much do tides come into play? Any advice? (I've spent my share of time in boat, no worries about there, just want to make sure I leave myself enough time for the trip, and know some logistics. Thanks everyone!

Paddling to the statue
Though I’m a canoer, I have wanted to do this for a long while and have seen many kayaks in the surrounding waters (I’m a Jerseyite). Landing a boat on Liberty Island may cause a quick visit from (at very least) the Park Service or Coast Guard(maybe the nice people from the anti-terrorist group will even want to chat).

My suggestion would be to call the Park Service about landing your boat on the Island and plan on launching from the Public Access at Liberty State Park.

Security zone
There are large white buoys that mark a security zone around Liberty Island (and Ellis Island). If you even go inside that zone you will soon be visited by the coast guard and risk a fine. You definitely can’t land on the island.

There are a number of places in Manhattan where you can store a sea kayak for a reasonable price. If you’re interested email me backchannel.

Another option is to go to the Downtown Boathouse. There is a fellow there named Graham who is (if I remember correctly) a fan of inflatable kayaks. They also run free trips to the Statue every weekend. You might be able to go with them in your inflatable, which at least would give you safety in numbers. I’d strongly encourage you not to go alone, at least not the first time. NY Harbor can be a hairy place to paddle even in a 17’ sea kayak (I know, I do it often). The idea of paddling in the harbor in an inflatable makes me nervous but I’m not familiar with them so maybe I’m being unfair. You need to really understand the currents and be incredibly alert. To get the the Statue from Manhattan you need to cross shipping channels and the large vessels most likely can’t see you and if they could they could do little to avoid you. They move deceptively fast…basically, if they are within view, don’t cross in front of them. There are also very fast moving ferries, water taxis, and of course the pleasure boaters.

Be safe!! You’re right that the Hudson is an amazing playground but it also can be treacherous, especially to the unprepared.


be careful…

– Last Updated: Aug-01-05 2:01 PM EST –

the harbor can be a very treacherous place. even on a clam day the water can be remarkably hairy. swells and wakes and reflecting waves create an amazingly confused sea that can build quickly with even a little wind--and there's almost always wind (a particular challenge for inflatables.)

also the currents can be a real pain. if low tide at the battery is listed at 12noon, plan on heavy ebbing current until nearly 3pm. if the wind is out of the north or there's been rain or snow melt, plan on no flood at all.

the boat traffic can also pose a serious hazzard.

now that i've scared the crap out of you, i will say that people do it all the time (heck, i did it yesterday.) my strong recommendation is to go with a group like Downtown Boat House or Manhattan Kayak (even if you have to pay) just to get a feel for the water out there under the protection of a competant guide. after that, as long as your bracing and rescue skills are up to snuff, you can try it yourself (though it's always preferable to enjoin a friend or two.)

Good luck.

Hey Daniel
Sorry you missed the trip to Swinburne. Marcus and I arrived there from our campsite on the Navasink River at the same time as “the boys” did from pier 63. It was a beautiful day.


glad to hear it…

yeah, i hung around the statue for a while–guessing that you guys would swing by on your way back, but the boat traffic was more than i was willing to endure. everybody and their cousin was out and several came in real close to me “just to look at the nut in the kayak.” yeesh.

got some nice surfing in off the boat wakes just north of morris canal and got back to the barge by 3:30 or so. probably missed you guys for an hour.


From where
What’s the distance from where?

There are a limited number of launch sites in Manhattan proper, few particulary close to the statue.

You can launch from Liberty State Park in Jersy. From there it is less than a mile to the statue, all in a protected bay, so little to worry about in terms of current and traffic.

If you want to paddle on the river, Hoboken boathouse is probably the closest, and you won’t have to cross the river.

Lyngo is correct about the security zone

It’s about 5 miles from pier63 (chelsea piers) which means it’s about 3.5 miles from pier40 (houston street) and 3 miles from the Downtown Boat House.

These distances include a direct crossing of the Hudson and then a straight shot down the NJ side to the statue, which is definitely the preferred route.