Sailboat on reef in New York Harbor - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 14 Old 06-25-2017 Thread Starter
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Sailboat on reef in New York Harbor

I was sailing past the Statue of Liberty on Saturday 6/24/17 when I saw a sailboat hard aground on the reef southwest of Liberty Island. The boat appeared about 30 feet long and I could see one person on board (might have been others). There were multiple helicopters and police boats in the area but none actually attempting to approach the stranded vessel. There was radio contact, I believe, but I couldn't make out any details.

It was gusting to 25kts at the time, so rescue was not going to be super simple. It also wasn't clear that the boat wanted to be rescued, it was dead low tide, maybe they just wanted to wait it out and try to float off?

Anyone have more info?
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post #2 of 14 Old 06-25-2017
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Re: Sailboat on reef in New York Harbor

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Originally Posted by Loki9 View Post
I was sailing past the Statue of Liberty on Saturday 6/24/17 when I saw a sailboat hard aground on the reef southwest of Liberty Island. The boat appeared about 30 feet long and I could see one person on board (might have been others). There were multiple helicopters and police boats in the area but none actually attempting to approach the stranded vessel. There was radio contact, I believe, but I couldn't make out any details.

It was gusting to 25kts at the time, so rescue was not going to be super simple. It also wasn't clear that the boat wanted to be rescued, it was dead low tide, maybe they just wanted to wait it out and try to float off?

Anyone have more info?
Know the area well. Current sweeps down the Hudson around the Statue of Liberty until you get further in the lee of the land. One needs to favor the starboard side of the channel going into and out of the anchorage when the tide is ebbing. Very easy for a boat to get swept up onto the shallow reefs on the south side of the channel and why I always have my Eldridge Tide and Pilot Book in the cockpit with me.

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Last edited by mbianka; 06-25-2017 at 07:01 PM.
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post #3 of 14 Old 06-26-2017
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Re: Sailboat on reef in New York Harbor

I saw that boat too, I thought he was in quite a bit further than your arrow, more like the second patch of reef/shoal area. Either way, it is mostly 4' around there at low, I would never venture in that area no matter your draft, especially on a falling tide. On the positive side, he didn't seem to be bouncing so hopefully no damage and floated away safely later.
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post #4 of 14 Old 06-26-2017
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Re: Sailboat on reef in New York Harbor

...<*sigh*>


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Re: Sailboat on reef in New York Harbor

A reef in NY Harbor? What, we got invaded by cold weather corals?

That's not a reef, it is just a SHOAL. There are wide expanses of the harbor, especially near Liberty and Ellis, that are a whole four feet deep, and the ferries really do need right-of-way at all times because those are the waters they are threading.

Years ago I saw a similar "wreck". It was the Pioneer, IIRC, doing excursions out of South Street Seaport, and trying to just be invisible while waiting all day for the next rising tide.

NY Harbor is actually considered a horribly SHALLOW port, not a deep water port at all in the scheme of things today. The main channel is only navigable for commercial shipping because it is dredged on a regular basis.

If you're sailing the harbor regularly, it pays to literally redline large areas of the charts. Between shoals, collapsed piers and pilings, there are plenty of places to get stuck.
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Re: Sailboat on reef in New York Harbor

Hi hellosailor,

With all due respect, look up the definition of reef:

Webster: a chain of rocks or coral or a ridge of sand at or near the surface of water.

Dictionary.com: A strip or ridge of rocks, sand, or coral that rises to or near the surface of a body of water.
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Re: Sailboat on reef in New York Harbor

Yes, it could have been that second group of rocks (reef, shoal, call it whatever you like) further to the west.
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Re: Sailboat on reef in New York Harbor

Webster, shembster. No one in the northeast calls a rock ledge, or sandbar, or pile of rocks, "a reef". Up here, a reef is coral and pretty fishes and there are none north of Florida in the Atlantic.

What the USCG calls "local knowledge". The pointy parts of NY Harbor haven't changed since Henry Hudson was here. Except where the Army Corps of Engineers blew more than a few of them to hell and back. Most of the rest have been under landfill for a hundred or two years.
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post #9 of 14 Old 06-27-2017 Thread Starter
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Re: Sailboat on reef in New York Harbor

What do they call that pile of sand and rocks at the north end of Block Island?

(hint: it's not "Block Island North Shoal")
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Re: Sailboat on reef in New York Harbor

The NOAA charts say "Block Island North Reef".
But *in* NY Harbor we have the oft-forgotten Robin's Reef Light, which folks try to turn into a B&B every once in a while.

Still, I've never met anyone who lives or sails here, calls it native waters, and calls anything a "reef". Other than what they tuck in the mainsail, or dove in warm water.

I don't see anything on the harbor charts that's marked as a "reef" in that area, short of Robin's, and that's a historical name, not a current application of the word. The charts clearly show shoals and rocks--but no reef.
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