Having lived for decades in full throttle, also known as the island of Manhattan, the Far Rockaways have been my sanctuary to refuel for many years. Manhattan requires energy, patience and very much of all that, this, and the other. Through friends I discovered the Boatel located at Marina 59 in Jamaica Bay, Queens. Only recently did I have the off chance to visit along with former guests whom now reside in Brooklyn. They also needed fuel and I designated the venture a ‘Zencation’.
A keyword to this location is “Far” Rockaways. The destination alone is all that. The Boatel is a soothing collective of like-minded creative creatures owning non-seaworthy houseboats for rent, simpatico with their environment. Perhaps more importantly, the Boatel is easily accessible by the A train.
Amenities are limited but solitude abounds and that’s the point of my story. When you have a limited amount of time to escape this should be your destination unless I get there first. Book early if you want a chance in hell of getting a reservation. The boats are docked in a private marina amongst fishing boats and fish. Trust abounds in this gated community on brackish water. You may be as personable or as isolated as you like. Based on experience everybody respects your wishes. The boats are secured in their slips of course, but not much else at the Boatel. Again, think like-minded people.
Pet friendly, I brought my dog Mango and he had the time of his life, barely able to keep his head up or his eyes open on the ride home in our rental car. (My dog is too large to qualify for public transport.)
This is camping on the water. Houseboats in Amsterdam come to mind gently clashing with what I imagine “Burning Man” to be but without fire, and at a much slower pace. Energy reserved for the future.
Some of the amenities include the new and well-maintained shared bathrooms, a common area in the form of floating platforms for all guests and cultural activities, grilling facilities for the entire marina, coolers on request. There is also WiFi, which I greatly avoided.
I came here to finish some writing projects and I can report success. Other than that I mostly laid about, watching planes land at JFK, the fish jump in between, and the smile on Mangito, as he came to be known at Marina 59. I had the fortunate opportunity to see my new assistant’s plane land just before we departed. We were on ‘Crumb’ with a perfect view of the runway used for arrivals on that given day. I was content. I was elated to be on a boat and not an airplane. It took all my strength to leave and drive back to Manhattan.
Other options of choice are observing the existence of specie foreign to the island of Manhattan and other aquatic stuff neither located nor seen in my neck of the woods. WiFi did come in handy to Google “What is that?” You CAN have pizza delivered! This is New York City after all. Kayaks, paddleboards, fishing gear, bait and more are available for rent, hire or sale. At our particular moment of luxury there was a crazy catamaran available on the ‘we trust you’ plan, though it may not exist when you arrive.
Films are shown occasionally at night projected onto a screen located IN the water. (Check the schedule.) My first night was a silent film by the Quay Brothers. Instantly, I knew I was in the right place. On my second night there was a lecture about Siberian shamanism presented by an anthropologist from The American Museum of Natural History. (Again participation is optional.) That was particularly interesting considering I have never visited that area of the museum and my primary care physician is located across the street from the museum. Normally I schedule doctor’s appointments around lunchtime to take advantage of Shake Shack adjacent to both. My housekeeper has a second job and flips burgers there. I prefer the grill facilities off Dock C at Marina 59.
After the lecture I decided to sleep it off the boat and on the dock – at my own risk of course. Airplanes dissipated and I floated off to sleep along with the night fisherman gently exiting. (There are speed limits in marinas.) The fish jumped again but I had my Mangito by my side…happy as a calm.
The Boatel doesn’t need press. The Boatel needs preservation. Don’t Tell!
All’s well that ends well. It’s back to reality for me but I’ll be back.
About the Author: This is a guest post written by Anne Edris, owner of NYC’s East Village Bed & Coffee.