The Life Aquatic

You can go in the water again!

Bored with New York? Then take a plunge and dive Wreck Valley. Stretching from Long Island to Jersey, this graveyard of 90-plus ruins (think Prohibition rum runners and WWII submarines) will eliminate any urban ennui. Local outfitters offer various charters to this nautical nabe. The Jeanne II in Brooklyn provides trips starting at $50, and if you bring your own meat, they'll barbecue it. Over on Staten Island, Captain Zero drives the helm of the John Jack. On this new dive boat, adventures can be had for $85. However, if you're really daring, opt for the considerably cheaper $45 night plunge. Just make sure you're certified—if not, sign up for the Village Divers weekend intensive class today! The Jeanne II, Pier 5, Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, 718-332-9574; John Jack, 710 Todt Hill Road, Staten Island, 718-979-7731; Village Divers, 125 East 4th Street, 212-780-0879 PASCOE

We go deep: The pool at the Millennium U.N. Plaza Hotel
photo: Ofer Wolberger
We go deep: The pool at the Millennium U.N. Plaza Hotel

Mention the words "summer school" and most of our minds grind to a halt, unable to reconcile this seemingly oxymoronic concept. The folks at Manhattan Sailing School at North Cove Marina promise to make summer school your reward, rather than your punishment. Opt for the basic sailing weekend class and you and your crew will enjoy a refreshing breeze and a different perspective on the city. Following a two-hour course in the school's floating classroom students set sail for two days of intensive lessons on the waters around Lower Manhattan, Ellis Island, and the Statue of Liberty. Topics covered include sailing terminology, important knots, hoisting and trimming sails, and (heaven forbid) man overboard. Tuition, which is $590 for the weekend out of North Cove Marina, includes course materials, logbook, ASA certification, and an invite to Manhattan Sailing Club's floating clubhouse for what promises to be a rather rocking graduation party. Manhattan Sailing School, North Cove Marina, Battery Park City, 212-786-0400 GAINES

On the waterfront: Practice your swimming at Brighton Beach.
photo: Patricia Sener
Sometimes a bathing suit just cramps your style. Queen's Jacob Riis Beach features clean sand, room to breathe, decent birdwatching, and a swimsuit-optional area. (But hey, buddy, keep those binoculars on the birds!) It also hosts the noted IronMan full court basketball tournament each summer. For added fun, Orchard Beach helps the Bronx boogie down with the Tropical Music Festival on Sunday afternoons (dancing in the audience pretty much required). And at Brooklyn's Brighton Beach, sometimes called Little Odessa, a day of sun and surf can be followed with an evening of Russian food and drink at a restaurant right on the boardwalk. (Knowing some Russian is not required, but truthfully, if you want prompt service, it will help.) Open Memorial Day through Labor Day, Jacob Riis Beach, Rockaway, Queens, 718-318-4300; Orchard Beach, Pelham Bay Park, Bronx, 718-885-2275; Brighton Beach, Brighton Beach Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-946-2917 GROSSMAN

The thought of jumping into the East River wearing nothing but a Speedo may sound as refreshing as a tetanus shot, but according to the folks at the Manhattan Island Foundation, the open waters around New York are great for swimming and the Hudson is one of the healthiest estuaries on the Atlantic Coast. The foundation organizes several public swimming events throughout the summer: Circumnavigate Governors Island on July 29, cross under the Brooklyn Bridge on September 9, or if you're a beginner, try the half-mile Cove to Cove swim along Battery Park City on July 23. Ease into the experience through free swimming practice sessions at Coney Island and Brighton Beach, hosted by a group called CIBBOWS, which also organizes races for competitive swimmers at Coney Island and Breezy Point, and across the Narrows. Manhattan Island Foundation, 888-NYC-SWIM,; CIBBOWS, ,a href=""> MOLLOY

You don't have to cross the Hudson or jump on the LIRR for a good nature hike. Van Cortlandt Park, the last stop on the No. 1 line, attracts Cana- da geese, nesting swans, and snapping turtles that build their homes along Tibbetts Brook and Van Cortlandt Lake. Park rangers can guide you along the 1.25-mile John Kieran Nature Trail any weekend. Or just follow the harmonic blend of singing birds filling the city air. Meander along the Old Putnam Trail toward the marsh, duck the poison ivy overhang along the adjoining golf course fence, and cross over a wooden bridge into a magical other-realm waiting for you up in the Bronx. Just don't feed the duckies when you get there. "We want the animals to be animals," Ranger Pendergrass says, "out there living their own lives." Who knows? You might just peep one of the local coyotes living his. Van Cortlandt Park, Bronx, 718-430-890, ULEN

Riding giants, they're not. Catching air and killing a cutback, hell yeah, dude. Surf kayaking has come east. Depending on demand, the Man- hattan Kayak Company—which instructs in basic paddling, adventure race rescue, white-water maneuvering, and beyond—takes early-morning Sunday excursions to the east end of Jones Beach for some tube and curl action. Their short and ultra-zippy surf kayaks can pick up longer rides inaccessible to most surfers and do party tricks like window-shading, rolling sideways down the wave (yes, head under—hold your nose). Manhattan Kayak Company, Pier 63 Maritime, 23rd Street and the Hudson River, 212-924-1788, MARRIAN

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