Manhattan by Sail returned for the season a couple of weeks back, bringing a line-up of food- and drink-related events to the water. Owner Tom Berton bought the Shearwater 14 years ago — and picked up the larger Clipper City along the way — and he and his partners have been working to get locals and tourists out on the water for a sail since.
Berton’s adamant that these sails not be narrated site-seeing tours — it’s as much about being out on a boat as it is taking in views of the Manhattan skyline and Statue of Liberty. And for that reason, he gets a good number of New Yorkers participating in his outings, especially, he says, on the smaller Shearwater.
It helps, too, that his programming includes a Champagne brunch sail, a Luke’s Lobster sail, and a craft beer sail, each an opportunity to eat and drink your way across the harbor while a crew mans the rig.
We joined a craft beer sail on this year’s inaugural weekend and had the chance to taste through a number of Captain Lawrence brews with a brewery rep while we feasted on cheese and charcuterie. A different brewery takes the taps each week; upcoming guests include the Brooklyn Brewery, Kelso, SingleCut, Fire Island, and Shmaltz. The Clipper City also has a full bar on board (and the Shearwater is stocked with drinks, too), which means you can get your fill of drinking and boating even if the program you’ve signed up for isn’t pouring enough booze for your taste.
And if you opt for a sail that doesn’t include a food and drink add-on — both boats offer plenty of sails with no objective other than to take in twilight on the water or the views — you’re welcome to bring your own food aboard.