Sneak Peek: The New Downtown Boathouse at Pier 26

Downtown Boathouse tweeted about an event for prospective volunteers at its new facility at Pier 26, including a tour of the space, so I asked if I could tag along. It was less of a tour than an open house, and as someone who likes an early look at anything, I was thrilled.

The boathouse is huge, with room for 200 kayaks, not that you’ll be inside: President Graeme Birchall told me that everything for kayakers will be dragged out to the western edge of the building. You’ll board your kayak on the south side of the dock, which is more protected that the northern side. But the northern side is where you’ll be kayaking—you’ll be allowed to go from the end of Pier 26 to about two-thirds of the way to Pier 40. (Birchall said they’d put up a marker.) There’s no docking your own kayak—that’s happening up at Pier 84. (See comment below.)

Downtown Boathouse hopes to open by Memorial Day weekend, and it’s sure to be a treat. Kids are welcome, with parental supervision.

Here are the pix, starting from the Hudson River Park bike path and heading west, to the end of the dock. The very last one, however, is a closer look at the terrace of the restaurant opening next summer on Pier 26 (which is in the same building as the boathouse). No, an operator has not been announced yet.

UPDATE: Birchall sent over a few notes:

Everything is FREE. There is never any charge, nor suggested donation. All we ask is that everybody kayak safely. Also, I confess we don’t really provide much of a service to KAYAKERS. On the contrary, we are mainly trying to cater to non-kayakers.

The boathouse does have room for 200 boats.  We currently have more than 200 boats, but we are giving a lot of them away to the new Midtown free kayaking organization—called the Manhattan Community Boathouse. But as soon as funds become available, we will buy more.

The northern end of the Pier 26 embayment is marked with an old pile field, which is I think at Pier 33, not Pier 40 as is mentioned in your article. We will put out some buoys to delineate where people can go.

You can DOCK your kayak at Pier 26 any time you like, but you can’t STORE it in the boathouse. By this I mean that the dock is a public launch site which is free and open to all human powered boat users that meet NYC Parks and US Coast Guard regulations. Private storage is not available.

Downtown Boathouse east sideDowntown Boathouse interiorDowntown Boathouse inside looking west2Downtown Boathouse dock4Downtown Boathouse dock3Downtown Boathouse pierDowntown Boathouse dock2Pier 26 restaurant

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  1. Just to clarify with respect to “There’s no docking your own kayak—that’s happening up at Pier 84.” There will be no private storage in the Pier 26 boathouse, but the dock will operate as a public launch, as well as for our programs. Private boat owners of paddle craft can launch or take out from Pier 26.

    Private storage is available at Pier 40 from New York Kayak Company ( and at Pier 84 from Manhattan Kayak Company (

  2. yea but on your web page you say that there is no drive up or drop off available, so how are private/public owners with boats supposed to get them there to launch??

  3. What about the sharks?