Rising Tides

New York is truly rising, and the Big Apple is buzzing with more energy than ever before. Neighborhood streets are lively, restaurants are filling to capacity, and demand for leisure activity is robust. With the summer months still ahead, New Yorkers are looking for unique ways to enjoy their time spent outdoors.  Over the past 15 months, boating was one activity that saw unprecedented growth in popularity, offering passengers a safe activity in a socially distant, outdoor environment. A less pricey and a more convenient alternative to yacht ownership are boat club memberships. One of the most coveted memberships is that of the Barton & Gray Mariners Club, which offers unlimited access to a fleet of captained Hinckley yachts for an annual fee. With water venues in nearly 30 harbors, Barton & Gray expects a staggering 200% increase in trips this summer relative to last year. 

Photos courtesy of Julie Skarratt

The brainchild of two longtime boat enthusiasts who were well aware of the headaches of ownership, Timothy Barton and Douglas Gray founded their namesake club in Nantucket in 2006. “Tim and I were avid boaters, entrepreneurs, and working in high tech during the early days of the sharing economy. Tim thought boating had the potential to be offered collaboratively, especially as we witnessed countless marinas with nearly all of their boats just tied to the dock, never being used. We spent six months working nights and weekends building the model; then we bought a Picnic Boat and headed to Nantucket,” recalled Gray. The pair understood that for the sharing model to succeed, experiences on board would be paramount. Members—typically career oriented couples with kids and limited downtime—want a stress-free voyage, with their time on board spent enjoying the company of family and friends. As such, Barton & Gray boasts an expert and licensed crew as well as a concierge team that organizes trip details and supplies for  fun days on the water. Members and guests can expect to find onboard perks: Yeti coolers stocked with beers, an open bar with Champagne and cocktails, and high-end catered snacks such as lobster rolls and salad spreads. The club also includes a number of on-the-water restaurant partners where members can dock the boat for an onshore meal.  

The yachts depart from 30 ports, including Nantucket, Palm Beach, and Greenwich—markets that have boomed in the past year. But the most popular destination for Barton & Gray this summer has been the New York Harbor. “Manhattan went from being the most popular Barton & Gray harbor, to the least popular, and then back again to the top choice in less than 18 months! Members are truly delighted to be back in the Big Apple,” Gray noted.  

In response to the return of their members to the city, Barton & Gray has recently tripled its number of boats docked and available at Chelsea Piers. And this January the club will be introducing its first boat designed specifically for Barton & Gray members, the Daychaser 48. “While our members adore anchoring at a remote sand bar for some fun in the sun, taking in Manhattan onboard is our most beloved outing,” said Gray. Quest shares this view after our journey through the New York Harbor for this photoshoot, where we cruised by Manhattan icons such as the Brooklyn Bridge, South Street Seaport and Lady Liberty, taking in breathtaking views of the skyline and culminating with lunch at the popular Grand Banks restaurant. As Gray sums it up best, “Whether it’s top hats and tails for a pre-theater cocktail cruise, or flip-flops and straw hats for some swimming at Sandy Hook, Manhattan offers more than any other harbor; somehow, it’s the best-kept secret in yachting.” There’s just something about cruising in the Hudson and East Rivers—totally unfettered, yet surrounded by the hustle and bustle of the City. It’s the ultimate New York experience.