Are kayaks a danger to the waterways?

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July 27, 2013– By Steven E. Greer, MD

Sailing schools operate classes in small boats on the Hudson River and New York Harbor under the supervision of trained professional sailors. They know how to navigate around the larger commercial barges, ships, barges, and ferry boats.

Mixed in with the traffic are various forms of recreational motorboats, jet skis, and kayaks operated by amateurs. Alcohol is often on board the vessels making for a dangerous combination.

Recently, a man ran his small powerboat into a barge on the Hudson, killing his fiancé and his Best Man. This raises the question of whether the kayakers, who complained to the Coast Guard about ferry boats being unsafe because they do not honk their horns, are actually the dangerous menaces to the waterways, rather than innocent little boaters.

There have been two cases of ferry boat accidents causing death to passengers after the boats rammed into the slips at too great of a speed. It is not hard to imagine a scenario whereby a ferry boat captain could be surprised by a kayaker, make a sudden turn, and then crash the boat with hundreds of souls on board.

Why is the Coast Guard not cracking down on risk takers in kayaks who think they can paddle alongside huge ships? Should kayaks be allowed outside of the large coves by Piers 26, 40, and 59? Is it safe to let small hard-to-see kayaks cross the busy ferry boat routes? Are there laws that regulate the kayaks which are being ignored?Kyak panorama

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3 Responses to Are kayaks a danger to the waterways?

  1. Sparky says:

    This is a good point.

    NYC has successfully established bicycle lanes and paths for the safety of everyone.

    Perhaps we need similar kayak zones on the water. Bicycles are not allowed on expressways. Should kayaks have similar restrictions from major navigation channels?

  2. Beth says:


    First, thank you for your hard work on all of these matters. I am away from home (BPC) due to a family matter but remain very concerned about the ferry horns. The people responding to our concerns seem to believe that we are only inconvenienced by an early wake up call. The reality, as you well know, is 16 hours a day of LOUD horn blast. If the NY Waterway schedule is accurate this would be 225 departures a day times 4 horns resulting in 900 loud horn blasts daily and 4500 M-F. Even if the Paulus Hook schedule is half of what it states the numbers are still in the hundreds and thousands. Due to an accident a couple of years ago I am homebound 90% of the time and this new environment has become unbearable. With windows shut, earplugs and a white noise machine the blast can still be heard. Nonstop noise like this is unhealthy for anyone – the reason Mayor Bloomberg strengthened the laws several years ago. Everyone is concerned about safety which is great but what about the long-term negative impact it is taking on the health of the resident? Excess noise is the reason the older NY Waterway ferries (Italian line) were taken out of regular rotation. Much has happened and changed in the 30 years I have lived in BPC and nothing has made me feel like I would be forced to abandon my home until now. I hope that a healthy solution can be found for all parties involved.


  3. BPCblues says:

    Due to hotel guest complaints about the incredibly obnoxious horns from the Battery Park City ferry boats, management has allowed free transfers to the Millenium Hotel on Church Street. What this means is, even rooms on the back side of the hotel in the Goldman Sachs-owned building are impacted by the noise pollution caused by the Coast Guard and kayaker Nancy Brous. The fight against the horns rages on….Please sign the petition!

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