As rents skyrocket and a recession looms, New Yorkers are increasingly looking toward the water for relief. But for long-time boaters like Juan Monteverde, the call of the ocean has always been an antidote to the challenges of city living.
“For us, buying a boat was almost like buying a weekend house,” he said. “When my wife and I bought our first boat, we lived in a little 330-square-foot studio apartment. The boat felt like a mansion. It was freeing.”Juan Monteverde
Juan Monteverde, a lawyer, and yacht owner, is now on his fourth boat – a stunning 52 ft yacht, Prestige 520. But while the size of his vessel may have increased over the years, his zeal for spending his weekends on the water has remained steady.
“I have always been drawn to boats, but what my wife and I were really looking for was an escape from the city,” he said. “So, our little powerboat became a weekend house for us. We pretty much went boating every weekend from April to the end of September. It was almost religious. There was the convenience of being able to live in the hustle and bustle of Manhattan and make a quick getaway to a place where, you know, we had more space to breathe.”
Today, more New Yorkers are following his lead. Depending on the make and model, a new boat with beds and a cooking space can feel like a great deal for city dwellers who long for more space.
“When you have extended time on the water, it opens up your life. It gives you a more expansive sense than you get when you’re weaving between skyscrapers or huddled in a subway car,” Juan Monteverde said. “It also brings a feeling of success. I remember how my wife and I had this funny feeling like we had a beach house before we had turned 30. It was very appealing, quite frankly.”
Living in their Manhattan apartment, the couple didn’t even own a car when they made their first boat purchase. Their weekend vacations started with hauling their bags through the busy underground of the city and ended with them speeding away from the island, toward more remote and inviting scenery.
“We would take the subway from Grand Central to Shea Stadium, which is right behind the back of LaGuardia Airport. That’s where World’s Fair Marina was. We spent our weekends there,” he recalled.
Apartment dwellers looking for extra space should carefully consider their watercraft options before making a purchase, he said. Each kind of vessel has its own benefits and drawbacks. Powerboats tend to be pricier, but more comfortable. That makes them good options for new boaters or as luxury getaways.
“We started with a Monterey 260,” he said. “Buying a powerboat meant more comfort than a sailboat. That was important to us because we wanted the vacation feel. Sailboats, they may be more romantic, but at the same time, they’re harder to navigate. They require a lot more effort to move. And we were really looking to enjoy a break from work, so the feeling of comfort was paramount for us. And you can’t beat the interior of a powerboat. They’re like a floating home.”
Sport cruisers like the kind Juan Monteverde purchased make for excellent vacation vessels. With options to sleep up to six people comfortably and offering an array of luxury add-ons, they deliver an authentic homey vibe while at sea.
“It’s the little things,” he said. “You’re not going to have short ceilings, so you can stand up the entire way. The restroom is going to be larger. The bed is going to be more comfortable.”
On the other hand, sailboats of the same size can be attractive for other reasons. While they may lack in luxury amenities, sailboats offer an easygoing pace and a close-to-nature feeling. And, while sailing requires more effort, it cuts down on fuel costs and brings its own sense of accomplishment.
“If you compare the same size, a 26-foot sailboat with a 26-foot powerboat, the powerboat is going to be more comfortable,” Monteverde noted. “You also get speed, which you don’t find in sailboats. That means if you want to use a weekend house or a weekend place, and you want to go anchor in a cove and spend the day beaching the boat, within an hour, you can probably get to a 20-mile, 25-mile distance in a power boat, whereas with a sailboat, that same distance will take you five or six hours.”
The bottom line is that boats of all sizes can offer a splendid chance to escape the city without having to shell out for an upstate cabin. If your family wants a second home but balks at today’s prices, moving to the water brings a whole new way to experience vacations.