Just 25 miles north of Manhattan, nestled in the heart of Westchester County, sits the best summer boating site in the country, according to yachting expert Juan Monteverde.
To hear him tell it, the tiny sliver of Southeastern New York known as Mamaroneck embodies the spirit of summer yachting. Juan Monteverde talked to us about the variety of activities, local history and cozy New England charm that makes this harbor town a must-see for yachting enthusiasts and their families.
Having lived in Europe and America, Monteverde is no stranger to the variety of marinas across the globe. Since an early age, he’s relished the sunshine of summer days from the docks of coastal towns throughout Spain, England, and the U.S.
“Boating is something I’ve always loved to do, ever since I was a boy,” he said. “My father was a boater. He loved being on the water, and it’s something that he passed on to me. Now that I’m a father, it’s my turn to pass on the same feelings and excitement to my kids.”
For him, warm weekends in Mamaroneck represent the pinnacle of boating life. Although it’s not a great distance from his family home in New York City, he said Mamaroneck feels like it exists in a different world.
With a bevy of private yacht clubs (Sheldrake, Beach Point, and Orienta and more) as well as the Mamaroneck Beach & Yacht Club, which is open to non-members, the 30,000-person village has something for everyone—from boat owners to visiting families who want to charter a nature tour or fishing trip.
Home to both an exquisite golf course and one of the finest harbors on the eastern seaboard, Mamaroneck manages to exude the stateliness that earned it as the Hollywood of the Silent Movie Era, while still feeling accessible and fun, Monteverde said.
“One of the best parts of yachting in Mamaroneck is how closely it ties to the community’s past,” Juan Monteverde said. “A hundred years ago, the town used to build and repair yachts, and a lot of that spirit still permeates the town today. There’s the Derecktor Shipyard, where some amazing historic ships were built, or the American Marine Canvas store, which does incredible work on yachts. Places like that are the best in the business. And they really contribute to this feeling of a love of boating that runs so deep in the city’s history.”
From the town harbor, yachters can shove off for a delightful day of sailing around the Long Island Sound. The estuary is a diverse and amazing ecosystem, where more than 1,200 species of fish, birds, and invertebrates make their home. The waterway was a favorite location of President Theodore Roosevelt, a devout nature conservationist who built his own “Summer White House” in Sagamore Hill, near the sounds’ Oyster Bay.
“There’s so much to do on a summer weekend,” Juan Monteverde said. “You can take your boat out, you can take the family to the Rye Playland Amusement Park and enjoy the old-fashioned rides, take your partner out to a nice and romantic restaurant with this incredible view of the sound, play some golf, or just hit the beach. It’s perfect.”
Monteverde admits that his perfect Saturday includes spending a few hours manually cleaning his boat—the kind of activity only a yacht lover could enjoy. Luckily, all the perks of a summer day in Westchester County give the rest of his family plenty to do with when he’s scrubbing the deck.
“They can say, ‘OK dad, you go do your cleaning thing. We’re going to go have fun,’” he said. “Then later, we can all go out on the 52-foot Prestige and talk about our days and just enjoy that time together.”
“There’s a metronome in the ocean and it slows the pace of life,” he added. “That’s why the summer days in Mamaroneck feel like they go on forever. That’s something I feel every time I take the yacht out. I have my family, my wife, and everyone I love with me, and everything slows down to give us more time together. That’s the magic of this place.”