The Downtown Boathouse

Promoting Public Access To The Water For All

The Downtown Boathouse is an all-volunteer nonprofit organization dedicated to providing free public access to the harbor in New York City through public kayaking programs. Our mission is to encourage safe public use of the harbor waters of New York City and thereby provide residents of this space-constrained city with increased recreational opportunities. Our operations are made possible exclusively through volunteers and with your public donations.


Community Outreach 

Demo Days
As part of our broad community outreach work, the Downtown Boathouse runs a number of kayaking demo-days throughout the tri-state area. This program is similar to our main walk-up kayaking program, except that we take some of our boats to other locations for several days to bring free public paddling to other communities and encourage safe boating. In recent years we have run demo days at the following locations:

  • Central Park Lake
  • DUMBO Cove, Brooklyn
  • Hoboken waterfront
  • Jersey City Reservoir
  • Governors Island
  • Freshkills Park, Staten Island

On weekdays during the season we host local schools, groups of children with special needs, and other non-profit community and youth organizations for organized kayaking events. Some of the organizations that we have run kayaking programs for are:

  • Center Against Domestic Violence
  • Columbia Secondary School
  • East Harlem Schools Organization
  • Henry St Settlement
  • Recycle-a-Bicycle volunteers
  • Ronald McDonald House of NY
  • Saint Francis School
  • Stuyvesant High School
  • The New York Harbor School

Services To The Waterfront Community 
The Downtown Boathouse is committed to building a broad community of safe and responsible paddlers. To this end, we run free, special classes and trips for our active volunteers and for volunteers from other free local kayaking organizations who want to enhance their skills and/or start a similar free kayaking program. This includes both in-season classes on the river and winter pool classes.

We have incubated and helped launch nearly a dozen organizations across the tri-state area, similarly committed to offering free, public paddling to serve our local communities. We regularly work with public authorities to help design boathouses, docks, and other facilities to maximize free public access to the water and promote safe, recreational, human-powered boating in the city.