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Get on a boat, part II: 4 ways to go kayaking, canoeing and rowing in Brooklyn for free

A couple rowers ready to launch out onto Prospect Park Lake. Photo via Village Community Boathouse

On Tuesday, we told you eight ways to get out on the water for under $50. Those are all great opportunities to be a passenger — on yachts, sailboats, cruisers and ferries commandeered by professional boat captains in NYC —but what if you’d like to row yourself? There are plenty of ways to be your own captain on smaller, self-propelled vessels, like kayaks, rowboats, or canoes.

Here are four free opportunities to get out and make your own waves from the Newtown Creek in Greenpoint down to the New York Harbor in Red Hook.


Village Community Boathouse
Prospect Park Lake, 200 Well House Dr.
Saturdays, noon-4pm
Thru August 27

The nonprofit Village Community Boathouse is offering free rowing Saturday afternoons in Prospect Park this summer. Boats launch from Well House Drive, on the Southwest side of Prospect Park Lake. Rowers under 18 must be accompanied by a parent; everyone is required to sign a waiver and wear a life jacket. With no set time limit for rowing, it sounds like it’ll make for a relaxing, lazy park afternoon out on the water.


Brooklyn Bridge Park Boathouse
Pier 2
Saturdays, 10am-3pm
Thursdays, 5:30-6:45pm
Thru August

Free walk-up kayaking, first-come, first-served, is offered every Saturday at Brooklyn Bridge Park. You have to wear a life vest, and you’re given a 20-minute limit on the water, although on a slow day you might be able to finagle more than one trip—and with the Manhattan-esque bridge views, who can complain?

Be sure to show up at least an hour before closing—that’s when the last boats go out. Once you get the hang of it, you might be ready to try your paddle at Sunday kayak polo.


A group paddling in the New York Harbor off of Louis Valentino Jr. Pier Park. Photo via Red Hook Boaters
A group paddling in the New York Harbor off of Louis Valentino Jr. Pier Park. Photo via Red Hook Boaters

Red Hook Boaters
Louis Valentino Jr. Pier Park
Sundays, 1-4pm, thru September 25
Thursdays, 6-8pm, thru August 18

The all-volunteer Red Hook Boaters provide free kayaking Sundays and Thursdays at Louis Valentino Jr. Pier Park. Paddling out into the New York Harbor, you’ll catch a very close view of Lady Liberty and you’ll spot Governors Island in the distance. Rides are limited to 15-20 minutes, life-vests required.

Afterwards, the Boaters request that riders help them with a brief beach clean up, picking up any trash that washed ashore. Then treat yourself to Steve’s Key Lime Pie and a sunbathe at the park; you’ll have earned it!



The North Brooklyn Boating Club provides free canoe rides on select summer Saturdays. Photo via NBBC
The North Brooklyn Boating Club provides free canoe rides on select summer Saturdays.Photo via NBBC

North Brooklyn Boat Club
Public Paddles
Greenpoint, Newtown Creek
Saturdays July 30, Aug. 26, Sept. 24

On select Saturdays in the next three months, the North Brooklyn Boat Club is offering free, walk-up canoe rides on Newtown Creek in Greenpoint. An NBBC staff member will paddle at the helm of the 25 foot canoes, with each successive rider paddling along in tandem. On a given ride, paddlers can expect to learn tidbits about Greenpoint’s waterfront history.

If you’d like to get out with the boat club more, or learn more about their efforts in environmental education, you can look into becoming a member for only $40/year.

Not included in this list: pedal boating and kayaking is offered at Prospect Park’s Lefrak Center, from 9am-sunset daily. Kayaking starts at $15/hour, and pedal boats at $25/hour.

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