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Let’s face it: This is not the summer we’d hoped to have. Countless canceled trips, parties, events . . . we can’t go anywhere! We can’t do anything! What a downer! But it’s time to take what’s left of summer into our own hands.
I live on Long Island, about an hour from New York City, and I’m never more than 20 minutes from the shore. My typical summer followed a simple equation: towels, sunscreen, beach—every chance I could get. Though local beaches have been open (with restrictions) since Memorial Day, there are still complications brought on by COVID-19. Did you know Long Island beaches reach capacity (which has been cut in half) by roughly 9 a.m. every weekend day? And once you’re there, social distancing becomes a challenge. What do you do when someone’s football lands on your beach blanket? Can you really make your kids keep a mask on? I’ve since discovered that the best way to spend a socially distant day on the water is to actually spend it on the water—you’ve got to get on a boat.
Luckily, there’s a website for that. With Boatsetter, an eight-year-old peer-to-peer boat rental platform based in South Florida, you can book a private boat—everything from fishing boats to sailboats to fully crewed yachts—for the day (or a half day, or even a full week). Think of it like Airbnb, but for boats. My Boatsetter experience was a two-hour sunset cruise, which left from Sag Harbor and meandered around the Peconic Bay (between Long Island’s forks). Our ride? A 43-foot Azimut Atlantis—someone’s brand-new yacht—that was large enough to accommodate me and nine guests. My brother and his girlfriend came, as did my parents, and even my grandparents—it was their biggest day out since the pandemic started in March.
This large, fancy boat came with a fancy crew: Captain Kent was behind the wheel along with his first mate, Annika. Of course, my first thought was the same as yours—you’re not supposed to be socializing with Captain Kent! It’s coronavirus! Well, on a 43-foot boat there’s plenty of space for social distancing. Kent made it clear that when we were up near the helm, or walking through the cabin, we had to keep our masks on. We could remove our masks outdoors around the people we came with, as long as we were more than six feet from him and his crew. They kept their masks on the whole time, even as Kent entertained a running list of boat questions from my grandfather (an ex-cruise ship navigator).
We were encouraged to bring food and drinks onboard, with water and ice provided, which meant we brought a typical over-the-top antipasto platter—breads, meats, cheeses, olives, the whole thing—as well as our own wine and cocktails. Yes, we shared with Captain Kent (not the alcohol, of course). After cruising around for a little while, we anchored and were able to jump off the boat for a swim before heading slowly back to the marina.
After the boat ride I felt refreshed and, dare I say it, normal for the first time this summer. It was especially nice to be able to safely bring my grandparents; I know they have been suffering from cabin fever during the pandemic.
Boatsetter is available in 600+ locations worldwide with more than 6,000 vessels to choose from. Prices range from $200–$10,000. Our yacht was a $2,000 excursion—but the experience felt invaluable.
Book Now: Boatsetter.com