shearwater old pictureWe’ve been taking people sailing in New York Harbor for more than 30 years. Our story begins back in 1972, when a salty welder named Nick van Nes sailed his 70-ft. yawl, Petrel, to The Battery, the southernmost tip of Manhattan. The Battery and its park, better-known back then as a haven for rats and refuse than as the urban oasis it is today, left him undeterred. He built a dock, put up a sign and started taking people sailing.

Petrel quickly drew a devoted legion of locals to her decks, who reveled in the novelty of sailing a grand old yacht in a harbor not yet known for its recreational potential. Among them was a young East Village native named Tom Berton. Tom became a van Nes protegé, and when the old salt decided to close shop and sail north in 2000, he knew what he had to do. Less than a year later he founded Manhattan By Sail and began running public sails and private charters from Petrel’s old slip aboard Shearwater, a lovely 82-ft. schooner purchased (and overhauled) over the winter.

Today we have a diverse little fleet of ships and a corresponding myriad of options for any and all who want to experience the thrill of sailing in the world’s greatest harbor. Our newest addition is the Clipper City Tall Ship, a 158-ft. tall ship that can accommodate up to 150 passengers. From basic public sails to specialty tours, music events, cocktail parties, family programming, custom weddings and private charters, MBS is dedicated bringing you an unforgettable sailing experience.

We’ve grown considerably since those long-ago days when a yacht heeled over and making way through the harbor was a rarity, but everyone at MBS remains committed to the original mission, which has always been about making our passengers feel like a part of our ever-growing sailing family.

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