Summer means time on the water for Long Islanders, but not everyone has access to a boat -- or wants to cruise on a large vessel with dozens of other people.
Chartering a private boat with your own captain may be the answer. While not cheap, you don't need to have a rock-star budget, either, to arrange a private cruise with a custom itinerary.
Options range from a luxury catamaran that sails by Shelter Island to a power boat that motors up to six people around Peconic Bay for swimming and clamming. All have licensed captains who can personalize the experience for your group, whether by arranging for catered meals onboard or water toys such as paddleboards.
LITTLE DUTCH SAILING CHARTERS
DEPARTS FROM Three Mile Harbor in East Hampton
INFO 917-513-5724, littledutchsailing.com
RATE $125 a person for morning sails to $1,250 a person for a Friday-Sunday overnight sailing trip
Help hoist the sails and take a trip around the waters of Coecles Harbor in Shelter Island, and Fishers Island aboard a 42-foot, double-sail Witby, which is making its debut for charter trips this season in the Hamptons.
Groups of up to six people can be ferried by dinghies to secluded beaches or jump off the ship into the cool waters. "I want to tease people off their beach chairs and from village streets to see the Hamptons by sea," says Capt. Missy Mellor. Likewise, Mellor has logged 5,000 nautical miles on the water and loves to teach her clients sailing techniques -- so, if you want to learn to winch a sail and tack, she'll be happy to oblige.
While the boat makes day and sunset sails, a weekend charter might intrigue, too. Such trips depart at 2 p.m. Fridays and return around noon on Sunday for an experience Mellor calls "aquacamping." There are sleeping quarters for four people and the fee includes continental breakfasts, picnic lunches and dinners.
DEPARTS FROM Mitchell Park Marina, Greenport
INFO 631-553-0293, h2ospitality.com
RATE $350 for 2 hours; $700 for 4 hours or $1,400 for a full day.
Capt. Libby Koch knows the North Fork. She grew up there and has sailed the Peconic bays since she was a kid. Her 27-foot Tiara power boat, Category I, has a stateroom and a stern deck with chairs for up to six people. There's bottled water and sunscreen onboard.
Koch tailors charter trips to the client -- go paddleboarding or rake for clams. Would you rather spend your time on a small, secluded beach or cannonball off the boat into the cool water on a hot day?
"When you come onboard, there is nothing for you to do," says Natalia deCuba Romero of Massapequa Park, who was onboard with a few friends last summer. "It's forced relaxation."
HERON YACHT CHARTERS
DEPARTS FROM Sag Harbor or Montauk, unless otherwise arranged
INFO 631-875-3611, heronyachtcharters.com
RATE From $1,400 for 2½ hours and up to 12 guests; to $4,400 for 20 guests for a full day.
The 63-foot catamaran originally was built to cruise the world, but now splits its time between two home bases: winters in the Caribbean, summers on Long Island's South Fork.
Shannon McLellan, who owns the boat with her husband, Cameron, says the refurbished catamaran is adorned with luxurious teak and white decor. Bring your own food or let the McLellans cater for you -- bring your own beverage is fine, too.
"We chartered it as a way to really explore the East End and have access to great water sports, too," such as tubing and paddleboarding, says Abby Levy, a regular client who has chartered the boat with her family for trips out of Sag Harbor and New York City.