This summer, the Port Washington Public Library has brought back the Manhasset Bay Boat Tours, sponsored by the Library’s Nautical Advisory Council. There are a limited number of seats on the boat which is randomly chosen through a lottery. The 24 people picked for the boat tour get a two-hour ride on The Elixir and see some of Port’s local history.
The library has done Manhasset Bay Boat tours for several years. The tour stopped for a few years to find a new boating company and resumed last year with Long Island Boat Rentals. The tour starts at Inspiration Warf at 6 p.m. and tours Port Washington’s coast before returning to the dock at 8 p.m.
“The whole purpose of these tours is basically to give people who don’t normally have a chance to get out on the water a chance to do so,” said Jeff Zeh, the adult program coordinator at the Port Washington Library. “Being that we’re a waterfront community is certainly one of our luxuries living here. But many people just sort of drive by and see the water view, but it’s a completely different experience to get out on a boat.”
The library’s Nautical Advisory Council sponsors the boat tours. The Nautical Advisory Council is one of five volunteer councils the library has. The council is made up of people who are passionate about the ocean and our waterfront community. In addition to the boat tours, the council organizes programs and historical talks focusing on the water.
The Nautical Advisory Council underwrites most of the cost for the tours, which allows them to only charge $15 per person for the Manhasset Bay Boat Tours.
The tours offer a sightseeing and educational experience for Port residents to learn more about local waterfront history from a trained tour guide. Zeh shared that once the boat leaves Inspiration Warf, it travels along the western shore of Port Washington around to the tip of Sands Point, into Hempstead Harbor and then back.
“Each passenger gets a historical map of the Port Washington peninsula that points out the historical spots with some photos,” said Zeh. “The map is a good visual to go along with the guide of the tour.”
On the tour, attendees will get to see the site of the Pan Am hangars on Manhasset Bay. According to Pan Am’s website, Pan Am purchased the 12-acre lot on Manhasset Bay in 1933. Some of the original hangar buildings are still on the property for people to see by boat.
Other sights on the tour include spotting where local sand mining operations were carried out, the site of the Sands Point Hotel, Beacon Towers and the Vanderbilt Estate. The tour goes past the Sands Point Preserve Conservancy, where the Guggenheim Estate can be seen. Once the tour crosses into Hempstead Harbor, attendees can see Web Institute on the coast of Glen Cove.
“The tour guide gives a little background on each place as you guys go by, and it probably varies a little bit on each tour, just in terms of adding additional anecdotes or stories about some of the fascinating history of Port Washington,” said Zeh. “It’s an opportunity to enjoy a boat ride and learn a little more about some of the rich history that we have here.”
This year, the library is also providing a pair of binoculars and a Long Island wildlife guide for people to spot some of the land and sea wildlife during the tour.
Twenty-four people fit on The Elixir for the boat tours, and the attendees are chosen in a random lottery. There are four more tours this summer for people to sign up for on the library website. To ensure as many people get to enjoy the boat ride as possible, you can only be chosen once, and one application can reserve up to four spots.
“We had approximately a hundred submissions for our last tour,” said Zeh. “It’s approximately eight or nine groups that are chosen out of those 100. So we’ve had a huge interest in it. I certainly wish we could run a dozen tours, but this is about the max that we can logistically manage.”
The application window for each tour opens and then closes a few days before the tour. Once the lottery is closed, Zeh uses a random number generator to pick out each winning application.
“Once I get to 24 people, I stop and then contact each of those people. And they feel pretty good to know that they were chosen among the group,” said Zeh.
To enter for a chance to join a Manhasset Bay Boat Tour, visit https://pwpl.org/manhasset-bay-boat-tours
Upcoming Manhasset Bay Boat Tour Dates
Tuesday, July 11 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. (Lottery opened on Monday, June 26 and closes at 5 pm on Thursday, July 6)
Monday, July 24 from 6:00 to 8:00 pm (Lottery opened on Saturday, July 1 and closes at 5 pm on Tuesday, July 18)
Monday, Aug. 7 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. (Lottery opens on Tuesday, July 25 and closes at 5 pm on Wednesday, Aug. 2)
Tuesday, Aug. 29 from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. (Lottery opens on Tuesday, Aug. 8 and closes at 5 pm on Tuesday, Aug. 22)
Visit pwpl.org/manhasset-bay-boat-tours for the lottery forms.