Call it a pre-sail.
The company Brooklyn Bridge Park bigwigs selected to construct a marina in the borough’s front yard still hasn’t built a single dock, but it has already launched a sailing club and anchored 10 boats off Pier 5.
The Brooklyn Bridge Sail Club is similar to car-rental company Zipcar, according to the forthcoming marina’s skipper. Members of the club pay a yearly fee, then get to use the vessels any time that floats their boat — which one local mariner said is a great way for Brooklynites who can’t afford their own tony craft to get a taste of the life aquatic.
“Sailing has always been a passion of mine, but the idea of owning and maintaining a boat is totally inaccessible and cost-prohibitive,” said Alan Winchester, a Brooklyn Heights attorney and an early member of the club, which launched in late May. “Here you have all the benefits of a really hot boat that would otherwise cost you $100,000 to buy, berth, and maintain.”
But subscribers still need to have a bit of cash to splash — a basic membership to the club costs $1,200 a year, and prices go up to $2,900 for really serious sea dogs who want to race and bring guests aboard.
Around 120 people have joined the club already, according to the marina’s general manager Timothy O’Brien, but Winchester — who says he has been out on the water about 20 times — said he’s never had to wait to use a vessel.
The handful of boats bobbing in the water offer a hint of the giant boat-parking-lot slated for the site. Park honchos tapped developer Edgewater Resources in 2013 to construct a marina between piers 4 and 5, which the firm originally planned to have up and running this spring. But O’Brien said the company had trouble getting some permits, and will instead begin construction later this month and crack the champagne bottle in spring next year.
The marina will comprise three floating docks with space for around 100 boats — though not live-aboard sailboats a la “Sleepless in Seattle.”
It will also include a fourth so-called “community dock,” which Edgewater says will eventually house the sailing club (members currently have to take motorboat out to reach one of its vessels), as well as nautically minded local programs including kids’ boat-building lessons Brooklyn BoatWorks and the New York Harbor School. The company says two-percent of the marina’s revenue will go towards funding free and low-cost classes run from the dock.
The river is part of what was once the world’s busiest harbor, and O’Brien said he is delighted to see the waterway teeming with boats once again.
“So many generations went by that people kind of forgot that New York has a big, beautiful harbor that is a nice place to go boating,” he said. “But with more development on the waterfront, people are starting to notice it more.”
Winchester said he could never have imagined the neighborhood’s waterfront taking on an air of Montauk or Martha’s Vineyard when he moved there in 1986.
“I’m just amazed,” he said. “This harbor is not nearly as bad as it was, and I love the idea of having a waterfront that brings us into the realm of cities like Sydney or Stockholm.”
The marina is one of several private businesses — including shops, apartment buildings, and a hotel — being built in the park, which the semi-private organization that runs the sprawling green-space says are needed to help pay for its ongoing maintenance.