The dog days of summer may be upon us, but don’t let the heat and humidity stop you from enjoying the great outdoors here in the Valley. Looking for a low-key outing? Take a hike or a bike ride, or perhaps a sail on the Hudson. Need a little more excitement? How about tubing, rock climbing — or skydiving? No matter what thrill level you seek, these 10 invigorating excursions are guaranteed to get your heart racing
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Practically a staple of the Hudson River since old Henry discovered it, sailing nowadays isn’t so much a mode of transportation as one of the most luxurious forms of recreation. But for Valley thrill-seekers, this water sport can also provide just the right amount of action and improvisation — all at the mercy of a breeze.
John Stephenson, treasurer of the Kingston Sailing Club — and captain of a racing sailboat called A Boy’s Dream — knows all about that. “We got hit with 40-knot winds,” he says of a recent jaunt up to the Rhinecliff Bridge. “Anything over 35 is gale force, and we broached” — or leaned almost parallel into the water. “Broaching is not something people like to do on sailboats,” Stephenson explains.
Despite some risk-taking, sailing is generally a safe and highly rewarding activity — especially with the Kingston Sailing Club. “We collaborate with the Hudson Valley Maritime Museum to bring schoolkids down to the waterfront and on the boats,” says Stephenson. In addition, he runs the club’s “Day O’Sailing” coaching program, which provides educational outings on the river for budding adult sailors. Walk-on crew members are always welcome; as the organization grows, Stephenson hopes to develop an official youth sailing program like those at the more established Chelsea and Haverstraw yacht clubs.
For now, it’s all about racing. “People in our club really just like to sail together, so we focus on producing an environment where everyone can come out and race, and have fun.”
“Safety’s first,” says Stephenson, “so having life jackets and the right safety equipment on board is important.” He also warns against setting sail in boats too small for the conditions. “I see dinghies with four people in them heading out where there are four-foot rollers. Never take your boat into conditions you’re not positive you can handle.”
Before you board, arm yourself with obvious gear, like sunscreen, nylon or waterproof pants and jacket, sailing gloves, deck shoes that won’t slip off, and a hat. (Bonus points if you top your noggin with one from a Mount Gay-sponsored regatta — these highly coveted red caps are a seaman’s badge of honor.) Before you head out, grab an experienced sailor, your best sense of humor — “and maybe Sailing for Dummies,” Stephenson jokes.
Kingston Sailing Club, Kingston
Chelsea Yacht Club, Chelsea 845-831-7245
Hudson Cove Yacht Club, West Haverstraw 201-684-0065
Hudson Sailing, Kingston 845-687-2440