Conservatory Water in Central Park is a familiar sight in film and television – but did you know that you, too, can sail remote control sailboats there? Read on to learn more about joining the families and sailors alike, whether you’re a city resident or just visiting!
Model boat rentals are available seven days per week from April to October; on weekends, you may find racing events, too. Hours are typically Monday to Thursday 11am-6pm, Friday 11am-8pm, Saturday1pm-8pm, Sunday 10am-7pm, although these are subject to change. It’s also important to note that these hours are contingent on good weather, or at least, no rain.
The model yachts rented for use on Conservatory Water are sail- and rudder-controlled, and they’re rented from the Kerbs Memorial Boathouse, on the east side of the pond. The rental fee is $11 for 30 minutes. Unfortunately, reservations aren’t available; rentals are first come, first served only. No need to worry if you’re not in time though, because there’s a waiting list that’s maintained once all boats are rented.
There’s no formal age minimum for sailing, although children should probably be old enough to handle the remote control, and someone older should probably be around in case some additional skill is needed to get the boat back to the side of the pond. It’s not easy to end up in the water, although not impossible either – sloping concrete lines the edges of the pond. It’s a nice place to sit while boating or watching others sail, but there’s no guard rail either, something to keep in mind if you’ll be sailing with young children.
How To Steer the Model Boat
The folks who work at the boathouse and manage the boat rentals are happy to demonstrate how to use the controls. Model sailboats are traditionally made of light wood, and steering is via rudder, main sheet balance or wind vane. Sailors have a remote control, and there’s usually a battery-operated component on the boat itself that receives the remote control signal and performs the functions of adjusting the rudder, sail or wind vane.
Sailing a model boat requires moving it before or against the wind, and making the proper adjustments to the rudder, sail or wind vane so that the wind is used to your advantage, pushing the boat in the direction you want it to go.
Let out the sail to catch the wind and sail downwind, or with the wind. Use the rudder control to swing the rudder left or right to counter-balance the force and direction of the wind; this allows the boat to be steered at an angle, sailing into the wind.
It’s easy to get the hang of with a little practice, and part of the fun is learning how to do it with everyone else there, as well as marveling at the skill of folks who are really skilled at it.
Part of New York City’s Central Park, Conservatory Water is reminiscent of similar ponds that were popular in Paris during the late 1800’s. It’s now one of Central Park’s most iconic spots, and an often-visited spot for families, both locals and visitors alike.
It’s easy to tell which is the right pond because there’s a statue of Alice in Wonderland on the north side, and a statue of Hans Christian Andersen on the west side. Krebs Memorial Boathouse is on the east side. When looking at the park north/south, Conservancy Water is roughly mid-park, on the east side; entry is 72nd to 75th Streets.
It’s easy to make a day of visiting Central Park. A cafe in the boathouse serves light fare, and there are flower beds and other greenery to enjoy. The spot is also popular with birders – and red-tailed hawks!
Sailing model boats in Central Park is one of those quintessential New York City things. It’s worth wishing for a day without rain to enjoy the scenery and try your hand at sailing, just like in the movies!