Check in, swim out: A floating hotel as art

Published online: Jul 11, 2011 News Melena Ryzik -
Viewed 1583 time(s)
As boat christenings go, this one was rollicking. In lieu of a Champagne bottle smashed against a hull, there was late-night bourbon and diving off the roof of the Queen Zenobia into dark waters lighted with natural phosphorescence. Nine strangers in bathing suits floated on an overwhelmed inflatable raft; a couple held hands on a pair of deck chairs; a moose head in a houseboat was decorated with a headlamp and a bra. Though the official ceremony would come later, on Friday night the Boggsville Boatel and Boat-In Theater, New York City's newest and perhaps loopiest tourist outpost, was open for business.

Toting overnight bags and beer through a pounding rainstorm, guests arrived by A train or car at Marina 59, a working-class pier used by fishermen and pleasure boaters in an inlet off Jamaica Bay in Far Rockaway, Queens. Their home for the night was a floating hotel, a motley assortment of decades-old watercraft - four refurbished pleasure boats and a houseboat - moored around a jury-rigged floating platform. In calmer weather it will be the site of movies and lectures; for now it served as a midnight party space.

"It's kind of a post-apocalyptic adventure," said Katie McKay, 34, a designer from Brooklyn who was staying aboard the houseboat with four friends. "It doesn't feel like you're in New York at all."

The Boatel is the work of an artist, Constance Hockaday, who said she hopes to attract the romantic and the adventurous - and amid them, the marina's neighbors - to this unlikely getaway. Under the auspices of Flux Factory, a Queens gallery, it will be open for reservations Thursday through Saturday all summer long, an experiment in urban vacationing and D.I.Y. ingenuity. July is nearly sold out already.

"When you think about it, the water is the last remaining open public space," said Jean Barberis, the artistic director of Flux Factory. "As artists and creative people venture more and more into the outer boroughs, there's less and less unclaimed territory on land. But the water is still completely open." Mr. Barberis said he sees the Boatel as part of a recent movement of artists exploring New York's waterways, like Duke Riley, who staged a naval battle in a reflecting pool in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, and Swoon, the street artist behind the wide-ranging flotilla of paddle- and steam-powered junk rafts known as Swimming Cities.


You May Also Be Interested In...

March 25, 2015

Restored To Her Glory

If you’re interested in restoration stories, you don’t want to miss this one—which involves a little history lesson to boot.
March 19, 2015

Why You Should Keep Your Smoke Alarms Up To Date

If you want to hear a good argument for keeping your smoke alarms up to date onboard, check out this man’s story according to Cambridge News.
March 11, 2015

Unmanned Houseboat Drifts 165 Miles

You’ve heard of runaway dogs, but have you ever heard of a runaway houseboat?
March 04, 2015

Lake Norris Update: Twin Cove Marina Is Seeing Great Progress

In an admiral show of resilience and dedication, the heavy winter damage at Twin Cove Marina, Carryville, Tenn., is already being tackled by cleanup crews.
February 24, 2015

Norris Lake Boats Suffer Severe Winter Damage

We have sad news—several boats and docks collapsed under the fury of a winter storm in the Norris Lake, Campbell County, Tenn., area this Saturday.
February 18, 2015

Houseboating Opportunities In India

The Times of India brings word that the District Tourism Promotion Council (DTPC) is investigating the possibilities of promoting houseboating in Kochi,a major port city...
Follow us on Facebook!   Follow us on Instagram!   Follow us on Pinterest!   Follow us on YouTube!