Many people traveling to NYC for the first time are not too fussed about their accommodation – so long as it is adequate, they’d rather spend their time and money exploring the city. But since venturing this week over to Hoboken on the Jersey Shore, I have found a place that is so unique, you may not want to step foot outside the door. The Yankee Ferry is a 100 year old historic vessel that has been transformed into a Bed and Breakfast and is docked near the 14th street pier. The view back to Manhattan is spectacular! If you stand at the ship’s bow without looking behind to New Jersey, and don’t pre-visualize the sometimes dull connotations of the words ‘historic’ and ‘bed and breakfast’, you could easily imagine yourself in a dream.
The Yankee Ferry is the work of 2 colorful artists and a small dedicated team who are committed to the vessel as a living work of art. Having survived two world wars as an armed troop carrier, worked transporting immigrants from their arriving ships to Ellis Island, and then for years tripped around the harbour with tourists, the ferry has most recently been massaged and moulded into a modern salon. From the moment you cross the drawbridge, you are in a world of rich curiosities. Lampshades are sculpted, bed linens are hand sewn, old aquatic features are given new functionality, and fresh flowers are everywhere.
Not surprising, the accommodation is not typical. The crew quarters, originally built for 16 men, can work for a family or for a group of friends. You can have a single nook upstairs, or a cabin with fold out trunks and expanding hammocks that will sleep more or less, and so you pay for the space you want ( usually $147 per couple + $50 for each person after that). There is an enviable kitchen, an elegant dining room, and a fabulous communal living area that is perfect for reading, or writing, or just looking at all the pieces that together create a Monet mood.
There are basically 3 levels on the ferry, with original outward looking wooden benches wrapped around the terraces. A well organized workshop sits in the heart of the ship, and at the stern 6 chickens live happily in customized coops and a view of the dock. On the pier alongside the ferry is a tire garden – the corn was finished, but there were still bountiful tomatoes and artichokes. In the same organic vein, to get back to the shoreline and travel on to Manhattan, you have to walk through a small dog run. Renovations to the pier may eventually change this, but for now this provides a ‘gateway’ to the private space of the B&B.
The most striking thing about the Yankee is the feeling of life. Many old things find their way to museums or preservation halls, but by then their spirit is gone. With this ferry you get the sense of something that is worn but winsome. So if you are coming to New York and want to experience your accommodation as well as the city, think about this floating arthouse on the Jersey shore…