Just off Hudson Park in New Rochelle, NY lies Echo Island. The island has been the home of the Echo Bay Yacht Club for over 100 years and with changing times and a decline in membership, the club reached out to Port Sailing School, based at the New Rochelle Municipal Marina, to provide additional services. These services will include a children’s sailing program, adult sailing lessons, a racing program and use of sailing school boats.
Echo Island is one of the beauty spots on Western Long Island Sound. © Emmanuel Bastien
Just last summer, Port Sailing School opened up its second location in New Rochelle. The school employs over 28 people in the season with a fleet of over 30 boats from 23 to 36 feet. Echo Bay YC Commodore Bill Vogt recently invited the owner of Port Sailing, Chris Nihill, out to Echo Island for a club event. It was there that Nihill saw the potential of this charming island and a partnership was formed to develop programs and events.
“We are reinventing what a yacht club is, and how you go about joining,” Nihill explained. “We are combining our assets to provide services that a family can afford and improving access to the island by increasing the tender service from three days a week to seven.” With no initiation fees, all can join Echo Bay Yacht Club and sail the boats for as little as $750. Skipper memberships, Crew memberships and Junior memberships are available.
The island will host a children’s sailing program during the weekdays in the summer with sailboats to be provided by the sailing school and students receiving a club membership. Port Sailing, with over ten years of experience, will operate the sailing camp and the kids will enjoy time on the boats and on the facilities on Echo Island. The two-week sailing camp sessions run for eight weeks and are open to kids age 8 and up. Interested parents will find more information at echobayyachtclub.org.
On weekends, the Port Sailing School will offer American Sailing Association certification courses to qualify individuals to sail the school’s fleet of 23-foot Sonars. Chris Fletcher, the Fleet Captain, will organize experienced sailors to mentor new sailors. Every Friday night the club will offer a racing program followed by refreshments.
Port Sailing School is operating a junior sailing camp at Echo Bay Yacht Club this summer. © portsailing.com
Echo Island Yacht Club has a restaurant and snack bar, a picnic area with grills, a protected mooring area, storage lockers, kayak racks and a beach, and its solarium offers a 180-degree view of Western Long Island Sound. Ample parking is available at the New Rochelle Municipal Marina, which is only a mile from the railroad station.
Echo Island is one of New Rochelle’s hidden gems, and it would be a shame to lose it to a real estate developer. Just last year, Stuyvesant Yacht Club in City Island closed due to low membership and damages sustained during Sandy. The new alliance between Port Sailing School and Echo Bay Yacht Club allows members to experience the joy of sailing and the facilities of this classic Westchester landmark. To learn more about how you can become a member, learn to sail and use the school’s boats and the club’s facilities, log onto echobayyachtclub.org. Visit portsailing.com for more information about Port Sailing School.