Lately, I’ve had an itch to do something crazy, and it’s been harder and harder to scratch. Weekends have been filling up with one obligation after another, and the last weekend of fun I had planned got canceled for a case of severe food poisoning. There’s no other way to say it, I’m in a bit of an adventure rut. It seemed like the perfect time to do something a little extreme, so I settled on visiting the Staten Island Boat Graveyard. Seeing decomposing boats may not sound like an adventure, but it involved trespassing, radioactive battleships, and actually going to Staten Island.
The Staten Island Ferry
It was time to head to Staten Island which meant taking the Staten Island Ferry! I’d taken it once before but never actually left the terminal on the other side. For those of you who don’t know, it’s the only free thing in NYC (just kidding… kind of). The boat ride can be a little overrun with tourists. One of my partners in crime, Lisi, pointed out that getting on and off the boat made you feel like cattle being corralled. Despite the boarding process, it’s a super relaxing journey.
Once we got off the ferry, we headed to the S74 bus which arrives every 15 minutes. The bus ride was around one hour long. As someone who never takes the bus, there was some confusion about where to get off. Full disclosure, Lisi had Google Maps open on her phone and we hopped off at a stop when it looked like the bus was getting further away from our destination rather than closer. Next, we walked along a somewhat sketchy street with no sidewalks until alas we spotted “The Cemetery.” I had done research on sneaking into the property on other blogs that said, “It’s not for the faint of heart.”
Caffeinated and ready for a police chase, we walked through the cemetery. Like a bunch of kids, we played the headstone game and looked for the oldest one which was circa the early 1800’s. Pat, my other partner in crime, read out the estimated ages of people from children to those who lived long lives. One person had lived through at least three wars, the evolution of cars, cellphones, and tv’s. Kind of crazy.
We slowly walked to the back of the cemetery and looked for the signs saying “Beware of Dog” and “No Trespassing.” We were also on the lookout for an abandoned house. With none in sight, we slowly moved through an open gate when suddenly someone spotted Lisi and yelled private property. Lisi, slightly un-phased, said “Oh, sorry” and walked slowly back into the cemetery. The people yelling were in a pool. All I could say over and over was, “There was no mention of a pool in the other blogs!” Pat came to the conclusion that there may be more than one graveyard, so we continued on our search.
The Boat Graveyard
After walking the entire length of the boatyard property which is fenced off and full of security cameras, we ended up at the opposite end. We could see the water in the backyard of a not so abandoned house. There was also a very small chain hanging between two poles. The kind that keeps a car from driving through. It contained the “Beware of Dog” and “No Trespassing” signs. This was not even close to what I expected. In the other blogs, people said they “hopped a fence.” This was no fence. It was barely anything. Hell, there was even a bench on the non-trespassing side welcoming people to have a seat.
We walked a little further and found an already formed trail going down to the water. Others described this as walking through six foot reeds, stepping over planks of wood, and how dangerous it all was. In reality, we walked down an already formed path which short of having a welcome sign was not scary at all. The reeds only lasted about 10 feet and then we were in the “marsh.” To be fair, it was low tide and extremely hot, so the swampy part had probably dried up, but it was like walking through an uneven field. We were careful where we stepped, making sure not to sink in, or miss a plank of wood under the grass. Other than that, it was not very difficult.
We could see about three or four boats decomposing in the water. We had expected to see about 40. After looking around, we exited in a different direction which brought us out into a very tiny cemetery which was apparently the one we were meant to find in the first place. It only had about 20 headstones in it dating back to the 1700’s.
The view, I’ll admit was spectacular, but it wasn’t really worth the two hour journey. We walked around and took a few photos, never feeling in danger of getting caught. We heard someone coming through the reeds and even then my heart didn’t speed up the slightest. We looked over to the left and saw a few boats closer to the marsh. Other bloggers had mentioned walking over this “pile of wood” to get a closer look.
The pile of wood they were referring to was an old wood boat that must have been sitting there for decades. I was reminded of cartoons when something looks rickety and then a butterfly lands on top and it collapses in one fail swoop. All three of us agreed that climbing it wasn’t exciting, but rather stupid. The boats, although cool, were not worth getting tetanus over or getting in contact with radiation, which I read was an actual threat here.
I’m not sure if I’d gotten too sucked into the hype or if the other bloggers over exaggerated to avoid a dull blog. Maybe their idea of taking a risk is just very different than mine. Regardless, I was underwhelmed by the whole experience. It was about as thrilling as stealing a penny out of the “Give a penny, take a penny” jar. I’d definitely recommend saving the trip and doing something more eventful.
Have you ever snuck onto private property? Did you get caught or have a better story than I did?
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Michelle Della Giovanna
Writer at Full Time Explorer
I’m just your average New Yorker who quit her job in the fashion industry to explore the world. Come find out what it’s like to trade in five-inch heels for squat toilets.