Naked Warrior sails to New York City

Words by Bill Hellman

Found in the 2024 Spring Issue

When a trip with a sailboat becomes a mission it means timelines, schedules and commitments and that is never an ideal situation considering wind and weather, boat speed and distance.  But a situation presented itself early in 2023 and I couldn’t resist.  A trip to New York City with friends to meet more friends while using the boat for a worthy cause.  The rewards certainly outweighed the potential issues so the decision was made, we would sail to New York!  For the past four years a friend and former Navy SEAL has organized a fundraising swim across the Hudson River beginning at Liberty State Park and ending at South Cove in Manhattan.  The 2023 swim promised to be the biggest undertaking yet.  250 swimmers consisting of ex Navy SEALs, other service members, First Responders and civilians who passed the rigorous qualification testing would cross the Hudson. Although I was initially invited to join the swim due to my well known swimming prowess I had to decline. I knew I wasn’t taking my shirt off in that crowd under any circumstances. Instead I suggested attending the swim with my aptly named  sailboat “Naked Warrior”.   

The SEALs originated from the Navy frogmen who were labeled as the Naked Warriors based on their sparse uniform and minimal equipment.

The first task was of course preparing the boat. I already knew who would accompany me on the relatively short run from Norfolk, Virginia to New York City.  A good friend and coworker Mark West and I had discussed this journey many times while imagining the view of Manhattan from the Brooklyn waterfront.  We had one false start just as COVID came into our lives and though the trip was pushed to the back burner it was never written off.…….

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