Rye Yacht Club Founder Jeffrey Dorfman’s Boating Passion Satisfied on the Sound

Watercraft sports bring families and friends together around a common interest, which thrives along the Sound communities.

I moved from Manhattan to the Greenhaven section of Rye after my daughter was born. That and boating brought me to Westchester. I knew I wanted to be by the water, and I didn’t want to commute too far to my office.

I have a 27-foot Formula speedboat that I moor in Mamaroneck. I’ve had bigger; I’ve had smaller. This one was built for me two and a half years ago. The brand is like a BMW in terms of price point and reputation. It’s a stunning boat that can go 60 miles per hour.

The Long Island Sound is about 100 miles long and 20 miles wide at its broadest point. There’s a lot of water. It’s much safer than the ocean; wave heights are lower and there’s no speed limit. It’s protected. If I lost an engine in the Atlantic, I could drift to England. If my engine stops in the Sound, I’ll end up on Long Island.

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I’m a kid from Queens. I didn’t grow up on the water. In fact, if I went out on someone’s boat, I’d turned green and throw up. Then I discovered that just like in cars, if you’re at the wheel you don’t get carsick. I prefer being called “Captain” to “Doctor,” even though I’m not legally a captain. But on my boat, I’m behind the wheel.

My daughter loves to go on the boat. It’s a family-bonding thing. She loves tubing. She likes to go really fast, but my wife yells. A perfect day is taking my family on the boat for a few hours, and then spending the afternoon in my pool with family and friends, hitting the barbecue, and enjoying Happy Hour.

My rabbi says that being Jewish is a matter of community. You could say the same thing about boating. But unless you belong to an expensive members-only club, there’s no boating community. My yacht club is open to anyone in Rye, Mamaroneck, and Larchmont, whether they own a boat or not. Membership is free. The only requirement is that if you belong to another yacht club, they should offer reciprocal privileges. We have about 160 members; they can post on the website bulletin board (ryeyc.org) when and where they’re going out and ask if anyone wants to go.

Boating is good for me. I have 12 dentists in my practice. I’m not a relaxed guy, so I’m not going to say I suddenly become Zen-like on the water—I’m obsessive about proper boating safety and making sure I have my charts and watching my navigation. But being out there for a few hours, especially in July, the sun beaming down, coming back into harbor at sunset—it doesn’t get any better than that. Sometimes, I’ll go out by myself on a Friday, when nobody else is on the water. I’m not a drifter in regular life, but, out on the Sound, I can turn the engine off and just drift.

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