The Mystery of the Boat Graveyard

The Mystery of the Boat Graveyard

This is Hoboken, so there are a couple of stories guaranteed to show up in your local newsfeed on a regular basis: Something about property values and taxes, something about traffic and parking, and something about the mysterious sunken boats in Weehawken Cove.

If you’ve walked by the river near the Hudson Tea Building, you’ve probably noticed the small craft anchored in the cove. It’s a popular spot for anchorage because it’s kind of a no-man’s land. No one really patrols it, no one claims ownership of it, and you can (and people do) anchor your boat there for free as long as you’re willing to swim for shore (or have a buddy pick you up). People have been anchoring their boats in the cove for decades; it’s not used for any other purpose, and until 2015 literally no one wanted responsibility for it (in 2015 Hoboken finally passed an ordinance authorizing the city’s Transportation Director to declare any vessel moored in the cove a public nuisance and order its removal).

Despite that ordinance and the fines and fees outlined in it for mooring your boats in the cove, people still leave their boats there, and boats keep mysteriously sinking there. There are three observable sunken boats there right now, in fact.

Visit lovely Hoboken, NJ, where boats come to die.

The Mystery Boats

Boats have been abandoned and left to sink in the cove for a long time, and every now and then a news organization looks into it, gets as far as discovering that city and county officials don’t care, the Department of Environmental Protection isn’t concerned, and the Coast Guard isn’t interested before giving up. In other words, no one knows why sunken boats keep turning up in the cove. As long as they’re anchored securely, they don’t pose a problem—but of course people might recall that Hurricane Sandy lifted one of those boats out of the water and deposited on the streets of the city, so that’s no guarantee.

Secret bonus hidden sunken boat just barely visible.

It seems pretty obvious that if you have a deteriorating boat that’s not worth much and you don’t want to deal with the trouble and expense of disposing of it legally, you can sail it into the cove at night, drop anchor, and leave it. There are anecdotal stories of people observing just that, with people swimming away from boats and just walking away. And like a lot of strange things in town, it’s obvious this isn’t going to stop. After all, we have larger problems, most notably the dead bodies that have occasionally turned up in the cove.

Another boat saluting Hoboken to its dying breath.

One option no one seems to be considering would be in a similar vein as Sybil’s Cave: Declare the cove “Hoboken’s Boat Graveyard” and offer tours, including scuba tours to view the legendary haunted wrecks. If we’re going to have sunken boats littering the water, might as well make a buck off it!

What do y’all think about the abandoned boats in the cove?

Articles » Environment » The Mystery of the Boat Graveyard
Jeffrey Somers

Jeffrey Somers

Staff Writer • Jeff Somers ( is the author of 9 novels including We Are Not Good People ( and the publisher of The Inner Swine ( Jeff may be reach at . Follow him on Twitter at @jeffreysomers .

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