JERSEY CITY, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- The last unofficial weekend of the summer has people getting to the beach -- and more than ever this year -- on a boat.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, boat owners say they've been reeling in big business renting out charters because outdoor activities are considered safer, CBS2's Lisa Rozner reported Sunday.
Leah Kim thought she was taking a Titanic-inspired photo on a chartered boat for friends' birthdays on the Hudson River, but quickly realized her boyfriend wasn't taking part because he was down on one knee.
"It feels amazing. I'm speechless right now," said Andrew Kim of Long Island City.
"Favorite part? Getting proposed to. Aside from that, the view was breathtaking," Leah Kim added.
Andrew Kim rented Sailing Islander out of the Liberty Landing Marina for two hours after seeing photos on Instagram.
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Silvia DeMorizi of Sunnyside booked it to celebrate a work promotion, after a friend suggested she check out getmyboat.com. More than 70 boat owners in the New York area offer rentals by the hour and provide a captain to operate the boat, too.
"I was like, do they actually have l that like you can rent a boat?" DeMorizi said. "It showed different kinds of boats, size, it gave the price per hour. It gave a little background of the owner."
Jessica Gates bought a boat and launched Sailing Islander as a side hustle last year.
She said business doubled this summer. She has even employed some people laid off during the pandemic. Customers she says on average book two- to four-hour rides at about $300 per hour.
They see sights like the Statue of Liberty, and it's mostly locals who want a COVID-safe experience.
You sit outside and it's limited to six people.
"People just want to experience the city in a new and different way," Gates said.
It turns out tourists only make up less than 5% of the business.
The National Marine Manufacturers Association says consumer spending on all kinds of boats increased almost 20% from 2019 to 2020. New York ranked seventh for total expenditures last year.
Andrew Troyano is a boat broker.
"New and used. Everything is sold out. You can't get a boat right now," Troyano said. "Most manufacturers are out until summer 2023, if you were to buy a boat now."
"When you cut the motors and flip the sails, there's no feeling like it on Earth, the serenity of sailing," Gates added.
"As soon as we start floating, they're just ... I feel them exhale," captain Krista Demille said. "Then they get on the bow and forget it. I can't get them back in."
"I never thought the city could be that beautiful, honestly," Andrew Kim said.
Gates said Andrew's proposal was around the 50th this summer.
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And for DeMorizi, she said she now wants to make this a yearly tradition.
"It was a very magical experience for me," she said.
Magical and mesmerizing, in your own backyard.
Gates said she's one of the only women-owned private sails in New York Harbor and she employs one of the few female captains.
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