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Port Of Call – Donovan’s Shady Harbor Marina

Port Of Call – Donovan’s Shady Harbor Marina

As cruising boaters know, marinas come in all shapes and sizes… from simple, with just the basics, to super-fancy with every possible amenity with most falling somewhere in between.  It’s only natural that the longer you boat, the more you know about what you like in a marina.  The right balance of great docks and dockhands, plenty of amenities, welcoming personalities, a great restaurant, and stunning scenery can be hard to find in a marina.  Every so often we come across one that checks off all the boxes and strikes us as a real gem.  Donovan’s Shady Harbor Marina on the Hudson River in New Baltimore, New York is one such gem for many of those reasons and some unique ones as well.

Approaching Donovan’s Shady Harbor Marina from the south. It is easily approached from the north or south with all deep-water dockage.

Shady Harbor lies 129 statute miles north of the Battery (which is at the mouth of the Hudson in New York City), thirteen miles south of Albany, New York.  As you travel north on the river there are dozens of marinas along the way, many with decent docks and amenities and their own unique charm.  But none have as much of a feeling of being a quality destination unto itself as Shady Harbor.  In our opinion, it is the finest marina on the Hudson.  Owners Kathy and Brian Donovan have everything to do with that, not simply because they are good business people, but because they are passionate, long-time boaters.  They currently own a 75′ Motor Yacht which they have traveled extensively along the east coast and to the Bahamas.  They have high standards in what they like and expect in a marina and have done everything possible to create a place that they would want to visit on their boat.  And that approach will always win out over a committee of non-boaters running a place with what they imagine boaters would want.

Friendly dockhands who actually know how to get you properly tied are always at the ready. Hail on VHF 16 – they will switch you to their working channel (17).
Since acquiring the marina in 2010 they have extensively reconfigured and replaced docks and power pedestals.  They offer ValvTect fuel which gets turned over quite a bit as the marina has understandably become a delivery captain and Looper favorite (they’re AGLCA sponsors).  The grounds are constantly being upgraded with new features and recreational areas and are impeccably maintained.  There’s an in-ground pool, barbecue area, bocce ball court, horseshoes, a bonfire pit, and kayak rentals.  There is a large and comfortable air-conditioned bathhouse and laundry facility just steps from the docks.
The new composite floating docks are wide and stout. Power is excellent and consistent. The free WiFi is robust and dependable. Stream away to your heart’s content!

The red fuel docks are easily identified from the river and easily approached. Do be aware of the direction and speed of the current and plan to dock into it. Dockhands are always ready to advise.  Pumpout is available at the fuel dock.
Plenty of Adirondack chairs adorn the property, just inviting you to relax and take in the beauty of the river. 

If you read reviews of the marina you will invariably see high marks for the staff, whose level of training belies what you might expect from an upstate New York marina — again because of the Donovans’ high expectations.  Their ship’s store is also wonderful because they know what boaters on the move really need and want.  From food and beverage items including local meats and cheeses to an extensive inventory of boat parts and accessories, lots of t-shirts, boatware, gifts and myriad sundries – it’s just not what you’d expect in this neck of the woods.

With their 35-ton travel lift and full mechanical services, they specialize in helping boaters who come in with a problem and will do whatever they can to solve their issues and get them moving again as quickly as possible (but why would you want to leave?).  If you need to do some more extensive provisioning or hit West Marine there is a loaner car available.  Its convenient proximity to Albany International Airport makes the marina a popular spot for travelers to leave their boats for a spell to head home, confident in knowing that it will be looked after in their absence.

Jasper loves how pet-friendly Shady Harbor is (plus all the grass and the exceptional views).
The Donovans have also put a great deal of energy into their wonderful on-site restaurant, The Boathouse Grille.  With its varied menu, lively indoor/outdoor bar and enormous deck with one of the best views on the river, it’s no wonder boaters and non-boaters alike pack the house, giving it a warm and festive energy.
The Boathouse Grille is sited perfectly to take advantage of the incredible Hudson River views.  There’s plenty of space to tie up if you’re looking to dock and dine.
Kathy and Brian (center, left of A.J.) join us aboard OLOH for a moment in their busy day – the rest of the crew were not so busy!

And while all of this reads like a great list of features for any marina to have, what really makes the place is its vibe.  It has a fun and friendly environment that is fostered by the Donovans and resident boaters which makes every boater, whether stopping by for a night or a season, feel welcome and a part of someplace special.

These are some of the friendly faces you’ll see hanging out on the docks at Shady Harbor. We’re lucky to call them friends and always happy when we get to spend time with them on OLOH.

If you find yourself at Donovan’s Shady Harbor Marina, be sure to tell them OLOH sent you – and be sure to ask Brian or Kathy about Little Beers!

Dockage reservations can be made through Dockwa or by calling Donovan’s Shady Harbor Marina at 518.756.8001.

This Post Has 4 Comments
  1. We stopped at this marina heading northbound to Toronto and just loved it. Very friendly staff, great repair services, nice restaurant with take-out and they even had a free loaner car. Will stop here again when we head south.
    1. Jessie! Thanks for letting us know! We are not surprised that you enjoyed your stay and we’ll pass that on to the Donovan team! Thanks for following along.

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