“From coastal resiliency and sustainable green practices to the preservation of affordable housing, world-class public art, and vibrant, year-round programming in award-winning public spaces, Battery Park City leads the way in many of the measures that makes cities livable."

Raju Mann

President & CEO
  • 09/24
  • BPC People
  • Community



Title: Captain, Shearwater Classic Schooner
Favorite BPC Spot: Irish Hunger Memorial

Tom Berton grew up in Manhattan’s East Village, not far from where his beloved schooner, Shearwater, calls home: Battery Park City’s North Cove Marina. Tom attended Stuyvesant High School – before it was located here in Battery Park City (but not too long before, the Captain would like to remind readers) – and then on to Williams College in Massachusetts, where his interest in cultural anthropology and understanding what it means to be an American led him to major in US/Japan Comparative Studies. This dovetailed with his interest in eastern religions and martial arts and it allowed him to gain perspective by comparing the two nations. Today Captain Tom is fluent in Japanese; he utilized his language skills facilitating U.S./Japanese imports and exports, with successful stints in owning retail establishments and working in real estate development.

Along the way, Tom was exposed to sailing while volunteering on a well-known charter sailboat, the Petrel (which spent a couple seasons in North Cove in the 1990s). Petrel’s captain, Nick van Nes, mentored Tom and helped foster his love for sailing. So much so that, despite his successes in other endeavors, when van Nes retired from public and charter sailing in 2000, Tom and a couple other volunteers bought an historic classic schooner named Shearwater and decided to continue the business. His love for sailing New York’s incredible harbor remain undiminished.

Not long after taking over the business, Tom’s crew, boat, and business barely survived the September 11 attacks. But by June 2002, Tom and his crew were back in North Cove sailing and exhibiting the persistence and determination that defines its downtown denizens. Since then, his business, Manhattan by Sail, has expanded into a flourishing purveyor of New York City harbor tours. And he still sails the trusty Shearwater – designated a national landmark in 2009, next year will mark its 90th year of operation.

Tom lives with his wife, Ewa, and three daughters in lower Manhattan, where when he’s not sailing he enjoys practicing Tai Chi and serving on Manhattan Community Board 1. He’s thankful to Battery Park City and the surrounding communities for taking historic sailing seriously, and for the support they have provided him throughout the years. Head on down and say hello to Tom and the team.


Back to Blog Homepage