Working as a television photojournalist around New York City, Bjoern Kils discovered that news producers — used to shelling out thousands of dollars in helicopter flight time to capture images — had no idea how much they could accomplish from the water.
They did not have boats — but Kils had one, a vintage four-meter Avon SeaRider rigid hull inflatable he’d gotten from his father, a marine scientist who had worked for Rutgers University in New Jersey.
In 2010 he started a side business carrying camera crews and photographers. Today New York Media Boat has grown into a year-round business with a fleet of six vessels. The company carries press to cover breaking news events and sailing competitions, and supports film and media production in the harbor.
“We work a lot with TV crews, and that’s how we got started,” said Kils when WorkBoat visited the company’s operation at North Cove Marina in downtown Manhattan.
There are jobs servicing yachts and other vessels, punctuated by an occasional rescue. Then there is the “adventure tourism” side of the business, speeding guests by the dozen on 90-minute tours of the city waterfront.
New York Media Boat was running groups on its nine-meter Ribcraft rigid hull inflatable, driven by a pair of 300-hp Yamaha outboards that dealt easily with the harbor’s incessant chop and the day’s 15-mph west wind.
We followed captain Eric Rosen and his guests as they made the circuit past city landmarks: the West Side cruise ship terminals, The Battery, the Brooklyn Bridge, Liberty Island.
The tour is $95 per person, a fraction of the cost of helicopter tours that clatter overhead. Along with tourists, Kils says a lot of his clientele are New Yorkers — and some hardy souls at that. The only time New York Media Boat stops running, he says, is when there’s too much ice in February.
Still very much the photographer, Kils likes sharing the sights he comes across in the harbor, like last week when he captured an image of two visitors together: the 932', 65,000-ton British aircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth, and a 115'x27' replica Viking longship
"The largest warship of the Royal Navy sailed into New York Harbor this morning. Shortly followed by Draken Harald Hårfagre — the largest Viking ship built in modern times," wrote Kils to his fans on Facebook .