Catch the wind on Sunset Lake this holiday weekend and experience something new near the boardwalk.


Mary-Ellen and Lee Sanderson from Red Bank have created a new entertainment destination two blocks west of the boardwalk with radio controlled sailboats on Sunset Lake.

“We were inspired to do this after walking in Central Park and seeing the wind powered boats at the Conservatory Water,” said Mary Ellen.  “I saw how much fun my two sons had controlling the sailboats and thought this was something we could bring to Asbury Park.”

In 2009, the Red Bank couple had their maiden voyage on Wesley Lake however due to construction, they moved to the more beautiful Sunset Lake this year – which is perfect because in the 1920’s there were frequent “mini sailboat” races on the lake during the summer months.

For less than the cost of a cocktail on the Boardwalk, you can relax for more than a moment and experience the thrill of when your sail catches the breeze on the lake and hauls butt past your friend’s boat, the geese, and some surprisingly large fish.

“Kids pick this up in two seconds because of the thumb action with the video games,” said Lee.  “Adults enjoy spending time along the lake.  There is a bit of a meditative quality to radio controlled sailboats.”

The sailboats are wind-powered with sails and rudders controlled by you via a radio transmitter from anywhere on the lake’s bulkhead.

I got behind the transmitter of one of the 41 inch long-scale Laser-class racing boat models last weekend and found that sailing an RC sailboat is one of those things that once you start it, you do not want for it to end.

After a few minutes of Lee giving me the lay of the land, I got the hang of it and then wanted to see what that boat was made of – chasing the wind, making sharp turns and gliding around the lake fountain.   The Sandersons have also laid out course with small buoys for lake races.

“We had a father and daughter come last weekend and they stayed for three hours,” said Mary-Ellen, who obviously gets joy out of introducing people to this pastime.

When I took sail on Sunset Lake, I met a grandfather and grandson team from Bradley Beach – Bruce Anderson and Connor Thaule.

“This is a marvelous thing and a great hobby,” said Bruce.  “Whenever Conner is in town, we will be here with the boats.”

Radio powered watercraft was recently named a “top summer hobby for everyone from kids to seniors” by Monmouth County’s

“The lakes in Asbury Park are one of the nicest and most unique features here,” said Mary-Ellen, known as the “Sailboat Lady” around the waterfront.  “Lee and I wanted to create something special for people to do while enjoying Sunset Lake.  If you look west, with the (Grand Avenue) bridge in the background, the view in a way is like Central Park – or maybe the beach air makes it even better.”

My time at RC Sailboats was a fantastic “smell the roses” moment gazing at the lake:  fiery sun reflecting off the subtle waves with a periodic breeze and visit from something that looked like an Egrit.

I am definitely up for a return sail.

Sunset RC Sailboats is open Saturdays and Sundays from 11 to 6 pm, weather permitting.

This Fourth of July weekend, Mary-Ellen and Lee are offering The Coaster readers a special deal – rent two sailboats for $15 when you mention the paper or TheBPlot.