Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions About Sailing

What happens if it rains?

We sail under most weather conditions except for those that are deemed unsafe, such as thunder/lightning, sheeting rain, and/or extremely high winds, so please check the forecast the day of your sail and be sure to dress for the weather.  We do not cancel sails based on weather forecasts, so cancellations usually occur the day of the scheduled sail, although we make every effort to provide as much notice as possible of a cancellation.

For public sail passengers: Should the weather be questionable, you may call 845-265-8080 x7142 to check on the status of your sail. In case of a weather-related cancellation, you will be contacted by a crew member at the cell phone number you provided. Should we cancel a sail due to weather, your sail fee will either be refunded or your reservation transferred to another sail of your choosing, and as availability allows.

For group sails: Should the captain cancel your sail, you will be contacted at the number you provided on your sail program information sheet. You will then have the option of participating in a dockside education program (at a 40% discount of your sail rate, and weather dependent); having your sail rescheduled (as availability allows during the same season or the following season); or of receiving a full refund. Unfortunately, we cannot schedule rain dates in advance. Should you choose to cancel your sail due to concerns about the weather and our captain deems the weather safe to sail, you will not receive a refund or be eligible for a rescheduled sail.

What is your cancellation policy?

For public sails: Passengers providing fewer than 48 hours notice of their need to cancel their reservation will not receive a refund. If the sail is taking place on the Monday of a holiday weekend, notice must be given before the end of the business day the preceding Friday.

For group sails:  If Clearwater is given fewer than eight weeks notice of a group’s cancellation, a 20% penalty fee will be deducted from the refund. If Clearwater is given fewer than three weeks notice of a group’s cancellation, a 50% penalty fee will be deducted from the refund. Groups canceling with one week’s notice or less will not receive a refund.

How do I find out where the boat is?

Have a look at our sailing schedule to see in which town the boat is currently docked. Clearwater’s crew is always happy to say hello, and loves to show folks around the decks as time allows, but please note that, depending on the day’s work plan, visitors may not be able to step aboard for a deck tour. To find out the most convenient time for a deck tour, please contact the Sail Program Coordinator.

How many passengers does the boat carry?

Whether aboard sloop Clearwater or the schooner Mystic Whaler

  • Each youth sail carries a strict maximum of 50 passengers, and must be comprised of at least 50% youth in High School or younger;
  • Each charter sail for college students and adults carries a strict maximum of 50 passengers.

These numbers must include all teachers and chaperones, caterers and musicians, and infants.

What should I wear when I come sailing?

As it is generally a few degrees cooler out on the water than it is on land, but there is very little shade on the decks of Clearwater, we recommend dressing in layers and wearing plenty of sun protection- Hats, sunblock, and sunglasses are all useful. In case of rain, rain jackets are preferable to ponchos, as they are less problematic in the wind. Flat, comfortable footwear is recommended.

What should I bring? Can I purchase refreshments onboard?

Hydration is extremely important while sailing: We strongly suggest that all passengers bring reusable water bottles when they come onboard.  There are no refreshments available for purchase onboard. For public sails and private charters, you are welcome to bring whatever you’d like to eat or drink on your sail, including wine or beer. Please note that all alcohol consumption takes place at the captain’s discretion.

What is the Mystic Whaler? Which boat will I be sailing on? What are the differences between the boats?

For over a decade, Clearwater has been joined for our spring sailing season by the schooner Mystic Whaler out of New London, Connecticut. Every year, from April through June, the Mystic Whaler, her capable captain and crew, and Clearwater educators and volunteers run Clearwater programs up and down the Hudson River.

Which boat you will be sailing on depends on where the boats will each be on the date you want to come sailing! Because Clearwater’s programs are in such high demand during our spring sailing season, we generally have one of the boats upriver and the other downriver.

Clearwater is a sloop,  and the Mystic Whaler is a schooner. The vessels are approximately the same size.

Where will we go on our sail?

All of our sails, unless otherwise noted, depart from and return to the same dock. Which direction we sail in and how far we travel is dependent on the tide, current, and wind. Although every sail with Clearwater provides information about the river and sights on its banks, we are a traditional sailing vessel that spends as much time under sail as possible, not a tour boat.

Will I get seasick?

It is very rare for passengers to become seasick while onboard. Clearwater was designed to navigate the kinds of inland waters we sail in. Broad of beam and very low to the water, the sloop is extremely stable.

babyCan small children come sailing?

For educational group sails, the youngest children we sail with are fourth-graders. We do provide educational group sails to mixed-age groups, but children younger than the fourth-grade level must not make up more than one quarter of the total number of passengers, and extra chaperones may be required.

For public sails, children of all ages are welcome onboard with proper adult supervision. Clearwater has a limited number of infant/toddler life jackets onboard: Please verify their availability with the Sail Program Manager prior to sailing, or feel free to bring your child’s own P.F.D.

Is the boat safe? Do we need life jackets while we’re onboard?

You are in good hands when onboard! Clearwater’s professional crew has been selected to combine the talents of a competent sailing team with those of a trained education staff. Volunteers and interns augment the work of Clearwater’s licensed captain, crewmembers, and educators. The ratio of adults to passengers on any sail is approximately 1:4, which means that you and/or your child will be very closely supervised at every point during your time onboard.

Clearwater is a sub-chapter T United States Coast Guard inspected vessel. Clearwater is subject to and complies with all USCG and Federal Communications Commission regulations, and is inspected for safety annually: the inspection examines the ability of the crew to respond properly to an emergency and assesses the appropriateness of the vessel’s safety equipment, including fire extinguishers and personal flotation devices. Clearwater is also inspected by the US Coast Guard bi-annually to gauge the integrity of the vessel itself by examining the hull and other physical features of the vessel.

The Coast Guard does not require Clearwater’s passengers to wear flotation devices during their trip, but Clearwater always carries enough P.F.Ds for our maximum number of passengers.

All passengers boarding Clearwater are given a thorough safety talk by the captain prior to departure. This talk includes the setting of boundaries on the deck, the proper method for climbing the ladders leading below decks, and the location of and method for putting on life jackets.

Are there toilets onboard?

Many of our docks have public facilities on site, and we encourage our guests to avail themselves of them prior to boarding. There are two heads (boat toilets) on Clearwater. The facilities are rustic, more akin to outhouses than to modern toilets, and there is a barrel of wash water on deck for hand washing.

Is Clearwater accessible to people with disabilities?

People with disabilities sail with us often. Some areas of the boat are not accessible to people with limited mobility or those in wheelchairs, as they are accessed via ladders or steps. These areas are: Below decks (including the heads), and the quarterdeck. Please note that, although Clearwater’s crew is comfortable assisting people with disabilities as they board and disembark, not all of our docks are fully accessible to wheelchairs or people with limited mobility. Please check with the Sail Program Manager to find out which docks would be most appropriate, and to find out how we can accommodate people with disabilities aboard all of our sails.

Can I bring a large group onboard a public sail? Do you offer a group discount on public sail tickets?

We do not offer group discounts, and ask that groups larger than 12 wishing to sail together for a special event instead consider a private charter.