All-Star Sail

Educator Blog by Matt Kleinman, Mystic Whaler Education Intern

On May 24th, a class of students from Ossining High School came to sail aboard the Schooner Mystic Whaler, ready to learn about all aspects of the Hudson River. That morning, before the group came aboard, one of the sloop volunteers spotted a beaver swimming alongside the boat while we were still tied up at the dock.  A short while later, a second beaver was seen a short distance off the Whaler’s port bow.

The students came onboard and we were immediately briefed by the captain on how to be safe aboard the vessel.  Captain John Eginton has been known to surprise the crew with a rousing “jellyfish” song with the students aboard the Whaler.  Dave Conover, Education Director for Clearwater, led this education program and we began our trawling session with him, where we hoped to catch as many different types of fish as possible.  After the trawl, we were thrilled to find out that we had caught one White Perch, two Brown Bullheads, one Spot Tail Shiner, and several Hogchokers.

The Sail Theory station was taught by AJ, an Education Intern, aboard the Mystic Whaler.  She taught the group about the importance of using sail power as a mode of transportation and how it compares to boats that only have engines.  The group also learned about the importance of human-power, versus that of machinery, and how mechanical advantage works.

Jessica, another Education Intern, taught our students about water chemistry.  The group discussed the importance of turbidity and learned how to test for it by using a turbidity tube.  Jessica taught them about the significance of the levels of dissolved oxygen in the river and also how we can test for that.  On that day, we discovered that the turbidity of the water was very low, which means that the sunlight passes 17 inches down into the river.  We also got a dissolved oxygen reading of about 9 parts per million (PPM).

Dave Conover ended the Silent Moment portiion of the trip with an old traditional sailor’s song titled “What Do You Do With a Drunken Sailor”.  He then taught us about how areas as far away as Greenland were affected by the PCBs that were spilled into the Hudson River not too long ago.  He then continued by performing a song about Greenland and how it has been affected by the Hudson River’s PCBs.

Chris Bowser, from the NYSDEC, lead the Hudson River Life station.  He enthusiastically taught us about the American Eel and their  life stages.  We also learned about how fish are tagged for scientific research and how the methods for tagging have changed greatly over the years.  The information from the fish tags is gathered, recorded, and studied as scientific research.

At the Navigation station we learned all about reading nautical charts and how to decode the vast amounts of symbols that are used.

We were so glad to have some of the many “famous faces” of Clearwater and to have the opportunity to sail and learn with them aboard the Mystic Whaler.

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