Henry Hudson – A Scientist

By Tom O’Dowd, Onboard Education Specialist
Did you think that the Clearwater is the only tall-ship providing education on the Hudson River? Think again!

You’ve probably heard of the Mystic Whaler, our sister ship. She helps Clearwater bring its Sailing Classroom program to thousands of students each spring.  The Mystic Whaler, like the Clearwater, was built in Maine in the 60s, and is also a replica of an historic cargo ship.

There are several beautiful sailboats and sail training schools in New York City and in the Hudson River Valley. While Clearwater focuses on environmental education with students, there is another tall ship that represents our connection to exploration and discovery—the Half Moon.

Tom O'Dowd, CLEARWATER Onboard Education Specialist on the HALF MOON

A week ago I had the opportunity to visit the Half Moon, the replica of Henry Hudson’s vessel that led the exploraion of the river now named for him. The Half Moon celebrates the fourth voyage of Captain Hudson and the beginnings of the New Netherlands by re-creating Hudson’s voyage up the river—going where he went on the exact date he went there, according to his first mate Robert Juet’s journals.

The visit was a “field experience” and part of the Teaching the Hudson Valley conference that took place July 26 – 28th.  This year’s conference theme was “Place and the Digital Native,” and sought to showcase the best ways to teach about our river with modern technology. Believe it or not, this replica 16th century ship is doing a lot with modern technology. The crew gave us a taste of their basic program, shared how they’re already incorporating modern technology, and opened up a dialogue about how to better reach teachers and students.  It was a great chance for me as a Clearwater educator to think about our ship’s connections with technology (have you tracked us on HRECOS lately?). 

It was also a great chance to see what one of our partner organizations is doing and how that complements our mission. I learned a lot more about Henry Hudson (he really did sail a “yaagt!!”) and the New Netherlands (a diverse meritocracy with people of all different nationalities and religions). 

The Half Moon is doing a lot to keep the history of our river alive, and studying the science of the river at the same time. After all, as Half Moon Captain “Chip” Reynolds told us last week, “Henry Hudson was a scientist”, and needed to know the tides, the benthos, the weather, and the geology of the river in order to explore it and set the stage for Dutch colonization.Perhaps it’s this “captain-as-scientist” perspective that makes sailing and environmental education go together so well!

HALF MOON docked in Poughkeepsie

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