Dear Clearwater,

The Armour Family in 1994.

It’s daunting to try to map out my family’s Clearwater story because I consider myself tremendously fortunate to have been born into this vibrant community. The sailors, activists, artists, and musicians that I know best as “aunts and uncles” were all a part of the village that raised me, bonded by Clearwater. The story starts a long time before I was born and continues to be central to our life.

My mother’s story is a familiar one, repeated up and down the river. She became involved in her local sloop club as a teen (Raritan River Friends of Clearwater), crewed on the Woody on Friday nights, next crewing on Sloop Clearwater whenever she could. My father started coming to Revival in 1979 and by 1986, was volunteering in the kitchens, cooking for all of the festival volunteers. Later that year, they met formally at Annual Meeting, having ridden in the same car for a few minutes at the Clearwater Revival earlier that year but not introduced. When my parents got married, they settled in the Hudson Valley, because Clearwater had given them an incredible community of friends and had exposed them to the beauty of the area.

Pete Seeger playing and singing (I am pictured closest to him on the right)

I so vividly remember potluck song swaps in my childhood, where the music would go into the wee hours, my brother and I listening for the peppering of stories about sailing on Clearwater until we fell asleep on piles of discarded coats behind the piano. We picked strawberries in June for the Strawberry Festival, skated on the Seeger’s driveway after Pete would turn it into an ice rink with the garden hose, and went to the Clearwater Revival every year where we volunteered as a family.

When I was old enough, I started volunteering on the Sloop, taking the bus to the train, and the train to the boat, doing my best to be useful onboard. I even spent my 15th birthday onboard as a volunteer and eventually got a job as an Apprentice. I remain grateful to Sam Heyman Hicks for being the first captain to hire me, beginning my career in sail training, environmental education, and hands-on learning.

Me, Sarah, as 1st Mate on board the Sloop Clearwater

Ten years later when I turned 25, I was back onboard Clearwater as the first mate and this year, I became a member of the Board of Directors of Clearwater and I’m excited to continue to work with the excellent organization that has given me and my family so much. In fostering a lasting relationship between Hudson Valley residents and our waterways, Sloop Clearwater allows people to come together to become a part of something bigger than themselves.

Sarah Armour
Board Member