As featured by Allison Dunne on WAMC Radio.
After a major hull restoration, Clearwater is back on the Hudson River. WAMC’s Hudson Valley Bureau Chief Allison Dunne embarked on the sloop for Clearwater’s first education sail of the season.
The day after passing a U.S. Coast Guard inspection, Sloop Clearwater took to the Hudson River for its first education sail of the season July 12. In fact, it was the first sail carrying any passengers since an $850,000 hull restoration over the winter. A long set of steely stairs leads to the dock and Sloop Clearwater at Yonkers City Pier. Before setting sail, another environmental group’s vessel stopped by – Riverkeeper.
Clearwater departs the pier, with Manhattan in view to the south, and the Palisades hovering across the river.
Nearly 40 8-to-10-year olds from The Nature Place Day Camp in Chestnut Ridge, in Rockland County, learned to raise the 3,000-pound main sail and that singing the chorus of “Cape Cod Girls” makes it more fun.
Maura Niemisto is Clearwater’s onboard educator.
“Well this group, I have been told, has been coming for years and years,” says Niemisto. “So this particular day camp has sailed with us many, many times and they’re big supporters of Clearwater so it’s really fun to have them back on board.”
After raising the sail, the kids were divided into groups and spent time at different stations, learning about different aspects of the river and the sloop.
They learned about water quality testing and the estuary.
They were also taught about Hudson River School art and visited the crew’s quarters down below. Captain Aleythea Dolstad explained navigation.
“When they get to actually put their hands on that tiller and they are the ones making the course changes, I think it’s a very empowering feeling,” Dolstad says. “And to really be part of that, I hope that that feeling, they remember that feeling.”
The kids saw an Atlantic silverside Clearwater crew had caught earlier in the morning.
Anthony Rappa is the camp’s trip leader.
“It’s not every day you get to sail on a sloop like this, and then just to kind of educate themselves on the water itself and being able to know how to run a ship I think is a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Rappa says.
Seeing as it was the first sail of the season, Captain Dolstad assessed the trip.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better sail. It was amazing. The group was amazing. The wind was amazing. The weather was amazing. The place was amazing. The crew was amazing,” says Dolstad. “I really, I don’t think there’s anything I could have asked for more than that.”
Before docking, though, kids and crew gathered round for a song about the Hudson River. And Niemisto spoke about how Clearwater came to be.