Sloop Clearwater Starts Historic 40th Sailing Season with Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

POUGHKEEPSIE, NY – Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, America’s flagship environmental organization, and the Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce hosted a special ribbon cutting ceremony this afternoon to mark the beginning of the sailing season for the sloop Clearwater. The event took place at the public dock in Victor C. Waryas Park in Poughkeepsie, NY.

U.S. Representative Maurice Hinchey (NY-22) attended the ribbon cutting ceremony, along with a number of other elected officials, including Town of Poughkeepsie Supervisor Pat Myers, Poughkeepsie Mayor John C. Tkazyik, Beacon Mayor Steve Gold and Dutchess County Clerk Bradford Kendall.

With the Clearwater docked in the background, a small crowd assembled at the entrance of the public dock to cut the blue sash of ribbon with big scissors. Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce chairman Charles S. North, who acted as master of ceremony, thanked Clearwater “for 40 years of teaching us what environmentalism is all about” and showing the business community “that we can be partners in progress in making our Hudson Valley, and our country, a better place for all of us.”

This year is a historic one for Hudson River Sloop Clearwater. In May, the nonprofit, member-supported organization will celebrate the 40th anniversary of the launch of its sloop Clearwater as well as the 90th birthday of Clearwater founder and folk music legend Pete Seeger. In June, the Clearwater will also sail with the flotilla of vessels marking the Quadricentennial of Henry Hudson’s voyage up the river that bears his name.

In his remarks, Congressman Hinchey recalled his first sail on the Clearwater in 1972, and said, “I am delighted to join my friends at Clearwater to help kickoff the group’s 40th sailing season on the Hudson River. For the past four decades, Clearwater has done a remarkable job of promoting environmental awareness and activism along the Hudson River while providing recreational opportunities to connect people of all ages with this magnificent waterway.  I’m confident that 2009 will prove to be a wonderful sailing season.”

U.S. Representative John Hall (NY-19), a former Clearwater board member, had a statement read at the event that applauded Clearwater’s efforts in educating citizens about environmental stewardship, and its ongoing advocacy for the protection of the Hudson River, adding, “I look forward to celebrating Clearwater’s achievements for many years to come.”

Since the launch of the Clearwater, more than 430,000 young people and hundreds of thousands of adults have experienced their first real look at an estuary’s ecosystem—fish, invertebrates, water chemistry and ecological principles—aboard the sloop. Clearwater’s environmental education programs now serve more than 15,000 students annually, and thousands of others enjoy the splendors of river travel aboard the Clearwater each year during her public sails.

The Clearwater was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 2004 for its role in the environmental movement.

Also offering remarks at the ribbon cutting were Dutchess County Tourism director Mary Kay Vrba and Poughkeepsie Chamber of Commerce chairman Steve Diamond.

Samantha Heyman, captain of the Clearwater, thanked her crew for getting the sloop ready for the new season, and said, “She’s now ready for her banner year, so come out for a sail and enjoy your river.”