Sloop Volunteer Week: Valerie & Ben Turner

Every year, we take thousands of students and adults out on the Clearwater. We have a tireless crew, great interns, knowledgeable educators, and a well-respected program. None of it would be possible without the volunteers who each give a week of their time to come onboard, teach, sail, learn, and live with the crew on the sloop. This year, we have a great need for more volunteers. (Click here to apply.)

In the hopes you will join us, we are featuring the stories of former volunteers who offer details on their experiences in their own words.  

Isaac Val and Ben... (1)

Musicians Valerie and Ben Turner (with guitar and far right) volunteered as crew for a week last summer.

“We first learned about Clearwater through the music festival, but never put it together with the sloop until talking to folks on the Mystic Whaler while taking a walk through Brooklyn Bridge Park last spring. That’s when we discovered its mission and found out that we could volunteer.

We didn’t really know what to expect, but we thought it would be an interesting experience as well as an opportunity to share some of our music with a new audience.

Our week on the sloop was very exciting. There was always something to do from the time you woke up until the time you went to sleep. It was hard work and we have a new respect for the crew because they do this day-in and day-out.

Since it was October, the weather was quite chilly and we even had a bit of rain. The crew were awesome and patiently tried to teach us our tasks. Captain Annika was a joy to work with as well. She simultaneously maintained control while keeping a sense of humor.

Meals were always fun and tasty, and it was a great time for everyone to come together. We loved the way that crew members were considerate and respectful toward one another. Everyone helped everyone and had a good attitude.

Our favorite tasks were steering the sloop, putting down fenders, working with the fish hospital, and playing music.

We especially enjoyed playing music for the many people who visited the sloop throughout the week. (We perform as Piedmont Bluz.) The crew were all great musicians and we enjoyed listening to their early morning serenades. It was the very best way to wake up!

We’re still amazed at how much we learned about sailing and about the Hudson River. Although we’ve never been wasteful, we did learn how to conserve resources even better. We have a new system at home for washing dishes that saves untold gallons of water.

It was a great week and we encourage others to try it. As time allows, we’ll be sure to volunteer again some day!” —Valerie & Ben



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