The Magic in Clearwater

Throughout the Hudson Valley, people know Clearwater. Everyone has their own special relationship to the boat, to Pete, and to the River. Here are some Hudson Valley transplants’ reactions to this community:

Gracie writes:

During a day off in Haverstraw I ran into a gentleman on a bike path. After mentioning my association with Clearwater, he started talking exuberantly about his love for the Hudson River, Pete Seeger and his appreciation of Clearwater. On another day, while casting off the boat for a sunset sail off of Beacon, a man wandered down the dock, stared at the boat with a look of awe. Turns out he was on the boat in 1969 during the Clearwater’s first sail and taught some of the first education stations. He said that seeing the Clearwater was a spiritual experience. On a public sail, a woman stepped down the ladder, walked into the main cabin and placed a hand over her heart at the sight of Pete Seeger painting hanging there. She said that coming on the Clearwater brought tears to her eyes.

People throughout the valley form a long lasting connection with the Clearwater. Former crew members and volunteers come every year to wake up, swab the deck, teach about the river, and sing Pete Seeger songs at night. Past cooks drop in for dinner and old Captains come back to drive. Whether they work on the Clearwater or live in the Hudson Valley, people seem to feel a everlasting connection to the legacy of Pete Seeger and the continuing work of the Clearwater.

Lucy writes:

In the month preceding this “little adventure,” I lost track of how many times people told me how difficult it would be. In order to keep my land connections alive, I am working a part-time gig in Kingston on my days off the boat. It has been weeks of straight WORK, and I would be lying if I said that this isn’t one of the most challenging things I have ever done.

That being said, I have found myself waking up with a bigger smile and a lot more energy than anticipated. Having professional background in a couple outdoor education/experiential learning programs, it is easy to pick out some of the things that make Clearwater’s programming so unique. Students gain ownership of their learning environment at the very beginning through raising the mainsail together. The traditional Moment of Silence ties students to the river, but also to each other and everyone who has sailed on the Good Sloop and taken in the river before them. And of course, who can forget petting the river’s [arguably] cutest fish, the hogchoker. There is something so very special about all of this.

I imagine myself one day (several years from now, of course) sitting within the four walls of an office and contemplating my time on the Clearwater. As exhausted as I tend to be in the tenth hour of my work day in the here and now, I doubt that this feeling will be what comes to mind. Instead, I know I will celebrate how exhilarating this whole experience has been and will continue to be.



This year, we are yet again increasing the science onboard the sloop. To review, we have a HRECOS sonde onboard taking water quality data (soon to be returning for the 2015 season), and a “fish finder,” also known as a biological echosounder, complete with GPS. This year, we are paying more attention to our fish catch data, recording select fish sizes, rather than just quantities. Education Coordinator, Isaac, has been working on incorporating this information into a stronger science curriculum for high school sails. This program is research based, with the students engaging directly in collecting samples, recording data, and interpreting the results.

Much of this has been in partnership with former Onboard Educator, Maija Niemisto, who is currently working on her Master’s at Stony Brook University on Long Island. Before the sailing season even started, Maija stopped by to show us new Onboard Educators some of her collection procedures and to collect some samples. The big boat wasn’t sailing yet, so we took the small one…

Maija with zooplankton sampling equipment and our intrepid leader, Chris. There was still ice on the River.

Maija with sampling gear and Chris guiding the small boat. There was still ice on the River.

We had a fun adventure out on the cold river, and learned the sampling process. Here’s to a season of science on the river! 

Meet our Spring Education Interns

Gracie and Lucy joined the good sloop as education interns in March. Here is a little about them…


Gracie writes:

It has been a whirlwind of activity on the Clearwater since I joined the crew at the beginning of April. We immediately started prepping the boat for the sailing season and the upcoming coast guard inspection. Between knocking off frost for morning deck wash and taking a field trip to Norrie Point Environmental for crew training, I’ve already learned so much about my floating home and the Hudson River. Once the day’s work has been done, all 12 crew members crowd around the cozy main cabin with a deck of cards, while someone strums a few cords on the boat’s guitar.

I’ve only spent a few weeks on the Clearwater but I already know this will be an unforgettable experience. I recently graduated from the University of Vermont with a B.S. in Wildlife and Fisheries Biology. I am looking forward to this experience. Biology is my passion and education is something new and exciting to me. I can already tell from the people that I have met around the Hudson Valley and on the Clearwater that this will be a truly incredible experience. By the end of my internship on Clearwater, I know I will always have a place in my heart for the river that flows both ways.


Lucy adds:

Finally, some time to sit down! The past few weeks have been some of the busiest I’ve ever experienced. But every sore muscle and lost minute of sleep has been repaid in full by countless moments of joy. From waking up in laughter as a crew member employed the tune “Smelly Cat” to drag our exhausted bodies from slumber, to watching a hardy young Hogchoker swim its way around our tank—I already know that this is one adventure on which I am more than happy to be.

As a transplant to the Hudson River Valley from the San Francisco Bay Area, I have learned so much about this beautiful region; it seems that I am constantly discovering new facts about its teeming ecosystems and rich human histories. As I prepare for starting my masters program in Environmental Policy at Bard in the fall, I can’t begin to express how valuable this experiential learning will be for my studies ahead. Here’s to the next few months of learning, growing, laughing, and living on the good sloop Clearwater!