Ship boat

‘Radical’ ship ‘to save the river’ has big impact in Brooklyn

The iconic Hudson River sloop Clearwater, founded by folk musician and eco-activist Pete Seeger, visited ONE°15 Brooklyn Marina last Sunday. Photo: Mary Frost, Brooklyn Eagle

The iconic Hudson River Clearwater Sloopfounded 53 years ago by folk musician and eco-activist Pete Seeger, visited ONE°15 Brooklyn Marina last Sunday as part of the marina’s Community Sail Days program.

In the 1960s, the Hudson River was dirty, and Seeger came up with a “radical” idea. “We are going to build a boat to save the river,” he said. Seeger modeled his 106ft sloop, which was launched in 1969, after the Dutch cargo ships that once sailed the Hudson River.

“The reason Pete Seeger started this organization was because when he looked out the window at Beacon, he was very unhappy with the state of the river,” Clearwater First Lieutenant Fredi Guevara-Prip said. at the Brooklyn Eagle.

“At that time, the Clean Water Act had not yet passed,” she said. “There have been crazy stories. There was a big car paint factory up north and people said you could tell what color the cars were painted that day by the color of the river.

“One of the very big contributors to the pollution of the Hudson River was GE,” she added. “They were throw away a lot of PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) in the Hudson” at Fort Edward and Hudson Falls.

Clearwater First Mate Fredi Guevara-Prip shows visitors a blue crab caught in a net in the East River. Photo: Mary Frost, Brooklyn Eagle

“So Seeger toured the Hudson Valley with his musician friends, playing music and raising money to build the boat to save the river,” she said.

In 1970, the Clearwater set sail from New York to Washington, DC to participate in the first-ever Earth Day celebration. Seeger’s music accompanied a slide show that was shown in Congress, comparing images of the pristine Hudson of the 1850s with the polluted river of 1970.

“It was a really big turning point,” Guevara-Prip said. The Clearwater campaign was a major contributor to the passage of the Clean Water Act.

“The Hudson is now clean enough to swim in – almost every day,” she said. (Boat traffic and the strong current, however, make swimming in the Hudson a risky idea.)

While many thought the Environmental Protection Agency’s mandate to protect air and water was settled law, a June 30 Supreme Court decision weakening the EPA showed that the Clearwater has always an important mission, Guevara-Prip said.

” This decision cripples our nation’s ability climate goals required to avoid the worst impacts of climate change,” the organization said on Twitter.

The Clearwater crew left to right: Robin Henrikson, Emily Lima, Zoe Newman Sachs, First Mate Fredi Guevara-Prip, Captain Johnny Davenport, Avishai Zinder, Zara Misra Lall (front), Lillian Kiser Taylor (rear).
Photo: Mary Frost, Brooklyn Eagle

Train the next generation

Seeger died in 2014 at the age of 94, but Clearwater continues to advocate for the environment and educate the next generation. The organization sponsors environmental research, hosts musicians and sailors, and conducts a variety of educational workshops on the Hudson. Clearwater’s Great Hudson Revival music festival in Croton Point is a highlight of the year.

Many crew members are college or even high school students. Saint Ann’s rising senior, Prospect Heights resident Zoe Newman Sachs, is the social media educational deckhand, which is a paid crew position.

The iconic Hudson River sloop Clearwater, founded by folk musician and eco-activist Pete Seeger, visited ONE°15 Brooklyn Marina last Sunday. Photo: Mary Frost, Brooklyn Eagle

“This is my second year on board,” she said. “Last year I applied and got the job, and since then it’s been great.” The Clearwater was built on social activism, she said. “There’s a huge artistic and social community here – a lot of rebellion and that’s great.”

Bridget Goldberg, from Cold Spring, New York, studies biology at the University of Vermont. She joined the crew of the Clearwater for the summer.

“It was a good opportunity to explore the teaching side of biology,” she said. “I have been a crew member for about two months and I am a sailing trainee. I have never sailed before arriving on this boat, and they teach me practically everything.

She loves sailing, she told the Eagle. “It’s really nice. Especially on days like today — it’s amazing and it’s beautiful.

Relief Captain Johnny Davenport was on hand for deck tours and to take the helm for the evening sailing.

“Most of the time we try to connect people to the Hudson River, but we want to give people a connection to all of our waterways, so today it’s a little more New York Harbor and the East River,” he said. .

“People come as musicians, as environmental educators, they come as scientists, they come as sailors, and it’s a really nice fusion of people who come to work here,” Guevara said. Prip.

Visitors to the Clearwater have learned why this small flatfish is called a “hogchoker”. Photo: Mary Frost, Brooklyn Eagle

Learn more about hogchokers

On Sunday, visitors toured the ship, met the crew and learned about the ecology of the river. The crew had caught a blue crab and a small flatfish called a “hogchoker” in the waters off the marina.

“Hogchokers are very abundant in the Hudson River. I like to call them the Hudson River mat because they line the bottom,” Guevara-Prip explained. Small fish have two eyes on top of their heads, like dabs.

At the time, fishermen sold them to farmers and farmers fed them to their animals, she said. “But the problem with hogchokers is that their scale pattern is rough in one direction and smooth in the other. So when they gave them to the pigs, if they swallowed them the wrong way, from tail to head, they would choke. That’s why they call them hogchokers.

Clearwater’s first mate, Fredi Guevara-Prip. Photo: Mary Frost, Brooklyn Eagle

Community Sail Days at ONE°15 Brooklyn Marina

The event was part of ONE°15 Brooklyn Marina community outreach program, where volunteer marina skippers and crew bring the art of sailing to the community.

“It is an honor to work with Clearwater and do our small part in donating the dockage as they carry on the legacy of the late great Pete Seeger and fight climate change head on,” said Dockmaster Sam Barrett -Cotter from ONE15 to the Eagle.

“Amali [Knobloch] and the Clearwater crew were kind enough to let us invite our friends and family to visit the sloop, including our co-host of our Green Drinks networking series, Ramon Cruz from the Sierra Club, as well as children from the community, who particularly appreciated the giant fist engraved at the end of the helm of the boat! So it’s nice to bring together people who care about the environment and we’re just thrilled to be able to bring them to Brooklyn.

He added, “We look forward to seeing them again in a few months for our Fall Community Sailing Days program.”

Bridget Goldberg, from Cold Spring, New York, studies biology at the University of Vermont. She joined the crew of the Clearwater for the summer. Photo: Mary Frost, Brooklyn Eagle