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Canoeing Through New York City

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11_17_14Student Response (Lower)

11_17_14Student Response (Upper)

As Dave and I paddled down the Hudson River we began to see more and more buildings. The buildings got taller and taller. Trains rumbled down each side of the river. Cars whizzed overhead on bridges. Dave and I looked at each other and he said, “We are a long ways away from the wilderness.” We had entered New York City. Over 8 million people live here.

We decided to take a route around Manhattan Island, turning off of the Hudson River and onto the Harlem River. The Harlem River looped around to the east and south. We only saw a couple of boats on the Harlem River. There was a constant hum of cars driving on either side of the river.

The Harlem River emptied into the East River and we were in the heart of the city. Here, seven people in three canoes met us. They were from the North Brooklyn Boat Club. We were so happy to see them. They escorted us to their boathouse and showed us the sights. It was exciting to see the Empire State Building from the water. We ended our day sitting around an outdoor fire, eating delicious food and telling stories at the boat club.

The next day was one of the most challenging of the expedition. We left early in the morning to catch the outgoing tide, paddling past Manhattan during rush hour. Ferries zoomed back and forth across the East River. People ran along the water’s edge, getting their morning exercise. People on bicycles and in cars rushed to work. We turned on our VHF radio so that we could hear what the ferry captains were saying to each other. We paddled along the side, keeping an eye out for boat wake (waves made from fast-moving boats). We took a minute to admire the Brooklyn Bridge as we passed under it.

Past the tip of Manhattan, we could see One World Trade Center towering above all the other tall buildings. We made our way towards the Liberty Island. We paddled as close as we could get, admiring the Statue of Liberty from the water. This was as close as either of us had ever come to the Lady Liberty. Did you know that the Statue of Liberty was a gift of friendship from the people of France? The statue was dedicated by President Grover Cleveland in 1886. She is a universal symbol of freedom and democracy.

Amy admires the Statue of Liberty from the water.

Amy admires the Statue of Liberty from the water.

Our journey for the day was not done at Liberty Island. We continued on through New York Harbor—passing massive cargo ships tied off to docks. At one point we had to pull over between two large ships at docks as a ship traveled down the tight channel past us. We made our way onto a smaller waterway called Arthur Kill and breathed a sigh of relief. Our trip through New York City was over. It was exciting and fun, but a little scary at the same time. This was a challenging and dangerous place to paddle. We have reached a milestone in our journey. We have just under 20 days to get to Washington D.C.

The post Canoeing Through New York City appeared first on Wilderness Classroom.

The Hudson River Sloop Clearwater

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11_10_14Student Response (Lower)

11_10_14Student Response (Upper)

Dave and I finally made it to the southern end of windy Lake Champlain. From there we paddled on the Champlain Canal to the Hudson River. The canal has a series of dams and locks. It was pretty nice to use the lock system instead of having to portage. On the canal we saw many barges and tug boats. They are working to dredge parts of the river and remove polluted sand and soil. We are now on the Hudson River, making our way down to New York City.

Students decided in last week’s Cast YOUR Vote that we should learn more about the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater. In the 1966 Pete and Toshi Seeger and their organization began to build the Sloop Clearwater. The Clearwater is a sailboat that sails up and down the Hudson River and has worked to clean up the river and teach people about the river. Pete Seeger was a musician, singer and environmentalist. He built the sloop to save the Hudson River. The sloop is a replica of sloops that used to sail the Hudson River in the 18th and 19th centuries. A sloop is a type of sailboat that has one mast with a sail in front and a sail behind the mast. By bringing people to the river, he hoped that people would see how beautiful it is and then want to preserve it.

The Sloop Clearwater sailing south on the Hudson River, past Manhattan's Grant's Tomb and Riverside Church. Image source.

The Sloop Clearwater sailing south on the Hudson River, past Manhattan’s Grant’s Tomb and Riverside Church. Image source.

In the 1960s the Hudson River was more polluted than it is today. Sewage, toxic chemicals and oil polluted the water. Fish had disappeared in many parts of the river. The work of Pete and Toshi Seeger and their organization has definitely had an impact. Many people are working to clean up the Hudson River and it is much cleaner than it was, but it still faces many environmental challenges.

The sloop was completed in 1969 and has sailed the river since. It is 106 feet long. It has been a classroom on the water. It is one of the first boats in the United States to conduct science-based environmental education onboard. Many other environmental education programs have been inspired by the Clearwater. Over half a million people have been on board—getting a close-up look at the Hudson River estuary’s ecosystem.

People are getting onboard the sloop, ready to take an educational tour of the Hudson River. Image source.

People are getting onboard the sloop, ready to take an educational tour of the Hudson River. Image source.

The Clearwater sails up and down the Hudson River from Albany to New York City. It is now at its home port of Kingston, New York. It will stay here for the winter. The sloop needs some maintenance over the winter in order for it to be ready for next year’s sailing season. As we paddle down the river, any time we see a bald eagle or fish, we think of the Sloop Clearwater.

 

Resources:

http://www.clearwater.org/

http://www.clearwater.org/education/

http://www.clearwater.org/education/teacher-resources/

The post The Hudson River Sloop Clearwater appeared first on Wilderness Classroom.

What should we study as we paddle down the Hudson River?

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The Hudson River has a long and interesting history. English Explorer Henry Hudson was the first European to discover the Hudson River when he was looking for a quick passage to China and he sailed along America’s North Atlantic coast in 1609. In the beginning it was described as a wild and inhospitable place with poisonous snakes and thick forests that were too dense to traverse. However, over time the Hudson River became a major transportation route and many industries and cities developed along its banks. The development also brought pollution and over time this wild river and estuary became very polluted. In the 1960’s Pete and Toshi Seeger founded the Hudson River  Sloop Clearwater. The Clearwater is a sailboat that sails up and down the Hudson River and has worked to clean up the river and teach people about the river since 1966. Many people are working to clean up the Hudson River and it is much cleaner than it was, but it still faces many environmental challenges.

With so many thing we could focus on we need you to help us decide what we should study.

Should we focus on the early history and exploration, the Sloop Clearwater or the current state of the Hudson River’s water quality?

Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post's poll.

 

The post What should we study as we paddle down the Hudson River? appeared first on Wilderness Classroom.

Short days, but lots of miles

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The sun set as we paddled in the northern part of Lake Champlain.

The sun set as we paddled in the northern part of Lake Champlain.

It was a little discouraging to realize that it was only 5:00 p.m. yesterday when it started getting dark. We still have hundreds of miles to paddle to get to Washington D.C., but the days are getting shorter and shorter. We usually try not to paddle at night, but with such short days we think that we may have to start paddling in the dark more if we are going to make it to Washington D.C. We are trying to figure out the best way to plan our day. Should we get up really early and start paddling before the sun rises, or would it be better to travel later in the evening after the sun goes down? Maybe you think it is too dangerous to paddle at night and we should avoid it all together.

We are not sure what to do. Please send us your suggestions. How should we structure our day so that we can paddle as far as we have to with a very limited amount of daylight? Is there any special equipment that we should have with us if plan to be on the water when it is dark?

We look forward to your suggestions.

Keep Exploring!

Dave

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