Maritime Museum Offers Spooky Lantern Cruises
Enjoy local legends and lore out on the Hudson River and Rondout Creek
KINGSTON, N.Y. – Hudson River Maritime Museum is offering local tales of legends and lore aboard Solaris on Friday and Saturday evenings throughout October. Passengers will explore the Hudson River and Rondout Creek by searchlight and listen to legends and lore of the Hudson River from the pages of Washington Irving or straight from newspaper headlines of centuries past. Guides will share stories including the tale of the serpent of the Hudson River, the terrible crime of William Salisbury, and Rondout's barge graveyard. Tickets range from $20-$25 and all proceeds support the museum’s educational programs.
Solaris is the museum's 100% solar-powered tour boat and floating classroom. The boat was built on campus at the Wooden Boat School and is the only solar-powered boat in operation on the Hudson River. This quiet vessel does not require any fossil fuels to operate. The lantern cruises are part of over a dozen themed tours happening this season, including visits to local shipwrecks, Indigenous history events, and trips to the Rondout Lighthouse.
All boat tickets include general admission to the museum, open Thursday-Sunday, 11 am to 5 pm. This event is one of over a dozen themed boat tours happening on the Rondout Creek and Hudson River this season. Find details and a calendar at www.solarboattours.org or call 845-338-0071.
This story is a guest post from Kingston resident and museum member and volunteer Nelsie Aybar-Grau of The Rondout Rower. We’re excited to share Nelsie’s experience building an Annapolis Wherry Tandem at Chesapeake Light Craft in Annapolis, MD. HRMM's Wooden Boat School offers boat building courses as well as introductory woodworking classes and wooden vessel restoration services. Boat building is a tradition with deep roots in the Hudson Valley’s harbors and ports and we thank Nelsie for sharing her story!
Building Your Own Small Craft - Why I Built a Tandem Wherry
By Nelsie Aybar-Grau
Never in my life had I EVER thought I would build my own boat. If you would have told me that at the age of 72 I would build an Annapolis Wherry Tandem at Chesapeake Light Craft in Annapolis, MD, I would have told you that “you’ve lost your mind!”
But that’s exactly what I did. In five days! (minus finishing which I am still doing now).
It is a long road that led me to this. It started at the Hudson River Maritime Museum. When I was president of the Rondout Rowing Club I was asked to help out with the YouthBoat project where a group of students where taught woodworking skills. As part of the course we would take the students out on a traditional wooden boat, a Whitehall named John Magnus, so that they would learn to row a boat on the Rondout Creek. The John Magnus is a replica of the Whitehall design built by members of the Floating the Apple not-for-profit in New York City.
Because of this I became interested in the very long history of the origins of the Whitehall. There is very little information on the Whitehall but I got my hands on a copy of the book Building Classic Small Craft (copyright 1977) by John Gardner which had a couple of chapters on it. It is believed that the basic design of the Whitehall was preceded by the Thames river wherries used by London watermen to provide taxi service.
A Whitehall gig, which is the slightly longer version of the London wherry is 25 ft in length, requiring four rowers and a coxswain for a crew of five. For me, it resembled the “4+” crew boats that I used in the Rondout Rowing Club.
When I began my own business of teaching sculling with my own crew training boats I found I needed a boat permitting two scullers (sculling is rowing with two oars, one in each hand). So I began looking everywhere for a modern wherry because I felt that it would be safe on the Hudson River as well as the Rondout Creek.
I soon found that such a boat was out of my price range…… unless I built it myself. What I kept remembering was Gardner explained how boatbuilding in bygone years was done by everyone who needed a boat to do some sort of work on local waterways. Back in the day when there were no boat manufacturers people did what they could and over many, many years the designs improved until you had a boat like the wherry. It was famous for its speed and stability. “Fast, seaworthy, trim” and “reliable, expeditious” were terms frequently attributed to the wherry.
Using Google, of course, I searched for a way to get my hands on a tandem (two seater) wherry and came upon the kits manufactured by Chesapeake Lightcraft in Annapolis, Maryland. They had a design they had been honing for 20 years. Their aim became to allow someone to build a boat in a week. Although not perfect, they worked hard at making sure that anyone with the least amount of experience could build a wherry with their kits in five days. A very ambitious plan and very well executed. The kit comes with a manual that one can follow individually or under the supervision of an instructor. The wood used in the kits is is plantation grown African marine plywood --- okoume, to be precise. The lightest weight plywood you can find.
Not having a workshop AND not having the wherewithal to do this on my own I decided to go for the instructor-led course. Because I chose the tandem (double) and not the single, they told me I would have to have a partner. I had nobody to help me but on a whim I invited an old friend who I knew dabbled in woodworking, John Wilder. Neither of us were totally convinced we could actually do this, but if Chesapeake Light Craft did not balk at our skill level or our age, we figured we would take the plunge. It was a risk we wanted to take. And this was during the COVID pandemic!
It’s pretty hot in Annapolis in the summer. In July it gets up into the 100+ temps and being in a workshop for 8 hours a day (minimum) was exhausting. It’s no small feat to build a boat in five days! We hit the ground running. As soon as we were given instructions we set to the tasks at hand each hour, each day, relentlessly. We did have a lunch break but pretty much we worked continuously. You really had to if you wanted to take that boat home on the final day!
It was mind-boggling to watch the planks of wood we prepped and stitched together with copper wire become a navigable vessel. It went from looking like a Flamenco dancer’s fan to a trim boat within hours.
I am not a very crafty person. OK, I had put together a piece of furniture or put up shelving in my house, but I did not know much about how to use a sander, a plane, a rasp…. The doing of it is the learning. By the end of the week I knew what “puzzle joints” are, what a scarf is, what “denatured alcohol” is (and the secret tip), how and when to sand, what level of grit paper to use, how to mix epoxy and hardener, when to use “fillet” (epoxy mixed with wood dust) or not, how to handle fiberglass. How to remove epoxy (note: epoxy cannot be removed, so don’t let it land on a spot you don’t want it to be unless you are committed to hours, no days!, of sanding.)
Curiously (and somewhat disappointing) I have found that most rowers are not boat builders---they just want to row. And most boat builders are not rowers---they just want to build small craft.
In Kingston I think boat builders should learn to row and I think rowers should get into boat building ---especially since there are courses being given at the Hudson River Maritime Museum’s Wooden Boat School!
Conference on Black History in the Hudson Valley
October 2, 2021 in-person at SUNY Ulster and virtual via Zoom
KINGSTON, N.Y. – The Hudson River Maritime Museum, The Library at the A.J. Williams-Myers African Roots Center, TMI Project's Black Stories Matter, the Underground Railroad Education Center, and the Harambee Coalition and Pine Street African Burial Ground are proud to host the 2021 Conference on Black History in the Hudson Valley, to be held Saturday, October 2, 2021 at SUNY Ulster in Stone Ridge, NY. The conference will be available for a limited number of attendees in-person, and will be simultaneously broadcast virtually via Zoom.
The all-day conference features twelve presenters on four panels with topics including the role of the Black church, voting rights, the Underground Railroad, Jim Crow, the arts, Green Books, interpretation at area museums, and more, plus a roundtable discussion, and a program remembering Dr. A.J. Williams-Myers, a leader in Hudson Valley Black history research and education. Keynote speakers include Dr. Myra Young Armstead, Vice President for Academic Inclusive Excellence; Lyford Paterson Edwards and Helen Gray Edwards Professor of Historical Studies, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY and Lavada Nahon, Interpreter of African American History, New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation.
This conference is open to everyone. The fee to attend is $30/person for in-person and $15/household for virtual access. For more information and to register, visit www.hrmm.org/black-history-conference.
This conference has the generous support of the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area, the Mid-Hudson Antislavery History Project, individual donors, and others. SUNY Ulster is the conference facilities sponsor.
The Hudson River Maritime Museum is dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of the maritime history of the Hudson River, its tributaries and related industries. In addition to extensive collections documenting maritime transportation, industry, recreation, and natural science, the museum offers classes and programs at its Wooden Boat School, Sailing and Rowing School, and aboard Solaris, the 100% solar powered tour boat and floating classroom. The museum is located along the historic Rondout waterfront in downtown Kingston. Visit www.hrmm.org for more information.
The Library at the A.J. Williams-Myers African Roots Center promotes literacy through teaching and learning about the African roots experience, including history and culture, through a dynamic exchange of information, ideas, and creativity. Learn more at www.africanrootslibrary.org.
TMI Project's mission is to help craft and amplify radically true stories to ignite human connection, challenge the status quo, and inspire both storytellers and listeners to take action for positive social change. Black Stories Matter provides Black-led true storytelling workshops where Black folks can write about, share, and reflect upon their experiences without having to justify, explain, or defend the truth of their lived experiences. The culminating content -- written stories, live storytelling performances, videos, and podcasts -- is accessible to an all-inclusive audience. We pair our storytelling media with strategic tools to inspire deep introspection, a willingness to transform oneself and take bold action to end systemic racism. Learn more at www.tmiproject.org/blackstoriesmatter.
The Underground Railroad Education Center researches and preserves the local and national history of the Underground Railroad movement, its international connections, and its legacy for today’s social justice issues, thereby empowering people of all ages to be agents of change toward an equitable and just society. Learn more at www.undergroundrailroadhistory.org.
Harambee a mid-Hudson valley coalition that supports and promotes the strength of our community through cultural and educational events that enriches the lives of youth and adults. Harambee also cares for and manages the Pine Street African Burial Ground. Learn more at www.harambeekingstonny.org.
Undated photo of Steamer Mary Powell crew posing on deck with Captain A.E. Anderson, center front row with newspaper. 1st row: Fannie Anthony stewardess; 4th from left, Pilot Hiram Briggs; 5th, Capt. A.E. Anderson (with paper); 6th Purser Joseph Reynolds, Jr. Standing, 3rd from left: Barber (with bow tie). Black men at right possibly stewards. Donald C. Ringwald collection, Hudson River Maritime Museum.
Hudson River Maritime Museum
50 Rondout Landing
Kingston, NY 12401
The Hudson River Maritime Museum is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of the maritime history of the Hudson River, its tributaries, and related industries.
Become a member and receive benefits like unlimited free museum admission, discounts on classes, programs, and in the museum store, plus invitations to members-only events.
The Hudson River Maritime Museum receives no federal, state, or municipal funding except through competitive, project-based grants. Your donation helps support our mission of education and preservation.