Maritime Museum Recognizes Wooden Boat School Volunteer Mike Sadowy, 89
Mike’s contributions ensure a future for maritime craft and history
KINGSTON, N.Y. – This month the Hudson River Maritime Museum recognized long-time volunteer Mike Sadowy, 89. Mike is a member of the team at the museum’s Wooden Boat School, as well as a founding member of the site when it began offering classes in 2015. Mike was also an integral part of launching the museum’s traditional rowing classes, offering people an opportunity to experience this sport which plays an important part in the history of our region’s working waterfronts.
Mike's affiliation with the museum began in the early 1990s. He was in care of the John Magnus, a wooden Whitehall replica rowboat, which was stored on a dolly at a nearby property. He would walk the boat over to the museum whenever the museum had an outdoor event. He would try to rally enthusiasm in open-boat "gig" rowing, and on occasion, he would gather enough people to go rowing. It wasn't until formation of the museum’s Wooden Boat School that Mike could see his efforts come to fruition.
On Thursday, June 3, 2021 staff and fellow volunteers celebrated with Mike during a potluck lunch at the Wooden Boat School. Many volunteers had not seen each other in over a year due to COVID. After lunch Mike and the team were able to re-launch the John Magnus into the Rondout Creek for an afternoon row. At the volunteer party, Mike recounted the story of building the John Magnus in the early 1990s. The project came to life thanks to NYC-based nonprofit Floating the Apple which promotes open water rowing and racing throughout the Northeast. The Whitehall boat style is known for balance and speed, its design being perfected since its origins in 1600s England. The boat was constructed within a storefront in Times Square. After removing a window in order to extricate the newly-built vessel from the building, the team paraded the boat down 42nd Street to celebrate its completion and draw attention to the art of traditional boat building. In the 1990s, Mike was a member of the Magnus crew that sailed and rowed the boat upriver from New York City to Albany. The boat has lived at the museum for a number of years and received a fresh coat of paint by volunteers during a fleet maintenance session in April.
Mike brought many life experiences to his work at the museum. He lived in New York City where he worked as a civil engineer on Port Authority projects like airports, Hudson River tunnels, and the George Washington Bridge. He served in the U.S. Army 10th Mountain Division, known commonly as the Ski Troops, during the Korean War. In the early 1950s Mike came north to Ulster County’s Shawangunk Mountains where he was part of the early mountain climbing movement, as well as a member of the Appalachian Mountain Club which is dedicated to the protection, enjoyment, and understanding of the outdoors. Mike lives in Poughkeepsie and High Falls.
Mike was part of the launch of the museum’s YouthBoat program which connects youth students with skilled shipwrights and craftspeople to learn the traditional boatbuilding process. YouthBoat offers a daytime program for Ulster BOCES students, as well as after-school sessions for students at Hudson Valley high schools. Participants put STEM skills to work as they follow vessel building plans and familiarize themselves with industry tools and materials. Once a boat is completed, students move their vessel to the Rondout Creek for a row. Observers have found the program to be a model for experiential learning.
Youth woodworking sessions continue at the museum this year and will include a program for young adults in which groups of six students will learn joinery and teamwork as they construct a wooden tool box. Also happening is a combination woodworking/sailing class that begins with a boat building introduction followed by sailing lessons.
In the past year, Mike has turned his attention to cataloguing the school’s library which offers a wealth of knowledge that few have seen. The collection can be found online at www.librarything.com/catalog/RWBS . Mike’s dedication to the project helps readers reach hundreds of hard-to-find and out-of-print publications on a wide range of maritime and boat-building topics including boat construction, tool making, and canvas working.
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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.
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