Monday, May 12, 2014

We need to do better

I just completed my sixth volunteer week on the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, and it was, once again, a magnificent week working, teaching, and living on board. The sloop is a magical place and the staff, crew and volunteers do magical things.

What's disturbing is not the sloop or the crew or the program. It's the waterfront infrastructure that Clearwater needs to fulfill its mission.

Last week, Clearwater tied alongside three piers, each with its own issues:

New York City, 79th Street Boat Basin - During its season, Clearwater no doubt spends more time at the Boat Basin than elsewhere, as that's where most of the school groups it carries live. It's a good, convenient place to tie up, but naturally, there are "issues." Twice over the course of four days, we were told we needed to move, because a boat was coming in and needed the dock we were on. The first came just for dinner, and surely would have fit without our moving. We'd have been happy to help with their lines. The second didn't show up at all. Of course, there's the ongoing issue of the Boat Basin staff needing to walk about 30 feet to open the gate for the Clearwater crew if they ring the gate bell instead of calling someone on board. Lastly, it's sad to see the sloop so isolated from the public, behind locked iron gates. New York City can do better.

Piermont, NY - Clearwater ties to a concrete pier there, which at one time was faces with a heavy duty wood face. Sadly, the wood is gone but the giant spikes that once held it in place are still there. Large truck tires provided protection but now most of those are missing, too. Piermont can do better.

Yonkers, NY - The area around the Yonkers pier has gentrified and the pier itself is in great shape. We tied along a floating dock that had been taken over by assorted sea birds and perhaps hadn't been cleaned, well, ever. Yonkers can do better.

We all love our tall ships. We need to do better.