Maritime craft classes at Riverport Wooden Boat School in Kingston

A Riverport Wooden Boat School class in Old World Carving at the Hudson River Maritime Museum in Kingston.

The Hudson River Maritime Museum (HRMM) in Kingston was established nearly 40 years ago to preserve and interpret historical artifacts related to the maritime heritage of the Hudson River and its tributaries. In the years since, the nonprofit has greatly expanded upon its mission, with recent times seeing an increase in new memberships, more visiting vessels and the founding of the Riverport Wooden Boat School in 2015.

The educational programs offered through HRMM include a variety of adult and family programs that promote maritime crafts and disciplines not often taught elsewhere. Most are multi-day workshops, with nautical themes that include boatbuilding, canoe paddle-carving, wooden boat restoration and scrimshaw art, with some offerings teaching related woodworking skills to create a handmade guitar or a Shaker table.


Educational programs are held in the Kingston Home Port and Education Center. According to Sarah Wassberg Johnson, education director of the Riverport Wooden Boat School, the idea for the classes was that of dedicated board members who wanted to take maritime heritage preservation to the next level by preserving craft traditions: “We have a number of board members who are very passionate about woodworking and boatbuilding, and it was the next logical step in our mission of preserving and interpreting the history of the Hudson River.”

Build-your-own guitar class

Classes are organized on a trimester schedule for the most part, with a late-summer/fall session, winter/spring offerings and a late-spring/summer session. But there is always the possibility of last-minute additions to the schedule, says Wassberg Johnson, as instructors occasionally make themselves available at the last minute and a class is organized. “We’re always on the lookout for new instructors and new classes,” she says, “and people are welcome to make requests for classes they’d like us to offer, too.”

The scrimshaw art class offered last year for the first time was so well-received that the Riverport Wooden Boat School will be offering a series of different scrimshaw workshops this season with instructor Anna Landewe, Saugerties Lighthouse-keeper and artist who has been doing scrimshaw work on a variety of surfaces for years. She was tapped as an instructor after taking one of the woodworking classes at the site, says Wassberg Johnson, and it turned out that she had this rare nautical skill to offer others.

One of the core instructors at HRMM is Michael Puryear, a furniture-maker, studio designer and experienced teacher who has built a number of small wooden craft. In addition to his courses teaching foundational woodworking skills, he’ll offer a unique family-oriented class later this year in which up to four members of a family will be guided in working together to build their own Echo Bay Dory: a lightweight, car-toppable skiff, easy to row or sail, that can be built from a kit within a week. (The minimum age for participants is eight.)

Puryear is also going to teach a new class in July on making a skateboard, and Wassberg Johnson says that they’re working with another instructor developing a course on sewing sailbags out of recycled sails. There are also maritime-themed art classes in the works, and sailing- and boating-instructor classes through a partnership with the US Sailing Association.

Classes are kept small, with six to 12 participants in each. And as more people are finding out about the workshops, they’re beginning to fill up earlier. The best plan for those interested in enrolling is to keep checking the website. Wassberg Johnson says that she’ll be posting new classes over the next few weeks, and that the schedule is always subject to additions. Questions may be directed to her by calling (845) 338-0071, extension 16, or e-mailing

Riverport Wooden Boat School, Hudson River Maritime Museum, 50 Rondout Landing, Kingston; (845) 338-0071, extension 16,

Boys and girls can become Sea Scouts

The Hudson River Maritime Museum has revived the tradition of Sea Scouting. The maritime arm of the Boy Scouts of America is open to males and females aged 13 to 21. The group promotes citizenship and bonding experiences through instruction and practice in water safety, boating skills, service experiences and knowledge of maritime history. Established in 1912, the Sea Scout units (called “ships” rather than “troops”) are found nationwide.

Scout Ship 609, headquartered at the Hudson River Maritime Museum, has the use of a donated 27-foot Pearson sailboat, according to the site’s education director, Sarah Wassberg Johnson. For more information about the program, visit

Knot-tying workshop on Saturday at Maritime Museum

The Hudson River Maritime Museum (HRMM) at 50 Rondout Landing in Kingston will host an afternoon of crafting for adults on Saturday, February 17 from 3 to 6 p.m. Participants attending “Tie the Knot with HRMM” will learn various nautical knots and leave with a handmade necklace, bracelet or keychain. The cost is $35, which includes a lunch of wine and beer, chili and mac-and-cheese along with a complimentary individual membership to the museum. Current members are encouraged to gift their membership to a friend. Children are welcome, and kids under age 12 are admitted free. Tickets are available at