Clearwater’s first voyage of the year

The Hudson River sloop Clearwater sweeping past the Kingston lighthouse last Sunday afternoon. (photo by Dion Ogust)

It was a soul-stirring moment early last Sunday morning when the majestic Hudson River Sloop Clearwater emerged from its homeport on the Rondout Creek for its first sail of the 2020 season.  May 17 marked the 51st anniversary of its launch, “Clearwater will again raise its sails to inspire hope and solidarity, this time in the face of a global pandemic,” said the organization’s website. “The event will stream live on the organization’s Facebook page ….”

The organization has launched a virtual field-trip initiative this year, helping students access the river, interact with educators and explore the sloop while quarantined at home. “Raising our sails right now is a small way we can share a moment of beauty with everyone struggling with the current crisis,” said education director Erik Fyfe in a press release, “and hopefully provide a glimmer of hope that we will get through this together.”


Clearwater captain Amy Nelson and crew have been quarantined together as a family unit onboard the sloop since early March, preparing the boat to sail, producing YouTube videos showcasing life onboard the sloop, and helping deliver meals and volunteering at a local farm.

Clearwater got underway from the Hudson River Maritime Museum, exited Rondout Creek, set its sails, sailed past Kingston Point across the Hudson past Rhinecliff Landing, and returned to its berth alongside the dock at the Hudson River Maritime Museum, which is dedicated to preserving the maritime history of the Hudson River.

Of the many rites of spring in the Hudson Valley, none is more inspiring.