The Village Community Boathouse (VCB), an all-volunteer non-profit located on Pier 40 in Hudson River Park, is pleased to announce the upcoming launch of a new 27-foot Whitehall gig named after Pete Seeger, the celebrated folk singer and clean-water activist who died last winter at age 94. The public is invited to a short christening ceremony at noon on Sunday September 14, followed by a free community rowing session open to all. As part of the launch, and afterward, musicians Jeff Turrentine, Lenny Fox and Brendan Malone will perform and lead sing-alongs featuring a number of Seeger’s best-known songs.
Whitehall gigs are long wooden rowing boats whose lines are based on those of traditional 19th-century New York Harbor watercraft. Built by students and community volunteers, powered by four oars, and steered by an experienced coxswain (or skipper), they are “zero-carbon-footprint” vessels perfect for exploring our region’s largest public commons: its harbor and estuary. Pete Seeger was familiar with these boats, and once rowed in one on a 1999 visit to Pier 40, and his organizing and boatbuilding endeavors (including the sloop Clearwater) have been a tremendous inspiration for VCB members. An annual boathouse tradition is to row 35 miles up the Hudson to Croton Point Park for the Clearwater Festival, where we also offer free public rowing sessions.
Pete Seeger will join a family of about 30 similar Whitehall gigs built and housed by a half dozen boating organizations in New York City, up the Hudson, and around New England. In the spirit of maritime hospitality and friendship, groups cooperate for racing and other events.
VCB was formed in 2007 with the mission of expanding public access to our urban waterways, introducing the public, especially young people, to the joys of rowing and sailing, and advancing the environmental stewardship of the estuary. From April to November we offer free community rowing, as well as high school and college programming, in both Manhattan and Brooklyn. Over the winter, we offer free community and student boatbuilding programs. New volunteers and participants are always welcome!
For more information and/or directions to the boathouse, visit our website (www.villagecommunityboathouse.org)