Row Around Manhattan 2023

by Deborah Clearman

Thank you to everyone who donated to our Row Around Manhattan on September 16. Despite forecasts of high winds and storm surges, 45 voyagers set out in eight boats from Pier 40 at dawn last Saturday, expecting a sea of whitecaps. Fortunately, Hurricane Lee held off and cool weather made for ideal rowing conditions, with very little boat traffic on the East River. Three members of my crew were from Open Water Rowing at Hull Lifesaving Museum outside of Boston, making their first circumnavigation of Manhattan–and for one, her first trip to New York City. They enjoyed seeing the city from a unique perspective, very different from coastal New England. They were also powerful rowers and our boat Notorious led the pack. 

We were greeted at Halletts Cove in Queens by the kayakers of LIC Community Boathouse—enough room on the tiny beach for all! The sun came out as we rowed up the Harlem River and ducked under the Spuyten Duyvil rail bridge. With the northwest wind at our backs, we sailed down the Hudson and made it home to Pier 40 ahead of schedule. 

We’re proud to have made our $10,000 fundraising goal—a first for the RAM. This includes nearly $2,000 for our high school rowers—a program that introduces young people to rowing, teamwork, and environmental stewardship at a key point in their lives. If you haven’t contributed yet, it’s not too late. You may go here to my fundraising page. Every bit helps!

Once again, a huge thanks to all for your support. Free public rowing continues every Sunday at noon at Pier 40 as long as weather permits, usually well into November. Come row with us!

Boatbuilding update: Our American Star

By Lorne Swarthout

The VCB boatbuilding program is starting up again following a short summer recess. After a fair amount of discussion, the Board has given the go-ahead to build a replica of the American Star. The photos show a west coast version of this boat.

This is a 27′ racing gig (a bit longer, narrower, and lighter than our Whitehalls) which is modeled on a famous 19th-century rowboat. Building it should keep us busy for at least nine months. Busy, and I should add, happy!

Open boatbuilding sessions will be Wednesday and Sunday afternoons, from noon to 4:00. Everyone is welcome, no notice is necessary. But if you can text me ahead of time to tell me you are coming it will help me to plan out the work.

Starting tomorrow we will begin laying out the strongback and drawing the molds over which our new boat will be built.  

Orchid Boat Launch

By Lorne Swarthout

Today the 8′ floating flower pot that we have been affectionately calling our Orchid Boat was collected by its owners. In a couple of weeks it will be filled with orchids and float on one of the ponds at the Queens Botanical Garden as part of their upcoming “Taiwan: A World of Orchids” exhibit.

Exhibit director Wei Du had the idea for an orchid boat modeled on a Taiwanese fishing craft, and he found us after a short Google search for “boatbuilders.” Andrew and I went out to Flushing to see him. It looked to be a straightforward project, we had time, a price was agreed on, and we got to work. We did our best to imitate a couple of photos of actual Taiwanese fishing boats. The result was a very elementary shape with a very exotic paint pattern.

We hope our Orchid Boat enhances the QBG show (and doesn’t upstage the orchids!) Anyone wishing to see this rare collection should plan to get out to Queens the weekend of August 11, 12 and 13. 

The Orchid boat filled with flowers at the Queens Botanical Garden, its final destination

The Orchid boat looks beautiful as a planter

Row Around Manhattan September 16 * Dawn to Dusk

Every year, the Village Community Boathouse mobilizes its fleet of traditional wooden rowing craft to raise money for VCB’s free public rowing and boatbuilding programs. Join us!

The Row Around Manhattan (RAM) is a challenging and incredibly scenic 30-mile circumnavigation that begins at dawn on Pier 40 and ends at dusk with a spectacular party back at the boathouse.

Row Around Manhattan—Saturday, September 16: Dawn to dusk. Experienced rowers only. You must register in advance HERE and raise money for VCB.

Contact Us:

Email: [email protected]