Hudson River Sloop Clearwater

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Sloop Clearwater3 - Photo by Anthony Pepitone.jpg
Sloop Clearwater sailing up the Hudson River
Career (United States) United States
Name: Clearwater
Builder: Harvey Gamage Shipyard, South Bristol, Maine
Laid down: October, 1968
Launched: May 17, 1969
General characteristics
Length: 106 ft (32 m) overall
Beam: 25 ft (7.6 m)
Draft: 8 ft (2.4 m)
Propulsion: sails; auxiliary engine
Sail plan: mainsail, main topsail, jib
Notes: 4305 sq ft. (387.5 m²) total sail area
The Clearwater
Location Beacon, New York
Built 1968
Architect Hamlin, Cyrus; Gamage, Harvey Shipyard
Governing body Private
NRHP Reference # 04000376[1]
Added to NRHP May 4, 2004

The Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, Inc. is an organization based in Beacon, New York that seeks to protect the Hudson River and surrounding wetlands and waterways through advocacy and public education. Founded by folk singer Pete Seeger with his wife Toshi Seeger in 1966, the organization is known for its sailing vessel, the sloop Clearwater, and for its annual music and environmental festival, the Great Hudson River Revival.


In 1969, the Clearwater made her maiden voyage down the Atlantic Coast from the Harvey Gamage Shipyard in Maine to the South Street Seaport in New York City.[2] Folk musician Tom Winslow wrote a folk music song, "Hey Looka Yonder (It's the Clearwater)", in which the lyrics specifically mention the fundraising efforts for the sloop, and how "black and white" people got together for this program.[3][4][5]

Based for many years in Poughkeepsie, New York, the Clearwater moved to Beacon, New York in 2009.

Environmental Advocacy[edit]

Clearwater has gained national recognition for its activism starting in the 1970s to force a clean-up of PCB contamination of the Hudson River caused by industrial manufacturing by General Electric and other companies on the river's edge. Other specific Hudson watershed issues with which Clearwater is concerned are development pressures in the southern half of the Hudson Valley, pesticide runoff, the Manhattan west side waterfront, Indian Point nuclear reactors, and New York/New Jersey Harbor dredge spoil disposal. Clearwater has gained worldwide recognition for its leadership in helping to pass landmark environmental laws, both state and federal, including the Clean Water Act.[citation needed] Clearwater played a key role in the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) decision to compel one of the Hudson River’s biggest polluters to begin removing toxic PCBs from the water and restoring one of the most polluted portions of the river.[6]

In 2002, Pete Seeger was named a "Clean Water Hero" for his prominent efforts in the passage of the Clean Water Act.[7] His tireless devotion to working through Clearwater and promoting its message to effectively use the law in prosecuting polluters of America’s waterways has made the Clean Water Act one of the most successful environmental laws in the country.[8]

The EPA said after Seeger's death in 2014 that "the incredible work" of Seeger and the Clearwater organization helped make the Hudson River cleaner. "His leadership was extraordinary," regional Administrator Judith A. Enck told United Press International.[9]

Environmental Education[edit]

Clearwater docked near Poughkeepsie Bridge for local festival

Clearwater's environmental education programs are intended to heighten public awareness of the Hudson River's unique ecosystem that blends freshwater streams from the Adirondack Mountains with the salt tides of the Atlantic Ocean around New York City.

For the early part of each sailing season Clearwater regularly charters the schooner Mystic Whaler, a privately owned passenger schooner, to present Clearwater's education program to more schools. Mystic Whaler is a traditionally rigged 110-foot (34 m) schooner, built in 1967 as a tribute to the coastal trading schooners that plied New England's waters over a century ago.[10]

Sailing mostly on the Hudson River between New York City and Albany, New York, these vessels are used primarily to offer environmental and biological education programs to school groups, touching on river biology, environmental protection of waterways and related topics.[11] Both vessels also offer sails for Clearwater members and the general public, as well as private charters.

In addition to the professional crew, Clearwater offers opportunities for people to sail as volunteer crew for one week periods or as an intern/apprentice for up to two months to learn sailing, environmental education and assist with vessel maintenance.

Music and Festivals[edit]

One of the organization's biggest fundraisers is its annual music and environmental festival, the Clearwater Festival. Officially known as the "Great Hudson River Revival," it is America’s oldest and largest annual festival of its kind. The weekend-long festival has been held each June for over three decades, with attendances of up to 15,000 people. The festival raises funds and consciousness on the plight of the river and the earth. All proceeds go directly to support Clearwater’s environmental research, education and advocacy to help preserve and protect the Hudson River and its tributaries, as well as communities in the river valley. Music ranges from Blues to Rock, Reggae to Salsa, Bluegrass to Jazz, and Funk to Folk.[12][13]

The Sloop Clearwater[edit]

Clearwater sailing south, past Manhattan's Grant's Tomb and Riverside Church

Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, Inc. owns and operates the sloop Clearwater, the centerpiece of Clearwater’s public education programs. Clearwater serves as a movable classroom, laboratory, stage, and forum.

The Clearwater is a 106-foot (32 m) wooden sailing vessel designed after 18th and 19th century Dutch sailing sloops. With a large gaff rig, a hinged centerboard, and wide shallow hull, these vessels evolved to deal with the challenges of strong tides, shallow waters, and variable winds encountered on the Hudson River. Designed by Cy Hamlin and built by The Harvey Gamage Shipyard in South Bristol, Maine, Clearwater was launched in 1969. Built of traditional plank-on-frame wooden construction, the sloop is 75 feet (23 m) in length on deck, 25 feet (7.6 m) in beam and can hold up to 70 tons of cargo. The sloop rig consists of a single mast and topmast which together rise to a height of 108 feet (33 m). A 65-foot (20 m) long main boom and 45-foot (14 m) gaff carry a 3,000-square-foot (280 m2) mainsail. A 28-foot (8.5 m) long bowsprit carries a 900-square-foot (84 m2) jib on the foredeck. In light wind, a 450-square-foot (42 m2) topsail may also be raised.[14]

In 2004, the sloop Clearwater was listed on the National Register of Historic Places for her significance to the environmental movement. The Clearwater has a smaller sister ship, the Sloop Woody Guthrie, that is used in education about the river.[15]

In 2012, Pete Seeger and Lorre Wyatt released the music video and single "God's Counting on Me, God's Counting on You", which they recorded and filmed on the "Clearwater" while sailing on the Hudson in 2010. The song references the Gulf oil spill of 2010.[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2006-03-15. 
  2. ^ PBS Shop web site
  3. ^ Wirz Biograph Records web page
  4. ^ Seeger Sessions web site
  5. ^ Clearwater official web site Music page
  6. ^ "Where Have All The Flowers Gone", Roll Magazine, p. 14, accessed November 4, 2010
  7. ^ "Pete Seeger Named Clean Water Hero", The Putnam County News online edition, accessed November 4, 2010
  8. ^ "The 25th Anniversary of the Clean Water Act (Speech Transcript)", Clinton White House Archives, accessed November 4, 2010
  9. ^ Harrington, Gerry (2014-01-31). "Movement afoot to name bridge after Pete Seeger". United Press International. Retrieved 2014-02-03. 
  10. ^ "The Schooner", Mystic Whaler Cruises, accessed April 3, 2012
  11. ^ "Classroom on the Waves", Poughkeepsie, accessed November 4, 2010
  12. ^ Martin, Douglas (2013-07-11). "Toshi Seeger, Wife of Folk-Singing Legend, Dies at 91". New York Times. Retrieved 2013-08-07. 
  13. ^ Amateau, Albert (2013-07-18). "Toshi Seeger, 91, co-founded Clearwater with Pete". The Villager. Retrieved 2013-08-07. 
  14. ^ "History & Specifications",, accessed January 29, 2014
  15. ^ "The Beacon Sloop Club (The Sloop)", The Beacon Sloop Club website, accessed 26 October 2009
  16. ^ "God's Counting on Me, God's Counting on You", YouTube, accessed December 5, 2012

External links[edit]