Hudson River Sloop Clearwater

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Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, Inc.
Formation1966; 58 years ago (1966)
FounderPete Seeger and Toshi Seeger
Legal status501(c)(3)
HeadquartersBeacon, New York
Board President
Samantha Hicks[1]
Executive Director
David Toman[2]

The Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, Inc. is a non-profit 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 1966, Pete Seeger and his wife Toshi Seeger founded the organization and within three years had the sloop Clearwater built to advocate for cleaning up the Hudson River. The founding was influenced by community opposition to a proposed power plant at Storm King Mountain.[3] 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.[4] 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.[5][6][7]

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

Environmental advocacy[edit]

Pollution of the Hudson River[edit]

The Clearwater and the Clearwater Festival have worked to draw attention to the problem of pollution of the Hudson River. Pollution in the river has included mercury contamination and sewage dumping,[8][9] but the most discussed issue has been General Electric's contamination of the river with Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) between 1947 and 1977.[10] This pollution caused a range of harmful effects to wildlife and people who eat fish from the river or drink the water.[11] The activism of folk singer Pete Seeger and the Clearwater led to the area being designated as one of the superfund sites.[12]


Clearwater has gained national recognition for its activism starting in the 1970s to force a clean-up of the PCB contamination 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 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.[13]

In 2002, Pete Seeger was named a "Clean Water Hero" for his prominent efforts in the passage of the Clean Water Act.[14] 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.[15]

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.[12]

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.

Sailing mostly on the Hudson River between New York City and Albany, New York, the sloop Clearwater is used primarily to offer environmental and biological education programs to school groups, touching on river biology, environmental protection of waterways and related topics.[16] It offers 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.[17] From 1996 until 2018, Clearwater chartered the schooner Mystic Whaler to present Clearwater's education program to more schools and the public.[18]

Music and festivals[edit]

One of the organization's biggest fundraisers has been its annual music and environmental festival, the Clearwater Festival. Officially known as the "Great Hudson River Revival," it was America's oldest and largest annual festival of its kind. The weekend-long festival was held each June for over three decades, with attendances of up to 15,000 people. The festival raised funds and consciousness on the plight of the river and the earth. Net proceeds went 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 ranged from Blues to Rock, Reggae to Salsa, Bluegrass to Jazz, and Funk to Folk.[19][20] The festival was cancelled in 2022.[21][needs update]

In 1984, Seeger founded the Walkabout Clearwater Chorus as a community choir that promotes environmental and social justice causes. The chorus carries a 7-foot-tall (2.1 m) model of the Sloop Clearwater to their appearances at festivals, parades and other performances throughout the Hudson Valley area and beyond. The chorus appears on Seeger's 2008 album Pete Seeger at 89. The chorus has performed in Dortmund, Germany, bi-annually since 2001. It also runs a coffee house, featuring folk music performers, at the Memorial United Methodist Church in White Plains, New York, from October to May each year on the second Saturday of each month.[22]

Walkabout Clearwater Chorus[edit]

The Walkabout Clearwater Chorus, a supporter of the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, was founded in 1984 by Seeger. The chorus is made up people who love to sing and promote environmental and social justice causes. Its 7-foot-tall (2.1 m) model of the Sloop Clearwater appears with the chorus at festivals and parades. The chorus performs at concert venues and festivals throughout the Hudson Valley area and beyond. It appears on Seeger's 2008 CD Pete Seeger at 89. The Seeger Session of Liedstoeckel, Cuppatea and Walkabout Clearwater Chorus was performed live at UZ-Pressefest 2009 in Dortmund, Germany, where the chorus has performed bi-annually since 2001. The chorus also runs a coffeehouse with a different featured folk music performer each month. The concerts take place at Memorial United Methodist Church in White Plains, New York, twice each month from October to May of each year.

Sloop Clearwater[edit]

Sloop Clearwater sailing up the Hudson River
United StatesUnited States
BuilderHarvey Gamage Shipyard, South Bristol, Maine
Laid downOctober, 1968
LaunchedMay 17, 1969
General characteristics
TypeGaff rigged sloop
Length106 ft (32 m) overall
Beam25 ft (7.6 m)
Draft8 ft (2.4 m)
Propulsionsails; auxiliary engine
Sail planmainsail, main topsail, jib
Notes4305 sq ft. (387.5 m²) total sail area
LocationBeacon, New York
ArchitectHamlin, Cyrus; Gamage, Harvey Shipyard
NRHP reference No.04000376[23]
Added to NRHPMay 4, 2004
Clearwater sailing south on the Hudson River 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 76 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.[24]

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.[25]

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 Deepwater Horizon Gulf oil spill of 2010.[26]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Hudson River Sloop Clearwater Inc.'s 2023 Board Election Results". 10 October 2023.
  2. ^ "Hudson River Sloop Clearwater - Our Office".
  3. ^ Hayes, Madison A. (June 3, 2018). "The Regal Fight for Storm King Mountain". Retrieved December 14, 2018.
  4. ^ "PBS Shop web site". Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2007-08-24.
  5. ^ Wirz Biograph Records web page
  6. ^ "Seeger Sessions web site". Archived from the original on 2011-09-26. Retrieved 2007-08-24.
  7. ^ "Clearwater official web site Music page". Archived from the original on 2007-08-12. Retrieved 2007-08-24.
  8. ^ Levinton, J.S.; Ochron, S.T.P. (2008). "Temporal and geographic trends in mercury concentrations in muscle tissue in five species of hudson river, USA, fish". Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry. 27 (8): 1691–1697. doi:10.1897/07-438.1. PMID 18266478. S2CID 86320742.
  9. ^ New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC). Albany, NY. (2007). "Hudson River Estuary Program: Cleaning the river: Improving water quality" (PDF). p. 24. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-02-27. Retrieved 2007-12-31.
  10. ^ "Hudson River PCBs — Background and Site Information". United States Environmental Protection Agency. Retrieved 2007-12-31.
  11. ^ "National Priorities List Fact Sheets: Hudson River PCBs" (PDF). EPA. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-12-01. Retrieved 2007-12-31.
  12. ^ a b Harrington, Gerry (2014-01-31). "Movement afoot to name bridge after Pete Seeger". United Press International. Retrieved 2014-02-03.
  13. ^ "Where Have All The Flowers Gone" Archived 2011-07-24 at the Wayback Machine, Roll Magazine, p. 14, accessed November 4, 2010
  14. ^ "Pete Seeger Named Clean Water Hero", The Putnam County News online edition, accessed November 4, 2010
  15. ^ "The 25th Anniversary of the Clean Water Act (Speech Transcript)", Clinton White House Archives, accessed November 4, 2010
  16. ^ "Classroom on the Waves", Poughkeepsie, accessed November 4, 2010
  17. ^ Duffy, Thom. "Aboard the Clearwater: Five Decades of Environmental Activism Rooted In Music", Billboard, June 13, 2018
  18. ^ "Museums, Programs, Historic Sites: Mystic Whaler", National Maritime Historical Society, accessed November 25, 2018; "Volunteer Handbook for the Schooner Mystic Whaler", Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, accessed November 25, 2018; and "Clearwater’s Education Programs Set Sail on the Mystic Whaler", Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, accessed November 25, 2018
  19. ^ Martin, Douglas (2013-07-11). "Toshi Seeger, Wife of Folk-Singing Legend, Dies at 91". New York Times. Retrieved 2013-08-07.
  20. ^ Amateau, Albert (2013-07-18). "Toshi Seeger, 91, co-founded Clearwater with Pete". The Villager. Retrieved 2013-08-07.
  21. ^ Stanne, Steve (April 15, 2022). "Letter from Board President: The Great Hudson River Revival to be re-envisioned". Hudson River Sloop Clearwater. Retrieved May 29, 2022.
  22. ^ "Walkabout Clearwater Chorus and Coffeehouse",, accessed May 18, 2017
  23. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. March 15, 2006.
  24. ^ "History & Specifications",, accessed January 29, 2014
  25. ^ "The Beacon Sloop Club (The Sloop)", The Beacon Sloop Club website, accessed 26 October 2009
  26. ^ "God's Counting on Me, God's Counting on You", YouTube, accessed December 5, 2012

External links[edit]