History on the Hudson
When I think of the Hudson River during the summer, I think of speedboats and jet skis. Recently, however, the view was much different. I saw a mixed flotilla of two historic sailing ships, a fire boat spouting water, and two floating museums sailing up New York State’s mightiest river.
I knew these historic ships were coming when I heard a cannon firing. The modern world interrupted for a moment as a helicopter chased the speedboats and jet skis away to clear a watery path for the flotilla. All of this was part of Hudson River Quadricentennial celebration, marking 400 years since Henry Hudson first made his historic voyage from the southern tip of Manhattan Island up the river.
Hudson was a famous explorer, determined to find a shorter route to Asia. He and his crew sailed on a ship named the Half Moon. Instead of a trade route to Asia they stumbled upon North America. During his expedition he sailed up the river that is now called the Hudson River and established a Dutch trading colony.
A replica of his ship, the Half Moon, and another replica, the Onrust stayed in my town, Newburgh, New York, for a couple of days. Did you know that onrust means wanderer in Dutch?
The Half Moon is portrayed in history books as this big majestic ship with huge white sails, but let me tell you, up close, it is quite different. The ship is colorful and pretty, but not very large. I was surprised when a crew member told me that it is only 16 feet long and that it takes 15 to 20 people to sail it. That is a lot of people to be crowded in such a small space! Also the sleeping corridors are only four feet high—I’m guessing there was a lot of head bumping.
The ships reminded me of a pirate ship or the ships in the movie Peter Pan. It was a really terrific experience to board and experience the Half Moon in person.
The celebration is going on all year. It began on New Year’s Day 2009 and continues throughout the summer and fall.