Witness “barnraising” of Clearwater’s new home port in Kingston on 9/15

Photo of The Clearwater in Kingston by Dion Ogust

Though its mission, sailing up and down the Hudson for over 40 years now, has been to teach generations of schoolchildren about estuarine ecosystems and the interesting life cycles of aquatic creatures, the bonnie sloop Clearwater has also been wandering in search of a permanent home. Happily, in Pete Seeger’s own lifetime, it’s finally about to get one, on the banks of the Rondout: the Kingston Home Port and Education Center, a joint building project between the Hudson River Maritime Museum and the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater.

The official groundbreaking ceremony was held in June for the 4,500-square-foot post-and-beam structure, which will house the Clearwater itself for winter maintenance and serve the rest of the year as a facility for educational programming, green infrastructure training, community boatbuilding and maritime history presentations. Now the work begins in earnest on the Center’s timber-framed skeleton, with a view toward completing the building envelope within six weeks so that the Clearwater can be housed there starting this winter. In the spirit of recycling so dear to the environmental organization’s heart, the wooden members for the new building’s frame were milled from deadfall from last October’s freak early snowstorm.

Hudson Valley residents are invited to witness an old-fashioned Amish-style barnraising on Saturday, September 15. Beginning at 5 a.m., members of the Timber Framers’ Guild will assemble the posts and beams into bents, pop on the purlins and hammer in the diagonal braces. If that all sounds like gobbledegook to you, no problem: Although the general public is being welcomed to observe these professionals at work, non-crew-members are being asked to stay outside the boundaries of the safety fence (presumably for liability reasons).

At 2 p.m., the festivities get underway with performances by Clearwater’s Power of Song ensemble and the amazingly talented kids from the Center for Creative Education’s Percussion Orchestra of Kingston, a/k/a POOK. At 3 p.m. there will be remarks by Clearwater and Museum staff, state and local officials and community stakeholders, and at 4 will commence the “ceremonial setting of the purlins,” after which the actual raising of the frame and connecting of the two-dimensional bents into three-dimensional bays will occur. Having raised a timber-framed home herself (with a lot of hands to help) once upon a time, this correspondent can testify that the process is truly something to see – even if in this case it’s not hands-on for the masses. It’s like the apotheosis of playing with Tinkertoys for grownups.

Things should begin to get interesting to watch around 11 a.m., and arriving early might be a good idea if you’ll be looking for a parking spot within reasonable walking distance of the Strand. The construction site is right next door to the Hudson River Maritime Museum, located at 50 Rondout Landing. For more information call (845) 338-0071 or visit the Maritime Museum’s website at www.hrmm.org/events/2012-09.

Welcome home at last, dear Clearwater!



The Hudson River Maritime Museum and the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater invite the public to view the assembly and raising of the timber frame for the Clearwater’s new winter home, the Kingston Home Port and Education Center, on Saturday, September 15 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. next door to the Museum at 50 Rondout Landing in Kingston. Power of Song and POOK will provide live music. Call (845) 338-0071 or visit www.hrmm.org/events/2012-09 for details.


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