Rocking the Boat

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important dates: march 11 - whitehall award  |  june 6 - end of semester celebration

fall 2014 newsletter

gaining steam

After Rocking the Boat Boatbuilding Apprentices completed a 29-foot whaleboat for Mystic Seaport Museum last summer, it was clear that major boatbuilding projects undertaken with wonderful partners were incomparable learning opportunities for our students. We were eager for our next big commission and Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, NJ, has just brought it to us!

Rocking the Boat and Stevens are collaborating on a year-long project to create a replica of the Little Juliana, the first twin propeller steamboat to cross the Hudson River, designed by the college's namesake, Colonel John Stevens, in 1804. The boat Stevens chose to set his steam engine in was a 24-foot 8-inch Whitehall, a larger version of the very design Rocking the Boat students have been building since 1998 and the second largest vessel Rocking the Boat students have ever constructed. College juniors and seniors in Stevens' naval engineering program will be building the engine as Rocking the Boat Job Skills Apprentices—high school juniors and seniors—build the boat. Academically, it is an incredibly rich project, combining history with all of the STEM fields: science, technology, engineering, and math. It also offers outstanding opportunities for exchange, teamwork, and problem solving.

The Stavros Niarchos Foundation (Niarchos was a Greek shipbuilder!) has generously granted Rocking the Boat $25,000 up front and pledged to match funds raised up to $50,000. Once the match has been met, the full $125,000 budget for the construction of the Whitehall hull will have been raised. Please contact Adam Green, (718) 466-5799 x1213 or, if you wish to give or can help make an introduction to a potential donor.

bronx river camp

Rocking the Boat was thrilled to welcome nearly 200 middle and high school kids to Hunts Point Riverside Park this summer for a pilot two-week Bronx River Camp program. Each group of approximately 20 campers participated in a range of environmental science, recreational, or maritime focused activities including: rowing (sometimes while blindfolded!), exploring the river by water and land, reading maps and tide tables, observing wildlife, fishing with nets and rods, testing water samples, playing environmental education and teambuilding games, and writing in daily journals. One camper's journal excerpt wonderfully captures the impact of the program: "The days at Rocking the Boat were amazing. I mostly loved the games we played. The learning part was interesting, too. We learned about eels, where they lived, their life cycles, and so on. I also learned about the CSO and that every time it rains 1/10 of an inch, the cleaning system shuts down and all the water that wasn't clean goes to the river and pollutes it. Since coming to camp I have changed by not wasting water in my house. The way I would protect the Bronx River is to tell people to stop wasting water and to stop polluting."

This program featured partnerships with Bronx River High School-Pelham Lab, Graham-Windham, Hunts Point Alliance for Children, New Settlement Apartments, St. Ignatius, and The Point CDC, and was made possible by a generous grant from the J.E. & Z.B. Butler Foundation.

rocking the whaleboats

They rose before dawn and returned at twilight. Their blisters got blisters. They were stuck behind cruise ships the size of small towns. But on September 27 the 152 participants of Rocking Manhattan 2014 boarded 29-foot traditional wooden whaleboats and made it all 30 miles around the island—many for the first time and others for the fourth, fifth, and even the sixth years in a row—to the cheers of their friends and family members. And thanks to some 2,000 individual donors, they raised over $285,000—$100,000 more than last year and 15% of Rocking the Boat's budget for the year. Amazing! Extra special thanks go out to Mystic Seaport Museum, Independence Seaport Museum, New Bedford Whaling Museum, Beetle Boatshop, and Lowell's Boatshop for generously lending their boats and trailers for the occasion.

Photos from Rocking Manhattan 2014

thank you
To the team captains, crews, and individual rowers who made
Rocking Manhattan 2014 a huge success!