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On the Bay: September 25, 2009

A very special event occurred in New York City earlier this month, which had an impact on the waterfront right here in Port Washington. As with all events on the waterfront, there is a story to be told. It all started about 400 years ago, in 1609 specifically, when a Dutch ship called de Halve Maen, from Holland, under the command of Captain Henry Hudson, arrived on the shores of what is now known as New York, establishing Nieuw Amsterdam on the southern tip of Manhattan. According to Jhr. Job B.B. Sandberg, commodore for North and South America (ret.), International Flying Dutchman Class Organization, in addition to Nieuw Amsterdam, a colony of Nieuw Nederland was founded up the river Hudson, called “de Mauritis Rivier” named after H.R.H. Prince Mauritis van Oranje, King of the Netherlands at that time.


Fast forward to 2009: the United States and the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the cities of New York and Amsterdam worked together to celebrate the Dutch-American pioneers who brought to our land the “spirit of entrepreneurship, freedom, openness and tolerance.” (B.B. Sandberg). As part of the celebration, two Flying Dutchman Championships were held in New York harbor, at the feet of the Statue of Liberty. These regattas took place from Sept. 8-13 to reflect the second week in September, when Captain Hudson dropped anchor in New York Harbor. In fact, according to Captain Hudson’s logbook, the exact date for dropping anchor was September 11, 1609, but there was no racing on the 11th to honor and remember the fallen citizens who perished in the Twin Towers attack.

On hand for these historic regattas was the Dutch Navy, a replica of de Halve Maen, a flotilla of 20 ancient Dutch ships (beautiful Dutch “plat-bodems” with leeboards), and de Onrust, a copy of the first yacht ever built in America (by Adriaan Block, yes, as in “Block Island”). H.R.H the Crown Prince of the Netherlands, Prince Willem-Alexander van Oranje-Nassau was in New York for the festivities.

So how does this all connect with the Port Washington waterfront? Those wonderful “plat-botmes” or flat-bottom boats went on a little tour, and ended up in Manhasset Bay at the Town Dock. And, not surprisingly, the Port Washington Public Library got involved when they received a call from Port resident and author Sally Olds in early September about the Dutch boats. Inspired by the call, Port Washington Public Library staff members Jessica Ley (Programs) and Elly Shodell (Archives) paid a visit to the fleet of Dutch flat bottom boats that sailed into Manhasset Bay. According to an email from Elly Shodell, “Sally had, a few days earlier, boarded one of the ships, the Pieternel, named after a Captain Piet, and his family members Erik and Nell.” After being introduced to the crew, she toured the vessel, learned about the journey the boats made the previous week (in a cargo ship, from Amsterdam to New Jersey) and was presented with a pair of miniature delft sabot souvenirs. Following in her footsteps, Elly and Jessica went down to the sea—-this time with books from the library and publicity fliers and descriptions of our nautical-centered institution. After almost falling into the brine as she walked from boat to boat, Shodell saw the galleys, riggings and hand-hewn woodwork that the sailors proudly described while Jessica engaged in deep historical conversation with “Ton” and his wife. The spirit of the crews of each of the boats was contagious. They were thrilled to be in the United States, greatly appreciative of the people of Port Washington for making them so welcome, and looking forward to the great water parade that was happening the next day in Manhattan. For those who were away or did not get down to the Town Dock, the excellent photos taken by Elly Shodell and Jessica Ley will give you a “feel” of what it was like that day.

In other news: The Yacht Racing Association of Long Island Sound (YRA of LIS) President Robert Kendrick, sent out email to all its members that is pertinent to all who enjoy water-related activities during the fall season. His message is this: As we enter the fall season with cooler water temperatures and typically stronger winds, competitors should be aware that New York State has enacted a new law pertaining to the wearing of personal flotation devices. From Nov. 1 to May 1, those aboard any boat under 21 feet while on New York’s coastal waters, lakes, rivers and other waterways must wear Coast Guard-approved personal flotation devices. Competitors are also reminded of the YRA of LIS requirement that personal flotation devices and safety harnesses shall be worn whenever one of the following conditions exist: 1. between the hours of sunset and sunrise, 2. when alone on deck, 3. when the mainsail is reefed, 4. when true wind speed is 25 knots or above, and 5. when visibility is less than one nautical mile.

Rhode Island’s public sailing center, Sail Newport, buzzed with activity last month as sailors with disabilities and vision impairment gathered for the seventh annual C. Thomas Clagett Jr. Memorial Clinic and Regatta. When Judy McLennan (Portsmouth, R.I.) and daughter Stephanie McLennan (Newport) created the event, their goal was to fulfill the competitive goals of sailors with disabilities while helping to better prepare those sailors
whose aspirations included representing the USA at the Paralympic Games. The one-day clinic is the hallmark of “The Clagett” and is followed by three days of racing, August 25-27. What makes this regatta so very special, other than the fact that it is one of the first for disabled sailors and is a model for many subsequent regattas, is the support from the local community. From the massage therapists who volunteered their time to work on the competitors’ tired muscles each day after racing, to the donated fruit from an area farm, to the clam boil sponsored and prepared by a local family, the local support for The Clagett is remarkable. “It’s a community effort,” said event founder Judy McLennan. “In this economy, to have businesses and individuals on Aquidneck Island coming together in this way is really, really wonderful.” Wouldn’t it be great if Port Washington had a regatta like this? For a full report, see

Thirsty Thursday scores for Sept. 3 (left out last week). All divisions given Course MA, 3.13 nm. Div I (6 boats): 1. Avalanche, Craig Albrecht, 2. Ripple, John Towers, and 3. Nordlys, Bob Schwartz. Div. II (9 boats): 1. Rosie, Ron Fink, 2. Vision, Marc Epstein, and 3. Motion, Bruce Logan. Div. III (11 boats): 1. On The Beam, Bruce Joseph, 2. Sundance, Joel Ziev, and 3. Sunshine, Richard Raskin.