Band of NYC Middle Schoolers Sail the Hudson River; No One Gets Lost


This morning, a group from the Brooklyn School for Collaborative Studies made like Laura Dekker and set sail on the Hudson — only they’d handcrafted their boat, went two at a time, and circumnavigated a radius of about 100 feet. Oh, and they had parent and government approval. We remember when extracurricular activities included things like kickball and chess club.

This is so not the case at Brooklyn School of Collaborative Studies, where kids can choose from a variety of community-involved programs such as gardening and artwork. These kids, however, chose to work on a year-long project that would culminate in a brief voyage of the murky, peculiar waters of the Hudson river.

The students spent the year constructing their sailboat with the help of Brooklyn Boatworks, a yacht building company that works with kids all over the city, and the Hudson Sailing Community — learning skills ranging from model building, basic tool safety, and reading Computer Aided Design plans, to sawing, drilling, gluing, and, finally, painting their finished boat, which they named the “S.S. Lowrider.” Cute.

Erin Shakespeare, who grew up sailing and now runs the boat-making program, said the kids also learn communication, leadership, and teamwork. “I was so excited when I heard one of the girls say, ‘I learned to stand up for myself!’ after being in the program.”

After launching their own boats, the kids got a sailing lesson and boat ride from Hudson Community Sailing. They were allowed to steer and pull the sail.

Jayvon Francois, an eighth-grader from Brooklyn who’d asked for an “extra-extra-extra small” life jacket, said, “Being in the middle of the Hudson was cool! I was scared out of my mind when the boat tipped!”

“I’m on land!” Francois shouted as he stepped back onto the dock.

We’re happy to report that none of the students came out of the Hudson with a mutated third leg or developing fish scales. Or a reality-TV series. Just good, old-fashioned learning all around.