Boat-Building Kids Say the Darndest Things on the Hudson


In what could have easily been transformed into an episode of Kids Say The Dardnest Things, 16 Brooklyn schoolchildren gathered at Hudson River Park by 26th Street this morning to sets boats they had made themselves to sail.

Last year, we attended the same event, in which students launch their Brooklyn Boatworks projects into the Hudson. (Once again no one got lost.) This was the first year, however, that two schools participated, and the first time that the boats were fully rigged before setting sail. Students do all of the woodwork on the “Optimist Pram” boats using no power tools.

Standing beside their bright orange vessel named “The Heat” — emblazoned, of course, with a little fireball — we met up with the part of the team from the Brooklyn School for Collaborative Studies.

Marc Fournier, the kids’ boat-building instructor, explained that they were going to go sailing on larger boats after they took their own ones on the water. Henry Creech, 13, asked, “Can I do the Captain Morgan on that one?” We was referencing the rum-shilling pirate’s stance.

Fournier looked at him.

“I have to remind you, Henry, you’re in eighth grade,” said the teacher.

“Seventh grade,” Creech corrected.

We asked Creech how he was able to make that crack at his age, but Rashid Hawkins, also 13, cut in to announce that he started the Captain Morgan trend.

The event was not billed a competition, but the four BCS kids definitely saw themselves in opposition to the fifth graders, of which there were more than twice as many, from the Community Roots Charter School, and who came flooding onto the pier half an hour after the event was scheduled to start.

“Our boat looks better, it’s bigger,” Hawkins said. Fournier, the adult, pointed out that the boats were made from the same plans.

Their boat had multiple possibilities for names. One was Creech’s choice of “ShamWow,” after, yes, the television towel. Another choice was “Yo Mama.”

“I wouldn’t let you guys name it that,” Fournier said.

The final vote came down to “The Boat,” which was backed by Hawkins’ philosophy that “our boat is so cool it doesn’t need to have a name,” or the ultimately victorious “The Heat.” (The fifth graders’ red creation, “Hot Chili Pepper,” might have alternatively been named “The Booze.”)

Once the Community Roots fifth graders finally arrived it was time to get in the boats. There was a bit of consternation from the BCS crowd when it appeared that a Community Roots student might get the first ride in “The Heat,” but eventually Creech — who had quipped, “It’s okay, they test it. If it sinks it won’t be us.” — got the first trip, which he declared to be “uncomfortable.”

Students went one by one, some of their heads seemingly shrunken by life jackets, as their boats were piloted to a nearby dock and brought back. One Community Roots student rushed out of her boat and asked, “Where’s my mommy?”