Education / Environment / Parks

Rocking the Boat sails into future

Photo by Matthew J. Perlman

The Legacy returns to shore, with her sail lowered.


Boat launch highlights end of semester celebration

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The launching of a new 19-foot sailboat at Hunts Point Riverside Park on June 4 marked the culmination of a year of boatbuilding for students from Rocking the Boat.

Sixteen students launched the Legacy at the organization’s end-of-semester party, celebrating the its first year in its Edgewater Road location.

The Legacy is the third boat Sekou Kromah, 17, has helped launch, but “she’s my favorite,” he said. The cuts on his hands are a testament to the hard work he put in over the year. He smiled with satisfaction at the shining white boat with its bright red sail, as he and other students made last-minute adjustments before getting it on the river.

Students in Rocking the Boat’s boatbuilding program learn to make a boat from scratch. They sand, shape, and shave donated lumber, developing job skills and self-confidence while they work.

T.J. McFarlan, 17, got on a boat for the first time in the Fall of 2009, when he began an on-water training program at Rocking the Boat. “I had no idea what I was doing,” he said. “But it’s easy to learn with the staff here,” he added, and two years later, not only can he sail a boat, he can help make one.

His favorite part about Rocking the Boat, though, is the environmental science program. McFarlan and other students learn about environmental problems facing the Bronx River, and other waterways around the area, while helping in research and cleanup projects. He feels the things he learns on the water are helping with his schoolwork, and are also helping The Bronx.

In addition to the new sailboat, the festivities also inaugurated a garden that is watered by captured storm water, and a new 100 foot mural painted by local artist Carolina Diaz.

The party was bittersweet for some though. Anthony Archino, the non-profit group’s boatbuilding director, and a mentor for many of the young people who came to celebrate, embarked on a fundraising voyage to Islesford Maine on a boat built by the students, marking the end of his six year tenure with Rocking the Boat.

The organization’s executive director Adam Green isn’t worried though. He’s excited about the future. A two-week student expedition to Greenwich, Connecticut is planned for the end of July. Next year, he says, the sailing education program will be more prominent, and students build some smaller sailboats to help.

Rocking the Boat offers free rowing from the boat launch in Hunts Point Riverside Park n Saturdays from noon to 5 p.m. through September 3. Local residents can row on the river with boats made by the students.

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