Education / Environment

Rocking the Boat launches latest creations

Maya Rajamani

Students from Rocking the Boat take the Intrepid out on the Bronx River at a June 1 christening of two new boats.

Students crafted replica of a whaling ship

Students and staff from Rocking the Boat launched two new vessels from Hunts Point Riverside Park at a June 1 ceremony to mark the end of the school semester.

The teens christened a 29-foot replica of a historic whaleboat and a 17-foot Whitehall rowing boat, both of which they had built.

“It’s from the Ashokan Mountains,” joked boat builder Boris Regalado, after pouring water onto the hull of the Intrepid during the ceremony. “No, actually it’s from the Bronx River.”

Each year, a group of about 20 high school students constructs a traditional wooden boat from scratch at the group’s headquarters next to the park.

Over the last two years, they have also worked from a 10th century design of a whaling ship to build a whaleboat. The $125,000 project, which was commissioned by Mystic Seaport in Connecticut, is part of that organization’s effort to replicate whaling ships. The vessel will be exhibited and put to use at the Seaport, which is home to the last American whaling ship, the Charles W. Morgan. The ship was retired in 1921 and moved to Mystic 20 years later.

The students used patterns and molds from the Independence Seaport Museum in Philadelphia, to bend frames, sculpt wooden planks together, and paint the finished boat.

Natividad Mercado-Lopez, 17, worked on the whaleboat for the last year-and-a-half. A student at Hyde Leadership Charter School, she said the project was demanding, but worthwhile.

“I was tired of guys saying that women couldn’t build stuff,” Mercado-Lopez said. “I was like, ‘women can build stuff.’”

“They can create something that’s not only beautiful, but that works,” said Rocking the Boat’s founder and executive director Adam Green.

Just after the whaleboat left shore, it veered unexpectedly back toward the dock, prompting onlookers to shout navigational tips to the crew. With some guidance from Green, however, the students glided back into deeper water.

The whaleboat team looked on from the dock.

“I’m proud because it’s done,” said Mercado-Lopez. “And it looks beautiful.”


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