Not all of our members are sailors — yet!  Many of our dedicated volunteers who show up regularly on Thursday nights to restore Eleanor are in it for the experience — learning how to put a boat together, enjoying the comradeship of working on the boat, and looking forward to the comradeship of sailing the boat.

But many of our members are.  Here are two.



Board and Reconstruction Crew Member Dennis Sailing his First Boat Home

We made it to Hudson about 6:30 last evening just as the tide was turning.

We chugged along about on 4 out of 7.5 hp.  Only snag along the way was the tiller snapping
as we made the turn into the Round Out creek on Saturday night.  The Power boat club in Kingston
was very hospitable and gave us a spot for the night.  I had Jim pick me up, take me to Hudson,
and I fashioned a new tiller from a scrap piece of white oak, and got it installed yesterday (Sunday) morning
and we continued out journey up the river – mostly motoring as the wind was not always favorable and
we needed to get to Hudson before the tide changed and it got dark. . .

Looks like we are going to name the boat, The Crooked Tiller, or Crooked Tilley.

Note from the b/logger:  Dennis drove up to the restoration site where he knew
he would find everything he needed to make a tiller.
And I’m for Crooked Tilley!



Alice and Phyllis Beals (Board Member) aboard her sailboat Eleanor in Raritan Bay.

“Women sailors are the best!!!  Sorry Dennis.” — says President Louise

Note from the b/logger:  Guess who she’s named after.



Do you remember Hurricane Floyd?

He passed through the Catskill/Hudson area in September 1999 and caused over
16 million dollars worth of damage in New York alone. The letter below, one of many
written by Louise Bliss to family members, the children of Eleanor’s third captain
Phillip S. Egan, updates them on the journey and expenses generated by Eleanor on
her solo adventure.

There is so little online about Floyd and its effects on the Hudson Valley. If you
have photos, articles, links, or horror stories about sailboat disasters during this
storm, please send them to us in our comments section.


December 3, 1999

Dear Eleanor Owners,

I was feeling that I was late in writing this letter to you, but I see in the files a letter written to all of you on Dec. 3 last year. Interesting is it not, that we are creatures of habit? The pull of the moon and the rise and fall of the tide. busy year for Eleanor. She enjoyed several excellent sails with crew on board, and one sail she decided to go it alone, and a fine job she did. Tired of navigating the river by herself (right in the middle of the channel), she chose the north side of Germantown Landing to end her journey. Not on the rocks, not in the mud, but on nice hard ground. People up and down the river had been on the look out for her and called in her location to Joe Kenneally who I called as soon as I saw from Cesternino’s(1) that she was gone. Horrible!! Horrible! What a terrible thing to experience!! Joe Kenneally, Dean Fisher and I made a trip by boat down the river from the Hudson Power Boat Club to ascertain the damage, if any, and to make certain she would be all right until the change in tide, at which time we could pull her, or float her off the hard ground. Julie, Frank, Joe and I returned that evening to her location, and pulled her off with the help of Jerry from the Power Club in his boat. He even put on a high speed power prop for the job. We pulled her North to the Greendale Landing area and anchored her there for the night. The next morning I returned to Catskill and commandeered three muscle men in a good boat to go over to Greendale and tow her back to Cesternino’s

Samson post

Samson post

In retrospect, of course, if she had been anchored out at Greendale, all this would have been avoided, but we would have had to leave early on in the afternoon to avoid a run on flood tides. Frank and I checked the lines the evening of the flood and agreed that she would be all right. Little did we, or anyone else know what was to come. She would have been alright had not some powerful dock or boat rammed her, pulling off the cleats, separating the iron rings on the samson post, and actually bending the brass hardware on the standing back stays. The damage to the combing around the cockpit occurred when she hit ground and the boom chock dropped out) later to be recovered by Julie and Joe on the rocks along the shore) which caused the boom to crash down on the combing All in all, it was a stressful time. Thanks to Julie and Frank, Joe, Jerry , Dean, and the three muscle men.

Coaming:ChocksWith the help of Mike at Riverview and Jack at Riverview we have a Mr. Glen Neil(4) from Catskill who has agreed to repair the Eleanor. He is very selective in the work he chooses to do, and we are fortunate to have him as our ship’s carpenter. He has watched the Eleanor over the years, and visited with Pop in the spring when Pop would work on the Eleanor, and hs is an old time wooden boat builder.

He has the o.k. from Mike to work in the yard which is another consideration He is now, after two visits to the Eleanor, in the process of compiling an estimate for the insurance company. We can only take the “wait and see approach.”

On Thanksgiving Day in the morning, Mike, Robert, Frank and Joe covered up the Eleanor. I went over yesterday, and everything looks just fine and snug. Thanks to you all for doing that big job. Of course she has to be checked often to be sure the covers do not blow away, so if you go that way, stop and make a check.

I am enclosing a copy of the statement from Mike for the hauling and blocking. Also, a copy of the check to pay the bill is enclosed. The original figure back in the fall that I sent you was $1008. The present bill is for $1123.20. Or a difference of $115.20. I do not know what I left out, but it is o.k. Phyllis, Mike, Frank and Julie each paid the $114 due from each owner. We are very fortunate that Beth and Bob are holding their interest in the Eleanor for one more year.

Mom has contributed a great deal through out the year too. She continues to pay the insurance premium, and she put the Honda in running order. I used the Honda a lot last spring, and in the fall to haul the canvasses over to Catskill.

During Arts Walk in Hudson Joe found an anchor in one of the stores which he purchased as a gift for the Eleanor. It is a big sea anchor, and replaces the deck anchor which was los in the flood. Joe is a member of the Hudson Power Boat Assoc. and has been a power boater for many years. He understands the river and its habits. He was a good friend to Pop, and now to us.

And now, I am off to pay the bill and to put these letters in the mail.



(1) Mr. Cesternino was the owner of the string of docks that lined the south side of the Catskill Creek for a number of years.    While the Eleanor was docked there, he kindly kept an eye on her.

(2) coaming – a vertical surface on a ship designed to deflect or prevent entry of water. It usually refers to a raised section of deck plating around an opening, such as a hatch.

(3) chock  – A fitting through which anchor or mooring lines are led. Usually U-shaped to reduce chaf.

(4) Glen Neil was working independently at the time when he repaired the planking on Eleanor.


Published in the Register Star, January 27, 2016, p.A11

100_1108William Burrows, four year member and volunteer, stands beside the new deadwood for Eleanor.  The construction of the deadwood, designed after the 1903 deadwood, was engineered by Burrows and took several months to make.  The new deadwood is constructed of four slabs of White Oak.  The original cuts were done with a chain saw, roughly shaped, laminated together and then carefully cut and finally shaped by sanding to have the same lines as the original.  Deadwood is the part of the boat that fits between the original 2000 lb. lead keel and the new keelson which was also engineered and made by volunteers with Burrows being the lead volunteer.  In 2015 the volunteers at the side dedicated 514 and one-half hours to the project.

January 2016 celebrates the fifth year since the Hudson River Historic Boat Restoration & Sailing Society Inc. was organized on January 6th, 2011 by people in Columbia and Greene Counties who wanted to save Eleanor, the last remaining gaff rigged sailboat of her design to sail without a motor in the waters off of Catskill, Hudson, Athens and the Hudson River between Albany and New York.

When she sets sail again, she will be powered by the wind and an electric motor keeping her the environmental vessel she has always been. Because of Eleanor’s low freeboard, ability to come about in her own length and sail against the tides and light and variable winds characteristic of the Hudson River, she has spent her entire sailing life only on that river.

The saving of Eleanor is being done by patient and skilled volunteers at the restoration site at 99 South Front Street, Hudson. The Hudson Riverfront Industrial Park building, inside door 19 is where the real Eleanor, not a replica is being repaired. To the casual visitor it may not appear that progress is being made, but to the members volunteers who gather on Thursday nights to share camaraderie, skills, thoughts and experience, a great deal of work has been accomplished. The Eleanor project is the only project of this nature to take place anywhere along the Hudson River (Clearwater and Woodie Guthrie are replicas) It is only happening in the City of Hudson. While work is going on at the site, there is another group of volunteers who are working to raise money, hold events and man education tents to inform residents and visitors about her one-hundred and thirteen year history and the restoration progress.

Aside from Eleanor’s pedigree and history, the original members of the board decided that the restored Eleanor would be for the public’s enjoyment and education. They believed that sailing on Eleanor would bring a new interest in the history of the Hudson River as experienced from the river in an intimate classroom; Eleanor’s cockpit where everyone on board can participate and develop a keen awareness of nature’s unstoppable forces and the river’s environment. And, of course a love for sailing.

To meet the volunteers and to celebrate the onset of the sixth year of this remarkable restoration project please join others on January 28 at 6 p.m. for an evening of pleasure and business at the Hudson Power Boat Club, at the north end of the Hudson Riverfront Park, Hudson. Bring a covered dish with your favorite entrée, dessert, or pre-dinner treat prepared or purchased. If you would like to receive more information, please email or call 828 7884 for more information. Volunteers are always welcome on Thursday nights or to help plan events, educate, build membership, or record progress with photography, writing or videos.


It is a thrilling to watch as the Hudson River Historic Boat Restoration and Sailing Society community volunteers steadily restore Eleanor to her former self. When she sails again on the Hudson River she will be there for the general public’s enjoyment and education: an intimate class room on the water where people will learn to sail, communicate and work together as a team, and gain both an appreciation of the River’s history and environment and a keen awareness of nature’s unstoppable forces.

This year, as illustrated by the contributions and grants received both locally and on a state level, HRHB can proudly declare that we are recognized and trusted to be an organization managed with integrity.

After much research and evaluation beginning in the summer of 2014, we placed the money received by grants and contributions for the building of our mast, boom and gaff into the capable hands of the Beetle Boat Shop in Wareham, Massachusetts. Our spars look great.

New Sitka Spruce hollow mast, hollow boom, and gaff

New Sitka Spruce hollow mast, hollow boom, and gaff

Progress during 2015 was impressive.  Our volunteers installed the new keelson, scarffing the bow and stern sections together. They cut, steamed and shaped elm for mast hoops.

Creating the steam chamber

Creating the steam chamber

At the last Thursday restoration session only four of the 40 floors which are shaped out of White Oak still remained to be fitted and installed.  We still have a chance!

New keelson and floors

New keelson and floors

Our goals for 2016 include completing projects begun this year:  finalizing the design of and building the new deadwood, completing the transom rebuild, beginning the deck repair and installing new ribs made of White Oak purchased from Newport Nautical Timbers in Rhode Island.  This last job is a difficult project requiring steaming and bending wood, and it requires a great deal of our volunteers’ time.

nswsail1We worked with Nat Wilson, Master sailmaker from East Boothbay Harbor, Maine on the design of the sails. Eleanor will join a long list of boats and ships that have Wilson sails and rigging, including the U.S.S. Constitution, Clearwater, and Mayflower II. We had no drawings and Nat worked closely with our members who had sailed Eleanor and were familiar with her sails and how she maneuvered, and with Beetle Boat, so that the sails and the spars will work together and will perform as in the past. We anticipate that this next major expense will be about $6000, and 2016 fundraising will be to “Raise the Sails!”

While she is being restored, community volunteers learn, hands-on or through discussion, how boats like Eleanor were built back in 1903, using the materials and craftsmanship of boatbuilders at the turn of the century.

We encourage organizations and classrooms to schedule visits to our restoration site to see what we are all about.  To schedule a visit or inquire about volunteering as a woodworker or a crewmember on our unofficial committees write to us at


View the complete timeline of Restoration Progress

Currently we are in the midst of our end of year membership and fund drive.
We hope you will consider a gift to HRHBR&SS on behalf of Eleanor.

See you down by the riverside — with your deck shoes on!

Artie Christie, a member of Hudson River Historic Boat, recently sailed his Quest from Athens to the Tappan Zee Bridge and back to Hideaway Marina in Kingston, where she will winter.  The Quest, named by her previous owner, is a Dutch Treat, a 25′ hard-chined mahogany-on-oak sloop with a draft of 4’11” and a beam +- 7′.  She was built in Holland in 1954.

On the return trip Artie spent two days at a Beacon boat club dock where Greg Grann, “a great guy,” helped with the outboard.

It was hard picking the photos to include in the post.


Athens 7AM

Athens 10/7/20157AM


Rip Van Winkle Bridge

Rip Van Winkle Bridge


Red 116

Red 116


Mid Hudson Bridge

Mid Hudson Bridge


Sculling Practice

Sculling Practice


Poughkeepsie Morning Mooring 10/8/2015

Poughkeepsie Morning Mooring 10/8/2015


Double Bridge at Newburg/Beacon

Double Bridge at Newburg/Beacon


The Chart

The Chart



Our wondrous sky


Haverstraw Marina


Tug in the Mist

Tug in the Mist


Tappen Zee Crane

Tappen Zee Crane


Motor Sailing North

Motor Sailing North


Passing Poughkeepsie

Passing Poughkeepsie


Home Again

Home Again

One important goal of Hudson River Historic Boat’s mission, often overlooked when we are talking about ourselves during this period of intense focus on reconstruction of Eleanor, is to “serve as a resource for the general public who . . . desire to learn how to sail.

Peter Tenerowicz and Kathy Hamm ParchuckMember Pete Tenerowicz on a teaching sail with Hudson resident Kathy Hamm Parchuck

Today there is an article in the New York Times by Maya Jasanoff who is writing a book on Joseph Conrad.

Before Conrad published his first novel in 1895, he spent 20 years working as
a merchant sailor, mostly on sailing ships, and fully half his writing — including
“Heart of Darkness,” “Lord Jim” and “The Secret Sharer” — deals with sailors,
ships and the sea. These loom so large for him that as I have researched a book
about Conrad’s life and times, I have felt it essential to travel by sea myself.

And she did. Maya “hitched” a ride on the 134 foot brigantine Corwith Cramer, a classroom on the sea for students at Sea Education Association, who for over 40 years has offered field-based environmental education through its accredited study abroad program with Boston University.  As a bonus the students learn to sail.

300px-CorwithCramerCorwith Cramer

She spent time with “a row of pallid sailors crouched at the leeward rail.” The 12 students who were on board with Maya were learning the

grueling schedule of round-the-clock watch duty, hauling and heaving lines,
setting and striking sails, scrubbing dishes and floors. They were learning the
ropes just as Conrad did, 140 years ago.

It’s hard to think of a less relevant skill in today’s job market than knowing your
jib halyard from your main sheet.

But by the end of her sea journey and the end of her Opinion piece in the paper Maya knows her arduous journey from Cork to Brittany was well worth those uncomfortable, unpleasant moments, and was much more relevant to our present day life than she ever imagined.

I disembarked from the Corwith Cramer knowing things I had not appreciated
otherwise. I learned that to stay on course at the helm you have to watch the
horizon more than the compass. I learned that sails balance a ship, so much
so that oceangoing steamships carried rigs for stability long after they used
them for auxiliary power. I learned how to steady myself by swinging like the
gimbaled tables in the saloon, which seesawed wildly with the ship’s roll while
plates and glasses didn’t budge.

She gained new insight into Conrad, progress and obsolescence, and of the value and art and ethics of sailing.  But she says it so well that reading her article in full is a must.

We at HRHB aren’t taking to the the oceans in tall ships with novice seamen and seawomen, but we do have our own education program.  Volunteer craftsmen meet every Thursday night where they share skills on shipbuilding, restoration, woodworking and the physics of sail.

102_0021Hard at work/play at the reconstruction site last Thursday

We teach interested persons how to sail while developing a relationship with the Hudson River by gaining an appreciation for the river’s history, an awareness of nature’s forces and the river’s environment while instilling a love for sailing. Pete Tenerowicz, member of HRHB took Kathy Hamm Parchuck of Hudson for a lesson this July.

President Louise Bliss writes:

Parchuck, after returning to shore took time to reflect on her sailing lesson
and experience. Just keeping your head, listening to and following directions
are some of the pieces of wisdom that Parchuck took to heart. Terms such as
apparent wind, tack, stays, jib, come about, hold your course, and main sheet
are now part of Parchuck’s vocabulary. Tenerowicz has been sailing since he
was a kid. His experience of over 30 years makes Tenerowicz a knowledgeable
teacher. Tenerowicz says that anyone can learn to sail if you have time and like
being on the water. Money and fame, Tenerowicz says are not part of the criteria
for learning how to sail.

Our Education Tent is a familiar and popular stop at many Hudson outdoor fairs and gatherings.  This year we demonstrated steaming and shaping white oak into new mast hoops in our home-made steamer at the Mohawk Hudson Council of Yacht Clubs Boating Festival at Henry Hudson Park.  Acquiring the skills to make our own mast hoops and the tools we needed to do it took much experimentation and rethinking and we are still learning and honing our techniques.

Steaming the white oak for mast hoops

The Education Tent also is a place where young are introduced to the possibility that they too can become sailors and hopefully some of them will walk away with the desire to learn how to sail.

Learning the ropes

Mark Clarke, a friend and sometime sailor on the Eleanor, wrote about Captain Phil Egan
in this tribute published in the Register Star in August 1998.
Mark was an English teacher at Taconic Hills Central School District
and crewed on one of Eleanor’s OpSail adventures.


Recently, when we were in Washington D.C., my wife and I heard about Phil Egan’s passing. Although Phil was 95 years old and recently not enjoying the best of health, the news came painfully. Obituaries, however informative they may be, always seem inadequate when trying to form a complete picture of a person’s life. The leave so many holes. Like intricate puzzles, they always seem to be missing significant pieces.

I have known Phil for many years; he was a friend. He was the kind of person Charles Kuralt loved to seek out and interview for his television show, “On the Road.”

Phil had what we call in the Adirondacks “character.” Simply, he had a colorful personality, stood by his convictions, and possessed some peculiarity. For Phil, that peculiarity was his unusual passion for sailing.

001 (3)

Phil had a kind of love affair with sailing in which the poet John Masefield fervently writes in his poem entitled “Sea-fever.”

I must down to the sea again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.”

At the beginning of this century, Phil’s love for sailing would lure him from the family farm in Columbia County and direct hit to the Maritime College in New York. As part of his naval training, he sailed to the Azores and back on a tall ship. it was quite an adventure as he told it. it was required of him to identify and name every part of the ship. (Several years ago, I was amazed when he recounted the name of every component of a tall ship from South America which was berthed in the port of Albany. He was late in his eighties!) Another part of his training was to climb up one side of the rigging and down the other. Hardly a simple task given the pitch and roll of a tall ship at sea. Grinning, Phillip admitted to me that he acquired a fondness for this activity.

But sailing came with its perils. On a more serious note, he recalled one cadet who fell from aloft and was killed. Because a land burial was not practical, the cadet was sewn in canvas, given a proper Christian service and the buried at sea. It was a reminder, Phil recounted, that the sea had her ways and that she was unforgiving for even the slightest error.

Upon his graduation it was necessary for him to return to the farm and manage the family’s affairs. Years would come and year would pass but he retained his youthful love for the sea.

Original masst hoops

Original masst hoops

Eventually, the passion became too much for him and he purchased the “Eleanor”, a wonderful old sailing sloop. She had a sleek wooden hull which sailed low in the water. As Phil told it, she had at one time been owned by the Livingston family. She had a lead keel which could be lowered beneath the hull to give it balance should the wind wish to lay her on her side. The mainsail was attached to wooden hoops which were manually hoisted to the top of the mast. An additional large triangular sail, the spinnaker, could be set on a long light pole at the bow of the ship to increase speed when “running before the wind.”

This is how I got to know Phil. I imagine that is how most people got to know him. He might start a conversation with, “Do you like to sail?” and then somewhere in the conversation extend an invitation to go sailing on The Eleanor. Phil’s friendships always seem to share the common denominator of sailing. One thing that was so unique about The Eleanor was that there was no auxiliary power. Translation: everywhere that The Eleanor sailed, she would have to advance under sail. This left little room for error. Very little.

Once when we were sailing up river (destination the Port of Albany) we happened upon a sudden squall. We quickly donned our oil skins (rain gear) and headed for the nearest marina. In order to make a safe an timely berth we would have had to “come about” 180 degrees and sail against the current and into the wind. The skipper let loose a blast from the fog horn, informing the marina of our impending berthing, then brought The Eleanor around and into the wind. Several people scrambled to the dock and yelled “Lower your sailed and come in under power.” He yelled back, “We have no power. We’re sailing her in.” The look on their faces was similar to what I expect classed across the faces of those who witnessed the 1937 Hindenburg Disaster. Undaunted, the skipper brought her in skillfully, against wind and tide, amid torrential down pour.

Captain's daughter in the bosun's chair on OpSail

Captain’s daughter in the bosun’s chair on OpSail

Sailing was not always a pleasant experience because it required simple living and we were always at the mercy of the elements. I can vividly remember sitting in mid-channel of the Hudson River just beyond the opening of the Catskill Creek: the cruel August sun beating down. Suffering, we waited patiently for a favorable change in the tide or hoped for an agreeable wind to come and fill our sails. When the elements worked against us, the skipper would suggest for someone to lightly scratch the mast with their nails while whistling a soothing tune. This, he explained, had the magic to say the forces of nature and bring favorable winds our way.

But when our sails were full and we cut a fine line in the water, it was truly a sight to behold. The Eleanor would majestically slice through the water; her mast tilted, the boom extended and the sails gorged with wind. Never was their [sic] such grace, neve was their such bliss.

Phil didn’t quite capture the image of the seasoned sailor. You know the kind, hardened men who use rough language. The kind of person you might find down a cobblestone street drinking in a sea-side tavern. A leather faced man with a patch drawn over one eye and a parrot perched on the opposite shoulder. Sitting alone [sic] with a cold pint tightly fisted in his hand, he would occasionally mumble something about having served with Lord Nelson at Trafalgar.

To the contrary, Phil was very different. He had gentle eyes and a wide warm smile. He never drank, swore and had a deep unshakable faith in God. Periodically he would take someone sailing up the Hudson River for a nominal fee, which he would then donate to charity. He had the curious habit of whistling without carrying any discernible tune. It must have been a generational peculiarity for I have found this unique only to my grandparents.

Call of the Running Tide (1)Phil was an anachronism. He held all of the characteristics of a 19th century sailor. That was a time when ships were made of wood and men were made of steel. Today, the ships are made of steel and the the men are made of wood. Phil held the oldest sailing license on the river. Phil was a steel of a man.

Bit the most remarkable aspect of Phil was not his love of sailing. No, it was far greater than that. His greatest attribute is that he never had a bad word about anyone and conversely, I never head anyone say a bad word about anyone and conversely, I never head anyone say a bad word about him. Imagine, living a lifetime and when it comes to a close, no one can find an unkind thing to say about you! That is remarkable.

Having just returned from Washington it has given me time to pause and reflect. Washington, known as the city of monuments, pays tribute to many great Americans: Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln. . . But I don’t suspect that there will be any monuments erected to the Phil Egans of the world too soon, and I’m sure that he wouldn’t want it any other way. Yes, as people, there is something here for us to learn. Phil’s passing reminds us of the wonderment and the preciousness of life. Anyone who knew Phil would agree that life wasn’t meant to be lived; on the contrary, it was meant to be celebrated.

The poet, Edgar Lee Master, wrote a poem entitled “Fiddler Jones.” It is about the reflection of a man on his past life.

I ended up with 40 acres, a broken fiddle,
a broken laugh, a thousand memories,
and not one regret.

Phil Egan reminded me of Fiddler Jones. He will be missed.

The following is based on a young Hudsonian’s entries in the Eleanor’s Log
on his first sailing adventure.  One of the big goals of this restoration is to get Eleanor
back into the water so that she can provide young and old their first sailing experiences.
Sailing is more than just feeling the wind in your hair.
It is communication, understanding teamwork, building confidence,
experiencing something new and developing character.
These are the deeper and more lasting aspects of sailing.

opsail 86Saturday:  I am not sure how I came to be on the crew for the trip to New York City for the Operation Sail Parade. Except maybe because my parents thought it would be a good experience for me, a fourteen year old boy, and they knew the Captain. I was promised an adventure. I had never been out sailing. I signed on to be crew with the promise from the Captain to my parents that he would look after me.

One week later, on June 28 at 1:20, just after four hours on the Eleanor, the tiller was in my hand.

“Steered Eleanor. Moved the tiller to the left to go right, and to the right to go left. Kept her on course as the Captain instructed.”
Good wind from the north. Sailed Eleanor past Hogs Back.”

As I passed the tiller to the next person, I felt pretty accomplished and satisfied. I felt good about being a member, a real member of the crew as we were called. Everybody took turns on the tiller and after that everybody had to write in the log book about their turn. Everybody took turns doing everything: cooking, sailing, navigating, main sheet, lookout, and resting. During rest time, I went up on the starboard side. I learned that is the right side facing forward and sat on the cabin deck and played the harmonica to entertain the crew. The captain liked that and he said it kept the wind coming.

“Took a place for sleeping on Eleanor.”

I took the cockpit floor. I had a mat and a sleeping bag. The other crew members had places – stern deck, cabin deck, bow, and the Captain slept down below on a bunk. It really wasn’t down below. You just had to get down low to go into the cabin.

“Slept very well under the stars with the gentle rocking of Eleanor. Up at 5:40 a.m. with change of tide.”

On board Eleanor I experienced everything from being becalmed to sailing in gale winds. On the day of the gale winds, I learned how to work as a team, and I mean TEAM with capital letters. The Captain had to give some orders which I learned had to be followed immediately if we wanted to survive. The wind came in gale force. I didn’t know what a gale force wind was, but it didn’t matter to me. This was terrifying. It was my turn on the main sheet which meant I was the person who would keep us from capsizing, but also keep us moving ahead which is very important for lots of reasons. Terror struck my heart. But, I felt and believed I could do this. I had learned the day before that we were all crew and someone would help me if I needed help. I had to slack the main sheet when the order was called, ‘slack the main sheet’, and ‘hold the main sheet’ when I had to instantly stop slacking the main sheet. Then I had to haul in on the main sheet when the order was called to haul in on the main sheet. To haul in on the main sheet I had to stand up and face the stern and haul in with all my might. Sometimes another crew member would have to help me because the wind was terrific and the sail was over 600 square feet. The waves were called rollers, and they were huge and we had to work our way through the troughs. The boat tipped or heeled over, the water came over the deck and the rail was under at times. This was an adventure . .  a terrifying adventure. Once, the main sheet ran through my hands and burned them pretty badly. I learned not to let that happen. I learned about communicating on a boat and maybe even not only on a boat, maybe anytime. When an order is given, like  ‘slack the main sheet’, the person giving the order may not have time to look around and see if the order has been carried out. So, a person responds, ‘slacking the main sheet’.. Or ‘let go the anchor’. ‘Letting go the anchor’ would be the response. That’s really important – to answer like that.

“Newburgh Yacht Club is a sailors dream. I am a sailor now.”

The yacht club is hard to get into by sail. Did I mention we do not have a motor? Anyway, after going aground at the narrow entrance to the yacht club (going aground is when everybody scrambles for poles from down below and pushes off) we tied up at the dock and everybody breathed a sigh of relief.

Newburgh has a restaurant, real toilets, and a swimming pool. As one of our men crew member called it . . . a stop with three s’s:  shit, shower and shave. On the Eleanor we did have fresh water for ‘washing up’ with and for brushing our teeth, and we did have one of those boat toilets, but it wasn’t like the real thing.

“Captain treated me to a nice steak dinner. Great time in the pool.”

littlestonypointPhoto by Russ Cusick, Little Stoney Point Citizens Association


“Settling in to my adventure.

“Yours truly at the helm. Took the tiller while going around Little Stoney Point. Sailed past enthusiastic fan high up on the mountain side.”

Setting the SpinnakerThe Coast Guard charged passed us with their motors turned up to full speed causing white caps on the water. We were sailing with the wind and our spinnaker was up so as their wake hit us everything rocked and rolled high in the air. One of our crew strongly reprimanded the speeders.

“Took us neatly around Constitution Island through Worlds End. River changes direction here. Changed tacks to get the wind and head on south past West Point.”

“Slept south of Tarrytown Bridge in the river. Threw lead line to figure how deep we were. Eleanor rocked a little bit. Stars bright and clear. Another great day of sailing.”


Took tiller at 9:30 a.m. with a southerly wind. Vanquished three boats and gave the tiller over at the George Washington Bridge at 10:15 a.m. New York and the tall ships in the distance.”

This is the third of the memories about sailing on the Eleanor from R.S.B. of Rutland, Vermont.

256px-CatskillcreekmapI was crew for the Eleanor on an overnight sail from Catskill to Kingston, NY in the summer of one of my college years. As we loaded the boat Pop fell on the gangplank to the dock that floated in Catskill Creek. He must have been in his 80’s by that time. I went to his side and helped him up. Some of the crew asked if we should abort the sail. Pop insisted that we carry on, not wanting to insult the Eleanor’s dignity. It was an awful sail! There was no wind and the temperature hovered above 95 degrees. We drifted south on the tide of the Hudson for a day. Then, we drifted north on the tide for a day back to Catskill Creek. As we drifted Pop kept us busy constantly changing the sails in an attempt to find any wind. Up with the drifter reacher! Strike that and put up the spinnaker! Again and again we adjusted the sails and rigging. We spent hours paddling in hopes of beating the change in the tide. We found out later that Pop had broken his ribs when he fell. Never give up on a sail! Never let the Eleanor down.

I learned to love the Eleanor.

This is the second of the memories about sailing on the Eleanor from R.S.B. of Rutland, Vermont.

Climbing into the far reaches of the hull to clean out the limber holes when I was 14 taught me a lesson that I wrote about in my high school English class. In the spring there was always much work to do to prepare the Eleanor for the launch. The mast had to be put in place, the bottom of the boat needed to be painted, anything loose needed to be tightened down, and every piece of equipment and sail needed to be inspected. So, up into the belly of the boat with a wire hanger to clean out the limber holes I crawled. That was a dirty job. It was carefully explained to me that without the care of the details of maintenance of the Eleanor, the integrity of the hull could weaken and she might not sail.

Sailboats are like love – each requires thoughtful and careful attention to the little things.


This memory reminds me of one of my husband’s sailing stories. Friends at work invited him to sail
the Bahamas with them. They were all big guys. Only when he was aboard did he realize that
they needed someone to go up the mast and squeeze into dirty places none of them could.
They sailed together for many years after that — JAH