spotlight stories

remembrances of spotlights past

Perhaps it is the habit of summer to stir the memory, or more precisely the recent launch of Nostalgia, Rocking the Boat students’ 54th traditional wooden boat and 19th Whitehall rowboat, but we have looked to the past for this month’s Spotlight inspiration. In each instance, we are cheered by the progress made and the roots fortified in the time since the following projects were first announced.

Last spring when the Boatbuilding apprentices first saw the old and exhausted Arthur Spurling skiff they had been charged with recreating, they questioned whether they would be able to measure all the lines they needed before she fell apart. They eventually did dismantle her to learn more about the techniques used to build her, completed the rarely seen phase of drafting the schematics, and, 15 months later, launched the petite, gleaming white skiff, dubbed “Chummy” after the famous designer’s nickname. The builders proudly welcomed members of the family that owned the original to the community celebration in Hunts Point Riverside Park for the christening. Fittingly, the rowboat will soon return to its home island on the Maine coast where the style originated, to be used by Little Cranberry Island Yacht Club summer campers.

Rocking the Boat’s Alumni Rowing Team, best known among our constituents for supplying a finely tuned company of coxswains for the Rocking Manhattan fundraiser every fall, has a new spinoff: the Alumni Sailing Club! Recent grads of the Sailing Program have been eager for an outlet to continue sailing in the neighborhood, and even alumni from eight or nine years back—before there was a dedicated Sailing Program—were looking for opportunities to sail. The first two dates have been vintage Rocking the Boat: burgers on the grill, tunes blasting, and tons of time spent rowing, sailing, and laughing on the water. They plan to sail every other week for the rest of the season.

Rocking the Boat’s College Persistence Program had a strong 2018 launch, thanks mainly to its notable new feature, alumni mentoring. Some 15 rising freshmen benefited from a vital layer of support while their mentors enjoyed network of rekindled friendships throughout the alumni community. All but one plans to return to school this fall, a rate that far outpaces the national average. The 13 members of the class of 2019 who graduated last month will soon put their post-secondary plans into action, some moving far away from home to attend Ohio University and Miami University of Ohio and others taking non-traditional next steps. They have all recently been introduced to their college mentors, fresh off an intensive weekend training retreat.

The Herreshoff 12½’s planks were still in their steambox the first time we wrote about them in 2016. Aptly named Persistence (she took a good two and a half years to complete), the boat, with her cherry red hull, and crisp white sails is the jewel of Rocking the Boat’s sailing fleet. Students jockey for seats—she can accommodate up to six—because she is faster and roomier than the other student-built wooden boats, Triumph and Legacy. And because its 715-pound lead keel makes her nearly impossible to capsize, Persistence is in use every day in the spring and fall when the water temperature is colder and the wind is whipping.

Last summer’s first four Community Birding events, produced in conjunction with Community Rowing on Saturday afternoons, proved to be so popular that this season birding is back EVERY Saturday. Anyone visiting Hunts Point Riverside Park is encouraged to borrow binoculars, spotting scopes, and field guides and check the shoreline for five types of herons, plovers, Great and Snowy Egrets, and cormorants. Adding to the fun are bird-themes activities like learning to fold origami cranes and playing an educational game where tools like tweezers and pliers are used as stand ins for different shape and size bird beaks—the kids try to “eat” with them and quickly understand why certain birds are able to eat certain foods and not others.

rocking the boat
812 edgewater road
bronx, ny 10474
phone: 718.466.5799

Rocking the Boat is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Download Form 990.