Parents looking to combine a mini-history lesson with a recreational activity for the entire family can check out The Schooner Pioneer, a 102-ft. two-masted topsail schooner built in 1885. Since arriving at South Street Seaport Museum over thirty years ago, her work has turned to education, enabling New Yorkers to relive a small piece of Manhattan’s maritime history.
For over 120 years, this working vessel has been employed in various tasks that ranged from hauling sand to foundries in the Delaware Bay to transporting general cargo, lumber, and oil. Presently, Pioneer is the only iron-hulled sailing vessel built in the United States still in operation. She remains traditionally rigged and continues to sail as a living connection to our heritage.
On a weekend or evening public sail, parents and kids can experience join the crew in raising one of the ship’s four lower sails. Then they can sit back and experience first hand the harbor history and natural environment reminiscent of 19th century New York City. Cruising on a sailboat in the Hudson River gives New Yorkers a Lilliputian view of the city. The Statue of Liberty, the South Street Seaport and other New York City landmarks take on a unique perspective when viewed at sea level.
Purchasing a South Street Seaport Museum family membership enables parents to receive free admission to tour the three museum ships and visit the galleries, as well as discounts for all programs and admissions such as family sails. These afternoon outings offer a soda and sandwich lunch and educational activities such as meeting live harbor animals, practicing knot tying and learning how to read nautical charts.
Landlubbers can check out the varied weekend family programs offered by the South Street Seaport Museum. Visit the “street of ships,” which includes three historic vessels that are open for tours – the four-masted bark Peking (1910), the full-rigged ship Wavertree (1885) and the lightship Ambrose (1908). Saturday programs aboard the Peking feature a wide array of nautical inspired arts and craft projects, storytelling and games. On Sundays, children can participate in aqua yoga classes or drop by the Living Harbor Wet Lab to learn about the critters of the East River and create aquatic arts and crafts. There is a nominal fee for classes and material costs.
Educational programs are offered on many of the South Street Seaport Museum’s ships, ranging from a harbor sail on Pioneer to sleeping overnight at the dock in a sailor’s bunk on Wavertree. These programs are available to school, scouting organizations and other youth groups.
For the most updated schedule of public sails aboard the Schooner Pioneer or for information on the educational programs log on to southstreetseaportmuseum.org.
Check out these free New York City based aquatic adventure outings.
BATTERY PARK PARKS CONSERVANCY
During the summer, the BPPC sponsors music, dancing and storytelling, fishing days, bird watching and garden tours, art for all ages, sports, games and play programs. For information contact: 212-267-97000; www.BPCParks.org
DANA DISCOVERY CENTER, HARLEM MEER
Bamboo poles are available free of charge from 10am to 3pm from April through October at the Dana Discovery Center located at the Harlem Meer (W. 100th Street near Fifth Avenue). Children must be accompanied by an adult. www.centralparknyc.org/virtualpark/northend/danacenter
They run the following free programs: walk-up public kayaking, kayak trips on the harbor, evening classes, and a winter swimming pool program. Log on to www.downtownboathouse.org for more complete details.
HUDSON RIVER PARK TRUST
Check out www.hudsonriverpark.org for a complete listing of family friendly programs offered from Pier 25 to Pier 99.