Despite their ship running a ground near a Yonkers pier—Irvington Middle Schoolers had an educational, as well as exciting, experience on their class trip sailing the Sloop Clearwater Monday.
“The experience remained focused,” said Irvington Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kristopher Harrison. “They met their objective of studying the Hudson [River]. It was quite the unique experience, but they were still able to achieve their academic objectives.”
About 22 of the school’s fifth graders were returning from an annual school trip on the 106-foot boat—owned by Pete Seeger’s Clearwater organization—that is funded by the Irvington Education Foundation when the boat got stuck about 150 feet away from the pier around 2:30 p.m., Harrison said.
Hudson River Sloop Clearwater Inc., a non-profit organization started in 1966 to clean up the Hudson River, launched the boat in 1969. While aboard the Sloop Clearwater, students and community groups learn about the environment and importance of sustainability and the river’s health.
According to a spokesperson for Clearwater, the ship got stuck in debris that washed up.Harrison said that the school district was immediately notified of the situation and was in constant contact with school staff and chaperones, as well as the Clearwater staff and the coast guard.
“The safety and well being of our students, chaperones and staff members were our top priority,” said Harrison.
The decision was eventually made to evacuate the children off of the boat and arrangements were made for the Westchester County Police to orchestrate the effort. Students were brought to shore by 4 p.m. and arrived back at school at 5 p.m. No one was injured during the incident.
“There’s a wonderful culture in the school in fifth grade,” said Harrison. “I think that carries over as the students were real troopers and enjoyed the experience. I think they really were able to focus on task at hand that was the ‘Clearwater Experience.’”
Harrison said the school district looks forward to continuing this experience for its students, and will make sure the school is aware of the boat’s inspection status and make sure there is clearance from the coast guard before students venture out on the boat.
Clearwater said that the boat was freed around 6 p.m. and safely docked. The boat has showed no signs of damage, and the U.S. Coast Guard has inspected and cleared the boat to sail with passengers.
The Sloop Clearwater was back in the environmental education business Tuesday afternoon sailing to 79th Street to pick up another boatload of students.