The Life Aquatic
As South Street Seaport’s redevelopment resumes in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, a beloved maritime museum struggles to hold on to its precious patch of NYC.
Tied to Pier 16’s west side at South Street Seaport, just outside the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge, the schooner Pioneer tosses against her dock lines. Built in 1885 to haul sand for an iron foundry on the Delaware River, the sailboat is 102 feet long, boasts a 76-foot main mast, and sails six days a week from March to October with a combination volunteer and professional crew. In a city where most waterfront access is commercially zoned or privately held, providing little opportunity for New Yorkers to get out on the water, the South Street Seaport Museum’s schooner Pioneer offers the only free sailing program in the five boroughs.
Even if you’re the kind of New Yorker who secretly wants to learn the trade of tall ship sailing and run away to sea, it’s unlikely that you’ve heard of the program. You’d have to stumble upon a sign on a pier by accident, like I did ten years ago when I first moved to New York, twenty-one years old and drinking watered-down margarit…
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