2009 River Day Voyage banner

Daily Log: Saturday, June 6th

Today's Events at a Glance:
Launch Day
7:15 AM: River Day Flotilla vessels pick up dignitaries and press at various locations.
9 AM: Flotilla begins at Statue of Liberty, joined for the day by River Day sponsor vessels. Ships parade by Haarlem, Cloisters, Yonkers, and Hudson River Museum.
4 PM: Formal gun salute at Kingsland Point Park.
5-6 PM (ETA): Flotilla arrives in Tarrytown/Nyack area for cannon welcome and ringing of church bells.
Overnight: The Half Moon docks at Piermont Pier.
Shoreside Activities:
Afternoon: Tarrytown/Nyack area: Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome antique airplane flyovers.
9 PM: Sleepy Hollow: Fireworks program adjacent to Kingsland Point Park. Click here or here for more info.
Land Viewing Locations:
Piermont: Piermont Pier, Flywheel Park, & the public walkway.
Nyack: Memorial Park & Nyack State Beach Park. (Parking prohibited on North Broadway in Nyack.)
Click here
for details.

0600 hours

Starting Position: Docked at Staten Island Home Port.
Latitude: 40˚ 37.8'
Longitude: 074˚ 04.3'

Day One of the inaugural 2009 River Day Voyage.

After the tempest we dealt with during the Launch Ceremony yesterday, we're pleased to rise and see that the skies are overcast but dry, mirrored by the calm, silvery waters of New York Harbor.

The vessels of the River Day Flotilla have spent the night secured at numerous locations all around New York Harbor, so it'll be an early start for everyone to gather the fleet.

Two new crew members joined us last night, so here's the Half Moon crew roster for this leg of the voyage: Captain Reynolds, Kipp Van Aken, Diane Carey, Keith Cardoza, Pauli Dangerousli, Ewout van Grondelle, Bob Hansen, David Howell, Brody Karn, Cullen Kasunic, Rachel Laufer, John W. Mangrum, Ben Mazer, Robert F. McGuigan, Stephen van der Merwe, Patrick E. Noonan, Anna & Tony Ravinsky, Matthew Ricchezza, Frank Rodriques, John Swartout, and Patrick Wolfe.

0715 hours

We we prepare to leave the dock, Captain Reynolds briefs the crew on the day to come. The Half Moon will be leading the flotilla, and we must we well versed in our assignments.

0730 hours

With Mr. Cardoza again tending our docklines on the pier, we set off from Staten Island with plenty of time to meet the flotilla off Liberty Island.

Over breakfast, watch leaders Laufer and Carey arrange a new watch rotation to take our new crew members into account -- which will essentially end up being their morning routine!

Mr. Van Gr takes a sounding.
Mouse over to take a sounding.

The Half Moon will return to Staten Island for public tours in August. In preparation for that trip, Captain Reynolds is using our extra time this morning to sound the waters around the Home Port.

It's Mr. Van Grondelle manning the lead line this time around, with assistance from Mr. Noonan.

0815 hours

The Half Moon has arrived at the flotilla meeting point, just off Liberty Island.

Numerous other vessels have also arrived, including a Water Taxi, Launch 5, Riverkeeper, a pair of powers boats from Discover Boating...

...not to mention the Onrust and the Clearwater. The rest are already on their way.

0830 hours

We have one final preparatory task to attend to. We haul our inflatable tender up onto the weather deck and cover it with a tarp. On the bright side, it means the Half Moon will be equally photogenic when seen from either side; on the other hand, it means no easy trips to shore until the end of the voyage.

0845 hours

The flotilla has gathered and everyone is simply waiting for the time to head out. Mr. Dangerousli assists Mr. Karn with his harness before the latter climbs the rig to unfurl our sails.

0900 hours

The time has come! Launch 5 and the Clipper City slip into position behind us.

If you look closely at the base of the Statue of Liberty, you can see the first throng of spectators we'll encounter during this voyage. The crowds only get bigger from here!

0915 hours

The River Day Flotilla is underway across New York Harbor, heading toward the mouth of the Hudson River.

A wall of sail to our starboard side! The Onrust, Clearwater, Adirondack, and Mystic Whaler fall into line with each other, trailed by the Manhattan and several pleasure craft.

1000 hours

The flotilla is now cruising north past Manhattan. As we approach Pier 86, home of the USS Intrepid, we are accompanied by some vessels constructed on a somewhat more humble scale.

1045 hours

The Half Moon is now leading the flotilla past Riverside Church (visible, but obscured by our standing rigging here) and Grant's Tomb.

1100 hours

We are closing in on the George Washington Bridhe as Mr. Lyke climbs up to relieve Mr. Karn in the main top. Looking south, you can see the River Day Flotilla trailing off into the horizon behind us.

As Mr. Karn returns to deck, we can see Mr. Rodriques leading the gun crew through their training regimen.

When we reach West Point tomorrow afternoon, we must return a 15-gun salute. Firing 15 times in quick succession, using three blackpowder swivel guns and four falconets (small cannons) is a demanding task, especially for our volunteer crew. Mr. Rodriques has already prepared a standard operating procedure that will maximize our efficiency and, above all else, crew safety.

In the role of Safety Officer, Mr. Rodriques has organized the gun crews into three positions: Gunner, Loader, and Assistant Gunner, each of which we'll discuss as the event arrives.

Mr. Van der Merwe is a Gunner. His task is to handle the gun -- in his case, the fore deck swivel gun -- and maintain control over it at all times. Here he's practicing using a gloved hand to cover the touch hole. In a "hot" exercise, this would prevent stray sparks from accidentally igniting the blackpowder quill or squib used to fire the loaded charge.

Our other gunners are Van Aken & Dangerousli (weather deck swivel guns), Morton & Swartout (sternchaser falconets), and Vanden Heuvel & McGuigan (port falconets).

1230 hours

With the George Washington Bridge fading into the haze behind us, the Half Moon is now leading the flotilla upriver toward Yonkers and the Palisades.

As we approach, the Fireboat John J Harvey slips past us to motor ahead to the Yonkers waterfront.

As the fireboat passes, it unleashes its water cannons in a display that is both impressive and cooling -- even from this distance.

Half Moon crew fire a swivel gun salute to gathered crowds at the Yonkers pier.
Mouse over to salute Yonkers!

1245 hours

As we approach the Yonkers waterfront, we fire a swivel gun salute. We we close in, we can see a teeming crowd along the waterline, and even some special emissaries (external link) greeting us at the end of the Yonkers Pier.

The Half Moon will return to Yonkers this October for public and school tours following the conclusion of our second Masters Voyage of Discovery.

Crowds cheering the ship gather at the end of the Yonkers pier.
Mouse over for a closer look.

1430 hours

Having passed Yonkers and the Hudson River Museum, we are now leading the flotilla into Haverstraw Bay.

1530 hours

The River Day Flotilla has reached its destination for the day, just north of the Tappan Zee Bridge. Most vessels will dock at Tarrytown tonight, but the Half Moon will be returning slightly downriver to Piermont instead.

Mouse over to salute Kingsland Point Park.

1545 hours

Before we turn to go, however, we fire a swivel and cannon salute to Kingsland Point Park.

Mouse over to give fire!

These salutes also serve as live exercises for our gun crews.

One deck down, we trade the bright sunlight and fresh air for the cramped, smoky conditions of the falconet gun crews.

The falconets are small cannons capable of firing 1-1/2 lb. cannonballs. Lacking the power to pierce the thick wooden hull of a vessel like the Half Moon, ships of that era would have used the falconets as defensive weapons.

1600 hours

After the salute, Ms. Laufer stops to clean the aft swivel gun mugs, the replacable chambers into which the swivel gun's blackpowder charges are loaded. Replacing mugs allows gun crews to swiftly reload these weapons.

Ms. Laufer's position in the gun crew is Loader. Her responsibilties include cleaning and loading the mug, moving the mug between her staging area and the swivel gun, and securing the mug in the gun for firing.

The Half Moon's other loaders are Hansen (fore deck swivel) and Cardoza (weather deck swivel). As straightforward muzzle-loaders, the falconets do not require a loader position.

1615 hours

As we turn back toward Piermont, the rig crew furl the top sails and climb down from their lofty perches.

Piermont is located on the eastern side of the river, but we expect to be there shortly and our gun crews have already prepared an incoming salute.

Gun crews fire a swivel gun salute.
Mouse over to salute Piermont.

1645 hours

As we approach the end of Piermont Pier, we issue two swivel salutes, saving a sternchaser salute for after we're docked.

The current is against so, so we carefully maneuver into position as we approach the pier.

As we close in, we can see the eager crowd patiently waiting to welcome us. We know the crowd is eager -- it takes about seven minutes to walk out here from the end of the pier!

1700 hours

As we pull in, we recruit two police officers to handle our docklines for us. Once we fling over Line Two, they secure it and we use it to gradually reel ourselves in.

The moment we reach the dock a quartet of local dignitaries step forward to greet us personally, including Piermont Mayor Chris Sanders (far right on shore).

An endless crowd swarms past to view the Half Moon at the end of Piermont Pier.
Mouse over to unleash the crowd!

The ship is secure, so there's no more reason to hold back the crowds. The good folks of Piermont flood in to examine the ship.

They also enjoy chatting with our crew and receiving answers to their questions regarding the Half Moon and local history.

1800 hours

Our arrival at Piermont marks the end of the first leg of the Half Moon's River Day voyage. For crew members David Howell, Cullen Kasunic, and Anna & Tony Ravinsky, it's time to return to shore.

Mr. Van Grondelle strikes a broad pose as he waits to transfer the departing crew members' gear to shore.

And there it goes!

1830 hours

We thank crew members Howell, Ravinsky, Ravinsky, & Kasunic for their good work, and hope to see them back on board soon.

1900 hours

Once the crowd disperses, Captain Reynolds and the Half Moon crew are invited to the Gala Quadricentennial Dinner, held by the Piermont Historical Society at Cornetta's Seafood Restaurant (external link) in celebration of Piermont's River Day.

Here, the captain is greeted by C. Scott Vanderhoef, Rockland County Executive (to the left) and Richard Esnard, Piermont Historian (to the right).

After a few opening words by Mr. Esnard, Mayor Sanders, Captain Reynolds, and others, the crowd is free to dine and mingle.

With all dull respect to Mr. Wolfe and the other esteemed cooks in our crew, it's fair to say that the Half Moon's volunteer crew isn't accustomed to getting fed like this.

Photo by Frank Rodriques

Mr. Rodriques would like to stress that this was his third plate of food!

Not only did this party allow the Half Moon crew to mingle with "the great washed," with this many new faces on board it also gave us an opportunity to sit back and get to know each other as well.

A sampling of Piermont's fireworks display.
Mouse over for fireworks!

2115 hours

With nightfall comes a pause in the festivities the Piermont fireworks display.

Before we left, Captain Reynolds wanted to make sure he was seen next to the illuminated ice sculpture of the Half Moon and its sculptor, Suren -- who also happens to be the proud propietor of Cornetta's.

2200 hours

One last boat ride for the night! The Piermont organizers are kind enough to provide the Half Moon crew with a ride back to the ship on a fire launch.

With all hands soon back on board, the crew quickly beds down for the night. Tomorrow brings the big show.

Next Time: Onward to Haverstraw Bay, West Point, and Newburgh!



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