May 21, 2008 Legislator's Voyage banner

On the afternoon of Wednesday, May 21st, the New Netherland Museum and the New York State Assembly Host Committee were pleased to present a special hour-long Legislator's Voyage in anticipation of next year's Quadricentennial celebrations. The assemblypeople who would be joining us represent districts all along the Hudson River region, ranging from the Capital Region to as far away as the southern shores of Long Island.

Bob Reilly, Albany and Saratoga Counties
James Bacalles, Steuben, Yates Counties
Clifford Crouch, Broome, Chenango, Delaware, Ulster
Steve Englebright, Suffolk Ginny Fields, Suffolk County
Tim Gordon, Albany, Columbia, Greene, and Rensselaer Counties
Aurelia Greene, Bronx County
Margaret Markey, Queens County
Jack McEneny, Albany County
Michelle Schimel, Nassau County

0800 Hours

In the morning, the Half Moon's volunteer crew musters on board to prepare the ship for our brief sojourn.

1400 Hours

The legislators and their guests arrive soon after the Assembly's session has ended for the day. Captain William T. Reynolds cordially introduces them to the Half Moon and promptly guides them on board.

Unfortunately, our visitors' arrival happens to coincide with the arrival of a passing storm front. Our combined crew stays dry under canvas tarps we've already stretched out over the weather deck.

Our visitors can also escape the rain by stepping below decks, where they can view our historical artifacts and meet the ship's regular crew. The Half Moon relies on a community of volunteers. This community was well represented today, including not just educators from Albany, Rensselaer, and Taconic Hills, but also several Voyage of Discovery alumnae. These young women first boarded the Half Moon as middle schoolers, and are now completing their college educations.

In addition to meeting our alumnae, the legislators can also peruse a display of our academic programs, including the Half Moon's mutidisciplinary school curricula.

After just a few minutes, Captain Reynolds checks the ship's radar and confirms that the rain is already blowing over.

With the skies clearing, we put the legislators to work. Having learned that 17th century sailors worked around the clock in four-hour shifts, they ring the watch bell to mark the start of a new watch rotation.

1420 Hours

We dispense with the tarps and can once again enjoy the view.

Captain Reynolds climbs to the Quarter deck to prepare for the Half Moon's departure. He briefs our visitors on our route; since we've raised our top masts to set sail, the ship cannot pass under either of the bridges bracketing this section of the river.

With no further delay, we cast off our mooring lines and leave the dock. A light wind is currently blowing in from the north, so we'll be traveling under motor for the first half of the trip.

As we motor northward along the Albany waterfront, the local legislators proudly show their colleagues the weather vane perched atop the Delaware & Hudson building -- a model of the Half Moon designed by the renowned 19th century architect Marcus T. Reynolds (no relation to our captain).

In addition to our educators and alumnae, we also have several crew members present to provide the legislators with a hands-on experience of 17th century nautical life. Henk Morel demonstrates the traditional skills of a period sailmaker -- some legislators are even intrigued enough to don a palm guard (which acts like a large thimble as one presses a needle through the thick canvas) and sew a few stitches.

1435 Hours

The nearby railroad bridge marks our northern boundary. As we make our approach, the regular crew set the fore sails and brace them to the wind, preparing to bring the ship about.

The legislators with us today aren't just here as passengers; we're enlisting them as crew members. Jurgen Schuijer introduces our visitors to the basics of line handling.

With just a few words of advice, our new crew is soon ready to help set the main course.

The crew sets the main course.
Mouse over to set sail.

1440 Hours

As we complete our turn, we set the main course and shut off the ship's engine.

With a light northerly wind to our backs, and with the tide nearly slack, we slowly and gently slide southward back along the Albany and Rensselaer waterfronts, gliding silently through the water.

As we sail south, several crew members are on hand to lead our guests through our historical exhibits of 1609 life on the Hudson River and to discuss our current programs.

Wherever one looks, one finds the Half Moon's regular crew mingling with the sailing legislators and discussing the past, present, and future of the Hudson River Valley.


In time, we begin to approach the Dunn Memorial Bridge, the southern boundary of today's voyage.

1455 Hours

Once again, we brace to the wind, shove the rudder hard over, and reverse direction.

Captain Reynolds raises the possibility of continuing on for a second lap, but the legislators' busy schedules beckon, so we elect to return to port.

Time to put our sailing legislators back to work!


Under the supervision of our experienced crew, the sailing legislators haul on the clews, martinets, and bunts, putting the main mast sails back in their gear.

With the sails doused, the legislators also belay and coil the running rigging to tidy the deck.

As we motor back to the dock, our guests still have time to take in our historical displays and chat with the crew. In the galley, Woody Woodworth discusses what passed for 17th century cuisine on board Hudson's ship.

On the weather deck, Steve Weisse shows legislators how the sailors of 400 years ago used dead reckoning to chart the ship's course as they traversed the open ocean.

1515 hours

Right on schedule, the Half Moon approaches our dock at the Riverfront Pumping Station.

As the regular crew secure the ship's dock lines, the sailing legislators prepare to step back into the 21st century.

1520 Hours

With the ship securely docked, Captain Reynolds is again freed from his post to chat with our sailing legislators, and thank them for their visit.

We also discuss the rapidly approaching 2009 Hudson-Fulton-Champlain Quadricentennial celebration. Click here to learn more about next year's celebrations. (This link takes you to a separate web site.)

Special thanks to our sailing legislators for a wildly energetic and successful voyage!