Schooner teaches marine ecology and sailing history
by Jennifer Khedaroo
Jun 12, 2018 | 551 views | 0 0 comments | 28 28 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Shot on assignment for the South Street Seaport Museum on Monday May 23, 2016.
Shot on assignment for the South Street Seaport Museum on Monday May 23, 2016.
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The South Street Seaport Museum’s ship “Pioneer” is making its way around the fishing grounds of Bay Ridge.

During sailing season, Pioneer sets sail from Pier 16 near at the South Street Seaport and goes on a three-hour Ecology Sail where visitors learn about the various sea creatures in the waters while aboard the historic schooner. Visitors will help set a trawl net and haul it in, bringing up a variety of creatures such as flounder, puffer fish, seahorses or blue crabs.

This family-friendly event will have children and adults help raise the sails to continue the exploration the old fashioned way. While sailing past the Statue of Liberty, families will learn about the sea creatures caught with the trawl, examine plankton through a view-scope, and test the water to learn about the marine ecosystem.

But the trip isn’t all about marine life. Visitors can expect a small glimpse of the schooner’s history.

In the days before paved roads, small coastal schooners such as Pioneer were the delivery trucks of their era, carrying various cargoes between coastal communities including lumber and stone from Maine, brick on the Hudson River, and oyster shell on the Chesapeake Bay.

Almost all American cargo sloops and schooners were wood, but because Pioneer was built in what was then America's center of iron shipbuilding, the schooner had wrought-iron hull.

By 1930, when new owners moved Pioneer from the Delaware River to Massachusetts, the ship had been fitted with an engine, and was no longer using sails. In 1966, Pioneer was substantially rebuilt and turned into a sailing vessel once again.

Today the ship plies the waters of NY Harbor carrying adults and children instead of cargo in her current role as a piece of "living history." In fact, Pioneer was the first of only two cargo sloops built of iron in this country, and is the only iron-hulled American merchant sailing vessel still in existence.

Ecology Sails are held every other Sunday through September 10th. However, daily sails are available at 7 p.m. from Wednesday to Friday as well as at 1 p.m., 4 p.m., and 7 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are $32 while senior (65+ years) and children (aged 0-12 years) tickets are $28. Tickets are available at www.southstreetseaportmuseum.org/sailnyharbor. Pioneer tickets also include free admission to the Museum's exhibits.

The Museum houses an extensive collection of works of art and artifacts, a maritime reference library, exhibition galleries and education spaces, working nineteenth century print shops, and an active fleet of historic vessels that all work to tell the story of "Where New York Begins."

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