Sail on Hudson: SEAS Westchester

The Hudson River: it’s a high and dry view for regular commuters aboard Metro North’s Hudson Line as they travel between NYC and their homes, schools and jobs in the suburbs just to the north. The mighty Hudson passes by, narrow here, wider there, ice dappled in winter and sun-kissed in summer,

 

and seems just out of reach, a step too many even for those who wish to somehow be closer to it, if only for a visit.But for those who want a bit more of the Hudson, perhaps to skim just above it on a fiberglass hull, there is what many call the best kept secret on the river.  A short walk from the Hudson Line’s Philipse Manor station is the Society for the Education of American Sailors (SEAS) westchester.sailseas.com.  A non-profit sailing school and club, SEAS provides an opportunity for all of us to to sail on this historic waterway—an easy thirty-five minute train ride from Grand Central Terminal and convenient from anywhere in Westchester County.

Founded thirty-three years ago by sailing enthusiasts who want-ed to share their knowledge and passion for the sport, SEAS continues to offer classes, sailing and the camaraderie of the waterfront for those of us who just want to get on the water. It is affordable, convenient and one of the few organizations that offer access to the Hudson River so close to New York City. SEAS’ Commodore Tobin Kent says he enjoys seeing the looks on first-timers’ faces when they come down to the Hudson shoreline in Sleepy Hollow, ready to step aboard for their first open sail. Before them: a piece of the river few get to enjoy, with vistas across to the northern Palisades and south to the Tappan Zee bridge.

“They are really taken with the setting,” said Kent, “most of our students haven’t ever seen the Hudson from this perspective before. With the Tappan Zee or the cliffs of northern New Jersey in the backdrop, the views are spectacular.” SEAS’ Westchester home is located in Kingsland Point Park, an 18-acre park located on the eastern shore of the Hudson River at the mouth of the Pocantico River in the Village of Sleepy Hollow.  With spectacular overlook areas and views of the historic 1883 Lighthouse, Kingsland Point Park, maintained by the Village of Sleepy Hollow, was one of the first parks developed by the Westchester County Parks Commission. SEAS’ Westchester is head-quartered and housed in the  newly-renovated Kathryn W. Davis River Walk Center, a former county bathhouse down on its luck brought back to life through Davis’ philanthropy. With SEAS, those new to sailing can take a low-cost Beginners’ class ($190) with experienced, nationally-certified Basic Sailing instructors. In four evening classroom sessions, you will learn sailing terms, aerodynamics and hydrodynamics, points of sail, sail trim, rigging, launching, mooring, rules of the road, boat handling and boating safety. Also included are two days of sailing instruction on the water, where students gain 16 hours of practical hands-on experience using SEAS own fleet of Sun-fish personal-sized sailboats with personal flotation devices (PFDs) provided. Experienced sailors are also welcome to by-pass or audit the class, simply join the club, and start sailing. More importantly for both first-timers and old salts is SEAS’ focus on water safety. At each sailing event, a powered safety boat is captained by an instructor whenever SEAS members and students sail. The safety boat is fully equipped with Coast Guard approved rescue, safety and signalling equipment.  Commodore Tobin Kent and Vice Commodore Fred Korz are among the number of trained and experienced volunteers to man these boats, encouraging and teaching members as they sail, helping them apply their classroom lessons right on the water. SEAS is an all-volunteer, not-for-profit organization that offers refresher opportunities for members with sailing experience who need to scrape some of the rust from their hulls, as well as more advanced cruising classes. Local membership provides a reciprocal sharing arrangement with other SEAS chapters. The cost for all of this is a bargain when compared to comparable clubs on the Hudson: $190 includes tuition for the Basic Sailing Course, Sailing textbook, and a one-year membership. For returning student members and experienced sailors, a simple The cost for all of this is a bargain when compared to comparable clubs on the Hudson: $190 includes tuition for the Basic Sailing Course, Sailing textbook, and a one year membership. For returning student members and experienced sailors, a simple one-year membership is $60.  After passing the course, members join scheduled “Open Sails” all sea-son long using SEAS boats and equipment. Sailors fifteen years old and up are welcome.SEAS final summer class begins on July 22nd. Registration forms and more information can be found at http://westchester.sailseas.com, or those interested in joining should contact SEAS Westchester at (914) 631-4164 or sailseaswestchester@yahoo.com.

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About the Author: Michael L. Facciola