Walking along Franklin Street in Greenpoint, I spotted a flyer advertising “Sailing Lessons.” Since sailing is about the last activity I would imagine doing in New York, despite living so close to the East River and the handful of sailboats moored in Newtown Creek, I was intrigued: Where was this sailboat? Who was this sailor?
I emailed with the instructor, Pete Radcliffe. He of course, being a person who sails, was working on an oyster boat in New Orleans. In fact, as I learned during a lengthy chat by text, Radcliffe has been commercial fishing on and off since he was 14, and began sailing at 7 (he is 31 now).
The boat he will use for the class is called Mariah, a 1981 Hunter 25, as in 25 feet long, and during the classes—three of which take place at the new arts space Bullseye, on Franklin Street—the boat will be docked at the end of Manhattan Avenue in Newtown Creek. It holds six, which will be the size of the class that begins May 5.
By the end of your 5 two-hour long lessons—which cost $500 total—a person, said Radcliffe, “will know how to rig the boat, and explain it while they are doing it, sail it to a mark, and back to the dock. Doing that under sail power is a lot more difficult than I think most people realize.” You’ll also learn assorted nautical knowledge including “the history of sailing and sailing technology, traditional tattoos and sailor superstitions” so you can finally explain why it is that when you light a cigarette from a candle you kill a sailor–without Googling it.
Knots are also covered–which is a pretty hot, 1890s-esque skill to have. (Forget urban homesteading. The future is urban sailing.) The flyer also mentioned something about drinks and sunsets, I believe.
If enough people want to take the class, he can offer a late afternoon session, too. Just email him for more information.