by Vermont Rice


When Captain Steve (Schwartz) began to get acquainted with the project and learned that he’d be working with me and first mate Jordan Finkelstein, he started to get excited about a lot of things.  The funniest of them was maybe this exclamation.  “What are the odds!  Three jews sailing food down the Hudson River!”  I think it was the menorah on my piano that tipped him off, as we were in my house at the time.  But I had to tamp down his enthusiasm a little, saying I am really not that much of a jew.  Though I enjoy a seder every year and we do hannukah with the kids, I am really a lapsed Quaker if I am anything at all.  Still, it was a funny moment, one that stood out in an endeavor replete with funny moments.

And now with Thanksgivukah at a close, the first and last Thanksgivukah any of us will ever know, we give thanks for the Mayflower, the perky little ship that helped the Pilgrims sail from Judea to escape the religious oppression of the Seleucid Empire, and for the Maccabees they met in the New World who saved them from starvation by teaching  them how to make latkes and jelly doughnuts, and how to properly cook a turkey brisket, and of course for the oil that unexpectedly lasted the pilgrims through their entire first winter in Massachusetts, and many things besides.

I personally am especially thankful for the support and understanding of my family as we pulled this thing off and proved our point, an undertaking that did more and demanded more of us than we had imagined at the outset.  I am thankful for the many partners who helped pull this all off, too. We made many great connections along the way, including Chipman Point Marina, the City of Mechanicville and Southern Saratoga Chamber of Commerce, Transition Albany/Troy, the Hudson Sloop Club, the Hudson Maritime Museum in Kingston, Riverside Marina in Newburgh, the Beacon Sloop Club, Hook Mountain Yacht Club, the Science Barge in Yonkers, the Sloop Clearwater, Brooklyn Navy Yard and New Amsterdam Farmers’ Market.  What a roundup!

I am thankful for the help Greenhorns USA gave us in filling gaps in our organization as we plied our route for the first time, and for help in getting the word out.  Greeenhorns works tirelessly to advance agrarian revival and the interests of the next generation of farmers.  If you are passionate about these issues that are so vital to the future of our region, take a look at Greenhorns’ ambitious program and please consider supporting them.

Lastly and most importantly, Vermont Sail Freight Project owes a huge debt of gratitude to our sponsor the Willowell Foundation, whose director Matt Schlein went way out on a limb and took a chance on my vision of a Lake Champlain and Hudson River repopulated with working sail.  Willowell has wrangled volunteers, helped with countless hours of administrative support, has provided financial security and support to the project.  As project director I pledged to seek funding to get the project off the ground, but did not fully succeed in this and our venture still struggles with unfunded project creation costs.  We have been unable to offer much compensation to those who worked so hard to bring the project about.  And particularly due to our high insurance costs, Willowell continues to carry a fiscal burden but yet has refused to abandon the Vermont Sail Freight Project or to drastically reduce it in scope.  So, if Thanksgivukah or the coming of Christmas has put you in a giving frame of mind, if the voyage of the Ceres has brought a sense of adventure and hope to your year, please consider supporting them as we have high hopes to carry on in 2014 and still need support (tax-deductible)!  In fact if you are in our area you can come to the Willowell Annual Fundraiser at the Vergennes Opera House this coming Saturday, December 14th.  BandAnna is playing and it will be a fantastic time.  We will be auctioning off some dinner tickets and a cruise aboard Ceres in 2014!  Hope to see you there and Happy Holidays!

On one last note, this blog is so close to the 100,000 views mark!  97,000 to date!  Tell a friend and help us claim that accomplishment by New Year’s Eve!