BLUE MOUNTAIN LAKE It is a long way from the South Bronx to the Central Adirondacks, not only in miles, but in culture and environment as well.
In spite of many differences, city and hamlet were connected on Sunday, Sept. 16 when a brand new hand-made boat - a replica of an Adirondack logging bateau -- was christened and launched on the pond at the Adirondack Museum. Snuggled in fleece and sweatshirts, nine young people from the Bronx (the boat builders) joined cheering museum staff and visitors as the graceful little bateau slid into the water.
The bateau is the end product of more than a year of collaboration among three institutions. For the past three years, students and apprentices from Rocking the Boat, a non-profit youth development organization located in the Bronx, have spent their summers building traditional wooden boats at Philipsburg Manor on the Pocantico River, one of six properties owned or operated by Historic Hudson Valley.
This year Rocking the Boat and Philipsburg Manor agreed to build a logging bateau for the Adirondack Museum at Blue Mountain Lake. The boat is a scaled-down replica of a 23-foot logging bateau that the museum has in its collection.
Conversation between museum Curator Hallie Bond and Thom Thacker, Director of Philipsburg Manor generated the Adirondack Museum project.
The project was underwritten, in part, through the generosity of Naomi Levine, a resident of New York City and Long Lake, New York, who grew up in the Bronx. Ms. Levine, a longtime friend and supporter of the museum, was excited to see the museum reach out to young people from the Bronx and be able to introduce the Adirondacks and the idea of wilderness to them as part of the program.
The finished bateau will be used to provide museum visitors with an "on-the-water" experience, complementing the extraordinary exhibit "Boats and Boating in the Adirondacks, 1850 to 1950." The Adirondack Museum has the second largest collection of inland wooden watercraft in the United States.
About half of the team of students who built the Adirondack Museum's new bateau made the trip to Blue Mountain Lake to launch the boat. They were accompanied by Adam Green, Thom Thacker, and others involved in the program.
The group camped in freezing temperatures at the Lake Durant campsite operated by DEC. They joined local students at the museum on Saturday, Sept. 15 for a cookout.
On Sept. 16, the bateau was christened "Naomi" in honor of Naomi Levine. Water from the Bronx River, the Pocantico, and Blue Mountain Lake was mingled in a handmade wooden bucket and poured over the bow of the pale blue boat before it was gently placed in the museum pond, Bronx craftsmanship in an Adirondack setting.