Just in case you didn't know -- next year, 2009, is the 400th anniversary of the discovery of a certain river by a Dutch explorer named Henry Hudson. And an important part of the year-long celebrations from New York City to the upper reaches of the Hudson River Valley is the plank-for-plank replica of Hudson's ship, the Half Moon.
The Half Moon is now docked at The Pier in Yonkers, and will stay there for two weeks. Students from schools throughout Westchester take part in educational programs on the boat, to learn what it was like to live and work in the early 1600s, including the life of a sailor aboard Henry Hudson's ship of discovery during the week. And on weekends, the Half Moon is open for public tours. Remember to watch your head when you go below deck -- people were a lot shorter in the 1600s than we are today.
The original ship, called the "Halve Maen," in Dutch, was commissioned in 1609 for the Dutch East India Company, which hired an Englishman, Henry Hudson, to find a passageway between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. He thought he had found it when he sailed up the river that was later named for him. His mistake -- our history.
The Half Moon is just one of hundreds of activities, festivities and celebrations for the Quadricentennial of Henry Hudson's discovery. Check the ExploreNY400 website regularly for updates so you can start planning now.
Hudson claimed the area for his Dutch employers, and soon Dutch farmers, cattle ranchers and fur traders began arriving to settle the Hudson Valley. Hudson's voyage here in 1609 was 10 years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock.
The Half Moon replica was built in Albany, the New York State capital city on the shores of the the Hudson River. It is 85 feet long. Can you imagine sailing across the Atlantic into the unknown today in an 85-foot wooden boat, with no GPS, no iPod, no credit cards, no ice for the afternoon social hour and no balcony to enjoy it on?