Sail of the Century

Henry Hudson’s historic voyage is recreated aboard the replica ship Half Moon

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replica cooking and eating utensils
The ship even contains replica cooking and eating utensils

Today, the Half Moon cannot take passengers, but offers volunteer crew experiences ranging from basic ship maintenance to galley duty. The ship also takes middle-schoolers on voyages that retrace Hudson’s journey. Students conduct scientific experiments that recreate the day-to-day navigational work done on the original vessel. In fact, the ship was in New York Harbor on the morning of September 11, 2001, about to make such a journey. Reynolds proudly recorded in his journal: “Our students took the initiative... They responded immediately, competently and maturely, working as a team to weigh anchor, get the ship underway, and organize the vessel for conditions that we could not predict.” Albeit shaken, they made the nine-hour voyage back to home port in Verplanck safely and expertly.

“Henry Hudson functioned as a natural scientist,” says Reynolds. “Every 30 minutes he was taking a vast measurement of the world around him, tracking the progress of the trip. His crew looked for repeatable patterns and kept detailed logs, both for their own preservation and for the expansion of commerce. It is not something that people think of when they think of Hudson. They think of him as blundering on. But he sailed very precisely to every location. Seventeenth-century explorers on ships were really on the cutting edge. They were the top practitioners of an empirical approach to knowledge.”

Though he didn’t find the passage to the Orient in 1609, Hudson’s description of the beauty and bounty of the land — including an abundance of corn, grapes, and salmon — did lead to Dutch settlement here.

Only Hudson’s reputation profited, which was why he had to go out again in 1610 to look for that passage one more time. Things didn’t turn out so well. In a mutiny (in which Juet, of all people, was involved), Hudson was set adrift on a boat in the Canadian Arctic with his son, the ship’s carpenter, and six crew members incapacitated with scurvy. “There is a Canadian painting of Hudson that shows him as a dejected, despondent loser, his son curled up in his lap,” says Reynolds. “But if you read the trial account of the people who came back to England after the mutiny, the last recorded image of Hudson is that he had set all the boat’s sails. He had not given up.”


2009 Schedule for Replica Ship Half Moon

Visit for updates

♦ Memorial Day weekend (May 23-25)
Docked in Poughkeepsie for festival and open for public tours (not confirmed)

June 6
River Day, New York Harbor

July 25-26
Docked in Hudson for festival and open for public tours

August 22-23
Docked in Staten Island for festival and open for public tours

September 14
Harbor Day, New York Harbor

September 26
Docked in Albany for festival and open for public tours

Last two weeks in October
Docked in Yonkers and open for public tours



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