Posts filed under ‘History’

Historic Dutch Ships Visit Kingston Sept. 17

A fleet of flat-bottomed Dutch sailing ships stopped in Kingston overnight on Sept. 17, as part of a Quad celebration sail up the Hudson River from New York City to Albany. The 18 boats had arrived in New York City on Sept. 3 by cargo ship and sailed around the Statue of Liberty before heading up the Hudson, stopping in Nyack, Peekskill, Constitution Island and Kingston, followed by Catskill, Coxsackie, and Albany, with the voyage ending Sept. 20. The boats will be transported onto a freighter on Oct. 2 for shipment back to Holland.

Dutch_blog1Such a massing of historic sailing boats probably hasn’t been seen at our city docks in at least a century. The boats were something special: their rounded bows and sterns, decorative detailing, and chocolate sails seemed lifted from a fairy tale. Shaped like a genie’s slipper, each boat had a pair of leeboards tucked up along the sides, wooden paddle-like appendages that are lowered when the boat is tacking against the wind, to help keep it from drifting sideways. Designed for navigating the shallow inland lakes and coastlines of Holland, the boats don’t have a keel, which makes them susceptible of capsizing in a strong, gusty wind.

Originally used for fishing or delivering cargos of soil, dung, peat or other raw materials, the ships are popular with hobbyists who race them for fun. The oldest craft dated from 1885, and the boats ran the gamut from fairly spartan craft that preserved their working-class origins to replicas with luxurious cabins. The HZ 108, for example, was an authentic, 1934 botter (type of fishing boat) owned by the city of Huizen, its fish tank intact, while the Sydsulver, a 2008 replica of a cargo boat, had an elaborate carved mahogany cabin, complete with showers, and the latest electronic controls. Most of the boats are privately owned, and the $500,000 cost of transporting them stateside was mostly borne by the crews and owners, according to Jan te Siepe, chairman of a foundation that promotes traditional boats and the event’s organizer.

Dutch_blog2On Friday morning, I hopped a ride to Catskill on the Hoop & Veictrouwen, one of two skutsjes, a type of cargo boat used in Friesland, a province in northern Holland. The five crew members included an electrician, cook, mason, and TV sportswriter, and they were sleeping in the long, low cabin that took up most the length of the ship—somewhat like cargo themselves, given the ceiling height of less than five feet. Built in 1916, the boat had a steel hull measuring 16 meters long and three and half meters wide; to propel the cigar-shaped vessel, 330 square meters of sail fluttered in the breeze.

We left the Kingston dock around 10 am, with the crew turning the winches to raise the massive brown sail. We passed the graveyard of rotting barges in the creek, sad remnants of the Rondout shipping industry, and pivoted left into the broad, glittering Hudson, the peace disturbed only by a cannon blast from the Onrust, a replica of a 1614 Dutch sloop, to our port side. Along the eastern shore, we passed the replica of Hudson’s ship Half Moon, looking surprisingly shrimpy. A blue heron fluttered along the shore, and the only sounds were the squawk of birds, the whoosh of the Amtrak train, and the boisterous singing of Dutch sea chanteys by the crew. They had never been to New York before and were amazed by the scenery. “For us, that’s a mountain,” said Akke Vrymoeth, pointing to the ridgeline overlooking the river.

Dutch_blog3Around 1 pm, the wind died. Swimmers dived from the neighboring boats, and we chugged into Catskill by motor. Once back on shore, I asked te Siepe what surprised him most on his trip up the Hudson. Lack of boats on the river, he said. “Most of the cities were ports 100 years ago, but now you’re completely land focused. You have the treasure, and you don’t realize it.”


September 29, 2009 at 11:17 am Leave a comment

River Day | 10 June 2009 | Kingston

River Day | Clearwater | by Nancy Donskoj

River Day | Clearwater | by Nancy Donskoj

River Day | Halve Maen | by Nancy Donskoj

River Day | Halve Maen | by Nancy Donskoj

River Day | Onrust | by Nancy Donskoj

River Day | Onrust | by Nancy Donskoj

River Day | Cornell | by Nancy Donskoj

River Day | Cornell | by Nancy Donskoj

River Day | Welcome Party | by Nancy Donskoj

River Day | Welcome Party | by Nancy Donskoj

June 18, 2009 at 10:07 am Leave a comment

Art about Holland: Then and Now

Very broadly, you could entitle the Quadricentennial’s first two art exhibits, both opening April 4 and running through April 25, “Holland Then and Now.”

willem-burgert1“Holland Then” is a show of realist watercolors by Willem Burgert depicting 17th-century Holland and New Netherland at Donskoj & Co, a gallery in Kingston’s waterfront Rondout district. A resident of Alkmarr, Burgert is one of 10 artists from the Netherlands participating in the county’s Artists in Residence program. Burgert’s watercolors were from a book he recently wrote and illustrated about the adventures of three adventurous young people in the 1600s who traveled from northern Holland to Amsterdam and thence to a region of New Netherland that’s now Kingston. The pictures and detailed descriptions provide a vivid sense of what life was like back then. Burgert’s skills in historical story-telling were honed in two previous books, a picture book about Alkmarr’s 750-year history and a book about the Dutch North Sea island of Schiermonnikoog.

hendrik-dijkThe “Holland Now” counterpart is an exhibit at the Kingston Museum of Contemporary Arts, located a few blocks from Donskoj & Co., of photographs by Kingston artist Hendrik Dijk documenting the enigmatic World War II concrete bunkers that still litter the landscape in a region of Holland known as the New Dutch Waterline (sluices and a series of locks enable it to be quickly flooded, for defense). Dijk, who was born and raised in the Netherlands, noticed the small windowless structures on a recent trip to his native land. They were built by the Dutch to house soldiers fleeing possible bombing attacks and over the years have faded into the landscape (removing the vault-like structures is very expensive). Dijk is interested in their decay and how they have been incorporated into the surrounding farmland, becoming almost invisible. He plans to photograph all 200 of them.

March 15, 2009 at 3:12 pm Leave a comment

It’s Official: 400th Anniversary Celebration of Henry Hudson’s Voyage in Ulster County Kicks Off April 2

Ulster County’s Quadricentennial Celebration officially kicks off on April 2 with a mini-celebration at the Holiday Inn in Kingston, featuring colorful, artist-designed banners, old-time music and samples of the “$16.09 specials” that will be offered by many area restaurants. The event, held from 5 to 7 pm, will be an occasion for representatives from the arts, historical and community organizations that are sponsoring Quad-related events, local governmental officials, and other Quad participants to meet and greet each other. The public is also welcome to attend.

Eleven local artists have been invited to design and paint canvas banners inspired by a theme related to the Quadricentennial. The artists are Steve Ladin, Jane Bloodgood-Abrams, Cynthia Winiker, Jacquie Roland, Matt Pleva, Iya Battle, Robert Sweeney, Hendrik Dijk, Lynn Woods, and Yourij Donskoj. The musical traditions of the region will be brought to life with a lively performance by The Slide Mountain String Band, featuring Earl and Mimi Pardini and other musicians on fiddle, banjo, guitar, mandolin and bass. The Pardinis have called and accompanied square dances held throughout Ulster County. They’ve also performed frequently at schools, weddings and other special events.

Restaurants that will be offering a $16.09 lunch or dinner Quad special throughout the celebration will be serving up samples. While it’s too soon to say which restaurants will be at the Holiday Inn, those offering specials include the following: the Hoffman House, Steel House, Mariner’s Harbor, and Frank Guido’s in Kingston; The Inn at Stone Ridge; and Cafe Tamayo, New World Home Cooking, Cafe Mezzaluna, Gisiano’s Restaurant, The Grouse House, and The Smythe House in Saugerties. Other eateries are also expected to participate. The Holiday Inn, along with Pinegrove Ranch & Family Resort and possibly other area lodgings, will be offering special Quad discounted rates.

A few of the participating Quad venues, such as The Klyne Esopus Museum, will feature a display at the kick-off event.

The kick off will be held almost 400 years to the day (April 4) when Henry Hudson departed Amsterdam in the 85-foot-long Half Moon, accompanied by a crew of 16. He would stumble upon the river that bears his name five months later, anchoring just off the site of present-day Kingston in mid September. Numerous exhibitions, lectures, festivals, house tours, and performances scheduled countywide from the beginning of April through the end of October will celebrate the region’s Dutch roots, the native Esopus people who were here centuries before the Europeans’ arrival, and the landscape, ecology and culture of the Hudson River.

A full listing of events, maps, and other information is available at The Ulster County Quadricentennial Arts Celebration Committee, which is overseeing the marketing of Quad events, received funding for its efforts from the Cultural Tourism Initiative, a project of the Arts & Business Council of New York and the New York State Council on the Arts. For more information, contact Nancy Donskoj; 845-338-8473;

March 12, 2009 at 8:51 am Leave a comment


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