4 Reasons Why New York Harbor is a Great Place for STEM Sailing

STEM SAILING ENSIGN                                                                      photo by T. McDonnell

New York Harbor is one of the finest natural harbors in the world. The Harbor is S.T.E.M. Sailing’s home and it provides a spectacular and unique setting for us. Here are four reasons why we think it is so great for us.

1) Sailing in a boat, is the best way to see New York City’s awesome and amazing structures and buildings. When we sail, we see the Liberty Tower, the Battery, the Brooklyn Bridge, Governors Island, the Holland and Brooklyn/Battery tunnels air shafts and the Manhattan bridge; all at the same time. If we want more, we look over our shoulder and we see: the Statute of Liberty, Ellis Island and the Verrazano Bridge!

Statue of Liberty
Statue of Liberty

2) New York Harbor is the only place in the World where we can sail so close to the Statue of Liberty that we may have to move further away so that photo seekers can get all of Lady Liberty into the picture!

3) New York is not a place for those that lack confidence; neither is New York Harbor. And that’s what makes sailing in one of the world’s busiest harbors is always exciting. and the views are always stunning. Safe sailing requires skill and constant awareness of the other vessels moving in the harbor and the water and wind conditions. STEM’s Director and helmsman, Tom McDonnell has worked and played, in and around New York Harbor throughout his entire life. Captain McDonnell earned a 50 Ton Master (with sailing and towing endorsements) Certificate/License from the U.S. Coast Guard. The American Sailing Association has certified him as a Sailing Instructor. His knowledge and experience make him very well prepared to navigate New York Harbor’s many challenges and he is ready to teach young people about the STEM-Sailing connection, how to sail and have some fun while learning.

4) Governors Island, the unique, fortified Island, just southeast of Manhattan,  has played an important and fascinating role in U.S. military history. In 1794, a fort (Fort Jay) was constructed as part of the USA’s first coastal defense system. A second fort was completed in 1811 (Castle Williams), just in time to deter the British from invading New York from the sea during the war of 1812. The Island served, for nearly 200 hundred years, as an important headquarters for the U.S. Army and the U.S. Coast Guard until 1996. Today, the Island is a park open to the public seasonally. Part of Governors Island is maintained by the National Park service and part by the New York City and the State of New York.

Of course the Harbor views are incredible, but the views are just the icing on the cake for STEM Sailing. The cake, the main event for us, is the opportunity to see and discuss how these buildings, bridges and tunnels, so critical to New York’s emergence as one of the World’s great cities, only became possible because of advances in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Sailing principles and practices are at the root of many of the advances enabling the construction of these colossal endeavors.

S.T.E.M. Sailing believes that providing 7th through 11th grade students with the opportunity to get out in New York Harbor, in a sail boat, will stimulate the students to view STEM education and STEM careers in a way that will “broaden their horizons” and benefit our society as a whole.

If you are an educator, or youth program official, and you are interested in STEM education and development: S.T.E.M. Sailing would like to speak to you about our FREE, Jersey City based program. For more information, please email our Program Director: TMcDonnell@stemsailing.org.