Middle, elementary school students set sail in the East River on their hand-made boats

Lauren Glassberg Image
Tuesday, June 13, 2023
Maiden Voyage! Young students set sail on their hand-made boats
Brooklyn Boatworks is a program teaches kids how to design, build and ultimately sail their own creations.

BROOKLYN HEIGHTS, Brooklyn (WABC) -- More than 100 young students put their hard work on display Tuesday, launching their hand-made boats and setting sail in the East River.

Leave it to city kids to create a fleet of sea-worthy vessels. Boats were built by elementary and middle school students participating in Brooklyn Boatworks.

The program teaches kids how to design, build and ultimately sail their own creations.

"We worked a lot with carpentry and wood tools," student Olivia said.

Olivia's group named their boat 'Take It E-Sea,' and the process of building proved pretty rewarding.

"There's a ton of people building it, I got to connect with them because before I wasn't really friends with them, I didn't know them, but I made a lot of friends during Boatworks," she said.

Boatworks has been around for nearly 20 years.

"They got four sheets of plywood, a set of plans and hand tools," said Maggie McNicholas, Executive Director of Brooklyn Boatworks.

But it's really about more than building boats.

"We use building boats as a vehicle to teach kids STEM -- self-confidence, leadership, things that will help them thrive in these classrooms and outside, and for the rest of their lives," McNicholas said.

"The best part is building it, it's an accomplishment for every piece," 6th grader Victor Davenport said.

This year, 12 boats were built by about 144 students. On Tuesday, each student got a chance to sail in the boat they built with the help of an instructor. It's a trip that is a perfect culmination of hard work and ingenuity.

The boats are 7-foot optimist prams, a style of boat that doesn't quite gel with the name of Xavier's boat.

"The name is 'The Sinker,' he said.

Fortunately, it did not sink, in fact, the event was an all-around success.

"It was really nice because you have Brooklyn Bridge Park right here with all the trees, and the water, and the buildings," Olivia said.


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