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The title comes from St. Exupery.

Where is this 32′ x 5′ Cornish pilot gig emerging out of okoume?  (Doubleclick enlarges most fotos.)

In the sixth boro of course, in fact on Pier 40.  If you were to bore through the floor and lower your toes, they’d feel the chill of Hudson River water in late winter.   Pier 40 is partly used as parking, athletic fields for budding athletes of all sorts, and docking for fireboats and historic vessels.  There even used to be a trapeze school on the roof.  Hmm, maybe one of these days a digression will prompt me to put more trapeze fotos up.  But I went to Pier 40 this weekend to witness the tremendous efforts of the Village Community Boathouse,

where the Cornish gig is under construction, and where some thirty 26′ Whitehall gigs have been built.

What is a gig, a rowing gig?  Click here for dozens of fotos.

The lines on these boats–with only slight modification–date to a rowing race in the sixth boro in 1824!!  Yes, 1824 when a sixth boro gig called American Star beat a British gig called Dart, racing with 50,000 spectators on the waterfront, an event commemorated annually.  and not recalled solely in New York!   Oh . .  about that 50,000-spectator number . .  NY’s population back then was less than 200,000!   25% of the city never turns out for a baseball or basketball game . . .

An interesting twist in the American Star Whitehall boat story is that it was presented to General Lafayette in 1825 (?)  and has remained in France since then.  Mystic’s John Gardner took the lines off the American Star and constructed a replica, which in turn led to the design of the boats in various NYC community boating programs.

Check out the Village Community Boathouse blog here.   By the way, let’s cheer them on at the Snow Row (and Snow Ball) coming up in two weeks.  Here’s a video of the Snow Row 2010 sans snow.

All fotos by Will Van Dorp.

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