BY ANN DERMODY
Seeger’s Sloop; A Passion For Motors;
Cruising Authors; And A Teen Idol
Pete Seeger — A River Runs
Through This Folk-Music Icon
RIGHT PHOTO UNIVERSAL PICTURES
How did you get interested in boating?
I had a job in Cape Cod about 1959.
And a teenager took me out at midnight
and showed me what fun it was to sail. It’s
not how fast you go; it’s the fact that you
move at all! And if you’re clever enough
with your game with the wind and the
waves, you can use the very power of the
wind against you to sail against the wind.
That’s good politics, too. Martin Luther
King used the forces against him to zigzag
What led you to build the Clearwater?
After I got back from Cape Cod, I persuaded my wife to let me buy a little plastic
bathtub of a boat. However, when I was
learning to sail on the Hudson, I went out
by myself and found myself sailing through
lumps of this and that along with the toilet
paper. I had enough money to buy a boat,
but I was sailing through toilet waste.
How did you get from a plastic sailboat to
building a 100-foot Hudson River sloop?
A friend of mine loaned me a book
written in 1907, right in my hometown,
called Sloops of the Hudson, and I read it
over and over. It wasn’t great literature, but
it was full of love. And I wrote a letter to
Vic Schwarz, the man who loaned me the
book, and said, “Why don’t we get a gang
of people together and see if we can raise
some money to build a life-size replica?” It
was a very impractical scheme.
He’s a teen heartthrob who made his name in the all-singing, all-dancing “High
School Musical” movies, but now thanks to his first leading-man role, Zac Efron has
added sailing to his skill set. The 22-year-old actor says he was fated to play the part
of Charlie in the big-screen adaptation of Ben Sherwood’s acclaimed second book,
Charlie St. Cloud. Unaware that the movie centered on sailing, he read the script by
chance while spending the night on a sailboat with his dad.
“I brought one script to read and it just happened to be “Charlie St. Cloud.” It
was surreal. As I read the racing scenes, the wind started to pick up, and the boat
started to rock, and I was like, ‘Wow, this is ... very obvious.’ It felt right.”
The movie is about a talented boy in a small coastal town who receives a sailing
scholarship to Stanford. Just before he leaves, he’s involved in a car accident that kills
his little brother, and sends him off the rails. He’s only redeemed five years later when
he falls in love with a girl planning a solo round-the-world sail.
Efron says he’d admired the beauty of sailing but this was his first introduction
to trying it. “I was in Vancouver two weeks prior to filming and we sailed more or less
every day. Initially, it was difficult! There are so many factors that go into it. It’s not
just wind blowing into a sail and propelling your boat. It’s incredibly precise. One
mistake, one lapse in judgment on a small boat, and you can very quickly capsize.
On the first day of sailing lessons, my instructor made a point of capsizing. I was
scared, but I also got it out of my system.” According to his instructor, Efron took to
the sport, and plans to stick with it. “I’d like to do some long-distance sailing. That
would be really fun.” Charlie St. Cloud is now available on DVD. — A.D.
High-School Sailor Zac Efron