HUDSON — Commodore Joe Rey of the Mohawk-Hudson Council of Yacht Clubs presented $900 to The Hudson-Athens Lighthouse Preservation Society (HALPS) on Sept. 25. The event was the annual party on the 1874 Lighthouse sponsored by the Hudson Power Boat Association (HPBA) and HALPS to celebrate their long-time partnership in support of the Lighthouse.
For example, the HPBA docks HALPS‘s boat at no cost, and several HPBA members are also members and active volunteers of HALPS. Recent official documents from state legislators marking HPBA’s 70th anniversary highlighted this partnership.
On this perfect evening, the HPBA shuttled about 40 members of both organizations to the Lighthouse to share a pot luck meal and enjoy traditional music by Marilyn Miller and Mike Pagnani.
In addition to the joy of being on the Lighthouse in the middle of the Hudson River, enjoying the camaraderie, and experiencing a spectacular sunset, another highlight of the evening was recognizing a new partnership with the Mohawk-Hudson Council of Yacht Clubs and the presentation to HALPS of a generous contribution of $900 raised by a special call to Council members. The Council represents 20 boat clubs from Schenectady to Hyde Park representing more than 2,000 members. Current Commodore Rey presented the check to HALPS President Carol Gans and HPBA and HALPS member Van Calhoun.
The Hudson-Athens Lighthouse, affectionately called HAL, has not only served as a navigational aid since 1874, its light warning of the shallows of Middle Ground Flats; it is also a signature feature of this part of the Hudson River. It is a benchmark for boating traffic and also a destination for recreational boats, kayaks, tour boats, fishing boats, and others. School groups visit HAL, and HALPS conducts shuttles and tours on the second Saturday of each summer month as well as Hudson’s Waterfront Wednesdays. From the waterfronts and elevations of Hudson and the Village of Athens, HAL is an important part of the communities’ identities.
Commodore Rey noted that “The Council’s member donations demonstrate our partnership and support for the Lighthouse.” HALPS President Carol Gans said, “This is terrific! We really appreciate our relationship with the MHCYC. We depend on all boaters to enjoy and protect HAL and preserve its future and look forward to working together in the coming years as we aim to celebrate HAL’s sesquicentennial in 2024.”
Van Calhoun is a member of both HPBA and HALPS, chairing its Restoration Committee, and is a former Council commodore. He said, “It’s so important that every group that loves the Hudson River, its waterfronts, and the Lighthouse work together for the mutual benefit of the Hudson River and its communities. These kinds of partnerships are special and essential.”
HALPS leased and started Lighthouse tours in the mid-1980s and has owned it since 2000. Both above and below the waterline, the Lighthouse is in need of restoration and protection, not only from the impacts of 147 years of time, weather, currents, and tides, but also from dredging. Deeper and wider dredging has allowed faster and bigger vessels to navigate the channel between Hudson and the Lighthouse. Over the decades, this has scoured away the rocks and packing mud protecting HAL’s 200 wooden pilings that hold up the building. HALPS anticipates launching a capital campaign to restore and protect HAL for at least the next 100 years, recognizing that it is significantly more than an exquisite, historic building. www.hudsonathenslighthouse.org