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Boaters Celebrate The Launch of “Audacity”

The not-for-profit group dedicated to improving the lives of Bronx teens through boat making, known as Rocking the Boat, launched the first boat that was made in its new headquarters along Edgewater Road.

The roughly 15-foot row boat, named “Audacity”, which can fit up to five people, was put into the Bronx River not only by the nearly 20 people that made it, but also by their family members, friends and teachers at the boat launch and end-of-the-year party Saturday, June 12. The boat will now be used as part of the group’s efforts to restore the ecosystems of the Bronx River, and as a learning tool for the more than 50 kids involved in the Rocking the Boat program each semester.

“When it’s all said and done. It’s like, whoa,” said Jhairo Colon, a Fordham area who has made about seven boats with the program. “A lot of stuff happens on this boat. There’s a lot of mistakes, but when it’s done it’s great, you feel like brand new. It’s like you’re getting acknowledged for what you did.”

From now until the boat is no longer usable, “Audacity” and about 30 others that were built as part of the program will be used by the students to keep the Bronx River clean and to teach boating techniques and ecology to the hundreds of people each year that attend the various on-water lessons and community rows.

In February the program moved its headquarters into a central location on Edgewater Road where students work on building the boats and learning maritime skills, like boat handling, swimming and CPR.

During the summer students learn the on-water techniques and take part in environmental restoration projects in the river, such as planting oysters and designing water run-off abatement systems.

According to Adam Green, who founded the program more than 10 years ago, by interacting with and shaping the Bronx River the students learn to develop themselves by exploring and utilizing the resources that are already in the south Bronx.

“They’ve been here for their whole lives, but may not know about it. We’re introducing them to resources that area already here,” he said. “What’s most important is what we have within us and that’s what we’re trying to develop and grow.”

While the boats will help shape the future of the river and the students, the learning process at Rocking the Boat begins before the boats are made.

Each semester two classes of eight students meet twice a week to build the boat from uncut logs up to the finished product to teach them about engineering, architecture, leadership and teamwork. Many stay with the program during the summer as interns to help maintain the fleet and build kayaks and canoes on commission.

“I learned how to design things from the start,” said Gregory Erlikhman, a Riverdale resident who said he wants to pursue a career in engineering and architecture. “We started at the beginning and then saw it through the finish.”

Reach reporter Max Mitchell at (718) 742-3394 or mmitchell@cnglocal.com

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