Sailing The Sloop With Seeger: A Local Remembers

Jan 28, 2014

Pete Seeger and Allen Aunapu in 1969.
Credit Christina Leps

Allan Aunapu was 26 in 1967, when he went north from Miami to work on the Sloop Clearwater, which would be bound for the Hudson River. The sloop came from the imagination of legendary folk singer and anti-war activist Pete Seeger, who died Monday, Jan. 27, at 94 years old.

The Clearwater was modeled on an 18th Century Dutch sailboat – 10 years ago it was named to the National Register of Historic Places. Seeger, Aunapu and the rest of the crew first set sail in 1969, making their way down to the Hudson River from Maine.

"Every night we got to sing, and because of Pete’s draw we got to sing to packed houses wherever we went. And mine were just calypso from where I had been sailing. I’d been sailing in the Bahamas," Aunapu recalls.

The sloop Clearwater
Credit /

Aunapu says in those days the Hudson River smelled like diesel. Seeger’s mission with the Clearwater was to draw people's attention to the issue of clean water.  In 1970, it sailed to Washington, D.C., to build support for the Clean Water Act.

Aunapu says the experience of working on the boat changed him. "It made me ride a bicycle for 10 years. I didn’t own a car for 10 years after I got off of the Clearwater. I rode all over: wherever I was going in Florida between Fort Lauderdale and Miami, out to the Seminole reservation, out to the Miccosukee reservation."

Here are a couple shots of Seeger on the river, singing, among other tunes, "Somewhere Over the Rainbow."

Credit David G. Zuckerman / Courtesy of Alicia Zuckerman

Credit Joel Gerhson