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Dutch replica ship the Onrust participant at NYC for river event

Newly built replica of 1614 rare ship

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

ALBANY - A replica of the first Dutch ship built in ‘Nieu Nederlant’ has taken part in this year’s commemoration of the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson’s arrival on the coast of New York, then still called after the home country of Hudson’s financiers, a group of merchants in Amsterdam.

The 50-foot Onrust is a full-scale replica of a yacht the Dutch built by Adriaen Block at Manhattan in 1614 after a fire destroyed their ship. The Onrust building project was spearheaded by ship architect and archeologist Gerald de Weerdt from the Maritime Museum at Terschelling, the Netherlands, project director Greta Wagle, a Dutch scholar with Hunter College and historian and archeologist Don Rittner. The Onrust replica was built by volunteers at a historic site along the Mohawk River in Schenectady County. The work started in 2005.

On its way to the NYC celebrations the Onrust docked overnight in Rensselaer, across the river from Albany, before heading down the Hudson to take part in River Day, a weeklong Hudson quadricentennial event in New York Harbor.

The Onrust replica

Vessels of all kinds cruised up the Hudson River, celebrating the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson’s voyage. The replica of Hudson’s famous ship the Half Moon was also part of the flotilla.

The other historic presence was by the Onrust replica. In 1614, one of the Dutch pioneers’ trading ships burned down. Its captain, Adriaen Block, was offered passage back to the Netherlands on another ship but instead decided to stay put with his crew, and to build themselves a new boat. With their new, smaller ship called ‘de Onrust’ (‘the restless’) they explored the Hudson River and its surrounding coastal areas. Captain Block’s maps of the rivers between Manhattan and Cape Cod became a leading source and remained in use for the next hundred years.

Schenectady County Historian Don Rittner became enthralled with the story of de Onrust and decided four years ago to recreate the first ship ever built on the shore of Manhattan. In total, the ship’s costs mounted up to 3 million dollars, much of it in donations of scarce century-old white oak.


The building of the historical ship turned out to be a huge challenge. One of the problems they overcame was a shortage of wood, just four trees before completing the ship. As ‘luck’ would have it that day, he received a call about some white oaks that had been cut down by accident, Rittner recalled in an interview with the Schenectady Gazette. The trees were donated to the project and the ship then could be finished.

The Schenectady historian is not so much identifying with Hudson as he is with his Dutch successor. The Onrust project managers want to experience what Adrian Block experienced. As most parts of the ship were built just as the Dutch would have 400 years ago, the Onrust’s journey was very much like Block’s in 1614.

Next year, the Onrust will become a floating museum to teach children about the influence of the Dutch on New York.