Capt. Walter Garschagen, owner of Sea Tow Central Hudson, told his local newspaper The Journal News that five years ago, he helped a Canadian family after their boat was struck by lightning and lost power during the first leg of their voyage around the world.
“Even though they spoke French and I didn't speak it, they were so thrilled when I came alongside,” Capt. Garschagen recalls. He later found the family’s blog online and followed their global adventures. “Just this summer they circled back to the East Coast,” he said. “It was pretty amazing to see their travels.”
This fall, he and Sea Tow Central Hudson’s four other Sea Tow captains have seen many Canadian boaters making their way down the Hudson River en route to much warmer destinations further south.
“Some of the folks are very inexperienced and I worry they won't make it to the Bahamas,” Capt. Garschagen said. “I spent some time with one family on a sailboat who had run aground, and explained scope to them, so they would put out more line when anchoring next time and not drag and run aground elsewhere.”
Capt. Garschagen, who lives aboard a 47-foot Chris Craft with his wife and two daughters in a local marina during the summer months, knows what it is like to be a foreigner boating in U.S. waters. He grew up in the Netherlands, where he discovered his passion for boating on the famous Dutch canals. “My first boat was a little inflatable rowboat. I remember exploring some of the canals with friends,” he said.
After coming to the U.S. as a teenager and enrolling in Chicago’s Northwestern University, Capt. Garschagen competed in sailboat races on Lake Michigan. After college, he moved to New York and worked as a marine photographer, then took over ownership of Sea Tow Central Hudson in 2007.
“I love what I do,” he said. “I used to take the Metro-North commuter train and stare out the window at the Hudson on my way to the city to work in a photography studio and to meet clients. Now, I'm on the water looking back at the trains.”