In 1979, in a harbor in North Carolina, the M/V Teal was born. Built out of cedar wood by master boat builders, the Teal was eventually delivered to the shores of New Jersey where it became the source of great joy to many fishermen, catching large tuna that were still to be found in those days. In 2018, however, its owners decided they could no longer run their business. Perhaps there were no longer enough tuna to be fished? The Teal was put up for sale, and purchased by Discover Cayuga Lake, to be used as the new home of the Floating Classroom. But first, it had to be motored several hundred miles – north up the mighty Hudson River, west into the Erie Canal and then south into the Seneca Canal which connects to Cayuga Lake. The journey took 8 days and is a tale of its own.

At the southern end of Cayuga Lake, in the small town of Ithaca, NY, the Teal has found a second home – and a new purpose. The Teal has now hosted tens of thousands of students, community members, and tourists on board to foster a sense of appreciation for the lake and, we hope, a deep love of the environment, that will ultimately help to protect the planet. 

But, like we said, the Teal is a wooden boat, and like all wooden boats, needs much love and care. Every year its hull has needed new painting, rotting wood had had to be restored, broken engines repaired, propellors replaced, the upper deck remodeled. The more the boat gets used, the more care it needs and we do it, as much as we can with a smile on our faces. Her Captains take charge, interns from local high schools and colleges pitch in, family members and occasionally their pets too.

Much of this work is routine. But one sunny day in August 2024, lo and behold, a storm blew through the Treman Marina where the Teal was docked. The unusual mini-hurricane chartered its course in just such a way that it blew the roof right off the Teal’s pilot house and onto the lawn. The rest of the boats in the marina were largely unharmed. It seems the Teal was situated in the wrong place at the wrong time and the wooden structure was unable to withstand the gale. Captain Mike and the crew had a lot of work on their hands that week, quickly creating a make-shift new pilot house so the Teal could continue operating and providing all the scheduled programming that week. But the pilot house is only temporary. Our work is cut out for us this winter!

The Teal’s days are probably numbered, not only because it’s getting old, but also because it runs on diesel fuel. Events like that unusual mini-hurricane are a reminder that climate change is bringing new weather patterns to the area, and we all must do our part to implement the necessary changes to reduce further harm to the planet. It’s possible the Teal could be retrofitted to run on alternative fuel of some sort. Or, maybe, just maybe, Discover Cayuga Lake will have to retire the boat. Maybe it could become a Floating Guestroom instead, comfortably living out the remainder of its days docked cozily at a marina where guests could spend a night or two. And maybe, just maybe, Discover Cayuga Lake could buy an electric boat instead and start a new tale of a boat on Cayuga Lake. That’s a big dream, but some dreams come true. If you are reading this, we hope you will support this dream as best you’re able. Have some expertise about electric boats or transportation? Please contact us. Able to donate to our Cayuga Lake Community Fund to contribute to our vision – and help restore the Teal in the meantime? We’d be grateful. You can donate HERE.  The Teal and the Crew of DCL will thank you.