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New York presentation will focus on sail ships

An April program sponsored by The Working Harbor Committee, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to educating the public about the history and present-day importance of the Port of New York and New Jersey, will focus on sailing ships at work.

Scheduled from 6-9 p.m. on April 10 at the Community Church of New York in Manhattan, “Sailing Ships at Work — Past, Present and Future” will offer films, videos and expert commentary about:

• Working tall ships from a century ago;

• Present-day cargo-carrying sailing ships and sail-training vessels;

• Advancements in wind power technology that may launch a new Age of Sail.

Films will include footage shot aboard tall ships in the early 20th century, on schooners and other traditional ships still transporting cargo today, and about modern rigs where masts rotate and sails can be trimmed with the push of a button.

Guest speakers include:

• Norman Brouwer, maritime historian, writer and lecturer, former curator of ships at South Street Seaport Museum and a foremost expert on sailing ships of all kinds.

• Capt. Margaret Flanagan, marine educator and tall ship sailor, educator at South Street Seaport Museum and mate at Classic Harbor Line.

• Rick Spilman, naval architect, writer, and founder and host of the Old Salt Blog, a virtual port of call for those who love the sea. His first novel is “Hell Around the Horn,” a nautical thriller inspired by the voyage of a British windjammer during the Cape Horn winter of 1905.

When the 70-foot schooner Black Seal docked in Brooklyn in June 2011 carrying 20 tons of cocoa beans from the Dominican Republic, city officials said it was the first time in more than 70 years that a sailing ship had brought commercial cargo to the Port of New York. But it probably won’t be the last time, one of the guest speakers says.

“The great windjammers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries were driven from the sea by the advent of cheap oil,” Spilman says. “With the dramatic rise in the cost of fossil fuels and the development of innovative and efficient new sailing rigs, sailing and sail-assisted cargo ships may once again prove to be economical.”

The event will begin at 6 p.m. at the Community Church of New York at 40 East 35th St. in Manhattan. Tickets start at $25 ($20 for seniors age 62 and over), with premium tickets to $250. All are fully tax-deductible and can be purchased at Advance purchase is strongly recommended because seating is limited. Telephone purchases are available by calling (212) 757-1600.