Robert C. Hansen, 74, who sailed on the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, died Oct. 17 at Kingsway Arms Nursing Home in Schenectady due to complications of Parkinson’s disease.
Bob was born June 4, 1948, in Cupertino, California, the son of Frank and Edith Hansen, although he grew up on Long Island. He was a graduate of North Babylon High School and earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering and a master’s degree in computer science from SUNY Stony Brook.
Bob had a long and multifaceted career, working early on at Northrop Grumman and then as a stagehand on Broadway (once getting a hug from Bette Midler). He commenced his state government computer science career in the late 1970s with the Department of Social Services in Albany and retired in 2008 from the Office for Technology, looking forward to having more time for his first love, sailing.
Not only was he an expert sailor, traversing the waters of Long Island Sound on his sailboats (Galena Maris, Amantha II and Neptune’s Car, he sailed and worked on myriad other vessels as well: the Spirit of Massachusetts, the Ernestina, Maine schooners, the Clearwater, Dragonfly, the Sojourner Truth and the Woody Guthrie.
After retiring, Bob became a first mate on the replica of Henry Hudson’s ship, the Half Moon (Halve Maen), and enjoyed many Hudson River voyages until it took up residence in The Netherlands. Bob also sailed on as many smaller boats as he could get his hands on. He enjoyed sailing in the Caribbean, as well as experiencing river boating through Europe.
Sailing wasn’t his only interest. From his earliest days of going “down the gully” to the creek by the family summer home in Stony Brook, Bob always enjoyed the water and all of nature’s gifts, his family said. He enjoyed cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, being a fur trade-era reenactor during the Albany Tricentennial and other historic events and paddling both his solo canoe and eight-person war canoes.
He also enjoyed rowing his Adirondack Guideboats, hiking (once to the source of the Hudson River, Lake Tear of the Clouds) plus camping with friends in the Adirondacks, Algonquin Park, the Allagash in Maine and on an epic Everglades paddling sojourn.
Bob was a man of strong personal opinion, his family said. He liked his coffee strong, his beer and rum dark and absolutely plain-only pizza. He was a member of a number of environmental and water-based organizations, including Clearwater, North River Friends, Mystic Seaport (especially enjoying the Sea Music Festivals) and the Mohawk Hudson Sail and Power Squadron.
He is survived by his brother, Frank; his sister-in-law, Annette; his nieces, Jessica and Amanda; and his cousins, Edie and Pat.
Memorial gatherings will be held in the spring on Long Island and in the Albany area. Memorial donations may be made to North River Friends of Clearwater, P.O. Box 3842, Albany, NY 12203; or Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, 724 Wolcott Ave, Beacon, NY 12508 (clearwater.org).