Is there an ECHO in here?

by Elisa Nelson
August 2, 2011

On August 2nd we kicked off our Farms, Forests, and Fisheries tour, by opening the schooner to the public at a new venue for us, the ECHO Center.

It was interesting to see the Burlington waterfront from this new perspective.  We have docked at Perkins Pier for seven years as our homeport location.  This is just two docks to the south, on the old historic South Dock, aka the salt dock.  It was different to be up near the boathouse and to be between all the commercial traffic of our friends the Lake Champlain Transportation Company, The Spirit of Ethan Allen III, the Whistling Man Schooner Company, and next to UVM’s research vessel, RV Melosira.

The Lois McClure docked at ECHO Science Center
The Lois McClure docked at ECHO Science Center

Although we weren’t as visible from the road as we are at Perkins Pier, the ECHO Center and the Burlington Boathouseprovided an amazing amount of foot traffic to our schooner.  Daily over 250 visitors from all around the country and many international visitors came aboard, including three men in lederhosen!  Thankfully our intrepid interpreter Ernie Haas was on board and he interpreted in German.

Len Ruth introducing the Lois McClure to ECHO visitors
Len Ruth introducing the Lois McClure to ECHO visitors (photo: Larry Koolkin)

We also welcomed aboard a group of visitors from ECHO at 2pm each afternoon for a special perspective on how “Shipwrecks Come Alive”.   Between 25 and 50 visitors took advantage of this special introduction and tour every day.

One very nice feature of this dock is that we were very well protected from the waves, which proved very useful as a nasty, windy, thunderstorm rolled through.  Earlier this year at Perkins we had been hit by another blast of a storm and we were picking up pieces of our exhibit out of the lake afterwards.  Thankfully the breakwater protects us from the worst of the weather in either location.

All in all we had a great stay with our friends at ECHO, and look forward to partnering with them again in the future.

Elisa Nelson
Volunteer Coordinator

My Date with Lois

by Larry Koolkin

Although I’ve volunteered and worked with the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum for a while, including as an interpreter on the Lois McClure, I had the unique opportunity to be aboard her under sail.  It was the first cruise of the 2011 season, relocating from Burlington to Vergennes.  After a one day weather delay, we were rewarded with a perfect day to sail.

Lois McClure sailing in front of Juniper Island
Lois McClure sailing in front of Juniper Island (photo: Peter Huber)

Now I’ve visited the Lois before, toured her at anchor, read her history as well as that of her distant cousins.  As wonderful as all that is, nothing brings her to life more than a sail down Lake Champlain.  Being an armchair sailor, when our first mate asked “Have you ever sailed a gaff rigged schooner before?”,  all I could say was “…Uh…no, but I ‘m a fast learner”.   Lots of new terms and actions: throat, peak, rover,  avast,  belay – and lots of patience, good spirit and teamwork.

Lois McClure under sail
Lois McClure under sail (photo: Peter Huber)

We left Perkin’s Pier about 9:30am, after an hour of departure preparation.  Sails were hoisted an hour later, and with a light but steady north wind were able to cruise for nearly four hours – practically to Split Rock Point.  When the wind died, the Lois‘s dear friend and companion, the tug C.L. Churchill, came along side.  By 5pm we were safely at anchorage, at the floating dock in North Harbor, and the captain able to make his 6:30pm meeting ashore.

And so went my date with Lois.

Larry Koolkin