In Search of Clues … Diving the Basin Harbor Shipwreck

The Basin Harbor Club is a lovely facility and the hospitality is wonderful … but that is not why we are here diving.  Under the cold water of Lake Champlain, resting quietly, are the remains of a nearly 90-foot wooden ship.  Today’s dives focused on measurement of exposed sections of the wreck.  This information will be used to develop a map of the site, down to the location of the iron fasteners that, after all these years underwater are still holding her together.

Diving here is not for the faint of heart, the weather topside is windy, rainy, and there is a chill in the air, the water is about 52 degrees and the visibility underwater is about four feet until we start to work and it becomes inches.  We work in buddy teams and each team can work for about an hour before we start to get cold.  We share what we have learned with the next team when we get out of the water.  Our time on the surface passes quickly and just as we get warmed up and our notes written it is time to get back in the water.  We manage two dives per team most days, so progress is slow.

If you happen to see us working you are most welcome to stop by for a quick visit (especially if you bring coffee or tea), we love to talk about what we are doing and why it is so important to preserve this unique cultural heritage.

It’s Field School Time: The Basin Harbor Edition!

Student, Rich, getting ready to go diving (Ropp, 2017)

Welcome to the 2017 Lake Champlain Maritime Museum Field School season!! These first two days have been a whirlwind of activity. We have walked all around the museum complex exploring the exhibits and learning about the long history of life on Lake Champlain and the archaeological remains. We have discussed how to build a boat and examined the creation of the museum’s two replica vessels, the gunboat Philadelphia and the sailing canal schooner Lois McClure. We practiced recording on a river bateau. Finally, we all jumped in the water! We completed the checkout dives along the outer edge of Basin Harbor, spotting all sorts of artifacts from the club’s presence on the harbor.

Students, Scott and Rich, exploring our replica gunboat with Co-Director Erick Tichonuk (Ropp, 2017)

Soon we will begin working on our site. This year our team of archaeologists from the LCMM Maritime Research Institute, an AmeriCorps Member, and their students are in for an adventure! We are exploring an unknown wreck in Basin Harbor, the wreck that coincidently provided the spark for our fair museum. The students, Richard and Scott, come to us from very different places and with different experiences. So far they have been very excited to learn and are excited to keep learning and exploring the mysteries of the Basin Harbor Wreck and its place in Basin Harbor’s history!

Students Scott and Rich, listening to Chris Sabick discuss the Revolutionary War on Lake Champlain (Ropp, 2017)

Rowing News!

Spring Wave 2017

Mt. Abraham drives to the finish line towards their 2nd place finish in the Novice six-oar division
Vergennes rows to victory in “Jimmy D” in the Intermediate six-oar division

On Saturday May 20th  the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum held its annual spring youth rowing race at Button Bay State Park. On a clear, brisk, blustery, spring day one-hundred and sixty youth comprising 24 crews raced their hearts out. Crews from nine Chittenden and Addison County Schools as well as Connecticut, Maine and New York competed in two combined time heats totaling 1 ¾ miles.  LCMM has always ended youth races with a  final heat called the “mess-about” in which all the crews are mixed up randomly.  It is a unique opportunity to test rower’s ability to adapt and be flexible in a competitive environment. All of the six-oar boats used in this competition were built at LCMM in the youth boat building program. The four-oar boats were built by “Floating the Apple” in New York City and are on loan to LCMM.

Click here for full race results. 


Longboat Launch Day

The new rowing gig “Mad Martha” leaves the boat shop for the first time

On Thursday morning, May 25th,  we launched the seventeenth boat built by Champlain Longboats in partnership with the Diversified Occupations Program of the Patricia A. Hannaford Career Center.

Nine students from three local schools worked at LCMM’s Boatshop since January to complete “Mad Martha,” who will soon depart to spend her

The Champlain Longboats boat builders with their new boat just before she touches the water for the first time

life with Massachusetts Bay Open Water Rowing in Duxbury, Massachusetts. Several other Champlain Longboats have also “gone abroad” – five to the Hull Lifesaving Museum, one to Gloucester Rowing Club, and one to the United States Navy USS Constitution rowing team.

LCMM currently maintains a fleet of 18 rowing boats on Lake Champlain that serves over 600 students and

“Golden Oak”, last year’s gig salutes “Mad Martha” on her maiden voyage

200 adults each season through school and community rowing programs throughout the Champlain Valley. In addition to a dozen Longboats built by students at LCMM, the Museum fleet now includes four boats from other schools and community groups in Vermont, and two “visitors” from Floating the Apple, a youth rowing program based in New York City.

Hoehl Family Foundation Gift Supports Educational Programs at Lake Champlain Maritime Museum and Research Institute

The Hoehl Family Foundation has presented Lake Champlain Maritime Museum with $600,000 which will be used to create the Robert and Cynthia Hoehl Memorial “Education for All” Fund. Representing LCMM at the presentation are (l to r) Helena VanVoorst, Director of Development; Nick Patch, Director of Outdoor Education; Joyce Cameron, Co-Executive Director; Charlie Beyer, Boat Shop Assistant; and Matthew Witten, Schools Liaison. At right, John Hoehl and Laura Latka of the Hoehl Foundation, with LCMM Board Chairman, Bob Beach, Jr.

Lake Champlain Maritime Museum & Research Institute (LCMM) has received $600,000 from the Hoehl Family Foundation.  With this generous gift, LCMM has created the Robert & Cynthia Hoehl Memorial ‘Education for All’ Fund.  “The Hoehl Family Foundation Board is thrilled to make this significant gift to honor the legacy and long-standing traditions of LCMM, while supporting the strategic and exciting new educational goals that LCMM has set for the future,” said Laura Latka of the Hoehl Foundation. “The Foundation Board prioritizes quality education and providing equal access and opportunity to all, and this gift will help support LCMM in achieving both.”

“This gift is transformative for us,” said LCMM Co-Executive Director Joyce Cameron. The Hoehls’ generosity gives us the added bandwidth to accomplish our ambitious educational goals as we continue to advance our mission to preserve and share the heritage of the Lake Champlain region by connecting its past, present and future.”

Inspired by decades of valuable archaeological research, traditional boatbuilding and on-water explorations, LCMM’s Board and staff have recently embarked on a strategic direction to expand as a vital educational resource through school partnerships and tuition-based programs. “Lake Champlain Maritime Museum has become one of the leading Expanded Learning Opportunity Providers in our region,” said School Liaison Matt Witten.  “This means that schools in our area look to us to engage their students in a wide array of adventurous, project-based, and rigorous learning experiences. School reform has placed this kind of personalized learning at the top of the priority list, and we are better poised to meet students’ needs with this robust support from the Hoehl Family. Skills that the students learn here help ready them for the working world, stoke their love of learning, and can count as credit toward graduation.”

LCMM’s new educational transformation includes a growing catalog of college-accredited programs offered in partnership with Castleton University. Examples of these higher-education courses are the Underwater Archaeology Field School, professional development graduate courses for teachers, hybrid ecology courses and a GAP semester for students.

LCMM is currently enrolling elementary, middle- and high-school teachers in several professional development courses: “Archaeo-Teach,” a summertime week-long primer on bringing field archaeology to the classroom; “Presenting Abenaki Culture in the Classroom,” a full-day Summer Educators’ Workshop offered in partnership with the Vermont Abenaki Artists Association and Flynn Theater; and, in the fall, “Artifacts and Institutes” led by Harry Chaucer of Castleton University, who will focus on how teachers can use primary sources to guide students to develop transferable skills via personalized learning.