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.

LCMM Hosts Youth Rowing Races on Burlington Waterfront October 10

On Saturday October 10, Lake Champlain Maritime Museum’s Champlain Longboats Program will hold its annual youth rowing race in Burlington, The James Wakefield Rescue Row. The race is named after James Wakefield who was responsible for the courageous rescue of the passengers and crew of canal schooner General Butler on December 9, 1876 when the vessel crashed into the Burlington breakwater during a fierce winter gale.

(above) Youth participants in the James Wakefield Rescue Row. Click image for high-resolution download and find more at our Press Room.

For Immediate Release
Contact:
Nick Patch, Outdoor Education Director
(802) 475-2022, nickp@lcmm.org

Over 150 youth in 20 crews will participate in the race, rowing 32- and 25-foot boats in a series of heats along the Burlington Waterfront. Local crews hail from Burlington High School, South Burlington High School, Diversified Occupations Program at the Hannaford Career Center, Vergennes Middle and High School, Champlain Valley Union High School, Rice Memorial High School and Mt. Abraham Union Middle and High School, while visiting crews travel from as far as the coast of Maine. Races begin at 9:00 at Perkins Pier at the foot of Maple Street.

The colorful boats used in this event were built by Vermont High School and Middle School students at Lake Champlain Maritime Museum’s boat shop. The boats are used by 160 students at nine area schools in After-School rowing programs that meet two or three times a week through mid-November. Setup to build the next boat in LCMM’s fleet begins in November, ready for a new crew of boat building students to arrive in January.

See these boats in action: Lake Champlain Maritime Museum’s website, Facebook page, andYouTube channel.

 

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For Information Contact: Nick Patch

Phone: 802-475-2022 x113; nickp@lcmm.org

  • If you wish to photograph the race from a boat contact Nick Patch at the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum.
  • To download additional images of the James Wakefield Rescue Row, visit LCMM’s web pressroom; see images 6, 8 and 10 (click thumbnail image to access high-res file).

Educator Jim Doolan to be Honored at Maritime Museum Boat Launch

On Thursday May 21, 2015, Lake Champlain Maritime Museum will launch its newest Champlain Longboat, “Jimmy D.” The 32’ pilot gig is named after Jim Doolan who 40 years ago founded the Diversified Occupations Program (D. O.), a public special education program based at the Hannaford Career Center in Middlebury, Vermont. “Doolan has been involved in the building of fourteen boats at LCMM by students from the D.O. program,” recalls LCMM Outdoor Education Director Nick Patch. “With his warmth and visionary approach to special education, Jim has positively impacted the lives of so many area youth that we unanimously determined he deserved to have this boat named in his honor.” The public is welcome to attend the festive boat launch event at no charge. Starting at 11am the program includes student presentations, a parade to the waterfront, the launch of the boat, and light refreshments.

Students and educators from the Diversified Occupations Program have worked four days a week since January with LCMM staff and volunteers to construct the new boat, starting from a pile of lumber. Along the way, they also have gone into the woods with the David Brynn, Director of theVermont Family Forests to select trees and helped mill and stack the lumber for next year’s boat. Over the years, area high school students working with LCMM staff and volunteers have built 19 traditional wooden rowing boats. LCMM maintains an active fleet of 13 four- and six-oar rowing gigs used annually by over 400 youth in after school rowing programs and regional racing events. The boats, a traditional English design originally used during the 1800s to row the pilot or navigator to sailing ships as they approached coastal waters, are also used for adult community rowing and environmental education programs.

Who Is Jim Doolan?

Jim’s love of wooden boats began when he was a child and spent summer with his grandfather who was a master boatbuilder in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.  Jim usually has more than one wooden boat that he is in the process of restoring.  With experience as a principal of two special education schools, in 1971, Doolan created Diversified Occupations, a regional special education program serving high school students from Otter Valley, Middlebury, Vergennes, and Mount Abraham.  D.O. classes are held at the Hannaford Career Center in Middlebury. Those who participate in Champlain Longboats spend a semester in the boatshop at Lake Champlain Maritime Museum.  Jim retired in 1999 and began his second career with the Champlain Longboats Program. “I love the staff and the students of D.O., the progress students make, and seeing the success of D.O. graduates in the community,” says Jim.   The community may be honoring Jim at the celebration on Thursday, but to Jim, it’s all about the students.

Youth and Adult Rowing Teams from LCMM Travel to Win at MA Event

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
For information contact: Nick Patch, Outdoor Education Director
nickp@lcmm.org 802 475-2022 ext. 120

Burlington High School’s rowing team competes in Hull, MA for the annual “Snow Row”.

Dodging chunks of ice in Boston Harbor, the rowing season in New England got off to a spectacular start with the annual Snow Row, hosted by the Hull Lifesaving Museum. Rowing teams were dodging one another among chunks of sea ice as they maneuvered the 3 ½ mile racecourse through fog and falling snow. Lake Champlain Maritime Museum brought youth crews from Vergennes Middle and High School, Mt. Abraham High School and Burlington High School, and two adult teams to the event. Mt. Abraham, Burlington, and LCMM’s Rowing for Racing won their divisions.

A Racer’s-Eye View

by Lisa Percival, LCMM Rowing for Racing Team

 

Friday, March 20, 2015

It’s the snowy first day of spring. My husband Dean and I trailered two of Lake Champlain Maritime Museum’s Whitehall gigs down from Vermont to Hull, Massachusetts. Watching the parking lot fill up with assorted boats from all over New England,  there was a lot of “tire kicking” going on, with rowers admiring each other’s boats and checking out how they are fitted out.  Everyone is proud of their boat and the fact that they are assembled here for this exciting annual row.  There will be a total of six LCMM teams here for the race.  Also in attendance will be many of the gigs that we have previously sold to other clubs, including Harvest Moon that was bought by the U.S. Navy last year for use by the crew of Constitution, now renamed “The Flying Bobby Oar”!

As we drove down the coast earlier, every harbor was totally iced in, with not a break in the surface for open water.  As soon as we got to Hull, we dropped off the boats in the parking lot and headed out to the farthest point of land where the race will be held on Saturday at 11:00.  The water was mostly free of ice with only a few icebergs and chunks floating around and the rocky beach had been cleared — but there were still huge banks of icy snow from all the plowing over the past months.  There is one narrow entrance to the beach for the trailers to be backed down to the water, one at a time.  It will be a challenge to launch over 70 boats tomorrow!

This is a wild race—all the boats are beached, stern out, with perhaps 5-6 feet between the boats.  At the starting horn, the rowers must race across the beach, wade into the water to push the boat off the shore, set their oars and proceed to row backwards without hitting the boats on either side.  Then comes the tricky part: turning all 70 boats 180 degrees to head out to open water.  There are always collisions and oars hitting other oars but the overall atmosphere is one of good natured competition— and courtesy.  No one yells – there is no time to do anything other than focus on getting away from the beach.

Friday evening we enjoyed our traditional dinner of pasta at Mezzo Mare, a Hull landmark restaurant.

We had 9 packed into a table and were joined by Ed McCabe who organizes the race every year.  What a great group—I wanted the night to go on forever with these people—it is such a blast to be together again. Snow has fallen for the past 3 hours.  We will have a true Snow Row tomorrow.  Everyone is loaded with carbs and energy—we just want the race to begin!!

The View From Above. Thanks to Dronepros.net who flew a quad copter and GoPro camera over the harbor.

Sunday, March 22

We won!!  Our 4-woman Whitehall Gig Blue Heron came in first place in our class.

Snow was falling all morning.  The beach was covered with a light layer of snow, and the boats were all in the water stern out waiting for the starting gun, when our team lined up behind the rope starting line.  We were in the second flight of boats to go out, with the workboats, rowboats, kayaks and assorted small watercraft going out first.  At the sound of the gun, our team raced across the beach, through the icy water and into the waiting boat.  Once we pushed off, there were several long moments before we got away from the other boats all turning into one another to start rowing in earnest.  A few strong pulls and we were off and away from the shore.  Ice floes were randomly floating into our path as we slowly overtook the smaller craft.  Dodging both floes and boats, we headed for Sheep Island shrouded in the snowy mist.

The fleet of six-oared pilot gigs row into the snow and fog in Boston Harbor.

Rounding the island was another tricky spot as many boats were grounded in the shallow waters there.  Some boats were struggling to get free of the rocky bottom while others were trying to avoid colliding with boats veering around each other.  Once around the island, we were at the 1/3 mark heading for the buoy turn.  The six-oared gigs in the third flight were slowly overtaking us as they powered through the calm water.  The final leg of the race was a long pull for the finish line with Ben as cox calling out the remaining distance to us.  We crossed the line feeling exhausted and exuberant and ready for more—what a rush this is every time!

Our team was amazing—Katie Lowrie, a co-worker of rower Uli Schygulla, had never rowed a gig before.  She was a natural and an immensely strong addition to the boat.  Mary Hennessy was our steady stroke, Uli was in the middle power seat and Ben Mayock was our incredible cox. We finished first place in our division in 38 minutes and 35 seconds.  The boat behind us was only 21 seconds away! Last year we finished in 48 minutes 46 seconds in comparable wind and temperature.  We shaved ten minutes off our time!   And we each have a painted quahog shell necklace as an award!!

We are thrilled by our race, immensely happy to be back on the water after a long winter, and can’t wait to get out again. We all want to thank Hull Lifesaving Museum for their dedication and hard work—this was a herculean task to organize.  We also are thankful to Nick Patch, Charlie Beyer in Lake Champlain Maritime Museum’s Boat Shop, and the museum staff that makes these boats and events possible for us.  We have made wonderful friends within the rowing community over the years and truly feel like we are ambassadors for LCMM.  We look forward to welcoming many of these teams as they return to our annual Challenge Race this July.

Special thanks to the students and teachers at the Diversified Occupations Program at the Hannaford Career Center in Middlebury, VT who work so hard to build and maintain these beautiful boats!

The Vermont crews rowed with heart and did incredibly well. Times are as follows:

Team Boat Time Category Place
Vergennes High School #1 Redwing 43:20 Pilot Gig youth amateur   3rd
Burlington High School American Shad 44:52 Coxed 4 youth amateur 1st
Vergennes High School #2 Maple 39:04 Pilot Gig youth pro 2nd
Mt. Abraham Union HS Water Lily 41:17 Pilot Gig youth amateur 1st
LCMM Rowing for Racing Blue Heron 38:35 Coxed 4 adult amateur 1st
LCMM Fishcakes Spirit of Otter Creek 35:21 Pilot Gig adult amateur 3rd

Find complete race results on the Hull Lifesaving Museum’s website.

The Vergennes Union High School Rowing Team.

 

Rowing Teams Ready for “Snow Row” – and for Spring!

Longboats at the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum are ready to be trailered to Hull, MA for the annual Snow Row at the Hull Lifesaving Museum.

The boats are loaded on the trailers. We have reservations for hotel rooms and for dinner at Mezzo Mare, a local Italian restaurant known for huge servings of carbo-loaded pasta.  We each have been training for weeks and months on the Concept IIs and can’t wait to feel real water under our oars.

LCMM is getting its fleet of gigs ready for its trip to Hull, Massachusetts for the annual Snow Row, a 3 ½ mile rowing race in Boston Harbor.  Traditionally held on the first weekend of March, this year the Snow Row was postponed due to the solid ice covering the harbor in Hull.  As everyone has heard, Boston has suffered an unusually cold and snowy winter, nearing the all-time record for snowfall and leaving its harbor encased in ice.

LCMM will trailer six boats to Hull for the March 21 race.  The teams will include rowers from Vergennes Union High School, Mount Abraham Union High School,  Burlington High School as well as two LCMM adult teams.

This winter is still dragging on and on and doesn’t seem to want to give up.  We have had a few days of thawing temperatures and sunny skies but are holding our collective breaths over what the skies and temperatures will be in Hull on the water.  March 21 will be the first day of spring and I am hoping that mother nature does not trick us into more winter.

Our team will be Mary Hennessy, Uli Schygulla, Katie Lowrie and me, with Ben Mayock as our favorite cox.  We will be rowing Blue Heron, a beautiful four seated gig that was donated to the museum last year.

At this point, I just want winter to be over, for the race to begin, and for spring to show itself in Vermont. I am really curious to see what Hull harbor looks like—the Boston skyline lies across the water and is usually a gorgeous sight—I am just hoping it will not be shrouded in snow and sleet or rain!!

So, off we go.  Wish us luck!!

Have you seen Hull Lifesaving Museum’s Facebook page? I guess THIS is why they postponed the race!:

Notes from a Rower – Icebreaker Race

Rudderless Rowers Triumph

The competition knows we are in the lead and they are worried. Our backs to the buoy we row long and hard. Bill, our coxswain, looks behind at the other rowers hot on our heels. I know that look, the look that means we’re coming to the corner.

Bill says, “Starboard: flip and push, Port: power strokes!”

Champlain Valley Union High School students figure out how to adapt after their rudder “unships” during the race. Photo by Buzz Kuhns.

The starboard half of the crew flips their oars and my side, the port side, power strokes it out. We lose speed at the buoy where we make the turn and the boat in second place crashes into us. We drift a little and another boat skirts by. We silently fight it out with the boat that crashed into us and we finally get free and pull ahead. More boats crowd in and force the boat that was in second place towards our stern. We all think they’ll miss us, but no, they just hit our rudder, making it fall off.

For a split second Bill panics and the team hesitantly keeps rowing. Bill tells us we will have to row without a rudder. At first the team doesn’t know what to do, we just keep rowing trying not to lose our momentum. Then Bill explains his plan… that  he is going to tell us what to do to steer us along.

After sustaining two impacts with other boats, the now-rudderless gig Osprey regroups and finishes third in the 2014 James Wakefield Rescue Row. Photo by Buzz Kuhns.

With determination in his voice he shouts out to us:

“All right port I need more from you!”

“Starboard keep pace but less power.”

Moments later he makes another adjustment:  “Port I need you to come on.”

It works! We are rowing hard and keeping on course! Then instead of speaking the commands,  Bill motions with his hands and we all follow his orders. We are back in the race and rowing hard now. I being on port basically just did power strokes the rest of the way to the finish. We row perfectly straight and finish in third!

As we cross the finish line, Bill holds up the broken rudder over his head to celebrate. We all couldn’t believe what we just had done and we cheered each other for our victory and for working so hard. My family says that they didn’t know that we had lost our rudder because we were rowing so straight.

 

AbouElaine-Beaudin-CVU-Rowing-Teamt the Author

Elaine Beaudin is a student at Champlain Valley Union High School and is a member of the rowing team.

About the Event: James Wakefield Rescue Row

On Saturday October 11, 2014, Lake Champlain Maritime Museum’s Champlain Longboats Program held its annual fall youth rowing race, the James Wakefield Rescue Row at Button Bay State Park. The race is named after James Wakefield who rowed out to the Burlington Breakwater through a fierce winter gale in December 1876 to rescue the passengers and crew of the shipwrecked canal schoonerGeneral Butler.  Over 120 youth participated, rowing 25- and 32-foot rowing boats in a series of heats. Crews hailed from local schools, including Burlington High School, South Burlington High School, Vergennes Middle and High School, Champlain Valley Union High School and Mt. Abe Middle and High School and the Diversified Occupations Program from Middlebury, as well as from Northhaven, Vinalhaven, and Rockland Maine. All of the boats used in the event were built at Lake Champlain Maritime Museum by Vermont High School and Middle School students.  Read the complete race results and more photos here.

 

Lake Champlain Rowing Boat to Join US Navy Fleet

Harvest-Moon-Lake-Champlain-to-Navy-USS-Constitution

Last month, a boat built by Lake Champlain high school students was the latest vessel to join the U.S. Navy fleet.

Lake Champlain Maritime Museum delivered the Lake Champlain boat to the U.S. Navy crew of the USS Constitution on October 25, 2014 (at the 2014 Head of the Weir River Race), making it the newest vessel in the Navy’s fleet.  This beautiful wooden pilot gig named Harvest Moon will be used by the crew of the USS Constitution in regional rowing races in the Boston area.

The crew of the Boston-berthed USS Constitution have been rowing pilot gigs for several years. “It builds camaraderie amongst the crew members to be able to compete in a rowing race,” said Chief Builder (SCW) Christopher Locke back in 2012.

Harvest Moon was built during the winter of 2009 – 2010 by the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum’s Champlain Longboats program by students and staff from the Diversified Occupations program and boatbuilders from the Maritime Museum.

Says LCMM’s Director of Outdoor Education Nick Patch, “We are thrilled and honored to pass this wonderful vessel built at the Maritime Museum on to the revered crew of the US Navy’s USSConstitution.”   It was a proud day for LCMM and the hard working youth and volunteer boat builders.

About USS Constitution

USS-ConstitutionUSS Constitution is the oldest commissioned warship afloat in the world. The 44-gun frigate was constructed in Boston, MA in 1797 to defend US naval interests abroad.  She received her nickname “Old Ironsides” during battle with HMS Guerriere in August 1812 in which 18-pound British cannonballs bounced off her 25-in-thick oak hull as if “her sides were made of iron”.  USS Constitution is scheduled to undergo major repairs starting in spring 2015, with a return to the water in 2017.  More about USS Constitution.

 

Champlain Longboats Around the Region

Student-built boats from LCMM’s Champlain Longboats Program are often seen on Lake Champlain rowing, but did you know they travel all around the region for youth rowing races, and some been commissioned or purchased by other groups?  Just to mention a few:

  • Crouching Lion (b 2005) resides at the Boston Rowing Center. They describe the paint job as a “characteristic Vermont gypsy color scheme of red and yellow”!
  • Whitehall gigs Firefly (b 2010) and Bowfin (b 2011) are also at the Boston Rowing Center.
  • LCMM-built whaleboat (b 2014) now accompanies Mystic Seaport whaleship Charles W. Morgan

Youth Rowing Races at Button Bay – Lake Champlain

James-Wakefield-Rescue-Row-2014

James Wakefield Rescue Row

On Saturday October 11, Lake Champlain Maritime Museum’s Champlain Longboats Program held its fall youth rowing race, the James Wakefield Rescue Row at Button Bay State Park. The race is named after James Wakefield who rowed out to the Burlington Breakwater through a fierce winter gale in December 1876 to rescue the passengers and crew of the shipwrecked canal schoonerGeneral Butler.

Over 120 youth participated, rowing 25- and 32-foot rowing boats in a series of heats. Crews hailed from local schools, including Burlington High School, South Burlington High School, Vergennes Middle and High School, Champlain Valley Union High School and Mt. Abe Middle and High School and the Diversified Occupations Program from Middlebury, as well as from Northhaven, Vinalhaven, and Rockland Maine. All of the boats used in the event were built at Lake Champlain Maritime Museum by Vermont High School and Middle School students.

In the six-oared races Vergennes was victorious in the experienced division, and Burlington High School in the intermediate division. In the four-oared races Station Maine from Rockland, Maine won the Intermediate division and Champlain Valley Union High won the novice division.

This Lake Champlain rowing event culminated in a mess-about, a race in which members from all the rowing crews are randomly mixed. Everyone has to learn to be teammates on very short notice. This final event truly captured the spirit of a magnificent day.

Download the full race results.

And there’s more rowing into the fall

Do Whalemen Get Blisters?

Do Whalemen Get Blisters?

Whaleboat-Practice-on-Lake-Champlain3I know I certainly am getting blisters, accompanying a crew from Lake Champlain Maritime Museum to row a brand-new whaleboat. We’re participating in a boat parade in New Bedford, MA to welcome home whaleshipCharles W. Morgan, built there in 1841. Charles W. Morgan is the last wooden whaleship in the world, and sails this year on her 38th voyage. We’ve been practicing our rowing, though you wouldn’t know it from the relaxed pose in that photo. I doubt we’re going to break any speed records…

 

Whaleboats on Lake Champlain?

Whaleboats don’t seem to belong in the Lake Champlain region, since we’re more nearly 200 miles from salt water, let alone the offshore whaling grounds. So it’s interesting that during the French & Indian War, the British fleet on Lake George contained sloops, scows, and “a good many whaleboats.”  According to British General Abercromby, there were as many as 135.

British troops advancing on the French at Fort Carillon brought more than 50 whaleboats from Lake George north to Lake Champlain in July 1759. While preparing to invade Canada, British troops sometimes entertained themselves with whaleboat races on the lake. Archaeologists have discovered 17th century bateaux at the bottoms of Lake George and Lake Champlain, but they have yet to locate a whaleboat in the vicinity.

Whale Oil Lights the Way

Whale oil, on the other hand, was common in the Champlain Valley. Whale oil burned evenly with a bright light, and was coveted to light homes, businesses, and even lighthouses. Lake Champlain’s earliest lighthouses (Juniper Island, Cumberland Head, and Split Rock), were built in the 1820s and 30s, at a time when most lighthouses in America were fueled by whale oil. It wasn’t long after that sperm whales had been hunted nearly to extinction. By 1855, the cost of whale oil quadrupled. The federal government tested various replacement fuels; by the 1880s, kerosene was the fuel of choice for lighthouses.

The Whaleboat and the WhaleWhaleboat-in-the-Arctic-New-Bedford-Whaling-Museum

The 19th century whaleboat was a double-ended, light, wooden boat that was rowed or sailed. It was gorgeous in design, and simplicity in function. The double-ended construction protected the boats from being pushed by following seas, and allowed the crew to quickly reverse direction to avoid a thrashing whale. Wait, did you say thrashing whales?  Not sure I would want to go head-to-head with a 63-ton sperm whale in the open ocean in a 27-foot-long open boat with five other guys, even if it was double-ended. Good grief.

When crew sighted a whale from the crow’s nest, four whaleboats were launched down the sides of the large whaleship. The crew consisted of a boat-sterer in the bow, four rowers, and a headsman in the stern. The boat-sterer carried harpoons and was the first to attack the whale. Silence was essential, since they approached the whale from behind and the harpoon had to be delivered from within a few yards. Once the harpoon pierced the animal, whalers called this being “made fast” to the whale.  The attack was then continued by the headsman using long, slender lances.

The moment the wounded whale disappeared, a flag was hoisted from the whaleboat: assistance was required from the ship. It was critical to attend to the whale-line.  If it became entangled as it paid out, the whaleboat would be drawn underwater by the whale. The line’s speed could be slowed by turns around a post fixed to the boat called a “bollard.” The friction was hot enough to create smoke and ignite the wood, so water was sluiced on the bollard to prevent fire.

The whale-line might run out in ten minutes, so the lines of a second or even a third boat would be attached. As much as 600-700 fathoms (3,600 to 4,200 feet) of line could be paid out for a single whale. It was not uncommon for the wounded whale to remain underwater for 40 minutes. Overall, it could take anywhere from 15 minutes to 50 hours to bring in a whale to the main ship.  After its capture, the gruesome process of flensing, or “cutting-in” commenced. This reduced the whale flesh into pieces, and from there, it was rendered into oil.

whalemen-wanted-new-bedford-whaling-museumThe Whalemen

The life of a whaleman was grueling and dangerous. Writes one of the harpooners aboard Charles W. Morganin 1853, it was “A rather slow way to get rich.” It might be months before a single whale was captured on a voyage, and the ship did not return until the hold was completely full of barrels of oil. Voyages lasted for years.

Whaleboats Today

Today, the mechanized slaughter of whales is not over. In fact, humans are far more efficient in the trade than ever before. But at the same time, there is a growing stewardship of these magestic creatures.International conservation efforts have gone a long way to help the many species return to healthier numbers. Responsible whale watching tours offer visitors a thrilling experience and heighten awareness. Ultimately, this fosters whale stewardship in future generations.

For now, I’ll content myself with rowing the whaleboat in the New Bedford harbor, reflecting on the men whose lives were entangled with this magestic mammal, and in supporting those that research and interpret whaling history for the rest of us.  I think the words of William Davis in Nimrods of the Sea close it best: “The whaleboat is simply as perfect as the combined skill of generations could make it.”

LCMM is grateful to those who share our passion for maritime tradition and stories, especiallyMystic Seaport (home of restored whaleship Charles W. Morgan) and the New Bedford Whaling Museum (check out their digitial collections for more of these historic images). High school students from Middlebury, VT’s Diversified Occupations Program joined LCMM’s professional boatbuilders in our Champlain Longboats Program for five months in 2014 to construct this whaleboat; didn’t they do a fantastic job?  

The 417 Boy Scouts of Three Rivers District

[slideshow]417 Boy Scouts from Vermont’s Three Rivers District took over the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum this past Saturday for a full day of fun, learning, and hands-on activities. These young men are from Chittenden, Franklin, Grand isle, and Western Lamoille counties in Vermont, and they had their Spring Camporee at Button Bay State Park, and with us! They toured the site, visited our Conservation Lab, stepped aboard the gunboat Philadelphia II, tried out the horse-powered ferry, and more:

Blacksmithing Courses Expert blacksmith instructors worked with scouts all day long. Blacksmith Brian Anderson demonstrated in the eighteenth century forge, and instructors Peter Wells and Bob Wetzel lead the scouts in making iron campsite pokers. (Those must have come in handy Saturday night when they were camping.)

Rowing More than 200 scouts got to try out LCMM’s pilot gigs on Lake Champlain. Working together as 6 or 8-person teams, they rowed these graceful and powerful wooden boats at our waterfront.

Woodworking LCMM volunteer John Tichonuk worked with scouts to try out traditional woodworking tools and techniques. They used tools like an auger, a draw knife, and a spoke shave.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZRXljSQ-L2o&w=425&h=344]

ROV Demos LCMM uses this same Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) to explore some of Lake Champlain’s 300 shipwrecks. Scouts got to see things up close and personal as we beamed the video to an inside screen.

Thanks to all our volunteers for making this a great day, and THANKS, Boy Scouts! We invite you to send us an email at info@lcmm.org or leave a comment below.

Got a Boy or Girl scout in your family? Bring him or her to LCMM – or bring the whole troop for a great field trip! Call (802) 475-2022 to schedule something exceptional!