Second AmeriCorp Member Joins Lake Champlain Maritime Museum!

tumblr_nmwo55tmaf1qh8viko6_500The new AmeriCorps program at the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum is speeding right along with the addition of a second AmeriCorps volunteer! My name is Eileen Leary, and I’m a 25 year old MA graduate from University College London. I grew up around boats – I’ve been on them since literally before I was born! – have degrees in history and archaeology, and have worked in museum education. I’m also very passionate about public service and giving back to the community, so when I found out about the position at the LCMM, it seemed made for me!
I’m very excited to be here, because there are so many opportunities for me to explore my varied interests. Lake Champlain Maritime Museum not only has a fascinating museum collection, but also full-sized replicas of several historic vessels, a blacksmith’s shop, boat-building facilities, and many educational programs that incorporate several of the above. These fantastic resources allow for hands-on, non-traditional education that can adapt to all learning styles, and can be especially helpful for learners for whom a traditional classroom setting isn’t ideal!

I wasn’t always passionate about museum education and archaeology, and it was only through community programs and educational opportunities that I was able to realize my interest in these topics. Now as an archaeologist, I’m especially looking forward to the Shipwreck Tours, which allow you to explore the many shipwrecks of Lake Champlain via ROV. Remote Operated Vehicles are very useful tools for underwater archaeology, so I’m also excited for our summer camps that allow kids to build or modify their own ROV – learn more about them here!

I look forward to helping young learners find their interests, expand their skills and knowledge, and discover the rich history of Lake Champlain!

Looking Forward to Summer Camp at LCMM!

11145015_10153422820861197_2599326938676101580_oIt’s March; children have settled into school routines and now are knee deep in schoolwork (although in past years they were knee deep in snow!). Warm summer days may still seem like a far off dream. But the truth is, it’s never too early to start looking forward to a carefree summer. For campers, as well as staff, summer camp is a magical experience that can never quite be put into words. Camp is where lifetime memories and lasting friendships are made.

Lake Champlain Maritime Museum’s Lake Adventure Camps give our campers the opportunity to reconnect with nature. With so much entertaining technology at their fingertips, young adults are far less likely to unplug and head outside to form a connection with the environment. LCMM can inspire them to realize that going outside is worth the time. LCMM is located directly on beautiful Lake Champlain, surrounded by mountains in every direction.

10551500_10153428250471197_4089712625388495761_oIn today’s world, social media rules. Too many young people communicate with friends solely through texting and posting to Instagram. A large part of what makes summer camp so enjoyable is reconnecting with past camp friends and making new friends.  At LCMM these connections are made face-to-face. Anyone who has attended a Lake Adventure Camp will tell you, it’s like being part of one big extended family. Within that family, both staffers and campers get to share what they love and hone in on interpersonal skills that bind them together forever.

The most enticing thing about summer camp at LCMM is the freedom to explore. A camper can look forward to shedding the constraints of school and their never-ending homework when camp begins, yet learning doesn’t stop with the school year.  We present our campers with plenty of adventure and exploration-based learning opportunities, all while having fun.

With such a broad range of programs, and the different activities within each, campers can look forward to building on areas they know they are interested in, and also explore new ones. Whether exploring the waterfront by bike, searching the water depths with a snorkeling mask, or paddling and rowing while learning about boat safety, boat building and the history of boats on Lake Champlain, no camper will ever be bored. We also have camps designed around fascinating activities on land, such as blacksmithing and metal work. No matter what you are interested in, LCMM has something fun and exciting for everyone! Each camp provides space for young people to grow as individuals by getting to pursue their own interests.


NOW is the time to go sign up for a LCMM Lake Adventure Camp. Programs are filling and we want your children to have something great to look forward to—please see our website for the details. We look forward to seeing you this summer!  Click here to Register!

AmeriCorps at Lake Champlain Maritime Museum!

March marks a special new beginning for Lake Champlain Maritime Museum! This month is the official start of a new partnership forged between the Museum and the AmeriCorps. My name is Erin Sward, I am a 22-year-old University of Connecticut graduate, and the first AmeriCorps volunteer to join the LCMM team. I couldn’t be more delighted! In the short time I’ve been here it has already become clear that LCMM is far more than just a museum. I am the start of another way the LCMM is expanding their capacity to serve students.

I am an animal science major, so this is an opportunity for me to go out on a limb and try something new. What drew me here was the ecology, and the opportunity to work with kids on environmental education outside of the classroom setting.

My position is to be an integral part of the Museum’s various innovative educational programs. I am looking forward to helping implement the new adventure oriented after school programs at Vergennes Elementary School. I also can’t wait to be in the boat shop this semester providing support to the team boat-building program. I get to help learning impaired students from the Diversified Occupations Program of the Hannaford Career Center build a 32-foot traditional 19th century design wooden longboat. I am ecstatic to be trained as both a coach and a coxswain to support the nine different High School rowing programs that have after-school practice every week and rowing events at LCMM to provide a physical fitness outlet right here on Lake Champlain.

By far I am most excited for the summer months to arrive so I can work as an educator at the numerous summer camps the LCMM has to offer. I’m thrilled to engage in tons of on-water and underwater programs in nautical archaeology and especially lake ecology. There are so many opportunities in the coming months and I hope to make an impact on how Lake Champlain Maritime Museum provides unique learning experiences for youth that they will always remember.

Lake Champlain Maritime Museum Receives Grant from Vermont Community Foundation to Partner with Vergennes Schools

Lake Champlain Maritime Museum received a grant of $20,000 from the Vermont Community Foundation’s Innovations and Collaborations program to expand education opportunities for elementary and middle school students at Vergennes Union Schools. “We are thrilled to receive the award,” says Mike Smiles, LCMM Executive Director.  “This grant allows the Museum to build its capacity to serve the Vergennes Schools’ innovative year-round after-school programs. The project is an important first step in redefining how the Museum can make a difference to students’ success through a maritime lens for learning. We are grateful to Addison Northwest Supervisory Union Superintendent JoAn Canning, Mayor Bill Benton, and Board Superintendent Jeffry Glassberg for their vision of expanding opportunities through community partnerships.”

The Innovations and Collaborations grant program supports nonprofits to collaborate across issues and sectors to find new ways of working to develop shared solutions to community needs. According to the Vermont Community Foundation, in this round, 13 extraordinary projects that represent the very best of innovative nonprofit work in Vermont were chosen from a pool of 21 applicants for first year funding. The new project, dubbed “The STEAMSHIP Program,” will help Addison County youth meet state and local standards in core academic subjects (such as math, science, technology, engineering, English, arts, and social studies) while participating in a broad array of after school enrichment activities that complement their regular academic programs.

With the Maritime Museum students have a chance to build submersible robots out of PVC pipe, create their own documentary films, or learn chart making skills – all linked to their new Act 77 Personalized Learning Plans. It’s awesome!” said Jill Strube, who directs the Vergennes Schools’ FUSION after-school enrichment programs.

“We are excited to engage Vergennes students in expeditionary learning activities that connect them to the maritime history of Lake Champlain as a whole and, more specifically, to the deep maritime heritage of the City of Vergennes,” says LCMM’s Deputy Director Erick Tichonuk. “This new collaboration directly connects students to the Museum’s nautical archaeology program, educational curricula, and educators for in-depth learning through after-school programs.

Using LCMM’s experience in nautical archaeology, ship building, boat building, robotics, exhibit design, and primary source research as a framework, students will participate in team-oriented projects that will serve both as civic engagement and a celebration of learning through student-designed exhibits, original research and data collection, and 8th grade capstone presentations.

In 2012, Vergennes Union Middle and High School were inducted into the League of Innovative Schools with a goal to promote innovative strategies, to establish a network of best practices that is directly linked to 21st century learning, and to promote greater educational equity and opportunities for all students. The schools employ Expeditionary Learning, a program that puts emphasis on experiential learning.

The formal partnership between LCMM and VUS was initiated in the fall of 2015, when students built a SEAPERCH Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) used for underwater exploration. The results of this first semester can best be seen in this very short and exciting video of the students’ accomplishments:

Currently, students are working with LCMM videographer Kris Jarrett to produce a documentary on a Lake Champlain shipwreck. LCMM’s Deputy Director Erick Tichonuk recently met with after-school program coordinator Jill Strube to review partnership goals and plans for 2016. “Important goals for the project include greater involvement and accomplishments by individual students, and developing a program that can be a model for museums and other informal education partners working with schools throughout Vermont and beyond,” Tichonuk concludes.

Ecology Workshop at Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge

Leopard-Frog-MWLooking north to Quebec with a strong wind arriving cold in our teeth from the same direction, we were ready to net fish at 7:00am on October 2. The temperature there at Missisquoi Bay had barely topped forty degrees and we had to wade into Lake Champlain.

LCMM Ecology Programs Director Elizabeth Lee and I laughed off the chill, scoped the shaley shore for aquatic weeds among which fish might be lurking, and readied the 30-foot-long seine net. The water was brown as creamed coffee due to recent rains washing down the Missisquoi River. The puffs of white and brown cappuccino foam in the shallows belied the phosphorus that that river carries to the lake.

Given the challenges, and given that one session of our NOAA-funded “B-WET” training that day hinged on identifying fish, I invoked the freshwater spirits by calling into the 20-knot breeze: “Here, fishy-fishy!” Elizabeth looked amused but skeptical. Little did she know.


Searching-for-invertebrates-MWWe made two passes with the net, grateful for the neoprene waders that kept our legs warm. First run was okay – at least we caught something – a few small yellow perch and shiners. The second netting seemed at first to be similar, bringing us some baby bluegills and a bass and then, in the very bottom of the net… a larger fish flopping angrily, splashing water in our faces…a pike! More than a foot long. Total victory for a short fishing jaunt in the littoral zone. Into the bucket of water the fish went, to be hauled off to jail for a couple of hours at the Missisquoi National Wildlife Refugenature center, where the workshop was to be held, starting in only a half-hour.

We had a wide variety of educators filter in that morning: teachers from Lincoln and Hinesburg Elementary schools; from Essex High; an environmental educator from Sutton, Québec, who works in Eastern Township schools; and two environmental educators from Franklin County. During our morning coffee break, it came out that four of us could chat with each other in French, which is not atypical of a gathering so close to the border, n’est ce pas?

The Wildlife Refuge staff warmly welcomed us, inviting school groups to explore the wetland treasures at the refuge. We used a dichotomous key to identify our several fish species. The northern pike was the star of the show. From Erin De Vries of the UVM Watershed Alliance we learned about the “River Continuum” – how stream characteristics change as they run from small headwaters to lower in the Champlain Basin and finally into the lake. Erin also led a dabble with nets in man-made ponds just outside the nature center, sharing many suggestions for equipment, activities and curricula to use with students. Despite being the recipients of the building’s grey water, the ponds were hopping with life, from mayfly larvae to diving spiders. Kurt Valenta, who runs an educational water-critter-based program called “Bugworks” – created in 2008 by the Missisquoi River Basin Association – was on hand to help identify the invertebrates that we netted and also to share his enthusiasm for discovering who lived in the muck and reeds.

After a quick lunch, it was out to the main stem of the Missisquoi for a motor launch ride to the river bank near Cranberry Pool, an impounded marsh that favors waterfowl habitat. Expert birder and wetland ecologist Jake Straub from SUNY Plattsburgh gave us a sex talk – and other behaviors, of course – as far as geese and ducks go. As he spoke to us on the dike that holds water containing wild rice and many other valuable wetland plants, we saw ducks, grebes, kingfishers, and songbirds periodically take flight. In the distance we spied a giant eagle’s nest perched in a copse of sliver maples. Someone noticed that, near where we stood, there was evidence of a mortal drama. Feathers of various hues and stripes lay scattered on the grass. After close examination, Jake guessed that a predator – either a raptor or canine – had killed a wood duck here.

Rounding out the explorations of the unique habitat features in the “Birdfoot delta” area of the lower Missisquoi, we dragged a plankton net along the surface of the water on our return trip to our launch site, and looked at the tiny critters through a very basic field microscope – just a few copepods and strands of filamentous algae showed up. We also set out with hand nets to catch leopard frogs that leapt now and then along the river bank. Participants caught a total of seven specimens, examined them closely for deformations of digits and legs, and pronounced them all normal.

We’d like to think our fellow educators, stoked up that day to see and do so many activities that would ideally enthuse young people about aquatic ecosystems, will convey their energy and new tools to their students. We plan to be in touch with participants, and hope to learn which activities worked well with their classes. Some will probably take advantage of our “loaner kit” which we are assembling this winter to be available starting in the spring. The kit will include a number of tools we used during our B-Wet workshops including seine net, plankton net, field microscope, river corridor assessment protocols, and other aquatic data collection methods.

New Exhibit on the Burlington Waterfront


Contact: Eloise Beil, Director of Collections and Exhibits
802-475-2022, x107;

Burlington, VT – Starting June 20, the Burlington Waterfront will feature a special attraction: Lake Champlain Maritime Museum’s new interpretive exhibit, Maritime Burlington! In a festive “big top tent” setting on Perkins Pier at the foot of Maple Street, the exhibit serves as a porthole to history for visitors and area residents, and a discovery resource for LCMM’s new Lake Adventure Camps.

The exhibit Maritime Burlington presents highlights from LCMM’s nautical archaeology fieldwork and historical research encourages exploration and discovery. “We are very excited to be greeting the public right where so much history happened,” says Executive Director Mike Smiles. “The lake’s first steamboat, Vermont – and the second commercially successful steamboat in the world – was launched right here on the Burlington waterfront in 1808.” Changing views of the Burlington waterfront invite us to travel through time, seeing the breakwater, lighthouses, steamboats, canal boats, railroads and the cargoes that shipped in and out of the Champlain Valley, all helping to shape the city. The exhibit also includes stories of former slaves for whom the historic waterway served as a corridor to freedom. Visitors can use a working replica of a nineteenth century crane to lift cargo into a small-scale canal boat. On weekends, there will be live demonstrations of maritime skills such as shaping spars, ropework and rigging.

Several boats from LCMM’s fleet will also add color to the waterfront at Perkins Pier: MV Baldwin,which will host Saturday Shipwreck tours in July and August; and “Champlain Longboats,” the student-built rowing boats used for community rowing, regional racing events, and On Water Ecology tours. Schooner Lois McClure and her companion wooden tugboat C. L. Churchill will also be in port, although the schooner is not available for boarding in 2015 while preparing for restoration work this fall.

The exhibit is open daily from June 20 through August 23, and then Wednesday through Sunday through October 12, 2015. “Our first Lake Adventure Camps in Burlington start June 22, so you will see lots of young adventurers exploring the area with us,” says Deputy Director Erick Tichonuk. “Week-long camps on the waterfront and in Vergennes run through August 14 and there are still a few places open.” A formal ribbon cutting at the exhibit will be announced shortly.




Lois McClure was built by LCMM shipwrights and volunteers on the Burlington waterfront in 2001-2004, based on two shipwrecks of 1862-class canal schooners discovered in Lake Champlain. This authentic replica has no means of propulsion other than sail, so 1964 tugboat C. L. Churchillprovides power. Launched in 2004, Lois McClure has completed eleven journeys. Over 5,200 miles on the region’s inland waterways have carried the schooner south to New York City, west to Buffalo and Lake Ontario, and north to Quebec City, engaging people in history and archaeology at every port. More than 220,000 visitors in 220 communities have stepped on board. This replica vessel has been the most effective outreach program LCMM has ever conducted, and a leader in the world of Maritime Museums.

The Maritime Burlington exhibit, 2015 Lake Adventure Camps and restoration of schooner Lois McClure are made possible thanks to the generous support of sponsors including Burlington Parks, Recreation, and Waterfront, Lake Champlain Transportation, Seventh Generation, Merchants Bank, Dan Landau, the McClure Family, and the Lake Champlain Basin Program. This project was funded in part by an agreement awarded by the Great Lakes Fishery Commission to the New England Water Pollution Control Commission in partnership with the Lake Champlain Basin Program. NEI WPCC manages LCBP’s personnel, contract, grant and budget tasks and provides input on the program’s activities through a partnership with the LCBP steering committee.


Lake Champlain Maritime Museum is located on the shore of Lake Champlain, seven scenic miles from historic Vergennes, Vermont at 4472 Basin Harbor Road, across from the Basin Harbor Club. A museum that makes a difference, LCMM brings underwater discoveries and lake adventures to the public in exciting and imaginative ways. New, hands-on “60 Minute Experiences” are offered daily. The Museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. through October 11, 2015. LCMM Members and children 5 and under receive free admission. For more information call (802) 475-2022 or

Lake Champlain Maritime Museum Opens For Season May 23

Lake Champlain Maritime Museum (LCMM) opens for the season on Saturday May 23, 2015 offering Addison County residents, students with college ID, and veterans, as well as active and reserve military personnel free admission over the entire Memorial Day Weekend.  “Memorial Day, which was created to honor people who gave their lives while serving in the nation’s armed forces, has special meaning for the Maritime Museum,” says Executive Director Mike Smiles. “Lives were lost to create and defend our country in these local waters during the American Revolution and the War of 1812.” LCMM’s exhibit Key to Liberty and replica 1776 gunboat allow visitors to step back in time to the nation’s founding. Detailed ship models of War of 1812 vessels are featured in LCMM’s new exhibit History in Miniature: The Models and Dioramas of Bill Kissam. For more than 25 years, Kissam, a resident of Westport, NY, has created detailed and accurate scale models and dioramas for museums in the region, including ships from the War of 1812, Lake Champlain steamboats, iron mines, and historic gardens. The exhibit brings together models made for LCMM and private collections. A checklist accompanying the exhibit will guide the visitor to other regional museums where Kissam’s work can be seen.

LCMM encourages visitors of all ages to go deeper, and challenge themselves to make new connections with the lake, the surrounding community, and the world around us. The Museum’s main campus at Basin Harbor outside Vergennes, Vermont, with 14 exhibit buildings and replica 1776 gunboat Philadelphia II, provides an incredible opportunity to explore the maritime heritage that transformed this nation over the centuries. Exhibits, Archaeology Lab, Boat Shop, and metalworking facilities support hands-on learning and specialized adventures such as the five-week teen kayak building and camping experience of Champlain Discovery, using foundries and forges inHeavy Metal Mania, or getting back to basics with Survivor Then & Now.

Daily visitors can choose to add a 60 to 90 minute mini-workshop or on-water experience to their Museum admission with a new pilot program of 60 Minute Experiences.” “If you like to roll up your sleeves and try something new, we have a menu of bite-sized adventures,” says Site Manager Kris Jarrett. “We can get you out on the water or into a workshop where you create something to take home.” During Memorial Day Weekend, 60 Minute Experiences include Copper Fold Forming(Saturday at 2pm); Longboat Rowing (Sunday 2-3:30pm); and Ropework (Monday at 2pm); additional fee applies. The discount package of Museum admission, lunch at the Red Mill, and history cruise return this season as well. Find more information and program registration online or call 802 475-2022.


Lake Adventure Camps:

LCMM also launches an exciting new series of adventure education programs this summer on the Burlington waterfront in partnership with Burlington Parks, Recreation & Waterfront, and at the LCMM campus in Vergennes. These week-long day camps in June, July and August are designed to inspire a new generation of adventure historians, scientists, collectors, and stewards of Lake Champlain. The Burlington Waterfront will be an extraordinary adventure camp site for LCMM. “We’ll use canoes, longboats, and power vessels to access lakeshore environments and an amazing array of shipwrecks,” explains Program Director Erick Tichonuk. “We’ll teach snorkeling techniques with the Waterfront Diving Center so students ages 4-16 can experience in-water connections with the lake’s creatures and shipwrecks. We go underwater to view shipwrecks and aquatic life without getting wet using our Remote Operated Vehicle (ROV) – we’re the only camp on Lake Champlain with a robot on staff!” A new shuttle service will provide pick-up and drop-off in Burlington and Shelburne for some of the Vergennes-based camps, and each of the Burlington camps includes one day-trip to the Vergennes campus. Registration now open online.


Looking Ahead:

LCMM’s featured exhibits for 2015 offer varied perspectives on the region’s maritime heritage.

  • Great Shipwrecks of New York’s Great Lakes, a traveling exhibit designed by LCMM on view May 28 through Sept. 7 presents several of Lake Champlain’s historic shipwrecks together with shipwrecks in other waterways throughout NY State.
  • Parley & Protocol: Abenaki Diplomacy Past & Present on view from June 28 through Oct. 11 is a loan exhibit by members of the Vermont Abenaki Artists Association.

Special events fill LCMM’s calendar throughout the summer:

  • May 21: Champlain Longboats Launch Day
  • May 30: LCMM Golf Challenge and Spring Wave Youth Rowing Competition
  • June 13-14: Kids Pirate Festival
  • June 27-28: Abenaki Heritage Weekend
  • July 3: The Big ShaBang – Food, Fun & Fireworks!
  • August 15-16: Rabble in Arms Reenactment Weekend
  • Rowing and racing events for youth and adults include weekly rowing with the Community Rowing Club and Rowing For Racing, and travel to regional rowing competitions.
  • View the Complete Calendar of Events


New Waterfront Exhibit: Maritime Burlington!

Starting June 20, LCMM presents a new interpretive exhibit, Maritime Burlington! In a festive setting at Perkins Pier on the Burlington waterfront, the exhibit will serve as a porthole to history for visitors and area residents, and a discovery resource for LCMM’s new Lake Adventure Camps. The exhibitMaritime Burlington presents highlights from LCMM’s nautical archaeology fieldwork and historical research that encourage exploration and discovery “right where history happened,” and will also include stories of former slaves for whom the historic waterway served as a corridor to freedom. Several boats from LCMM’s fleet will add color to the waterfront at Perkins Pier: wooden tugboat C. L. Churchill; MV Baldwin, which will host Saturday Shipwreck tours in July and August; and “Champlain Longboats,” the student-built rowing boats used for community rowing, regional racing events, and On Water Ecology tours. LCMM’s schooner Lois McClure will be present as a backdrop but not available for boarding as she is being prepared for restoration work. The schooner departs in late August for the NYS Canal Corporation shipyard where a team of shipwrights will prepare her for the 2016 season.



LCMM is grateful to the Basin Harbor Club and Lake Champlain Transportation for their generous support. ROV acquisition was made possible by the Bristow Foundation, Barney Bristow, the Lake Champlain Basin Program (LCBP), Oakland Foundation, Greensea Systems, Inc., and International Paper. The 2015 Lake Adventure Camps and restoration of schooner Lois McClure are made possible thanks to the generous support of sponsors including the McClure Family and the Lake Champlain Basin Program. This project was funded in part by an agreement awarded by the Great Lakes Fishery Commission to the New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission (NEIWPCC) in partnership with the Lake Champlain Basin Program. NEIWPCC manages LCBP’s personnel, contract, grant and budget tasks and provides input on the program’s activities through a partnership with the LCBP steering committee.

Winter Care for a Replica 1776 Gunboat

Philadelphia II at her winter berth in Basin Harbor.

Our replica of the 1776 Gunboat Philadelphia here at the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum sees something every year that the original boat never did: WINTER.

Winter Care for Replica 1776 Gunboat Philadelphia II

by Kris Jarrett


Basin Harbor on Lake Champlain, Vermont

Benedict Arnold built and sailed his wooden fleet on Lake Champlain during the American Revolution. These vessels were built of green lumber and became famous for their role during the Battle of Valcour Island in October 1776. Most of these, however, never saw the snow of that winter, succombing to sinking, burning, or capture.  In contrast, gunboat replica Philadelphia II, built by the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, has seen 22 winters now, and many more to come.  How do you care for a wooden replica gunboat?

In order to keep her safe during the frozen months, we have a team of staff and very dedicated volunteers who check on her daily, pumping out any water that leaks in, ensuring that the ‘bubbler’ is still running and doing its job, and that the docks and lines are all shipshape. The bubbler is really the key to the system; a small submersible electric motor with a prop which keeps the water around the hull moving, and therefor liquid, throughout even the coldest of Vermont winter nights.

Why don’t you just haul out Philadelphia II for the winter?

Philadelphia II has oak planks which swell in the water, reducing the spaces in between the planks and caulking, and making her watertight (mostly!) If she were hauled out of the water each winter, the planks would dry and shink; and when she went back in the water in the spring, it would be less of a “launching” and more of a “sinking” until she took up water again. Keeping her in the water all winter – even though it is labor-intensive – is the best care for a wooden boat like this one.

The second line of defense from the elements is the cover, a large greenhouse style wooden frame with plastic to keep the rain and snow out. Of course putting up this cover means that we must unstep the mast, often by hand using 18th century skills, a few sticks, rope, and some block and tackle. Winter is a good chance for us to replace any rigging that is in disrepair and inspect pieces and parts that spend most of their time 50 feet in the air.

The warmer breaks during the winter and the greenhouse effect of the cover allows for some maintenance, specifically ‘mooping’, or the task of applying a mixture of turpentine, linseed oil, and tar to all wooden surfaces of the boat. Peter Oxford, volunteer caretaker of Philadelphia II, has just about completed this project and many more to make her ready for visitors during the upcoming season.


As the lake opens up, the sun comes out, and the temperatures rise, we look forward to removing the cover, re-stepping the mast, and returning Philadelphia II to her home dock in North Harbor just in time for thousands of students and visitors to step on board and experience a little slice of life in the Navy, 1776 style.


Watch the full video interview with Peter Oxford on board 
Philadelphia II in her winter quarters!

About Gunboats Philadelphia & Philadelphia II

Benedict Arnold’s wooden fleet, constructed on Lake Champlain in 1776, included 54-foot-long gunboatPhiladelphia. She carried two nine-pound cannon, and one 12-pound bow gun in addition to her swivel guns. She and her crew of 44 men fought at the Battle of Valcour Island in October, where she eventually sank after receiving a 24-pound cannon ball to her starboard bow. In 1935, Colonel Lorenzo Hagglund raised her to the surface to share with others, and today, she is on display at the Smithsonian’s American History Museum.

Lake Champlain Maritime Museum built a replica of this gunboat, and launched her in 1991.  She is boarded each year by thousands of visitors and school children, bringing to life the history of the American Revolution on Lake Champlain. STEP ABOARD: VISIT LCMM, open May – October!  Reenactors crew aboard the vessel, learning how she was sailed, rowed, and maneuvered during battle.  Public and reenactors come together for the annual living history event at LCMM calledRabble in Arms.

More about Philadelphia & Philadelphia II.

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

For information contact: Nick Patch, Outdoor Education Director 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 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!: