September 30, 2005 Lois McClure
Ship's Log
 
 

CREW MEMBER

Diana Carlisle

Diana has a long history with the lake, sailing with her father out of Malletts Bay. She worked for the Lake Champlain Transportation Company on the ferry Valcour (souvenir counter and snack bar, where she cooked real food to order - hamburgers, fries and milk shakes), and she waitressed at the Basin Harbor Club during college. She was an American History major at Middlebury College, where courses at the UVM Historic Preservation program and a term paper turned into her ongoing lifetime research project. She was published in "Vermont History" Fall 2000 in an article telling the story of the Champlain Glass Company, founded in 1827 due in large part to the opening of the Champlain Canal. Her move back to Burlington in 2002 coincided with the building of Lois McClure, where she signed on as a volunteer and interpreter. She also serves as a trustee at Burlington College.


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GREETINGS FROM THE CREW!

Port Washington, NY
Diana Carlisle

"Port Washington, Long Island: Gold Coast Community on the Harbor" proclaims the local Chamber of Commerce brochure. Yes! As Lois McClure with the tug C.L. Churchill towing on the hip comes out of the broad Long Island Sound, rounds the peninsula and enters Manhassett Harbor what do we see before us but a harbor filled with boats, a forest of masts, from one shore to the other. A number of power boats, a few yachts, but mostly sailboats, lying peacefully at anchor on this sunny midweek day, like so many bright white seagulls at rest. "Largest anchorage of sailboats on the North Shore." We are in boating heaven. The inflatable dinghy, Oocher, with Sarah and Kris aboard, threads its way through the moorings, leading us to the Town Dock at the foot of Main Street, our home for the next five days (September 20 - 25).

We have come from Liberty Landing, Jersey City, where the view was across to the NYC skyline and where we watched the full moon rise slowly over the tall buildings one clear, warm night. Such a contrast. The almost five hour trip has taken us across to the Battery, up the gritty East River with the striking geometrical skyline of the skyscrapers so close, then under the several bridges - Brooklyn, Manhattan, Williamsburg. As we approach the UN Building we are diverted to a channel across the river, for security reasons, by an eager little Coast Guard police boat that comes alongside. The Brooklyn waterfont passed by on our starboard side; I think of Theodore Bartley and his journals, the many times he was there, unloading hay, grain, lumber. In 1888 Bartley and wife Mary spent a cold winter aboard their boat tied up in Brooklyn; he looked unsuccessfully for a new freight order and a job. There they experienced the "Blizzard of '88". The year before he was staying aboard alone, went to church "to watch and pray the old year out & new year in. Heard some good advice from four differant ministers." (Life on a Canal Boat; The Journals of Theodore D. Bartley 1861- 1889) It comes alive for me. Later I learn from a visitor who was brought up in that old working Brooklyn-Greenpoint section that it is all gone - the jute mills, sugar refineries (Jack Frost and Domino), tug boat facilities and storage, lumber yards, all that he knew as a boy. The last Brooklyn brewery, Schaeffer, has closed, the building to be turned into condos and housing, called "Schaeffer Landing".

Once secure at Port Washington we are busy hauling up the gangplanks and docks, setting them safely in place, keeping in mind the seven foot tides we are told to expect. The "Grand Journey" signs are put out, the white retail tent is set up next to the boat on the sea wall. The wind picks up at that moment, causing the canvas sides to flap noisily, the whole tent looks like it may sail into the bay, but Len and others tug and reset the lines tightly. Before the settling in is even finished we are attracting curious onlookers - fishermen, boat people, joggers, townspeople. And so it will be: a tremendous interest and excitement about Lois McClure, people eager to come aboard, for what several will call a "time warp" experience.

But first come the school programs, which beginwith this visit. This is what we are all about. Passing on to the next generation the stories of the lives and achievements of the past. For two days school groups come to Lois McClure. The public school fourth and fifth graders are dressed in their multi-hued, casual clothing; the private school students more formal, in plaid uniforms for one group, navy blue skirts or slacks and ties for the other. Regardless, they are eager to go on board.

Erick gets them involved immediately as he greets them on the dock, builds a human map, of sorts, to illustrate the development of the country and the trading route of the 1820s. "Here's New York City, down at this end, who's going to be NYC?" Hands fly up, children are chosen, set in a line, then the same for the Hudson River. "Whoa - NYC is growing, we need more NYC" (children added) And up at the other end in the mountains is Lake Champlain (more children step onto the line, map). "There's a gap in between, how do we connect these places, so they can each get the stuff they need? What do we build?" (More hands flapping.) Yes, a canal! (He's got them.) Onto the boat that was built for the canal they go, rotating in small groups through six or so stations, where they learn about the ship's wheel and navigation, sailing basics and terms, life aboard the boat, what goods were carried back and forth, ask questions. Crew interpreters help to set the scene by dressing in every-day period costume (think long gingham dresses, checkered shirts and suspenders, homespun trousers, except Hilton who's in Sunday-best frock coat and derby hat). When Erick bids them good-bye on the dock and asks them if they had a good time they shout a resounding "yes"! Many of the students come back with their parents on the weekend when the boat is open to the public. This visit to the recreated sailing canal schooner has been a fun opportunity to connect and learn about their historic and cultural past; we hope it will be remembered and be of value to the young people, and their teachers, as they carry on into the future.

A most unusual treat awaits us at the end of each day here. Thanks to the generosity of LCMM supporter Bob Hodson, we are guests of the Port Washington Yacht Club for the evening meal in their dining room overlooking the harbor. As the sun sets and the flag is lowered, we "stand for colors", participating in an old nautical tradition. Dinner the first night starts off with a menu at each place welcoming the crew of Lois McClure to a four course Sit Down Dinner. The next night features a buffet with a pasta station where two chefs make dishes (delicious!) to order. Wow! Quite different than sitting on the rocks (for ballast) in the hold while we eat. Shower facilities at the club are also made available to us. All most appreciated. Many thanks to our host.

What a gift to sail on Lois McClure.


Phone: 802-475-2022