October 9, 2005 Lois McClure
Ship's Log
 

CREW MEMBER

Laura Hollowell

Laura Hollowell works for the Lake Champlain Basin Program, a federal, state and local partnership that is implementing a management plan for Lake Champlain and its watershed. The Lake Champlain Basin Program is a sponsor of the “Grand Journey”. Laura works with the public in the Resource Room at the ECHO Aquarium and Science Center on the Burlington waterfront. Living and working near the Burlington shipyard, she often visited the schooner project and frequently admires Lois McClure. Laura worked for many years with the Vermont State Parks, and as Park Naturalist at Button Bay, and was a neighbor and visitor to LCMM. Twenty years ago, in October, she was employed as an interpreter in the museum’s stone schoolhouse, then the only building at the new museum!


Join us for a
Welcome Home Party!

The crew of Lois McClure and the Trustees and staff of the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum invite you to enjoy music by Atlantic Crossing, refreshments, and great company.
We hope you will join us at Burlington, VT's Perkins Pier in celebrating the boat's return from her Grand Journey!
October 19th
4pm - 7:30pm


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Many Thanks to our Sponsors, without whom this trip would not have been possible:



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GREETINGS FROM THE CREW!

Mechanicville and Schuylerville, NY
Laura Hollowell On October 1st, a beautiful autumn day, our “rotation” headed from Basin Harbor to join the crew at the Port of Albany. Our van bumped along a dead end road to Scarano’s Boat Builders, where the masts of the schooner would be taken down. We were headed up through the locks and under many bridges, so sailing canal boats never sailed through the narrow Champlain Canal. We arrived in time for a marvelous sight, Lois McClure traveling through the sparkling waters of the Hudson River, tug at her hip. The Port of Albany is a real port, unlike many I have seen, with industry, working docks, and giant barges. After we switched off the crews and loaded supplies, the Scarano brothers were ready with crane and machine to assist with removing the big white spruce masts. It took hours of work, with first mate Erick, roped in and up a tall mast, bravely knocking and “undoing” pins and lines as boats raced by. Chris, Lianna and I had arrived, but we would spend the night on the boat tied to the dock, to leave in the morning.

The morning of October 2nd was dense mist, and as we waited for the fog to lift, I was reminded that we were on a strange river indeed, for the Hudson is so close to sea level it has tides! Erick says if you tie your lines too tight to the dock, the cleats would rip right off the boat. As we left the port I was at the helm, and though I only followed signals from the crew, what a joy to be at the wheel of such a fine boat! Soon our able captain Roger Taylor took over, and I headed to the bow to keep an eye upriver for danger. A naturalist on “bow watch” has a challenge. I was eager to be of service, but what a magical day in the Hudson Valley, golden, warm, and calm. The river was full of life - osprey, great blue heron, chattering kingfishers, squawking ducks and geese. I’d quickly turn to see monarchs flutter past on their course to Mexico. The first lock, the Federal Lock, appeared in the distance, and a bald eagle banked a curve in front of our boat! The crew is used to seeing bald eagles, but I’m not.

Mechanicville, New York was upriver through two more locks, on the now “canalized” Hudson. No longer tidal, the water is at a higher elevation with every lock. Entering a lock is like heading into a canyon, which then becomes an elevator, “going up”! As Chris and I worked as “roving fenders” to keep the boat from smashing into the wall, the crew skillfully maneuvered the schooner and her tug. Suddenly we would find ourselves level with well-kept grounds, and a lockkeeper, saying “Beautiful day! It’s supposed to be nice ‘til Thursday”! Well, on Sunday, Thursday seems a long way away.

Once in Mechanicville, the canal history really came alive. Back in 1862, a boat like Lois would have moved up and down on the old Champlain Canal, which ran beside the Hudson, and right through Mechanicville. We were in town for several days, tied up at the town dock. Hundreds of middle school kids came on board to learn about the canal boats and the people who lived on them. Dressed in 19th century costume, I asked the kids how they would like to live on a boat like this, in the small cabin with their own family. Feelings were mixed about the close quarters, but they embraced the idea of our adventure. Hundreds of Mechanicville area folk turned out after school to visit, and gave us and the town a party, with free music and pizza. The locals had many tales of the bygone brickyards and factories, and told how the old canal was filled in to become Central Avenue.

We headed up river again on October 5th, and the mist on the river lifted for more beautiful warm weather. The foliage along the bank was turning, and soft shades of green, yellow and orange gave definition to the corridor of trees. The town of Schuylerville appeared after three more locks. Downriver, we had traveled by a mix of old and new buildings, but now we were floating through a rural landscape like a Hudson River School painting. Chris serenaded us up the river, playing her bagpipes. After Lock 3, there appeared a very low bridge – it sure looked as if the stack of the tugboat would hit! It’s an “optical delusion” said Len, the Bosun. Our Second Mate Scudder smiled and raised his arms – my heart stopped, but they had lowered the pool between the locks just for us – it’s not even close.

On our way into Schuylerville, we were joined by Caldwell Belle, the paddlewheel tour boat of Champl ain Canal Tour Boats, which was on a special "Lois McClure Tour" with captain Bob Foster. We docked right at Lock 5, adjacent Caldwell Belle, for three days, ready for many more school visits. On Saturday we were part of a day-long canal boat celebration, along with the Old Saratoga Historical Society. What an amazing spot to teach and learn about canal boats! Schuylerville is steeped in history, and right by the lock runs the only remaining part of the original Champlain Canal. The long-predicted rain arrived, and yet a surprising number of folks braved the weather to visit our boat. Performer George Ward kept spirits up with old time canal music and songs. We lit a wood fire in the “marine stove”. The rain slashed the deck all night, but we were warm and dry on our canal boat. Sunday morning, a man who saw our cozy ship that night called us “dyed in the wool romantics”. Well maybe, maybe he’s right. I know Lois McClure had more than a crew, we were companions, and we had met many more friends along the way.


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