July 4, 2005 Lois McClure
Ship's Log


Erick Tichonuk has worked for the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum since 1986 as an educator and nautical archaeologist. He graduated from UVM with a B.A. in History, and also teaches SCUBA diving. He serves aboard Lois McClure as First Mate and project coordinator.

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July 4, 2005

Our departure from Essex was met with contrary winds forcing our 2005 record to 0 - 3 for sailing, but as our Captain pointed out we have nearly 50 more opportunities to better our record this season. We took advantage of the tow to Basin Harbor to begin striking the rig. We began with the foresail, using the halyards to lower the boom, gaff and sail assembly gently to the deck.

Once tied securely to the lake dock at Basin Harbor, we continued disassembling the mass of rope, wood, and canvas. To ease the rigging process later we left as much in place as possible, including keeping the sails bent to their booms and gaffs. By Monday afternoon we were ready to tackle the big spars, Tuesday morning would see the arrival of the crane and the lowering of the masts. A highlight came for this crewmember when I was hoisted aloft and stood on the trees atop the foremast to remove the spring stay. It's quite a perspective to look down on Lois's deck!

When we mention the use of a crane to lower and raise our rig visitors often scoff and say we are "cheating." Granted, hydraulic cranes were not an option historically, but the use of cranes, operated with the mechanical advantage of blocks (pulleys), were. In August of 1861 Theodore Bartley states, "towed to Whitehall poled up near Billy Canes [Cain's] Sail loft" Billy Cain provided rig removal/replacement and storage facilities near the entrance to the Champlain Canal. Our modern day Billy Cain was Craig Brown, long time supporter of museum efforts, including the flipping of the bottom of Lois McClure during the construction process.

With seasoned professionalism we've come to expect from Craig he gently eased the 50' masts out of their deck mounted tabernacles and gently placed them on the dock. Once the tabernacles were cleared we installed spar cradles, custom designed and manufactured by Don Dewees. The de-masting process took about four hours in some oppressive heat, but was a very successful operation. Only four more times to go during the Grand Journey! Lois McClure and her crew now had one final day for good byes and voyage preparations with the next day's Bon Voyage party.

Phone: 802-475-2022