June 15, 2006 Lois McClure
Ship's Log


Elisa Nelson

Elisa Nelson has been with the schooner project from the beginning. She worked throughout the construction in Burlington as an interpreter, was our Vermont liason on our Grand Journey down the Hudson, and continues today to be an integral part of the crew. She resides with her husband, also involved with the schooner as a volunteer, in South Burlington, VT.

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Elisa Nelson

Another early morning for the crew on the Lois McClure, but today our destination was a bit different. Instead of traveling off to a new port of call to see new places and to meet interesting people, we were on our way to Shelburne Shipyard to pull the Lois McClure out of the water for the first time since she was launched. After two years of traveling around Lake Champlain, the Champlain Canal, the Hudson River, and the East River, she had some wear and tear and needed a bit of attention.

With the sun shining, and nearly glass smooth water, our Captain Erick Tichonuk, and tug operator Sandy Jacobs, maneuvered Lois into position on the Lake Champlain Transportation marine railway. LCT, always supportive of our work, very generously donated the use of the railway and the staff to operate it. A great team of folks from LCT was ready and waiting and Engineer John Paul was in the water (yes, in scuba gear) ready to make sure Lois was secure for her ride onto land. John Paul and Scudder Kelvie had gone over plans and measurements to create a blocking plan to cradle the schooner safely and to allow our crew and volunteers the access we needed to work on the hull.

The 1929 machinery of the winch house clanked and creaked to life, and the entire marine railway slowly inched forward and up underneath the Lois. With one stop for a few quick adjustments, the entire process took less than 45 minutes. The huge platform slowly rose out of the water, revealing more and more of the intricate preparations that had been made in advance of our arrival, and we could see the hull that had been beneath the water for so many months. We were a little surprised to see some barnacles on her rudder, and even more surprised to see relatively few zebra mussels.

The marine railway was designed for hauling large vessels, like the LCT ferries. We are used to thinking of the Lois McClure as an impressive vessel, one of the largest sailing vessels to be found on Lake Champlain in recent years. When the schooner was sitting up on the ways, we were all surprised to see how small she looked on the immense platform!

Now the real work was ready to begin. Scudder and Matt fired up the pressure washer and blasted off the layer of marine life that had made the hull its home. About and hour later that wet job was finished and we had to walk away to let the hull start drying out.

Over the next several days, including the Memorial Day weekend, Scudder, Matt, Len, Kerry and I attacked the grubby work of scraping and sanding the hull. We were joined by hard working volunteers Bill Suiter, Bob Able, John Tichonuk, Leo Straight, Peter Huber, Gary Fisher, Hilton Dier, and Ernie Haas. With a quick touch up of the seams, and several frustrating delays due to rain, we were able to proceed with the “fun” task of bottom painting. We donned tyvek suits, painter’s hats and respirators and managed to squeeze in three good coats of paint between rain showers.

After 14 straight days of hard work, the time was here to re-launch the schooner. The LCT crew joined us again and coaxed the ancient machinery to life and slowly delivered the schooner back into the waters of Lake Champlain. In less than 30 minutes Lois was back in the water with the tugboat Churchill safely secured at her hip. She was ready to head south for her first port of call for the 2006 season, and an encounter with pirates at LCMM's Kids Pirate Festival, Fathers Day Weekend!

All in all, the project was a big success, a testament to so many dedicated volunteers and the wonderful generosity of LCT president Trey Pecor, VP Henry Sorrell, Port Engineer John Paul, Chief Engineer Russell Fox, and all the other terrific and talented folks working at the Lake Champlain Ferries. We couldn’t have done it without them.

Phone: 802-475-2022