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Schooner Lois McClure | SHIP'S LOG
Tom Larsen
Tom Larsen
Tom Larsen began his career at LCMM when he was only 14. Since then he has crewed aboard the replica gunboat Philadelphia II, assisted with educational programs, and has rejoined Lois McClure this summer as an able-bodied crew member. In the fall, he shall return to Hartwick College to complete his bachelor's degree in Computer Sciences.

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Welcome Home, Lois McClure!
You're invited to a welcome home reception for the schooner Lois McClure and her crew at Perkins Pier in Burlington, August 9, 5pm.
Light refreshments will be served. Hope to see you there! 
Where: Perkins Pier, Burlington, VT
When: August 9, 2008; 5pm

Lois McClure will be open, free of charge, at Burlington's Perkins Pier from August 10 - August 24; open 10am - 5pm daily.  During September and early October, Lois McClure will be at LCMM's Basin Harbor campus, open daily 10am - 5pm; included with museum admission. 

Montreal to Sorel | July 23

Tom Larsen 
The day started out normal for a travel day - overcast, threatening to rain and a little windy.  The last ramp was taken on with a minimum of fuss, everyone made their last trip to the bathrooms on the docks, and we were off.  After a minor bit of excitement with a tour boat, we were out in the channel.  The St. Lawrence River narrows drastically as it passes around the island the city of Montreal is located on, resulting in a much faster current through that area.  As we swung out of the harbor, we could see a clear line as to where the sheltered water ended and the river began to flow in full force.  As Lois entered this, it was like stepping onto a conveyor belt.  Woosh!  We were off.  As we shot by La Ronde, Jean and Art exclaimed that we had hit 9.8 knots over ground for speed.  That could be the fastest Lois has ever gone!  Once we got into the main channel of the river, where it began to widen out again, our speed slowed, and I went below out of the wind.  We had recieved eight boxes of fresh 'Welcome Aboard' brochures during our stay at Montreal, but none of them had the insert about the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum in them.  Some of our new volunteers (Jean's sister Claire and her daughter, Emilie) spent a large portion of the day making sure every one of the brochures had an insert in it.  I helped out a bit, but couldn't keep up with their pace.
After lunch, the true excitement began.  The sky had been looking rather ominous for a while, and we were expecting to get slammed with heavy rain at least.  Roger had us start taking down the awnings and tied down anything loose in preparation for the thunderstorm that looked to be overtaking us rather quickly.  Len and I hauled out a fair length of anchor chain, in case of emergency, and everyone was grabbing their raingear.  Suddenly, the marine radio started beeping and making all sorts of odd noises.  This was followed shortly by a statement in French, then English.  I couldn't hear either of them, but Art suddenly poked his head out of the tug, and called to Erick that a tornado had been spotted east of Montreal.  This was going to be an interesting ride.  Roger asked that everyone who didn't have a specific task on deck to move below.  Erick, Len, Roger and I were left on the deck of Lois, with Peter and Art on the tugboat.  Len and Erick quickly sorted out the anchor chain, pulling out more until close to 100 feet was laid out on deck, ready to run free if we needed to stop suddenly.  At this point, rain was pouring down like someone was dumping buckets from the sky, and Roger has me go help Len on the bow, to act as another pair of eyes, and a runner (we sent the radios below as soon as it started pouring in hopes of keeping them dry and functional).  After about 20 minutes the rain cleared out, leaving us wondering if that was all.  Then we looked behind us.  
Tornado near Montreal

Tornado on the St. Lawrence River. Photo by Peter Huber.

The sky had changed drastically.  It was still black and imposing, but there was a clear strip right above the horizon.  While some may have rejoiced at this, it only served to frame the tornado forming there perfectly.  I'm pretty sure Len's face mirrored mine as we both just stood there for a moment in disbelief, and then turned to each other. Our words came out almost identical.  "That's a . . . that's a . . . a tornado!!"  We turned to look at Roger, standing at the stern.  He was as calm as ever, occasionally glancing over his shoulder to look at the impending disaster behind us like it was just another freighter coming along the channel.  The sight took a little bit of tension out of me, and made me realize that we had done everything we could.  The only thing left for us to do was to hold on and hope.  We all continued to watch the tornado as it moved across the river and hit the other shore, thinning as it did, finally disappating.  A sigh of relief escaped all of us, but we remained watchful as we headed towards Sorel-Tracy.  We managed to arrive without any repeats, and Roger brought Lois in for the smoothest landing of the tour so far - no assistance from Churchill or Oocher.  Picture perfect.  The weather had spun about on it's heel, and it was very sunny and felt like it's about 90 degrees.  After we get settled, we all take a breath, and start to relax a little.
The next morning, Jesseca, our host in Sorel-Tracy, came by at 9 to take us to La Societe d'amenagement de la baie Lavalliere for a boat tour of the various islands at end of Lac St. Pierre, a very wide section of the St. Lawrence River.  This is home to the largest great blue heron colony in North America, and is a very beautiful section of waterway.  We all loaded into a wonderful wooden boat, named Le Grebe.  Our guide, Vince, took us on a two hour trip throughout many of the islands, explaining many details, and pointing out animals and sights we would have missed otherwise.  The ride was very relaxing, and it was just what most of us needed after the excitement of the day before.  We saw countless great blue herons, many black terns (a bird I had never heard of before), and even an immature bald eagle!  It was very cool. 

Fish Stew  
The crew of Lois McClure enjoys the local fish stew, gibelotte, at Chez Marc Beauchemin.

When we came back to the dock, Jesseca then took us to a wonderful little restaurant on Ile D'embarras, Chez Marc Beauchemin, that only served one dish - gibelotte.  This is a vegetable and fish stew that is fantastic.  It is a very local dish, and so good that I just had to eat three bowls of it.  After we all had stuffed ourselves, Jesseca brought us to the oldest church in Sorel-Tracy, where we were given a wonderful tour by the local interpreter, dressed as Wilfred Nelson.  The next thing on the agenda was a quick ice run, and we stopped by the boat to drop it off.  I decided to stay, and take a nap as I had almost fallen asleep several times on the boat tour.  At 6:30, the crew went up to a wonderful restaurant, Le Fougasse, for dinner.  It was amazing - the Sorel-Tracy Tourism Bureau hosted us, and it was fantastic food.  Overall, our welcome to Sorel-Tracy was amazing, and we were looking forward to having many interested people come aboard the boat.



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