A glimpse behind the scenes

by Tom Larsen

Tour planning, the early stages
Tour planning, the early stages (photo: Tom Larsen)

Planning a tour of the Lois McClure is tough work.  There are a lot of moving parts and many things to keep in mind all the time.  Contacting the communities that host us is one of the biggest cogs in the machine.  The preference for everyone is to make that contact in the winter, to give everyone time to plan, organize and work out any issues.  Erick usually goes out on a recon trip.  This is to get a firsthand look at where we can dock, what facilities are available, how our gangway will fit and the myriad of other details that it takes to get the Lois set up at a port.  Ideally, this visit happens in February or March, and any sticking points can addressed to make the visit run smoothly.  This year was a little different.  First of all, Erick took me along on the recon trip – it’s much less stress on people if more than one person knows what is going on and who to talk to should something come up at a port.  Secondly, because of late confirmation of funding the recon trip didn’t happen until the last week of June, about a month before we were scheduled to leave.  This gave communities much less time to work through any issues that arose with hosting the Lois, and definitely put the crunch on them for planning and promotional purposes.  They have all risen to the occasion.

Geneva is a prime example.  Originally we had planned to visit Watkins Glen, however, when docking issues cropped up Geneva was ecstatic to have us come back to their waterfront.  Rob Gladden of the Chamber of Commerce and Bob Stivers of Stivers Seneca Marine teamed up and worked tirelessly to make our stay in Geneva go smoothly.  To make things even more complicated for them, we were rigging the boat so that we could sail on Seneca Lake.  Bob Stivers took care of the rigging operations and made sure that our rig could be safely raised.  Once we had the rig set, we had a fantastic sail on Seneca Lake.  It is great to be able to actually sail when we’re on tour.  It’s a rare occasion that we get the rig up and have a whole day to just toodle around on a lake.

Docked in Geneva
Docked in Geneva (photo: Tom Larsen)

Once we arrived back at the dock in Geneva, we were inundated with eager public on our first day open, having seen us sailing on the lake the day before and many having seen us in the paper (thanks to Rob and Bob’s work with the press).  A few also commented having heard Erick on a local radio talk show Wednesday morning.  There was a very constant flow of visitors on Saturday and Sunday.  Rob had arranged for food vendors to arrive, which combined with the Cabot/McCadam table, provided some very tasty treats for the visitors.  Though the weather was pretty rough on Sunday, we still had many visitors, all of whom were excited about the Lois being there.  Many remembered visiting the boat when it had docked there in 2007, and all of them were truly grateful to see the boat with the masts up.

Our hats are off to Rob Gladden and Bob Stivers and numerous others from Geneva for all their help.  Thanks to their hard work, we had a fantastic stop and a glorious sail.

Tom Larsen
AB Crew