In 2004 our researchers examined the remains of a vessel reported by divers Craig Allen (in 2004) and Dan Carpenter (in 2000). One dive was undertaken on the site to identify and preliminarily document the wreck. It lies in shallow water (7 to 8ft [2.1 to 2.4m]) on a sandy bottom near Ausable Point. Conditions during the examination were poor with 2 to 3ft (61 to 91cm) seas and underwater visibility of approximately 5ft (1.5m). The overall remains are 64ft 5in (19.6m) in length with a maximum beam of 19ft 6in (5.9m) which was recorded 27ft (8.2m) aft of the bow. The remains consist only of the bottom of the hull up to the turn of the bilge. The estimated original dimensions of the boat are approximately 23ft (7m) in beam and 80ft (24.4m) in length. The boat’s shallow water location and the associated ice damage accounts for the relatively poor condition of the site.
Preliminary archaeological drawing of the Ausable Point Shipwreck. Drawn by Adam Kane, inked by Chris Sabick, LCMM Collection
The vessel has a transversely planked scow-shaped bow. The structure of the bow consists of longitudinally oriented stringers and transverse ceiling. The bow is 16ft 2in (4.9m) in beam. At 12ft (3.7m) aft of the forward most extent of the wreck the building method transitions from scow construction to a more traditional plank-on-frame technique. The hull appears to be flat-bottomed, although nearly the entire interior was obscured by sediments. The ceiling and planking are oriented longitudinally. The dominant feature of the interior of the hull is a substantial keelson, approximately 1ft (30.5cm) moulded and sided. Although flat-bottomed, the transition from the bottom to the sides appears to be rounded; no evidence of a chine log was noted.
Moving aft the hull gradually tapers until it ends abruptly at the squared off stern of the boat. The stern is framed by a stern knee and a series of cant frames. The transverse stern planking is similar to transom planking, but given its location so near the bottom of the hull it is unusual. The sternpost is located entirely outside of the hull, fastened to the stern planking and the stern knee.
Artifacts were not observed inside the hull, with the exception of numerous fasteners. These consisted of both wrought and cut nails. In one area of the bow several wire nails (c. 1910) were used to hold a piece of ceiling in place. This may represent a later repair giving a relative date to the sinking/abandonment of the boat. No attempt was made during the inspection to examine the bottom around the wreck for other boat remains. However, other divers have noted a large debris field surrounding the wreck.
The construction of the Ausable Wreck is unlike any other known shipwreck in Lake Champlain. Our researchers have preliminarily identified it as a Canadian lumber boat, known as a pin plat. Its preliminary identification as a pin plat is based on: 1) the scow bow; 2) the low transom; 3) the narrow tapered stern; and 4) the beam which is too large for any Champlain canal boat, but consistent with that of a pin plat (23ft [7m]). The boat’s length is short for a pin plat; even at an original length of approximately 80ft (24.4m) the length is less than the 108ft (32.9m) allowed by the Chambly Canal locks in Quebec.
Adam I. Kane, A. Peter Barranco, Joanne M. DellaSalla, Sarah E. Lyman and Christopher R. Sabick, Lake Champlain Underwater Cultural Resources Survey, Volume VIII: 2003 Results and Volume IX: 2004 Results. Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, 2007.