Standard Canal Boat (Wreck YYY) (VT-AD-726)

Wreck YYY is a well-preserved canal boat initially located by the Champlain Maritime Society during a side scan sonar survey in 1984; its 1984 designation was LC84-19. The site, which lies in Vermont waters, was relocated during the 2003 Lake Survey and verified by archaeological divers in July 2004.

Preliminary archaeological drawing of Wreck YYY. Drawn by Adam Kane.

This wreck is a largely buried, but intact mid-nineteenth century canal boat. The stern projects 3 to 4ft (.9-1.2km) above the bottom, descending from there forward until all remains are buried at 72ft (21.9m) forward of the rudderpost. Subsequent to the verification dive examination of the sonar image indicated that a small portion of the bow may also be exposed above the sediments. This observation has yet to be confirmed. The vessel has a beam of 14ft 1in (4.3m), which, based on the known expansions of the Champlain Canal locks, indicates that the vessel was constructed between 1858 and 1872. A canal boat of this class should have an overall length of approximately 88ft (26.8m). With the exception of the stern, the exposed remains consist largely of the gunwales and hatch coamings. The wreck is preserved up to deck level. Wreck YYY’s only major absent structural components are the cabin trunk and roof, as well as the decking in the stern.

The wreck is constructed in a plank-on-frame fashion. The stern has an overhanging guard for supporting the rudderpost, similar in construction to that found on Wreck JJ. The rudder is turned to starboard; the tiller is missing. The interior of the stern is buttressed by a composite sternhook constructed of three timbers. The opening for the cabin is marked by two sets of half beams, which once supported the walkway above, and allowed unobstructed headroom in the cabin.

The deck of the boat has two cargo hatches, both 20ft (6.1m) long and separated by an 8ft (2.4m) span of deck. Each corner of each hatch has a stanchion that projects approximately 1ft (30.5cm) above the hatch coaming. This is likely related to a hatch cover system that is no longer present. Two wooden cleats were noted along the port walkway.

The after cargo hatch was hand probed for any evidence of remnant cargo; none was encountered at an arm’s depth into the hold. The vessel is almost completely intact; study of this wreck would significantly contribute to our understanding of mid-nineteenth century canal boat construction. If the vessel sank in distress, which could not be determined during the verification dive, the contents of its cabin would still be present. These contents would reflect the lifeways of the family and crewmembers that lived aboard the boat.

Information Source:
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.