Whaleboat Sugar Moon first row in the water

Sugar Moon: Launching the Newest Boat Built by Students

By Nick Patch, Director of Maritime Programs

Friday May 27 was a day of celebration here at Lake Champlain Maritime Museum as we launched our brand new 29’ whaleboat, Sugar Moon.

What makes this launch special? Sugar Moon is the latest boat to come out of our student boat building program, Champlain Longboats, which partners with local schools each winter and spring to bring high school students into the boat shop to learn how to build a wooden boat. This year, students from the Addison Wayfinder Experience and Middlebury Union High School joined us. Our boat builders worked for five months fitting planks, steaming ribs, and pounding 3,000 copper rivets that hold the boat together. Interspersed with boatbuilding, students also participated in workshops about wood science, forestry, water chemistry, fishing ID and release, plankton science, and archaeology.

All their work over the past five months came together on Friday as students, teachers, staff, family, and supporters came together to officially launch Sugar Moon. Our boat building students each gave a speech about their experience at the Maritime Museum, what it was like to build this boat, and the impact it has had on them. There were not many dry eyes in the house. Together, we paraded the boat down to Basin Harbor for the launch and first row of its new life. Enjoy these photo highlights of the day, thanks to Buzz Kuhns:

This was an impressive accomplishment for these students. They deserve bragging rights for sticking with this project for five months through thick and thin and seeing through to completion. We are very proud of them all!!

The Sugar Moon is a 29’ Beetle whaleboat that will be rowed and sailed as part of our summer expeditionary program. While the design has roots in environmental exploitation it is a truly beautiful and seaworthy boat. We hope that by using this design in our youth programming we can educate our youth about the perils of greed at all cost and find a better use for a truly beautiful boat.

In addition to the partnership between schools, students, and the Museum educators and volunteers, Champlain Longboats is made possible by financial support from generous individual donors and foundations. Thank you to all of our supporters for empowering these young people!

Foundation and corporate support for the 2021-2022 program came from:

  • Bernard F. and Mary Ann Powell Foundation
  • Cartwheel Foundation
  • The Charlie Burchard Memorial Trust
  • Epifanes
  • George W. Mergens Foundation
  • Lake Champlain Chapter of Antique and Classic Boat Society
  • Leo Cox Beach Philanthropic Foundation
  • The Max and Victoria Dreyfus Foundation
  • People’s United Community Foundation
  • The Robbins de Beaumont Foundation
  • RPM Foundation
  • Vermont Family Forest
  • Vermont Mutual Insurance Company