Maritime Museum and Sidetrip to Vergennes – 6/14/16

First of All –

  • First loon call heard in northern waters
  • First excursion into the interior of Vermont (up Otter Creek to Vergennes)
  • First bird: eastern flycatcher

Namely Speaking-

  • Lake Champlain Maritime Museum
  • Otter Creek
  • Vergennes

Loop Log:

  • Miles Cruised today: Power: 13; Sail: 0
  • Total Miles Cruised to date: 5,238
  • Hours Underway: 3
  • Fuel: NA
  • Morning House Battery Reading: 12.78
  • Wind Speed: 5 ; Wind Direction: NW
  • Daily High Temperature: 80
  • Water Temperature: 62

DSCF4238Button Bay is glassy smooth this morning. We take our time getting underway, raising anchor around 9am and motoring a short distance around the corner to the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum. Our two trawler friends are already anchored in North Bay when we arrive, but there’s plenty of room for us. We’re pleased to see the Philadelphia, a precise replica of one of Benedict Arnold’s gunboats, proudly afloat at the dock. We walk up the path to the museum with our friends, stopping along the way to visit with the resident blacksmith, who obviously enjoys demonstrating the blacksmith trade. He’s a retired orthopedic surgeon, who has taken up blacksmithing. He has a fascinating shop, and it’s apparent that he’s mastered the trade.

It’s a perfectly beautiful day, and we take our time visiting the several buildings which make up the museum. They’ve accumulated aDSCF4248 wonderful collection of classic old wooden boats of all kinds, including Indian dugouts, canoes, fishing boats, and larger craft. One building showcases a huge racing iceboat named Storm King, and it’s been clocked at over 100 mph on the ice. The exhibit which most fascinated me tells the story of the Revolutionary War campaigns on Lake Champlain, with particular focus on the Battle of Valcour Island and its immediate aftermath. Other interesting historical displays focus on early steamboats on the lake, and on the tremendous underwater archeology work which has been done to study and, in many cases, recover and preserve historic shipwrecks in Lake Champlain. After we complete our museum tour, Sandy and I walk over to the nearby lodge on Basin Bay. It’s a lovely place with many historic buildings, beautiful flower gardens, and a delightful view of the lake.

We get back to the boat around 12:30, raise anchor, and make another short run up to the mouth of Otter Creek. This 7 mile long navigable channel winds its way up to the historic town of Vergennes, which is the oldest city in Vermont. It’s located at a striking waterfall, which in early days powered sawmills and grist mills. As with Skeenesboro, a major shipyard took advantage of these natural advantages. In DSCF4255addition, iron was locally mined and forged here. During the War of 1812, several of the ships which Commodore MacDonough employed to defeat the British at the Battle of Plattsburg Bay were built here. We are welcomed by a free town dock, and our 3 boats are the only ones here today. We understand that a bit later in the summer, boats can be rafted up here 4 and even 5 deep. It’s a warm afternoon, so we all grab cool beverages and lounge in the shade, admiring the falls, before walking up into the town. Vergennes is a pretty place, with many interesting old buildings, some of which date back to the late 1700’s, however, the number of empty downtown storefronts suggest that things could be better here. We all gather for dinner at the Black Sheep Bistro, and enjoy a fine meal together. Afterwards, we stroll back down to the dock. Jim and Gwen have us aboard for an evening visit. We say our goodbyes, since we’re likely to be splitting up in the morning. I’m planning on making a long run all the way to Plattsburg, with an early start. I’m hoping to get in to the emergency room to get this sciatica problem checked out, and I don’t have any idea just how long it will take to get the answers and treatment I may need.

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