Champlain Longboats at Lake Champlain Maritime Museum

Jan. 22, 2020
Jan. 22, 2020
Jan. 22, 2020
Oct. 29, 2019
Oct. 29, 2019
Oct. 29, 2019
Oct. 29, 2019
Oct. 29, 2019
May. 31, 2019
May. 31, 2019
May. 31, 2019
May. 31, 2019
May. 31, 2019
Aug. 08, 2018
Aug. 08, 2018
Aug. 08, 2018
Aug. 08, 2018
Aug. 08, 2018
May. 22, 2018
May. 22, 2018
May. 22, 2018
Mar. 22, 2018
Mar. 22, 2018
Feb. 13, 2018
Feb. 13, 2018
Feb. 13, 2018
About This Kool Project

Champlain Longboats is the flagship youth boat-building program of Lake Champlain Maritime Museum in Vergennes, Vermont. Since 1999, this innovative program has been in continual operation and its focal point is the construction of a 32’ Cornish pilot gig by local high school students in the museum's boat shop. A Cornish pilot gig is a six-oared open-water rowing boats that dates back to the early 1800s when they were primarily used to carry pilots out to their ships off the Cornish coasts. Each year, from January to May, a group of 12-20 high school students spend their school day in the boat-building program learning to build “from tree to boat.”


First, student boat builders start with a visit to trees in the forest with the program’s collaborative partner Vermont Family Forests (VFF), a local non-profit that promotes sustainable forestry practices. Students visit the forest to select a tree to become a boat made at the museum. Logs from the trees and a saw mill are transported to the museum where the youth boat builders help turn the timber into lumber and then participate in the milling and stacking of the lumber.  In addition to learning firsthand this process of going from tree to lumber to finished boat, students gain a vivid understanding of why it is important to be responsible stewards of our precious forest resources.


Next, students come to the boat shop at Lake Champlain Maritime Museum for five days a week for five months to build the 32′ foot rowing gig. With guidance from the museum's expert boat builders, students learn to use woodworking tools and are immersed in traditional boat-building skills including fitting (spiling) new planks and installing over 3,000 copper nails and rivets. The young boat builders must also learn and implement the art of fine finishing as they sand, paint, and varnish the boat to a high quality luster. Throughout this process, students collaborate with peers and program staff, understand what it means to function effectively in a working environment, keep journals, work out on rowing machines, perform research, and give presentations on boat-building topics. 


The culmination of this annual program comes at the end of May as the museum's Champlain Longboats community of students, past alumni, instructors, youth and adult rowers, parents, family, and staff come together for the official launch of the new boat in Lake Champlain. The student boat builders share their experience and what they've learned. This important celebration of the experience, along with the accolades and positive feedback from the community and their peers reinforces the notion that they can accomplish what they set their sights on and that these skills are valued and essential.

 

Jan. 22, 2020

Today marks the first day of an exciting annual project here at Lake Champlain Maritime Museum: the first day of boat building! This year our boat builders hail from two local schools: Vergennes Union High and Middlebury Union High. 

Our flagship youth boat building program, Champlain Longboats has been engaging kids since 1999. Each winter we are joined by local high school students who build a 32’ Cornish pilot gig in the museum’s boat shop. A Cornish pilot gig is a six-oared open-water rowing boat that dates back to the early 1800s when they were primarily used to carry pilots out to the incoming ships off the Cornish coasts. This year, from January until May, a group of 18 high school students will spend their school day in the boat building shop learning to build “from tree to boat.”

This process actually first starts off campus as our student boat builders head into the woods with our collaborative partner Vermont Family Forests (VFF), a local non-profit that promotes sustainable forestry practices, to select trees that will become boats built at the museum. Logs  and a saw mill are transported to the museum where the youth boat builders help turn the timber into lumber, participating in the milling and stacking of the lumber.

Students will then join us five days a week for five months in our boat shop to build the 32′ boat with guidance from the museum’s boat builders. The team explores woodworking tools and are immersed in traditional boat building skills including fitting (spiling) new planks and installing over 3,000 copper nails and rivets. The young boat builders must also learn and implement the art of fine finishing as they sand, paint, and varnish the boat to a high quality luster. In addition, students will explore science and math curriculum which is embedded in the boatbuilding project and will give public presentations at an open-house night and the launch celebration.

We’ll be sharing our boat builders’ progress regularly on Facebook and Instagram

This annual project culminates with the grand launch of the new boat in May. Our Champlain Longboats community of current students, past alumni, instructors, youth and adult rowers, parents, family, and staff come together as we parade the boat down to Lake Champlain for its first official launch. This year marks our 21st boat and we can’t wait to see the amazing work and care these students will put into it.

November 2020

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
29
30
1
2
3
4
5
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
helenav
3606 Views
1
followers
No projects being followed
  • boat building
  • Gig Building
  • wooden boat
  • Youth Programs