We’re Not in Kansas Anymore


by Isaac Parker

As the Lois McClure wound it’s way down the Richelieu River in the morning sun it seemed like any other day. That morning we had departed from Saint Ours with the destination of Sorel in mind. Before this trip I hadn’t traveled into Canada much (just a few trips to the Biodome in Montreal when I was in elementary school and a summer vacation in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick) so everything was totally new to me. I could tell things were changing when a sea plane landed 200 feet or so from us as we were underway and then proceeded to drive out of the water to a special seaplane airport. It was all very cool.

As we neared our destination we saw the speedboat traffic on the river increase drastically. These boats were quite the sight with all sorts of interesting detailed paint work on the sides.  What also surprised me was how big they were. I always thought of speedboats as kind of small – these were very large!

The propeller and draft marks (in feet) of a freighter on the docks of Sorel (photo: Tom Larsen)

With Sorel quickly approaching as we continued down the Richelieu, we began to pass these huge barges and tugs that made the Lois look tiny. We weren’t the biggest fish in the sea anymore. Just ahead of us the large grain towers of the local grain depot began to appear above the tree line and in the distance smoke was visible as it poured out of nearby factories.

Everyone hears how big container ships are, and we think we have an idea of what those numbers mean. However, until you have something to compare them too, those numbers don’t really register. As we rounded the last bend before Sorel, ahead of us lay a colossal container ship, towering above us. Having always been one of the tallest kids in my grade for the first time, I really felt small. With my jaw practically touching the floor, Art, who was next to me operating the tug said, “We’re not in Kansas anymore.”

A freighter loading with grain in Sorel (photo: Tom Larsen)

Rigged in Sorel (photo: Tom Larsen)

The boat was originally supposed to be open to the public in Sorel  but due to lack of water we would only be rigging the boat. After tying up on a commercial wall on the outskirts of the port we all took the rest of the afternoon to rest up in preparation for the hard work to come. The next morning the crane arrived around nine o’clock and it was already scorching hot and very humid. You could tell it was going to be a long day. This was my first full rigging day and I learned all about the topping lifts, the jig tackles, the throat and peak halyards and the lazy jacks. It was quite the learning experience.

Showers are always an important necessity on tour, and this day they were even more important then usual. Luckily, Energy Cardio, a local fitness center who had provided showers for the boat in 2008 generously allowed us to use them again. They were doubly appreciated this time around.

Now, as the tour continues, I’m excited to see what this new scale of waterway brings.  It’s quite the experience not being the biggest thing out there anymore.

Special Thanks to:

Isaac Parker
Serving for his third year aboard the Lois, Isaac is a rising Junior at Mount Abraham Union High School.  With a career in naval architecture in mind, Isaac joins us for two months this summer.

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About Lake Champlain Maritime Museum

The Lake Champlain Maritime Museum is a private non-profit museum located on the shores of Lake Champlain, just seven miles from Vergennes, Vermont. Our mission since our opening in 1985 is to share the rich history and archaeology of Lake Champlain and its surrounding region. We accomplish that through exhibits, education programs, special events, on-water activities, replica vessels, nautical archaeology research, and so much more. Learn more & get involved by visiting our website: www.lcmm.org.
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2 Responses to We’re Not in Kansas Anymore

  1. Pingback: Captain’s Log, Part 3 | Lake Champlain Maritime Museum

  2. Pingback: 'Lois McClure': Captain’s Log, Part 3

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