Tuesday, August 28, 2018

What I'm Reading

You know that I like to read books that are set in the place where I'm traveling.
This summer, when we boated Lake Champlain, Cap bought me a book that's given both of us a lot of pleasure: Life on a Canal Boat, The Journals of Theodore D. Bartley, 1861-1889.

Captain Bartley was a diligent and engaging journaler. For 30 years, he ferried cargo on the Richlieu, Lake Champlain, and Champlain Canal (all locations where we traveled this summer).

He also traveled the Erie Canal and Hudson River (as we did on our Great Loop Trip).

And his canal boat, like ours, was a bit unusual. It used a sustainable technology. It was was a sailing canal boat!

A Canal Boat with Sails?

Voila! Sailing canal boat.
Yup! From about the 1840s to to the 1880s, some canal boats carrying cargo between Montreal and New York were built with a mast and centerboard. 

The idea was to sail under your own power on Lake Champlain, then be towed by mules or by a steamboat elsewhere on the route.

 Can We See One? Yes!

Wow! There she is! Hats off to the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum
 for making this rare bit of history come to life!
The Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, which we visited this summer, built and operates a full-scale replica of an 1862 sailing canal boat. (Pictured under sail above left.) 

It was launched in 2004. Since then, the Lois McClure (read all about it, very cool) has been touring around, educating folks on canal boat life. 

Today it was in Palmyra, NY, just a few miles from Macedon. 

So of course we had to go obsess over it--I mean, admire it!

Solar Canal Boat, Sailing Canal Boat: A Comparison

Theodore Bartley's boat was almost identical to the Lois McClure. It's more than twice as long as Dragonfly (88 feet to our 41 feet), half again as wide (14 feet to our 10 feet), and capable of carrying 60 - 120 tons.

Click here to compare to pix of Dragonfly!
Bartley brought his wife and young son along on the boat. The Lois McClure recreates their living space, in the stern of the boat, beneath the steering platform. 

Stairs down, homespun curtains, patchwork quilt, tiny but complete galley, wood panelling . . . it all felt pretty familiar!

A unexpected special bonus treat for us: On the boat was Barbara Bartley, the person who transcribed Theodore Bartley's journals, so that they could be edited into the book. 

(She's his great-granddaughter-in-law.)

Cap chats with Mrs. Bartley belowdecks.
Bartley's canal boat carried lumber, potatoes, grain, coal . . . all the nonperishable staples of the day. His diary documents pleasant days with nice weather, and frightening events: storms, collisions with bridges and other boats, injuries, his son falling overboard. 

He was a multi-talented guy who knew how to sail, was a skilled gunsmith, and, as a carpenter, made the boat more comfortable than was typical of the day for his family.

A typical journal entry reads something like: "Shipped and mended the rudder, repaired some sails, lashed the ends of new lines, made mosquito screens for the cabin, walked to town for supplies, loaded 5000 bushels of grain . . . didn't do much else today." 

Makes us feel like slackers!

Time to Do as Bartley Did

And with that, I'm headed back to the boat. We're taking this week in port to grind off the rust and put on fresh paint.  

So if you come cruising with us next summer (we're thinking Lake Champlain!) Dragonfly will be looking her best.

No comments:

Post a Comment