Row to Bolton Landing – General Information – June 12 to June 15, 2012
Also known as ‘The Big Row, 2012’
Last update of this document, May 9, 2012.
by David Manthey, Bateau Bobbie G, Captain
We will be rowing and sailing one or two bateaux from Crown Point, New York on Lake Champlain to Bolton Landing, New York on Lake George, starting on Tuesday, June 12, 2012 and arriving Friday, June 15, 2012. Bolton Landing is holding a reenactment to commemorate the town, and we will be participating in that once we get there. As part of this trip, we will be portaging at least one bateau from the La Chute River in the town of Ticonderoga to Lake George.
We have been make yearly rowing trips in the bateaux, and this year’s focus is on a portage. The trip is roughly 44 miles long, of which 2.5 miles are a portage. It will be done in replica 18th century bateaux (flat-bottomed cargo boats) owned by the Mabee Farm Historic Site and crewed by period reenactors from Schuyler’s Company of New York Provincials. The crew will stay in 18th-century clothing and use period equipment and gear throughout the entire trip. The portage will be done with a replica 18th-century bateau wagon and be hauled by man power.
Arrival and transit times are very difficult to predict, as our speed is very much the subject of current, wind, and crew. If there is a consistent east wind, our times will be slow. In practice, the average rowing speed we can expect is around 2 to 2.5 mph.
We have the two bateaux of the Mabee Farm, the Bobbie G and the DeSager. At this point it looks like we will just be taking the Bobbie G, but if another rower commits to the row, we will add the DeSager. I hope to have both boats for Bolton Landing.
Currently, I plan to only portage one boat using the period bateau wagon. If we are working with both boats, we will use modern equipment to portage the second one. If we have plenty of man power, I would love to portage all the boats using period equipment.
Preliminaries, Monday, June 11: Moving the boats to Crown Point.
For anyone who wants to camp near Crown Point before we start, I have reserved a campsite at the Crown Point campground. It is directly on Lake Champlain and we may be starting from there. Depending on how the weather and/or beach looks, we may launch and move the boats over to the campsite on Monday afternoon.
First day, Tuesday, June 12: Crown Point to Ticonderoga, NY
We will be launching at Chimney Point on the Vermont side of the Champlain Bridge. Launch time will be at 9 a.m., unless we launched the boat(s) on Monday and are started at the camp ground. Either way, please meet at the Crown Point Campground on Tuesday morning no later than 8 a.m.
The day will be heading south on Lake Champlain, the west up La Chute. We will have to step our masts to fit under the railroad bridge (I think it is the limiting height at around 11’ of clearance).
We will travel to Bicentennial Park in the Town of Ticonderoga. I have obtained permission to camp in the town park, and portajohns are just a short distance away at the baseball field.
The total distance for today is around 17 miles.
Second day, Wednesday, June 13: Ticonderoga to Roger’s Rock
This is the portage day. We will try to start the portage by 10 a.m. We will use the bateau wagon to take the boat out of La Chute on the old boat ramp in the park. We will cross above the last falls on the highway bridge. After crossing La Chute, we will ascend on The Portage (a public road) 2.5 miles to Lake George to the public boat launch.
If we have any boats we are not manually portaging, we need to portage them by truck and trailer.
After relaunching the boat(s), we will row around 2 miles to Rogers Rock Campground, where I have a site reserved.
The total distance for today is around 2.5 miles by land and 2 miles by water. We will be camping at Rogers Rock Campground.
Third day, Thursday, June 14: Rogers Rock to Huletts Landing
We will try to depart by 9 a.m.
Today we will be travelling south on Lake George. The total distance is around 13 miles. We will be camping at Burgess Island. I have reserved two campsites on the island.
Fourth day, Friday, Jun 15: Huletts Landing to Bolton Landing
We will try to depart by 10 a.m.
Today we will be travelling south on Lake George.
The distance for the day is about 9.5 miles. We will be camping at Bolton Landing in the town park.
A note about the weather: We will be proceeding with the trip unless the weather is actually dangerous. Remember, there is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.
About the Bateau
The bateau DeSager is a replica of a 1792 bateau, similar to that used by Philip Schuyler for the survey of the Mohawk and Hudson Rivers that was done in that year. The design is similar to a scaled drawing of a bateau recorded by the British admiralty sometime between 1750 and the late 1770s. The boat is 23’ long, 5’ of beam, and is capable of hauling a ton of cargo along with a crew of 5 men. The boat is the size of an original Albany Boat, as would have been frequently used on the upper Hudson River or used for small, express cargoes on the Mohawk River in the late 18th century. Larger boats of this type were commonly used on the Saint Lawrence River.
The bateau is a flat-bottomed vessel, allowing it to have a very shallow draft. With a full crew, it only draws five or six inches of water. With a one-ton load, crew, and a month of supplies, it would draw twelve or thirteen inches of water. This shallow draft made the bateau an excellent river craft prior to the navigational improvements that were made on both Hudson and Mohawk Rivers.
The principal motive power of the bateau is oars. It is generally crewed by a steersman and from two to four rowers, though we have occasionally had as many as six rowers, and have occasionally maneuvered the boat by a single crew member. When there is a following or side wind, the bateau can be sailed to good effect. With a head wind, the bateau can make some progress, but rivers and narrow lakes are not generally conducive to tacking upwind. Historically, the bateau would have also been poled when in the shallows.
The bateau Bobbie G is very similar to the bateau DeSager, except that it is 5’ 8” of beam (somewhat wider) and a bit deeper.
Both the bateau DeSager and the bateau Bobbie G are owned by the Mabee Farm Historic Site, which is a property of the Schenectady County Historical Society.
The boat is crewed by volunteers, mostly from the 2nd Albany County Militia / Schuyler’s Company of New York Provincials, which is a group dedicated to historical reenacting in the Revolutionary and French and Indian wars.
The bateau DeSager was built in 2002-2003 by the Capital District Maritime Center in Alplaus along the Mohawk River, which is a BOCES school for grades 6 to 9. It was constructed under the direction of shipwright Greg Patterson. The bateau Bobbie G was built in 2003-2004, also by the Capital District Maritime Academy.
All of the rigging, the rope fenders, and the sail were constructed by volunteers associated with Mabee Farm.
About the Bateau Wagon
After the 2011 Big Row, hurricane Irene blew through the area, dumping massive amounts of rain into the Mohawk River watershed. Because of this, Lock 8 was washed out, and the section of the river where our boats normally dock was left quite low. The boats were stranded on a vast mud flat that had previously been the bottom of the river.
We had been wanting to recreate an 18th century bateau wagon used for portages for some time, but had never gotten around to it. The exposed river bed gave us the impetus to make a bateau wagon so that we could get the boats out of the mud. We built such a wagon, and it worked quite well.
Now that we have a period wagon, we are interested in trying to use it in a more routine manner, such as the traditional portage between Lake Champlain and Lake George.
Information on the Reenactment
From the Bolton Landing Chamber of Congress web site (http://www.boltonchamber.com): Crossroads of the French & Indian War – June 16 & 17, 2012 – Marquis Louis-Joseph de Montcalm used the shores of Bolton Landing on Lac Saint-Sacrament (Lake George) as a rendezvous point in August 1757 for French troops coming by land and water to advance on Fort William Henry, also known as Fort George. Bolton Landing served as the strategic meeting point for the French as they struggled for power and control of the important waterway.
The bateaux DeSager and Bobbie G are largely crewed by members of the Second Albany County Militia. See their website at http://www.secondalbany.org. You may also want to look at various web pages we have on the bateau:
The bateaux are owned by the Mabee Farm Historic Site, which is a property of the Schenectady County Historical Society. If you need to contact them, the address at the farm is 1080 Main St., Rotterdam Junction, NY 12150. The telephone number at the farm is 887-5073.
If you have any questions, comments, or requirements for more information, please contact me, David Manthey. My full contact information is:
Telephone (cell): (518) 265-0215
Address: 100 Kingsley Road, Burnt Hills, NY 12027