For the past 12 years, a group of about eight students and two staff members has traveled to the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum (LCMM) in Panton, Vermont to build a 32-foot pilot gig boat. From January to June, the students spend the entire school day learning about the history of these boats and how to work as a team to accomplish a common goal. Basic carpentry, boat building skills, math, science, language art skills and P.E. are embedded into the boat-building curriculum. Mid-way through the process the students host a “pizza night” for staff, family, and friends. Each student presents a demonstration of one aspect of the building process. On launch day each student gives a speech which expresses their experience with the project to the crowd that comes each year for the launch.
Champlain Longboats: Building Boats – Rowing Boats – Changing Lives
Water Lilly – A short history of the steamship that inspired the naming of the D.O.’s 2013 Pilot Gig
The name Water Lilly has historical significance here in Vergennes. The Daniel Steamship Company at the Vergennes Falls began with one steamship in 1877. The name of that steamship was the Water Lilly. Cargo and passengers were taken from Vergennes down the 7.5 miles and 27 bends of Otter Creek to Lake Champlain and across to Westport, NY. Philomene Daniels traveled on the Water Lilly with her husband. She learned to perform every task on the steamship. She became so good and loved the work so much that she demanded to take the steamship captain’s test and passed with flying colors. The Burlington Free Press said “she was the first women to receive a steamship captains license in this country, perhaps in the world.” While more steamships were added to the company, it was the Water Lilly that was the first significant steamship in Vergennes. We honor this historical past and this often seen beautiful flower, and will christen our pilot gig, Water Lilly.