Building Wooden Ships

Tri-Coastal Marine builds new wooden vessels at the site where they will eventually homeport. The building sites are open to the public. Here's one we just finished:

Sailing Ferry Replica Weatherwax

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Here are some more photos of the launching and sea trials:

Weatherwax is a near replica of a double-ended sailing ferry, a type that was common on Lake Champlain in the19th and early 20th centuries. Weatherwax was launched on August 19th in Crown Point, NY. Tri-Coastal Marine, ably led by Project Manager Douglas Brooks, designed and built the vessel to resemble historic Lake Champlain sailing ferries, which carried passengers and vehicles across the lake until the early 20th century. Historically, the vessels were built locally with no plans. They were flat bottom scows that were symmetrical fore and aft, with the mast, sail and leeboards always to leeward. The ferries were symmetrical and could sail in either direction, with the mast and the single gaff sail always to leeward. The off center mast allowed horses and wagons (and later automobiles) to load on board. These vessels are steered with an oar that can be shifted to either end.

Some changes from the historic configuration were required by law to license it to carry passengers. The original ferries were open boats, while this vessel has collision bulkheads, a watertight deck, an auxiliary motor, and all the safety equipment. Weatherwax is named for Captain Thomas Weatherwax who operated the last ferry between Crown Point and Chimney Point until the Champlain Bridge opened in 1929. The vessel's owner (the Lake Placid / Essex County Visitor's Bureau of New York State) intends to carry pedestrians and bicycles across the lake at the old Crown Point ferry site.

Photos of historic sail ferries:

Unfortunately, no original plans of these vessels exist. Project manager, Douglas Brooks, did exhaustive and original research of records and archival photos to create our design. (Here's yet another  recent article about Douglas).  The vessel has an auxiliary motor and will be licensed to carry passengers on Lake Champlain. 

Here's a picture of the hull being turned over in February:

More construction photos:

The sail ferry has new owners…check out their site:

Interested in building a wooden ship?

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last updated 5/13/2001