When strong winds and rapid waters made navigating the Mohawk River too difficult for the crew aboard the Lois McClure, they decided to call the Schenectady Yacht Club.
The 88-foot boat, a historic replica of an 1862 canal schooner, was on its way to Buffalo along the Erie Canal when heavy rains forced the canal to shut down, halting the boat’s travel.
“With the canal difficulties — based on the storm — we came here to be poised,” explained Art Cohn, the historian aboard the Lois McClure and special projects director. “We have been well, well received here.”
But it was not only shelter the Lois McClure received from the Schenectady Yacht Club; it also picked up an anchor.
The captain of the Lois McClure, Roger Taylor, was walking the grounds of the Yacht Club after the boat docked Monday when he spotted an old anchor propped against one of the club’s buildings, seemingly untouched for quite some time.
“When I saw that anchor leaning up against the building doing nothing, I thought, that is a really great anchor,” he said. “It is just exactly the anchor we need.”
Clark Farnsworth, a former commodore for the club and its oldest active member, was with Taylor when he spotted the anchor. Farnsworth spoke to some other people at the Yacht Club about donating the anchor to the Lois McClure. Early Wednesday morning, the Yacht Club officially gave the anchor to the Lois McClure.
“That anchor has been sitting around in the back of the club for so many years,” Farnsworth said. “We decided to give the anchor to the museum.”
The Lois McClure is a floating museum based out of the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum. The mission of the schooner replica is to preserve and share the region’s heritage, according to Cohn. For months at a time, the McClure travels around the Northeast and docks at various locations to give visitors the opportunity to board the ship for a free dockside tour.
According to Cohn, this year is especially important because it marks 200 years since the victory at the Battle of Lake Erie. The bicentennial Lois McClure tour is focusing on the year 1813, the second year of the War of 1812. The boat takes visitors back to the 1800s, from the stories told to the clothes worn on board. The only thing aboard the ship that did not reflect the 1800s was the anchor.
“Turns out we were in need of an anchor like that because we had a more modern anchor in its place,” Cohn said. “This is much more historically accurate.”
Both Cohn and Taylor hope to be back on the water soon. According to the state Canal Corp., the Erie Canal from Lock 8 in Scotia through Lock 15 in Fort Plain is scheduled to re-open for navigation no later than 8 a.m. Friday. The moveable dam at Lock 10 is scheduled to be the last of the damaged dams to be re-installed today, but with more heavy rain in the forecast for the rest of the week, officials say that section of the canal may not re-open as scheduled — and other sections of the statewide canal system may be closed once again — if they need to raise the gates again.
Cohn said the Lois McClure 1813 tour is supposed to end in October, but because of this delay the schedule may change.
The Lois McClure takes up a great deal of the Schenectady Yacht Club dock and is situated just a few feet from the Rexford Aqueduct. Cohn said the Lois McClure and Schenectady are historically connected in many ways.
“This boat and these stone remains are all connected,” Cohn said. “There is a wonderful connection because this is the kind of boat that would have traveled on this aqueduct and through the locks that are actually part of these grounds. We do have common cause for this place.”
The success of a voyage also has a lot to do with the anchor, according to Cohn and Taylor.
“On a boat this size, having a good anchor that can stop you and hold you when you need it to is critical to the success of the voyage,” Cohn said. “The generosity and spirit of support really empowers us in many ways to do what we do,”
Taylor added, “Next time we anchor, that will go to the bottom.”
The Lois McClure crew is extremely thankful for the Schenectady Yacht Club’s hospitality. This is not the first time the Lois McClure has docked at the Schenectady Yacht Club, and it may not be the last. Taylor said the anchor is a nice reminder of the generosity they often come across while traveling aboard the Lois McClure.
“We’ve always loved coming here,” he said. “This is a great place to stop.”
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