The Shakedown Cruise of "Discovery" - August 10th 1992


After launch, the next critical step was to test the boat actually underway on the river. No one living had ever navigated a boat of precisely this 200 year old design, and we all had accepted that one major component of this project was what might be called "experimental history".

Since many of the crew were experienced living history reenactors, we knew the value of experimentation, in confirming or clarifying the historic record by applying replicas of the material culture (artifacts) of a period to actual use.

Additionally, the members of the modern crew that would navigate the inland waterways with this boat needed not only to determine how it operated, but also had to forge themselves into an effective batteau crew. There were risks involved, particularly when under sail, and all involved worked hard to train themselves on all aspects of the vessel. In this regard, we were indeed fortunate to have an experienced sailor on the crew - George Haswell. He taught us the ropes, both figuratively and actually.

Click on any image to enlarge
Rounding the pier for the landing After the launch, the crew worked to master the batteau, while getting it around and clear of the scow in an uncooperative breeze. Suddenly the Mohawk River looked very large!
The landing site The temporary landing site at Lock 9 was this little piece of riverbank just north of the canal wall. It was a proper setting, being surrounded with trees and with a great view of the river westward.
Sorting out the rigging With the boat tied up at its landing site at Lock 9, it was time to sort out the rigging and get ready to go out on the river.
Preparing for first free navigation With every rope and oar in place and ready for action, "Discovery" is about to be taken out on the river for her initial shakedown cruise; as much a test of the crew as the boat.
Rowing upriver Heading upriver from the landing on the first leg of a two hour shakedown cruise, the crew rows the batteau away from the landing.
Testing the boat under sail Further up the river the crew raises the sail, but finds an unfavorable breeze. River navigation in the 1790s meant raising and lowering the sail at nearly every turn.
Sailing with the wind downriver Heading downriver with the wind in the sail for the first time. We all suddenly understood why these boats, designed to be poled, also carried a small mast and sail.
Returning to the landing Having completed a totally successful, and inspiring, shakedown cruise, "Discovery" and her crew sail back to the landing site. It is now time to plan for the big event on the 21st.

 


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