Oswego Harbor (Navigation) - June 3rd-5th, 1994

Navigation at this program location had its complications.

First, being in the mouth of a large and very busy river in the middle of a city meant watching for traffic. Second, being on the very edge of Lake Ontario, instead of within narrow channels from which we could easily recover if taken downwind, we were watchful of getting out onto the lake in an easterly breeze - and not getting back.

In fact, George Haswell, who was the most experienced at modern sailing of all of us, nearly accomplished that. He was taking us downwind under sail to clear the pier, with the intent of coming about into the harbor. But by the time we got the sail down, unstowed the oars and got the boat turned around, we were blown a good bit out toward open water. It was very heavy (desperate) rowing for a half hour to get back into port, and some of us were checking for our passports in case we had to just go with the wind and run clear over to the Canadian side!

And the waves on the open lake were something that we did not feel we needed to experience, even though batteaux 200 years ago sailed the open water all the time.

So we mostly navigated along the outboard side of the pier that separated our mooring slip from the main harbor. This allowed people to see the boat under way, and also gave us the unbeatable sensation of floating on the brink of the western waters.

Click on any image to enlarge
Rowing out of the landing During batteau operation demonstrations we were fortunate that we could usually row on the outbound leg, to the edge of the harbor and into a slight wind. This took us alongside a long pier where the curious could snap pictures coming and going.
Sailing back to the landing Turning about at the midpoint, well out toward the lake, we could then raise the sail and, catching the northerly breeze, glide effortlessly back to our mooring.
Preparing to cast off Joe Meany stands by in the bow as George Haswell casts off the stern line, and some local guests embark on a first hand experience of navigation - 1790s style.
Rowing toward the lake With Joe and Bob in the bow, driving the long oars, "Discovery" slips out into the harbor.
Coming about to start back Running alongside the breakwater, George starts the process of coming about, which requires the great oars to be brought in and stowed, and the sail to be quickly raised.
Sailing back to the landing site Sailing back to the landing site, "Discovery" recreates an event that happened thousands of times on this very location during the late 18th and early 19th centuries.


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