”Explore Lake Champlain’s amazing shipwrecks without getting wet!
Join Lake Champlain Shipwrecks for a unique adventure. First we cruise to the wreck site, then, while sitting above the wreck, we’ll tell you the story behind it. Next, we deploy our ROV (remotely operated vehicle) and you will be able to see the wreck on screens onboard the boat as the ROV explores the depths. This is a fun experience for everyone, regardless of age.”
Rachael Miller is running a successful tour operation in Lake Champlain, Vermont, USA. Though only the sixth largest of America’s lakes, Lake Champlain’s distinction is what it contains: arguably the nation’s largest collection of historic wooden shipwrecks.
It all started back in 1986 when New York and Vermont created the Lake Champlain Underwater Historic Preserve System to protect its fragile wrecks from anchor damage and theft, while providing access to divers. The same year, the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum set up shop at Basin Harbor and went to work collecting, documenting, and preserving what artifacts it could salvage.
A decade later, they began a 10-year sonar scan of the lake’s floor, uncovering at least 70 previously unknown wrecks. Nine are open to divers, three of them in Burlington Bay. But the sites were inaccessible to non divers.
So in 2005, husband-and-wife sailing instructors Rachael Miller and James Line expanded their Burlington boating and snow kiting business to include shipwreck tours using a VideoRay ROV. This was the second company worldwide, and the first in North America, to offer this great opportunity to the public to connect with their underwater world, and for this they received the VideoRay Best Mission Award at the VideoRay International Partners Conference in Key Largo, Florida, in November 2007.
And now (spring of 2008) they have added a new tool to give their clients an even more exciting experience, the LYYN T38. “It’s really fantastic!”, says Rachel. “Visibility in Lake Champlain can be really difficult. There are even days when the turbidity’s so bad we have to cancel the tours. Now my clients can see what’s down there and get full value for money, whatever the visibility conditions.”
The following four images are from the Burlington Bay Horse Ferry that lies shattered near Lone Rock Point. This was a horse-powered ferry (rather than one that carried horses), propelled by two horses who walked on the top of the turntable from holes in the deck on each side of the boat, like a treadmill. You can still see the gear shaft coming off of the turntable that changed the horizontal circular motion into the vertical paddle-wheel motion.