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Student boat builders take the ‘Annie O’ on maiden voyage

FERRISBURGH — Fourteen students from Middlebury Union High School and Vergennes Union High School have been working for the past five months with the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum’s Champlain Longboats Program to launch this year’s 32’ pilot gig, the “Annie O.” Friends, family, educators and members of the community gathered around Basin Harbor on Friday, May 31, to congratulate the boat builders, commemorate Annie Albern Olmsted, and welcome the “Annie O” to the fleet.
Students involved in this unique program learn vocational skills as they work together with expert boat builders and volunteers to build a 32’ Cornish Pilot Gig from scratch. The immersive program cultivates teamwork in and around the boat shop while providing students experience in a workplace environment.
From milling the wood to rowing a finished boat out on Lake Champlain, the students learn how to work with each other instilling skills that will last a lifetime. This year the crew of six Middlebury Union High School students and eight Vergennes Union High School students worked with expert boat builders Nick Patch and Charlie Beyer and Americorp member Laura Caldwell to build and launch the “Annie O.”
The boat was named in memory of Annie Albern Olmsted, a Middlebury College graduate who passed away at age 52. The boat’s glistening red coat resembles her tenacious personality and the rudder, featuring a running foot, symbolizes her graceful disposition as an avid runner.
The “Annie O” marks the 20th boat in the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum’s active fleet of rowing boats that are used by over 200 adults and 600 youth annually.
MUHS AND VUHS students who built the “Annie O” take the gig on its maiden voyage at the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum
Photo Buzz Kuhns

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