Courtesy of the Lake Champlain Maritime
The General Butler was built in
1862 in Essex, NY. The schooner-rigged Butler is an example of a
Lake Champlain sailing canal Boat, Designed to sail on the lake
and, with masts removed and centerboard raised, travel though the
On her last voyage she was under
the command of the third owner, Captain William Montgomery of Isle
La Motte. While sailing up the Lake on December 9, 1876 a powerful
winter gale struck and upon approaching the port of Burlington,
the Butler's steering mechanism broke. The captain jury-rigged a
tiller bar to the steering post (still visible) and attempted to
maneuver his craft around the breakwater. The attempt was unsuccessful.
The force of the water was so great that the vessel was repeatedly
lifted on top of the ice covered stones. One by one each of the
ship's company made the perilous jump onto the breakwater. The captain
was the last to leave the ship which soon sank into the 40' of water
where she now rests.
Having narrowly escaped death by
drowning, the Butler's survivors now risked freezing to death on
the breakwater. All surely would have perished had it not been for
the heroic intervention of Burlington ship chandler James Wakefield
and his son, who rowed out in a 14' lighthouse boat and took all
five to safety. The Butler was declared a total loss.
Features of Interest
- Size of wreck: 88' long, 14'
- The vessel rests on her keel,
bow towards the breakwater
- There are five hatches in the
- Note the dead-eyes, windlass
and cleats used for sailing.
- The masts were stepped on deck
in three sided "tabernacles" and held in place with iron pins.
- Experience level: Beginner
- Depth of water: 40'
- Buoyancy should be carefully
controlled to avoid damaging this fragile and remarkably intact
- Exercise special care at the
stern to avoid damaging the extremely fragile rudder. Location
Approximately 75 yards west of the southern end of the Burlington
- Note: The General Butler is located
300' north of the City of Burlington's waste water discharge pipeline.
- DO NOT PENETRATE
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