As we head into the holiday season, I’d like to take the time to thank all of you for making the Buffalo Maritime Center something to celebrate. With the Erie Canal Boat Project going strong and our Hand-to-Hand Program growing every day with the addition of our new Navigator Trailer, our educational mission is gaining momentum. The Navigator Trailer is already up and rolling, partnering up with Lafayette International High School at their Saturday Academy. We’re excited to bring wooden boatbuilding and the STEM principles and life-skills that go along with the process to more students in the community. Speaking of, below, you’ll get to meet our new Education & Community Outreach Coordinator, Chelsea Moore! Chelsea just started last week, but she’s already made a positive impact on the BMC and the students we serve. In October, we had the privilege of having members of NYS Canal Corporation, NYPA, Governor Hochul’s office, Empire State Development, and the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor join us at the Longshed to help build the Erie Canal Boat. Check out the great video they produced below about their experience. Speaking of the Erie Canal Boat, Chris Andrle has an interesting historical request. Might you have a night-hawker for our boat? On behalf of the BMC Staff and Board Members, we’d like to wish you and yours a happy and healthy Thanksgiving. Enjoy the holiday season!
Brian Trzeciak Executive Director
Buffalo Maritime Center
Pictured Above: The frame of an "Olmsted Skiff" being built by students from the Western New York Maritime Charter School in BMC's Hand-to-Hand Student Boatbuilding Program. Look at the beautiful lines on those chine logs!
In light of the announcement from County Executive Mark Poloncarz, effective immediately, face masks will be required for all indoor public locations including our 90 Arthur Street facility and at the Longshed until further notice.
We'd like to introduce the newest member of our Buffalo Maritime Center staff, Chelsea Moore! Chelsea is joining us as our Education & Community Outreach Coordinator heading up our new Navigator and Hand-to-Hand programs and working to connect us more with the community.
We sat down and asked Chelsea a few getting-to-know-you questions . . .
You’ve just moved back to Buffalo from Florida. What were you doing down there?
Long story short… I have a passion for environmental research, conservation, and education. Over the last five years, my title has varied from “research assistant” to “environmental educator,” and my work has taken me from Buffalo, to the Hudson River, and lastly to Venus, Florida. For the last year I was living at a biological station where I studied the spatial ecology of Gopher Tortoises. There is a lot of developmental pressure in Florida and sadly the Gopher Tortoise habitat is slowly disappearing. I was working to identify how much space these animals use, and how we can work toward conserving populations. Needless to say, my role here at BMC is only slightly different.
What are you looking forward to when it comes to working at the BMC?
I am looking forward to so many things! Most of all, I am excited for the opportunity to share my passion for STEM with students and members of the Buffalo community. One of my roles here at the BMC will be to expand and further develop the curricula for our educational programs. At the core, boat building teaches students critical STEM skills, patience, teamwork, and gives them a sense of ownership. Along the way, we hope to facilitate students’ curiosity and encourage careers in STEM. I want to eventually start diversifying our programs and getting more kids out on the water. The BMC facilities, water access in Buffalo, and our fleet of boats give us the unique opportunity to teach about so many things.
What is something you’ve built?
There are a handful of things that I’ve built throughout the years. The two that I am most proud of include, 1) basking/nesting platforms, and 2) a short bus conversion into an RV. During graduate school I helped design and construct three floating wooden platforms in an effort to provide habitat to aquatic turtles in the Niagara River/Black Rock Canal. We documented quite a few takers for basking! I am happy to talk more about that when you meet me. More recently, I gutted the inside of a short school bus and re-outfitted it with a bed, storage, countertop, solar system, and small stovetop. We took it on the “maiden voyage” to the Carolinas and then sold it to a couple for further development. Both projects were learning experiences and provided a lot of fun times (among stressful times). Definitely worth the stress!
If someone were to give you your dream boat, what would it look like?
My favorite boat is the canoe. It is so original and versatile. It can be taken out solo, with a friend, or a few friends depending on how large. You can take it for a quiet paddle or you can fill it with camping gear and paddle down a river for a few days! I would love to build a wooden guide canoe, but if someone is offering to give me one… I won’t fight them!
Thank you, Chelsea! We’re excited to have you on the team!
To help celebrate the 196th birthday of the Erie Canal, the Buffalo Maritime Center was joined by members of NYS Canal Corporation, NYPA, Governor Hochul’s office, Empire State Development, and the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor at the Longshed at Canalside to help build the replica of the Erie Canal Boat, Seneca Chief. Staff and volunteers from the BMC led participants on a brief safety training and then everyone went right to work.
One group used the session to help mount a frame onto the keel of the Erie Canal Boat. Another group planed a 20’ long plank of cypress which will become part of the garboard plank on the boat. And the last group processed live-edge 4 inch think white oak timbers weighing 100 pounds, and they used patterns to outline pieces of a frame which participants then cut out. Everything that our partners worked on in that session went into building the actual boat that will take the ceremonial journey across the Erie Canal in 2025 to help celebrate the Bicentennial!
This session was a pilot program that the BMC staff will begin implementing to bring in more volunteers in the future. Participants jumped right into the construction, and even though they may not have had experience building a 73’ long boat prior to entering the Longshed, by the time the session was over, these folks left as members of our crew having literally built a piece of history.
We are grateful for Director Brian Stratton (NYS Canal Corporation) and all of the participants in the work session, and we look forward to bringing everyone back to work at the Longshed to build the Erie Canal Boat again soon!
Buffalo Maritime Center Needs a Night-Hawker
The BMC is looking for a night-hawker, a particular type of oil lamp or lantern used as a head light on early Erie Canal boats. Canal regulations required all canal boats to carry a bow light when traveling after dark. BMC would like to obtain an authentic night-hawker for its replica Erie Canal Boat, Seneca Chief, currently under construction in the Longshed at Canalside on the Buffalo waterfront.
These lanterns varied in size, but were generally rectangular, about ten inches square and fifteen inches high. Inside was an ordinary oil lamp with removable glass panels on three sides and a parabolic reflector behind. A unique feature are the two folding mirrors on either side that directed the light forward. The lamps originally burned whale oil but later used kerosene. They were said to throw a beam of light thirty to forty feet in front of the boat.
The lights seem to be quite common in museums and historical collections along the canals, some with identification indicating that they were manufactured in Buffalo. BMC is hoping that one might be found, possibly one of our members or friends might run across one in an antique shop somewhere? If you come across a night-hawker, please let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org!
When you’re thinking about the holidays, you know that everyone has Buffalo Maritime Center merch on their list! So be sure to stop down to the Longshed to pick up your BMC gifts. And - BIG news - our BMC Tervis Tumblers are in! From their website: "The original double-walled insulated classic line is perfect for keeping your cold drinks cold and your hot drinks hot." These are amazing cups that make perfect gifts. They even come pre-wrapped in a Tervis bag!
We’re also getting fleece jackets and Erie Canal Boat sweatshirts coming in soon, so be sure to stop by the Longshed to pick them up. For more information or if you have any questions, please email email@example.com.
The Buffalo Maritime Center’s mission is to provide everyone the opportunity
to experience the joy of being on the water, to learn maritime history,
and to achieve higher levels of craftsmanship.