General Butler

USA, Vermont
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Difficulty
beginner
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N/A
Max Depth
40 ft

Snorkeling and Scuba Diving at General Butler

From Lake Champlain Maritime Museum's website (www.LCMM.org): The General Butler was built in 1862 in Essex, New York. 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 Champlain Canal. On her last voyage she was under the command of her 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 Burlington, the Butler's steering mechanism broke. The captain jury-rigged a tiller bar to the steering post and attempted to maneuver his craft around the breakwater. The attempt was unsuccessful and the schooner crashed headlong into the breakwater. 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 immediately 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. Artifacts from the General Butler are on display at the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum's Basin Harbor facility. Features of Interest Size of wreck: 88' long, 14' wide The vessel rests on her keel, bow towards the breakwater. There are five hatches in the deck. Note the dead-eyes, windlass and cleats used for sailing. The masts were stepped on deck in three sided Access via boat, right next to the breakwater in Burlington Bay. Site is marked by a Lake Champlain Preserve System buoy. Make sure you register yourself and boat at a local dive shop or at the harbormaster before diving the site. Only need to register one time per year. Approximately 75 yards west of the southern end of the Burlington breakwater.
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