Tug Boat Restoration – C.L. Churchill


The 33’ tug C.L. Churchill is a part of the fleet at the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, where she acts as power source and support vessel for the 88’ canal schooner Lois McClure.

The Churchill was built in 1964 and originally powered by steam. She was soon repowered with a diesel engine, allowing a much larger cabin. Fortunately, nobody ever had the heart to remove her stack, however impractical it was, and she keeps her classic profile to this day. From 1974-2005 she belonged to the Shelburne Shipyard who then generously donated her to the Museum.

The boat was tired and in need of extensive overhaul to be fit enough for her intended duty with the museum. Furthermore, it was necessary that the tug be available the coming season, and each season thereafter for the foreseeable future, to push the schooner about on her educational tours. We were able to accomplish this by breaking her restoration into three phases.

The first and most extensive phase of her restoration was accomplished that winter, in a somewhat-heated tent. I served as lead builder with support from museum staff and a few dedicated volunteers. Most of the bottom planking, much of her centerline structure (stem, stern post, shaft log, horn timber) and nearly all her transom assembly were removed and replaced. Also replaced were numerous frames, the starboard chine log, and several floor timbers. At the same time some new tow bits were installed for her future service with the Loise McClure, as well as a new cabin sole and interior.

A few years later the remaining forward bottom planking was replaced along with some more frames.

Most recently, in the winter of 2013, I worked to replace her sheer strakes, cabinsides, and entire foredeck. The work also included several forward deck beams, her breasthook, and a portion of the port side clamp. Clearly the work passed muster for she won “tug of the year” at the 2014 Waterford Tugboat Roundup.