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For the past few months, Mount Vernon’s skilled craftspeople have worked with historic boatbuilding experts to construct a 21-foot batteau, a multipurpose flat-bottomed 18th-century boat, using 18th-century based tools. Join us Saturday, October 22, at 10:30 am, as we celebrate the launch with a celebratory toast from George Washington and his farm manager, James Anderson. Once the boat has returned to shore, guests are welcome to step inside the vessel throughout the day and on Sunday, October 23, during our Fall Harvest Family Days festival. Guests can also try their hands at 18th-century fishing-related activities, such as fish net-making, and learn more about Washington’s successful fishery businesses.

 

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Add to Calendar 04/18/2016 10:00:00 10/31/2016 12:00:00 America/Rio_Branco Boat Building Demonstrations & Launch Event

For the past few months, Mount Vernon’s skilled craftspeople have worked with historic boatbuilding experts to construct a 21-foot batteau, a multipurpose flat-bottomed 18th-century boat, using 18th-century based tools. Join us Saturday, October 22, at 10:30 am, as we celebrate the launch with a celebratory toast from George Washington and his farm manager, James Anderson. Once the boat has returned to shore, guests are welcome to step inside the vessel throughout the day and on Sunday, October 23, during our Fall Harvest Family Days festival. Guests can also try their hands at 18th-century fishing-related activities, such as fish net-making, and learn more about Washington’s successful fishery businesses.

 

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Pioneer Farm

Throughout the summer, Mount Vernon’s skilled craftspeople have worked to build a 21-foot batteau, a multipurpose flat-bottomed 18th-century boat, using 18th- century based tools.


This type of boat was used by Washington and others on the Potomac River for fishing. During the boat’s construction, learn about the methods used during Washington’s time to construct boats, what the boats were used for, and the overall economic impact of these boats.

During these various demonstrations, view skilled woodworkers whittle away using the techniques required for boat building and even handle the woodworking tools! Watch as nimble hands create fish nets and discover how they were made and used. View master coopers heat and bend metal to make barrels, an integral part of the fishing operation, during coopering demonstrations.

Batteau Launch:

During Fall Harvest Family Days on October 22 at 10:30 a.m., watch as the batteau launches into the Potomac River with a costumed crew. "George Washington" and his farm manager will provide brief remarks, and guests are invited to step inside the boat throughout the day.

Batteau Reconstruction

Drawing by Howard L. Chapelle, Courtesy of the Smithsonian NMAH Maritime Collections

The batteau under construction is 21 feet long with a width between 6-8 feet. This vessel is typical of the skows, skiffs, and small boats used to haul goods and materials up and down the Potomac River between Washington’s outlying farms, as well as supplies to and from Alexandria. Boats like this one were also crucial pieces of farm equipment used for fishing and related work on the river.

This batteau is made of white oak and cypress, and boats such as this, would have been made with timber harvested from Mount Vernon’s woodlands. Traditional hand tools such as planes, saws, draw knives, shaving benches, joiner axes, adzes, augers, hewing hatchets, hammers, and nails are being used for this project.

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