The Erie Boat
The Erie Boat was the indigenous, 19th-century fishing boat commonly found along the south shore of Lake Erie. This vessel is 28' long with two masts and a centerboard. It was built entirely by school students over a three year period; everything but the sails!
During the 19th century, Erie was the freshwater fishing capital of the world and this was the boat that men used to work the pound and trap nets along the Lake Erie shoreline.
It was said that the blue pike were so plentiful that you could walk from Erie to Canada on their backs. It was on their backs that Erie's economy was built, and the young town's prominence as a significant Great Lake port grew.
The plans for the Erie Boat came from Howard Chapelle's American Small Sailing Craft. Chapelle is recognized as the dean of indigenous watercraft and described the Erie Boat as “the product of two or three builders at Erie and built nowhere else."
The Erie Boat Project
Our Erie Boat Project creates an important, educational link with Erie's maritime past while reinforcing environmental lessons critical to our community's future. Through hands-on activities — shore side and on the water — students gain a real understanding of what life was like as a 19th-century Great Lakes fisherman.
Students get underway sailing, chart their course, and study the Presque Isle Bay ecosystem, as they feel first-hand what it was like to sail this historic vessel.
Erie Boat sailing with students in front of BMC facility