Sails/Rigging for 55' wooden brig Heron

$2,670 of $2,300 goal

Raised by 33 people in 60 months
For the last several years, my partner Chris "Ekk" Collins and I have been building a 55' LOA wooden sailing ship named Heron. After thousands of hours of our own time and talent into her construction, we are in the final stretch and plan to launch her this spring. (The model in the picture is a rigging test model and is only to the waterline, by the way - she will draw about 4 feet.) The major hurdle now is the canvas and cordage necessary to rig her up. This is where we are making an appeal to friends, family, and the general public to help us get the final items necessary to put Heron on the water for the 2014 season.

EDIT, 3/6/2014: We reached our goal! We're going to leave this fundraiser up for a few more weeks for the folks who haven't gotten the chance to donate yet, since as all wooden boat owners know there's always something else that needs doing. Make sure you get your donation in by the end of the month if you want a ticket to the donors' celebration at the launch party!

It's been an amazing journey of hard work and research. We have been doing maritime reenactment and education at museums all over New England and Canada for nearly a decade now. (You can see more of what we do by visiting our website.) Heron will allow us to better portray the sailors and traders who played a vital role in the American Revolution and War of 1812.

[Heron in progress, fall 2012. She's in the very final stages as of Winter 2014.]

Heron is based on several of the small naval warships serving on the Great Lakes during the War of 1812, but built with modern safety concerns in mind. She's unique in that she is the only historical replica vessel of her size capable of being transported on a standard boat trailer, allowing us to bring our educational programs to a variety of inland lakes and waterways. My background is as a tall ship sailor and museum professional with over a decade of research into the history of New England fishing communities. Ekk is a blacksmith and woodworker with a deep appreciation for traditional technology. We have built several other wooden vessels together, including a 22' open sharpie in which we spent a summer doing commercial fishing with handlines off the New England coast in 2007. Our skill sets complement each other and allow us to present an indepth look at maritime life in the age of fighting sail.

[Commercial fishing with Merganser (our previous vessel) off the Isles of Shoals, New Hampshire.]

We began construction on Heron back in 2009, and nearly every step of the project has been done by hand by us with a minimum of power tools and a maximum of environmental and historical awareness. Much of her timber came from our woodlot or those of our friends; the caulking for her seams is made of recycled rope donated by a local maritime museum; and even the nails were hand-forged from recycled iron scraps we collected as trash at various sites around New England and Canada. We have been hand-sewing our sails from natural fibers and creating our own larger ropes with a ropewalk. Once Heron is complete, we will be able to visit a wider variety of educational venues to do hands-on demonstrations for all ages about the lives of common sailors two hundred years ago.

[Tarring some of the planking joints, fall 2012]

What we need now is a little help raising the funds for the raw materials to finish her up, namely canvas, cordage, and pine tar. We are saving a lot of money by doing as much of the work ourselves as possible, but we estimate we will need nearly 2 miles of line to rig her up (that includes running smaller diameter cordage through our ropewalk to lay larger cables) and approximately 200 yards of canvas to become her sails. Close to 18 gallons of the mixture nicknamed "boat soup" (pine tar, linseed oil, and turpentine) will be needed to seal and preserve her hull, deck, and rigging. Even with competitive discounts, the total cost of that material is $2,100.

GoFundMe takes about 7% in transaction fees, so our total goal is $2300. Every cent helps get us closer to getting her in the water. In the event we manage to raise more than our fundraising goal, the surplus will go into the innumerable other small expenses necessary to run a traditional wooden boat. Please support maritime education and help us bring a piece of history to life!
+ Read More
Today is being spent making hardtack, one of the thank-you presents for those who donated to our rigging fundraiser. We have been steadily sewing sails and splicing rigging all winter. I'll be checking in with our donors over the next few weeks to confirm mailing addresses. :D Heron was launched successfully at the Battle of Plattsburgh in September, though we chose to leave her rig down due to the number of gun crews we had aboard at that event.
Heron at the boat ramp
+ Read More
While Heron herself is ready to float, her trailer is not due to a yard accident at the place we're buying it from. And all five of the backup trailer options have fallen through as of yesterday evening. However, we're still planning to be at the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum's Pirate Festival this weekend and will still be raising a glass to her future! Next event is in a month; plenty of time to straighten things out. This just gives us an excuse to have a second, bigger party... Please follow us on Facebook ( to catch up with us at an event this summer!
+ Read More
One month to go until launch, and all the random odds and ends are (slowly) coming together. As with any new vessel, we're assuming there will be a unexpected last-minute budget surprise or two, so this drive is still active. There are still spaces left for the donors' party at the launch! :)
+ Read More
Thanks to the support of all who contributed, we will have Heron's sails and rigging done in time for her launch date. Come celebrate with us at her official commissioning party on June 14 as part of the Kids' Pirate Festival at the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum in Vergennes, VT. There will be a special donors' preview event that afternoon before we open it up to all who have followed our progress. The fundraiser is still open if you'd like to attend the donors' preview; otherwise come see Heron on Lake Champlain on June 14!
Heron launch party
+ Read More
Read a Previous Update
Be the first to leave a comment on this campaign.

$2,670 of $2,300 goal

Raised by 33 people in 60 months
Created February 26, 2014
Your share could be bringing in donations. Sign in to track your impact.
We will never post without your permission.
In the future, we'll let you know if your sharing brings in any donations.
We weren't able to connect your Facebook account. Please try again later.
Peggy Huckel
58 months ago

I'm late to the party but I'm sure you'll need to buy more pine tar or something ;-)

Alice O'Connor
59 months ago

Happy sailing!

Kevin Richard-Morrow
60 months ago

All the best!

60 months ago
Mary Kenny
60 months ago

Kris Jarrett @ LCMM was kind enough to forward 'you' to me...sounds like a great project...Best Wishes!

Liz Jones
60 months ago

It is so exciting to see your project nearing completion! Best of luck and smooth sailing! :)

60 months ago
Be the first to leave a comment on this campaign.
Use My Email Address
By continuing, you agree with the GoFundMe
terms and privacy policy
There's an issue with this Campaign Organizer's account. Our team has contacted them with the solution! Please ask them to sign in to GoFundMe and check their account. Return to Campaign

Are you ready for the next step?
Even a $5 donation can help!
Donate Now Not now
Connect on Facebook to keep track of how many donations your share brings.
We will never post on Facebook without your permission.