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Thread: Cruising Lake Champlain?

  1. #1
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    Does someone know of some informative books on crusing about on Lake Champlain? Or does someone have some comments about this lake? We live in that part of Massachusetts that should be part of Vermont, the western part, and so we feel we should explore that great lake. The sailboat is a 20' shoal draft sort, Bolger's Chebacco. Any comments?

  2. #2
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    We've been there twice from the midwest; once in a Dovekie, once in the Shearwater.

    Nice ramp in Plattville.

    Some of the french boats have topless crews.

    Their local "Loc Ness Monster" is called Champ.

    Have fun, Moby Nick

  3. #3
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    There is a Cruising Guide to Lake Champlain that should be a good help. It is available online at the usual places or at:
    http://www.lakechamplainpub.com/lccguide.htm
    I think the local West Marine also has it.

    I would definitely recommend the Lake for sailing. It's a wonderful place to cruise. For a smaller boat of your size I might stay in the Southern or Northern parts of the lake. Out in the middle in near Burlington it can get pretty nasty at times. If the boat is good and seaworthy I wouldn't worry too much about it though. Also things are closer together down there so you don't need to sail as far.

    I'm sure you will have a great time though. This summer has been pretty crappy for weather, but hopefully it will get better soon. The winds have also been light, so you might want to think about some other mode of power if you have a tight schedule.

    If you need more specifics let me know. I sail out of Shelburne Bay.

    Noah

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    Lake Champlain is a great place to sail. I live in Bennington but trailer my 20' canoe yawl to the lake whenever I can. You can't beat the scenery.
    Very good ramps at Shelburne Bay, Otter Creek near Vergennes, and Converse Bay in Charlotte. Get a DeLormes map book which shows all of the boat ramps. Charts of the lake are available at all of the marinas and at West Marine in Burlington.
    If you're going to sail there, let me know and maybe I'll be able to meet you. Jim

  5. #5
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    Don't forget to keep an eye out for Champ, Lake Champlain's indigenous sea monster.

    Champ appears to live somewhere around Port Henry…


    The "Mansi Photograph", 1977


    The Wilkins Photograph, Nov 26, 2000

    This picture was taken by a Willsboro, NY resident on November 26, 2000 at around 7 am, near dawn.

    (The white object in the foreground is a marker buoy.)

    This picture appeared in the Press Republican on December 21, 2000.

    The witness reported her attention was first drawn to it by "the commotion all the seagulls were making out there. I thought, 'What's going on here?' and I looked out."

    Since her summer residence is on an elevated piece of land directly on the water, she said, "That's how I could see it so well. He [Champ] lay there sort of still in the water for at least 15 minutes."

    The ducks nearby would not approach the shape, she said. "The thing moved northward in a straight line. It humped up in the middle. Its skin looked just like crocodile skin; it was rough. As it moved, it left a little wake behind it.

    "I've never seen anything like it."

    Her sighting was one of 16 so far that year.
    Just google for "lake champlain sea monster" for more.

    These guys, while listening for Champ, detected some sort of echo-location (biosonar) going on in Lake Champlain: http://www.animalvoice.com/LakeChamplain.htm

  6. #6
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    Thanks for the info, guys. We're thinking of taking the auto up for a spin to some of the mentioned places...scouting things out for the tail end of this season. Next season: into the water. South end would be best for us for a put-in since we'd probably come up through Bennington via Williamstown.

    Now, let me tell you, that isn't a monster. As the first photo clearly shows, it is merely a Vermont fiddlehead trying to sprout up. Must'a been springtime. Prob-ly swept into the lake from a rain. Of course I could consult with the Master at Arrowhead, His Home, but I think we'd agree that he'd call it Moby Dick as he did last time.

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    I've camped and sailed out of North Hero State Park. Good ramp, and some great sailing. In early June we were one of a few out sailing. It blew like stink a couple days. One memorable day it blew a steady 25 with higher gusts. Great fun. The lake is cold that time of year so keep your wits about you. The campsites are pretty close together, but also private because of lots of trees. I've always wanted to go back and explore some of the islands.

    Are you in the Berkshires? I used to live in Pittsfield.

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    I've come back from The Land of Tupperware. That is to say, the docks on the Burlington, VT waterfront. Jeez, you'd think, with all those hills and mountains filled with fully sprouted trees, that our Vermonters would love and build wooden boats. But, no, it is plastic everywhere. Sigh. I guess it goes with the territory that a loss of farming and an importation of computer jobs =s Tupperland.

    The lake was slightly choppy, perfect for sailing and we counted about a dozen sails out on the water. But the drive up from the Berkshire hills suggested that the sooner we'd put in after Bennington, the happier I'd be. Even if I had to tack my way up (NOT motor my way up--we have a glorious and boistrous Seagull for backup power--, I'd be happier than driving Rte. 7 into "civilization."

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Cruising Lake Champlain?

    Picking up this thread .... where were we? I never did go last year, but I'm heading up to L. Champlain Sun through Tuesday with the Dovekie. Thinking about the North Hero ramp, but there's some contradictory info. on the interweb, ie, "camping is no longer permitted at this park" vs. "there is no staff here but there's a box for a $4 use fee," which is fine. I'm just wondering if the ramp and park are actually accessible to the public. I'm assuming so . . .

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Cruising Lake Champlain?

    Quote Originally Posted by earling2 View Post
    Picking up this thread .... where were we? I never did go last year, but I'm heading up to L. Champlain Sun through Tuesday with the Dovekie. Thinking about the North Hero ramp, but there's some contradictory info. on the interweb, ie, "camping is no longer permitted at this park" vs. "there is no staff here but there's a box for a $4 use fee," which is fine. I'm just wondering if the ramp and park are actually accessible to the public. I'm assuming so . . .
    Overnight camping is indeed no longer allowed - the box is for a day use fee.

    Maybe hit Knight Island or Burton Island?
    "If it ain't broke, you're not trying." - Red Green

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    Default Re: Cruising Lake Champlain?

    Actually, Garret, all I need is the ramp and a place to park. Does that seem do-able there? I'll take a look at those other places you mention.

    So, those islands sound really good. All I need is a good ramp and a place to leave the truck and trailer

    Ok, on further research it looks like the best place would be Stephenson's Point on N. Hero, which is about 6 nm north of Knights Island.
    Last edited by earling2; 08-09-2019 at 07:48 PM.

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    Default Re: Cruising Lake Champlain?

    Do you mean Hibbard Pt? Stephenson is a long ways - but I don't think Hibbard has a ramp.

    I know the North Hero Marina has a ramp, but it's a ways. Good beers on tap though.
    "If it ain't broke, you're not trying." - Red Green

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Cruising Lake Champlain?

    The thing the Vt. boat ramp site is calling Stepheson's point is on North End E. road, on N. Hero. It's a mile or so below the North Hero State Park

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    Default Re: Cruising Lake Champlain?

    Not familiar with it. Hope it works out & that you have fun!
    "If it ain't broke, you're not trying." - Red Green

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    Default Re: Cruising Lake Champlain?

    There is/was a small marine museum at the south end of Lake Champlain.. I saw there a sharpie hull. Why a sharpie in lake Champlain.

    For those interested in geology, New England was once stuck onto Africa, but millions of years ago drifted across the Atlantic and stuck onto North America. Lake Champlain is where there is a gap in the joint.

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    Default Re: Cruising Lake Champlain?

    Quote Originally Posted by ahp View Post
    There is/was a small marine museum at the south end of Lake Champlain.. I saw there a sharpie hull. Why a sharpie in lake Champlain.

    For those interested in geology, New England was once stuck onto Africa, but millions of years ago drifted across the Atlantic and stuck onto North America. Lake Champlain is where there is a gap in the joint.
    Worth a stop for anyone in the area: https://www.lcmm.org/

    Replicas, exhibits & results of their research - like finding Benedict Arnold's gunboat still 100% intact.
    "If it ain't broke, you're not trying." - Red Green

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Cruising Lake Champlain?

    So, thanks for the input, as always. The NEW plan, such as it is, is to wait for slightly better weather. End of next week, probably. I'm planning on staying on the S. part of the lake, putting in at Fort Cassin ramp, sailing down to the museum, then see if I can't anchor that night in Field's Bay, which looks like great Dovekie territory, between 1 and 3 feet depth (I almost said at low tide... lol). Maybe it's full of weeds with the dry summer, I don't know. If all else fails, I'm a few miles from Button Bay campground. Depending on the breeze I can head north and check out the eastern shoreline up to Converse bay and beyond, etc etc. I don't think I'll have a hard time killing the time. If I get super ambitious, I might even sail south to Fort Ticonderoga, about 24nm below Button Bay (kind of doubtful though)
    Then again, by the middle of next week, I may be back on the N. Hero kick again. I assume the northern part of the lake is a little nicer . . .

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Cruising Lake Champlain?

    Plans change...

    The islands are beautiful. In many places, other than the different smell, you'd swear you were off the Maine coast. The museum is a treasure IMO - so visit if you can. Once above about Basin Harbor, you're in the broad lake & it's not as interesting as up in the islands. Longer tacks though...

    Shouldn't be too weedy & in the shallow areas the water gets toasty warm for very comfortable swimming. Not that you'll be diving, but below 35-40 ft. the temp is about 40 degrees. Avoid St. Alban's bay - lots of algae. You may find some other places, but it doesn't seem too bad this year.

    The Lake can have up to a couple of feet of seiche - though not much in the way of tides... Be aware that winds can kick up fairly quickly & that 3' waves are not uncommon in a storm + they are steep & nasty. The prevailing winds are out of the south and/or west & with 100 miles of fetch...
    "If it ain't broke, you're not trying." - Red Green

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    Default Re: Cruising Lake Champlain?

    In the wide lake center, gusty squalls can pop out of the mts east and west faster than you can elude them. Large eel bites have been reported by offshore swimmers in training - creepy holes bored into legs or whatever. Maybe statistically super rare, but there are efforts to prevent eel migration from the south and they are piled up against manmade chokepoint barriers.
    "Liberalism, once professing to advocate liberty, now is a movement for control over property, trade, work, amusements, education, and religion" - Russell Kirk

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    Default Re: Cruising Lake Champlain?

    Eel bites in Lake Champlain? I haven't heard of any. There are lampreys which attache to fish, but I haven't heard of any attaching to people. Squalls - absolutely.
    "If it ain't broke, you're not trying." - Red Green

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    Default Re: Cruising Lake Champlain?

    Oh yeah!! Well, this is why I'm being pretty conservative, seeing as how I'll be in a 21' unballasted sharpie that CAN go over, not my idea of a good time. Wow--new word, seiche. One reason I wanted to go up to the northern part was because I figured it would seem more pristine than down lower, and these days you really have to travel to find that Maine feeling. Good info, I like the look of this Field's Bay, I'm pretty fond of gunkholing in general. I'll be sure wear my eel repellent

    However, I realized I have the same travel time to Westport, MA launching ramp and I know from experience that is some fine, lazy summer sailing, just need to find out if I can park overnight (probably not) decisions decisions;..

  22. #22
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    Default Re: Cruising Lake Champlain?

    The Champlain Valley is one of the beautiful places in the United States, but don't tell anybody.

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    Default Re: Cruising Lake Champlain?

    Quote Originally Posted by earling2 View Post
    Oh yeah!! Well, this is why I'm being pretty conservative, seeing as how I'll be in a 21' unballasted sharpie that CAN go over, not my idea of a good time. Wow--new word, seiche. One reason I wanted to go up to the northern part was because I figured it would seem more pristine than down lower, and these days you really have to travel to find that Maine feeling. Good info, I like the look of this Field's Bay, I'm pretty fond of gunkholing in general. I'll be sure wear my eel repellent

    However, I realized I have the same travel time to Westport, MA launching ramp and I know from experience that is some fine, lazy summer sailing, just need to find out if I can park overnight (probably not) decisions decisions;..
    None of the lake is pristine anymore - there are mcmansions on the shore, algae from farm & lawn fertilizer runoff and, I have to admit, some of the ugliest plastic boats known to man.

    I wouldn't worry a bit about swimming (on purpose swimming that is) - you'll find plenty of folks out there doing it.
    "If it ain't broke, you're not trying." - Red Green

  24. #24
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    Default Re: Cruising Lake Champlain?

    You know, last year I went to Lake Scandanga with my (in hindsight) ignorant idea it was "far away" and would be lovely and clean. Not that it wasn't clean, but this was in late September, and as I sat on the ramp chatting with the ramp kid, I saw half a dozen jetskis carving giant loops in the water and thought, OK, I'm outta here. The kid told me about a remote ramp at the far end of the lake. When I found it, I was just in time to witness a father and son duo pulling a pair of .... you'll never guess.. jet skis out of the water and cursing and insulting each other the whole time. Nothing surprises me anymore.

  25. #25
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    Default Re: Cruising Lake Champlain?

    There is still a great deal of beauty though!
    "If it ain't broke, you're not trying." - Red Green

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    Default Re: Cruising Lake Champlain?

    Oh, I know. I have been surprised though at far you have to go into thinly populated places to find "pristine" or something close to that. IE no jet skis or gatherings of partying power boats. The lake right in my town is beautiful, fifteen minutes drive!

  27. #27
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    Default Re: Cruising Lake Champlain?

    Oh, I know. I have been surprised though at far you have to go into thinly populated places to find "pristine" or something close to that. IE no jet skis or gatherings of partying power boats. The lake right in my town is beautiful, fifteen minutes drive!
    Here's the thing. If it's beautiful or "pristine" then hordes will have already discovered it. That's my experience.

    If I want solitude, I go fishing 60- or 80 or 100-miles offshore. Or in winter, I go out on the bay duck hunting. But even then, nowadays, I'm rarely the only boat around in those scenarios.


    Kevin
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    Default Re: Cruising Lake Champlain?

    Quote Originally Posted by Garret View Post
    Eel bites in Lake Champlain? I haven't heard of any. There are lampreys which attache to fish, but I haven't heard of any attaching to people. Squalls - absolutely.
    Here is an article sort of mythbusting the sea lamprey threat that Animal Planet TV series covered in Lake Champlain "River Monsters". I guess it is extremely unusual for them to bore a hole in a swimmer, but it was creepy how APL showed them swarming trying to enter the lake from the south. https://www.mynbc5.com/article/lake-...vision/3309213

    Gusts there seem particularly sinister, especially to me in a round hulled sailboat without keel far from shore. I have sailed other lakes and oceans, but central Champlain seems unique because of the mountains I think. While the valley tends to channel the winds N/S, the row of mountains on each side probably snags strong E/W winds a little higher and flings down turbulent gusts at unexpected times. I don't mean regular gusts that you are ready for, but shotgun mast dunking ones out of the blue. Also squalls are hidden by the mountains and by the time you see them rolling at you they can be highly developed and charging fast. Not terrible, but a counterbalance to possible romanticized expectations.
    "Liberalism, once professing to advocate liberty, now is a movement for control over property, trade, work, amusements, education, and religion" - Russell Kirk

  29. #29
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    Default Re: Cruising Lake Champlain?

    Quote Originally Posted by rudderless View Post
    While the valley tends to channel the winds N/S, the row of mountains on each side probably snags strong E/W winds a little higher and flings down turbulent gusts at unexpected times. I don't mean regular gusts that you are ready for, but shotgun mast dunking ones out of the blue. Also squalls are hidden by the mountains and by the time you see them rolling at you they can be highly developed and charging fast. Not terrible, but a counterbalance to possible romanticized expectations.
    I was just watching a documentary about how gusts and turbulence can form in mountains and make gusts bad enough to basically shoot down light planes. i.e. the air is falling at 500m/sec and you can't climb that fast. I'd imagine when they hit water they'd mess up any sailboat.
    2019: returning from being sidelined with medical probs, crossing fingers worst is over, still in "armchair enthusiast" mode for time being.

  30. #30
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    Default Re: Cruising Lake Champlain?

    Quote Originally Posted by rudderless View Post
    Here is an article sort of mythbusting the sea lamprey threat that Animal Planet TV series covered in Lake Champlain "River Monsters". I guess it is extremely unusual for them to bore a hole in a swimmer, but it was creepy how APL showed them swarming trying to enter the lake from the south. https://www.mynbc5.com/article/lake-...vision/3309213

    Gusts there seem particularly sinister, especially to me in a round hulled sailboat without keel far from shore. I have sailed other lakes and oceans, but central Champlain seems unique because of the mountains I think. While the valley tends to channel the winds N/S, the row of mountains on each side probably snags strong E/W winds a little higher and flings down turbulent gusts at unexpected times. I don't mean regular gusts that you are ready for, but shotgun mast dunking ones out of the blue. Also squalls are hidden by the mountains and by the time you see them rolling at you they can be highly developed and charging fast. Not terrible, but a counterbalance to possible romanticized expectations.
    Wait! You mean a TV show might possibly exaggerate? Even one called "River Monsters"? I missed the one on the lake, but have seen others...

    I've only lived here since 1974, been swimming & scuba diving in the lake all that time & I've never heard of a person getting a lamprey attached to them. It seems that since their normal prey is fish which is cold blooded, they have little or no interest in warm blooded creatures.

    Now a 500 lb. sturgeon is a monster!
    "If it ain't broke, you're not trying." - Red Green

  31. #31
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    Default Re: Cruising Lake Champlain?

    Finally finally made a plan. Whew. I booked a camp site on Knights Island for Sunday/Monday night, which as people here might know is primitive, boat-only access. Wind looks on the light side. Weather in general excellent. Going up Sat AM, launching at St. Albans ramp (huge) and will have to wing it Sat PM as I don't have a site anywhere. The only real reason I need a site is because VT doesn't allow wild camping, and my dog is going to need land access several times a day. Plus, doesn't hurt to have a water-view lean to.... figured it was worth the $62 for the two nights for a home base so to speak, since I've never been up there or even cruised the Dovekie particularly. Lotta unknowns. But sure looks gorgeous up there.

  32. #32
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    Default Re: Cruising Lake Champlain?

    Hope you have a great time!
    "If it ain't broke, you're not trying." - Red Green

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