Okay, we ended up sailing Lake Champlain. What a great week! When I was researching Champlain, there wasn't a lot of commentary on it, so here's a bit of a (longish) digest as my contribution;
We chartered from Navtours
, a firm based in Montreal with a bunch of boats on the Lake in the US under their management. The boat we chose was a Beneteau Oceanis 281. Comfortable for the two of us, easily single-handled as well.
Boat was in good shape, though the inflatable dinghy supplied had a non-functioning outboard, no seat and no oarlocks! We were given a seat from another dinghy, but we didn't realize the absence of oarlocks until it was time to row. Minor inconvienience, I rigged some out of spare cord.
Boat also came with very beefy ground tackle, but without a windlass, so my shoulders were to get a bit of a workout. All that chain will prove comforting, though.
We started at a marina just south of Plattsburg, NY, conveniently close to Valcour Island. Our first night was spent on the hook in Sloop Bay, a beautiful cove on the east shore of Valcour Island, with good holding and protection from all but an easterly wind. As it was the end of the Labor Day weekend, boat traffic was light, and we shared the anchorage with one other boat. In the morning we rowed to a sandy beach and hiked along some of the island's well-marked trails. Water was warm enough for a refreshing swim as well (about 72F).
On Tuesday, after a nice breakfast that Deb managed to prepare on the two-burner Origo alcohol stove, we headed off to Mallett's Bay, on the Vermont side of the Lake, just north of Burlington. A little nervous negotiating some shoals leading to a cut that we had to go through, but all went well. Mallett's Bay was another beautiful anchorage, marred only by a couple of speedboats pulling waterskiers until sunset. Holding was good, and we were the only boat anchored just off of a state park.
Wednesday was a great downwind run to Burlington, where we rented a slip for the night from the Ferry Dock Marina. Because of the chop even inside the Burlington breakwater, the marina owner, Kurt, let us stay tied to the fuel dock for the night. Went out to dinner at the Shanty on the Shore restaurant and had oysters and Maine lobsters
on the shore of a freshwater lake. Go figure.
Thursday, the winds were roaring up the lake from the south as we made our way back to the New York side, to Willsboro Bay. We reefed the main and the boat handled well. We clocked 6.2 kt for a while, but we were more comfortable when we had things throttled down to about 5.5 kt or so.
Willsboro Bay was amazing. The western shore is all steep cliffs and huge depths close up to shore. The eastern shore has houses, marinas and reasonable depths. So, we went along the western shore, looking for a place to tuck in for the night. We found a great spot, tucked near a bit of a gravelly beach, with enough swing room between the towering cliffs and depths below 40 ft. Simply beautiful. We spent the afternoon there, but just before sunset the anchor dragged a bit, and we found ourselves slowly drifting away from shore with the anchor dangling in 120' of water!
So, after a back-breaking haul, we motored to the other side of the bay, and anchored in 15' for a secure and comfortable night.
On Friday the winds were from the south still, so our return trip north to Snug Harbor Marina was on a run. We stopped for lunch on the west coast of Valcour Island before returning the boat.
I've referenced a .kmz fiie
from Google Earth for reference to the anchorages we stayed at, and will make some entries in Active Captain
All in all, a great charter experience!