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sweepea 01-18-2008 11:10 AM

Looking for Lake Champlain marina
Hey everyone, I am looking to put my boat on Lake Champlain this summer and I am trying to decide between Willsboro, Essex and Westport. Westport is the closest to me at about 2hrs away, but being towards the bottom of the lake it is more narrow.

Any recommendations based on location, things to do in the area, etc are welcome. And if you see me on the lake say hi. I'll be the one on the 25' C&C mk2 Swee'Pea.

labatt 01-18-2008 12:05 PM

Willsboro is the nicest marina on the New York side of the lake with regards to upkeep, facilities, docks, etc. It's where we decided to keep our boat, and it caters primarily to sailboats.

Westport is the next nicest, but the bathrooms and docks aren't quite as nice, parking is restricted, and as you mention - it's on a smaller part of the lake. The wind is usually a lot lower at Westport than up by Willsboro (see for northern part of the lake and for near Westport).

Essex is a decent location, but both marinas there have a few issues. I forget what they call themselves exactly, but there are two right next to each other (they used to be one). They both have fixed docks. From what I hear, the southern one doesn't open until June due to high water (docks are submerged). It can sometimes be even later. The northern one opens in May as long as the water level is below 99'. Both have difficult (for sailboats) to navigate configurations.

Price wise, Willsboro is the most expensive, followed by Westport and then Essex. We used to sail out of Westport, and while we like the marina, the location doesn't open up a lot of possibilities for destinations. Out of Willsboro, it's fairly easy to go to Burlington, Valcour, Plattsburgh, etc.

Where are you driving from?

sweepea 01-18-2008 01:24 PM

Labatt, thanks for the great insight! I live in the Albany, NY area so it is a bit of a hike up to Lake Champlain but I think it will make for a better sailing season than the lakes that are closer to me. (I had to pull my boat out of Sacandaga Lake in August due to low water levels.)

I think Willsboro is around 2 1/2 hours away from me, but from what you have said it seems like the better choice. Thanks again, and I'll see you on the water.

labatt 01-18-2008 04:27 PM

We live in East Greenbush and it's 2 hours 35 minutes to get to Willsboro Bay. It's definitely worth it compared to the rest of the lake, but as I mentioned, it's a bit more expensive. If you end up over there, look us up - we're on dock 4, 6th from the end - green canvas, teak decks. We would have a Sailnet burgee, but not for $40.

lharmon 01-18-2008 05:00 PM

Westport comes highly reccomended
I've bounced around a lot a different marinas. As long as we are up near Champlain, I'll always keep my boat at Westport. It is a small family run operation. They do extremely high quality service work, a great shipstore and a full bar and resturant. The place is very secure. We have never had any problems there.

I understand they do a lot of events for the marina folks on the weekends with live music, etc. . I can't vouch for this because we are always cruising somewhere. But when we come dragging our butts back in, it is so nice to sit out on the patio and be served food and drink. Labatt is right about Wilsboro. It is very nice. They have a great resturant. We prefer to be on a mooring and Westport has them. The boat stays ventilated and I enjoy the rowing to/from ritual. I'd like it even more if I was rowing to his beautiful Passport - what a ride!

As for the location in terms of sailing, Northwest bay to split rock is about 9 miles and then you are in the big lake. It can be pretty competitive in the passage up to split rock. There are often sail boats out of point bay marina looking to scrap a bit.

We often sail south at least once or twice a year to see the forts at Crown Point and Ticonderoga. The southern location also makes a nice launch for a night sail up to the northern reaches of the lake. You can sail through the night and not run out of water.

I realize there are lots of choices in marina and nothing is completely ideal. But we would love to have a cruising buddy at Westport. We have always been treated like family there.

In any event fair winds to you.

Best regards,


labatt 01-18-2008 10:12 PM

I would concur with LH about the activities at Westport... We always enjoyed visiting there, but it is often pretty loud in the evenings, after you've eaten at the restaurant, when you just want to kick back and listen to the silence. The docks at Willsboro are much quieter. I do wish Willsboro had moorings, but when they added their fifth dock the town made them give up the moorings they had. I also like the restaurant at Westport better. It's cheaper than the Willsboro restaurant and has darts. Of course, from Willsboro, if you have a dink, you can go over to the Bayview and have a lot of drinks and play darts.

The reason we picked Willsboro, however, was the sailing. Willsboro Bay itself is a wonderful place to sail and gives you very quick access to the central lake, and points both north and south. Northwest Bay just doesn't get the fresh winds like the main part of the lake does. When we sailed around Westport two years ago we were frequently becalmed. I can only point to a couple of times this entire past season (we sailed 78 days) when the wind was so light we had to turn on the iron genny.

On another note, I tried to put together a Sailnet get together on the lake last year and only a couple of people responded with interest. I'm going to try to get one going this year, so stay tuned.


csasser 04-12-2008 06:03 PM

I can't imagine driving only a few hours to Lake Champlain. We live in Spartanburg, SC, and charter on the lake during the summer. We charter from a company at Mooney Bay Marina which is just above Plattsburg, NY. We then sail (and motor) down to Westport Marina (with a stop over at Sloop Cove at Valcour Island). My sister in-law rents a place on the water a few houses south of the old Yacht Club at Westport which is now a restaurant. (plus there is another restaurant at the Marina) We have rented slips in the Marina but prefer to anchor just south of the Marina because of the noise from both of the restaurant plus during a storm it is much more comfortable on the hook than in the Marina. My guess is that Westport Marina is not nearly as protected as Willsboro, but that is a guess since we have never sailed into Willsboro Bay. Maybe this summer.

We love the quaint little town of Westport and agree with others regarding the “family” atmosphere at the Marina (not really "southern hospitality" though :) ) and in fact the mechanic that fixed our bilge pump on one of our charters is “part of the family”. The “old salt” at the marina whose name I can’t remember, is a great resource for information regarding the lake and encourages everyone to be safe.

You may see us in Westport the first week in August this summer on a Beneteau 31 named “Carpe Diem" pumping out or at anchored in the harbor just to the south.

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