Keuka Lake, Branchport to Bluff Point
Just completed an incredible stay on Keuka Lake for 4th of July week, 2019. My parents rented a house with a dock in Branchport which is on the North end of the Western Branch of the Y shaped Finger Lake, aka Crooked Lake, now called Keuka Lake. I trailered my Catalina 22, Shucky Ducky, from her home port of my driveway in Greece (Rochester), NY and splashed her in the lake at the public ramp within Keuka Lake State Park. Tip, after 6 PM ET, entrance to the State Park and boat ramp is free. My wife and I sailed her over to the dock with little wind, thus we used our iron sail, Tohatsu 6Hp, for a good bit of the hour and half journey. The lake is very deep, as all Finger Lakes are, but our dock was in 3 to 4 ft of water. That’s why I love the retractable keel and raised rudder and outboard capabilities of Shucky Ducky. We docked with ease and I was in heaven and looking forward to a week of beautiful lake sailing. Lake Ontario, my home lake, is once again experiencing very high water levels and many of the boat ramps close to me are closed. I’ve been able to launch from Braddocks Bay, which is OK but requires a further drive than my favorite ramp on the Genesee River that empties in to Lake Ontario. Anyways, that’s another topic. On Keuka, I was joined by my wife, my parents, my sister and her husband with their two kids and my youngest son who was able to get a couple days off work to join us mid-week. The house can easily sleep 10 people and is managed by Finger Lakes Property Rentals. I managed to sail for 6 of the 7 days we were there. The winds were mostly South, Southwest so I was either tacking or jibing across the lake to get to and from the house. I’ve owned Shucky Ducky for 2 years now and sailed her 12 or 13 times. This was by far the best sailing I’ve been able to do and being surrounded by the beauty of Keuka Lake made it a surreal experience. By day 3 I was able to sail to and from the dock with no engine needed. When I had another 1,2 or 4 crew on board, I put the headsail up along with the main and we gracefully moved across the lake with ease and speed. The best sail of the trip was the most shocking to me. I, along with my sister, motored from the home dock all the way to Bluff Point which is where the fork of the Y shape lake is. It took us almost 2 hours under power, no sail, at a gentle 3.5 knots. 200 yards off Bluff Point we ate our lunch and enjoyed bobbing around and taking in the glorious scene around us. Spotted an Eagle too I believe and a sea plane that took off and landed about 500 yards from us to the West, town of Pultney maybe? After lunch, I decided to give it a go with sailing all the way back home. With winds blowing 8 to 10 knots, gusts of 12, we made it back in LESS time than we motored down! We averaged 4kts and at one point hit 9kts during one of the sustained gusts. Shucky Ducky looked regal in her heeling and I beamed with joy the whole way back, passing other sailors and motorboats along the way. My sister handled the head sail and I worked the main and rudder. We jibed like pros even though this was our first sailing experience together. It was simply amazing. The other great event was fixing my Tohatsu. I didn’t do a Winter maintenance on the engine and had used it a few times this year with no problems. However, she died on me in the middle of the lake during one of my outings. Luckily, there was enough wind, 3 to 5kts., to get back to the dock. Having never worked on any engine before, I researched the web, Sailnet, and YouTube and determined I didn’t really have a major issue, just gummed up the jets, carburetor and fuel filter having not done a proper Winterization. Lesson learned! Nevertheless, I went to Morgan’s Marine in Penn Yan and was able to find the proper items needed to perform the fix myself. I performed the tasks and with luck, the Tohatsu was humming like new again! Thanks to all if you who share your knowledge so guys like me can benefit and build their experience. The fireworks show on the lake was enjoyable, thanks to my brother in law who is brave enough to set them off each year. We did our show from the shore with many others doing the same and about 25 boats watching from the water. It was crowded out there! What a trip, I’d love to go back but there are so many destinations in the Notheast that our family tends to find a new place each year versus returning to a known spot. Thank you Keuka Lake and the friendly boaters. What an incredible week of learning, sailing, spending time with family and enjoying God’s beauty and blessing.