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Discussion Starter #1
Going to bareboat Labor Day week, just the two of us. Any gut opinions of which three choices in subject would be best? Ease of sailing, picturesque and uncrowded anchorages are top priorities. By "ease of sailing", I mean low stress. Out of five nights, would do 2-3 in marinas. I'm leaning towards Lake Champlain, for lack of traffic and no fog, lobster pots. Charter rates are real attractive in Chesapeake, though, and the Admiral really wants to sail southern Maine.

Thanks for your thoughts,
Mike
 

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I have chartered in both Champlain and the Chesapeake. Winds of Ireland is the only bareboat outfit I know of on Champlain and they were good. Boats not brand new but in good shape. Champlain is is a fun lake to sail on but in early Sept. it is hit or miss for wind (like anywhere else in the NE). very nice anchorages and some good boat-only parks with moorings. bring bug spray though.

chesapeake is great - it goes on forever, at least compared to a 5 night charter. a million anchorages, well marked but probably 18 million other boats out that weekend. i used Haven Charters in Rock Hall. I highly recommend them.

Maine would be great! have to pay more attention though. Big tides, rocks etc.
 

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which three choices in subject would be best? [1] Ease of sailing, [2] picturesque and [3] uncrowded anchorages are top priorities.
Mike,

I have sailed the Chesapeake and Maine: no experience on the lake. While Maine may take the honors in your 2nd category - the Chesapeake is a clear winner of the other two.

I found the lobster pots maddening! Others are more apologetic. Current and rocks are part of the Maine experience. On the Chesapeake the tidal current is almost inconsequential and the bottom is generally soft, forgiving mud.

In terms of uncrowded anchorages unless you are able to quickly become an expert on Maine's (generally unpublished) possibilities, you will definitely find the Chesapeake superior. And if you want to find an occasional transient slip, the Chesapeake wins again. To avoid the "18-M other boats" don't charter in the north bay!

Fog can spoil the Maine adventure; heat and humidity the Chesapeake. For either you take the luck of the draw. Early September mitigates weather for the benefit of both Maine and Chesapeake.

Wayne
 

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I'll chime in on Lake champlain. If you are looking for uncrowded waterways that is the place, unless there is a fishing tournament going on. You can check the tournament schedule online. Lots of beautiful scenery and history in the area. Ft. Ticonderoga at the south end, Willsboro Bay around the center. Burlington Vt. is a real nice town with lots to do in the evening as far as bars and restaurants. It may be a little short on facilities but you should be OK in the beginning of Sept. If there is a reenactment going on at Ft. Ti you can anchor just south of the fort and dingy ashore. They are fun to watch. Also one of the top Bass lakes in the US.
 

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I only have knowledge of the Chesapeake, but second all that wwilson posted above.

There are outfits that charter boats in Deltaville, VA and while Labor day will be a busy weekend, the odds are if you choose something besides one of the 2 or 3 most popular anchorages you'll be able to find a place either alone or sharing with just a couple of other boats. For a 5 day charter you could choose to visit several of the Chesapeake classics like Onancock, VA, Tides Inn(Irvington, VA), Great Wicomico River, Tangier, VA, Mobjack Bay, St. Marys, MD, Solomons Island, MD. These are just a few of the possiblites.

As far as powerboats, I don't know exactly why, but the bay area near Deltaville is relatively devoid of the Cigarette boat crowd and the ratio is probably close to 50/50 sail to power. Most of the powerboats fall into the categories of Cruiser/Trawler, fishing or working boats, mostly fishing or working. As much as sailors love to slam powerboaters, I've never had much of an issue with powerboats around Deltaville.
 

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Unless there is a drastic change in the weather patterns, the Chesapeake is hot, humid and windless untill about the mid of September.
 

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Unless there is a drastic change in the weather patterns, the Chesapeake is hot, humid and windless untill about the mid of September.
Could be, but we've been blessed with an extremely temperate season thus far. We've only had a few days in a row over 90 and I've had more heavy air days than light this year.
 

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Could be, but we've been blessed with an extremely temperate season thus far. We've only had a few days in a row over 90 and I've had more heavy air days than light this year.
Yeah it was great until last week, but I think we are stuck under a Bermuda High for awhile. Maybe it won't last.
 

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We kept our boat on Champlain for 2 years... and I've been on the Chesapeake, and I've been through Maine. We've been cruising up and down the east coast for 9 months now, and we'd put Burlington, VT, on Lake Champlain, in our top three for a cruising destination. Between Church St. with restaurants, bars, street performers and little shops, to the moorings, docks and dinghy dock at the waterfront, to the festivals they have on the waterfront, to the nice people, it's one of the best places we've visited. You also have a number of state parks that are beautiful and unique, deep water (no worrying about going aground on Champlain!) it's just a wonderful lake. With regards to Maine, it's also an incredible place to cruise. You just have to watch out for the fog and the rocks, but with Acadia National Park, Monhegan, the waffle/ice cream place in Booth Bay, Camden, Rockland/Rockport and more, there are a ridiculous number of places to visit - and you can't beat the seafood! The Chesapeake also has lots of places to visit, but in August/September you still have to deal with an excessive amount of bugs/jellyfish and possibly heat. I'd personally lean towards Maine or Champlain.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks for the ideas! Chesapeake (Haven Yacht Charters) is a lot less expensive than either Winds of Ireland or Northport Yacht Charters, but the lake is looking like the spot. bugs and me makes for an unhappy sailor. I was pleasantly surprised by the lack of bugs last September down on the Pamlico. Go figure!
Chris, you on your way back north? I haven't followed your blog in a while..
Mike
 

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Hopefully only temporarily. My business is being ravaged by the economy, so I need to spend some time on site to try to get things in order. We'll be in Albany late next week and hopefully only have to spend a month or two there. I need to focus on finding customers and business, and then we can head out again.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Lake Champlain it will be! Thanks for all the input. I didn't charter with Winds of Ireland, as their phone seems to have been disconnected and their website offers no email address.(I even emailed "webmaster", "admin", and info, to no avail). So we're renting a small Beneteau from Navtours, an outfit based in Monttreal with lots of boats on Champlain, north of Narrowsburg. Should be a good week!
Mike
 

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Enjoy yourself. On the north end of the lake, make sure to stop by the North Hero Marina (Tiki Bar/grill, moorings and/or dock, and anchoring around the corner, and pool if it's not too cold), Burton Island State Park (moorings available or anchor out), Valcour Island (anchorages all around with various hiking trails), and Burlington. Burlington is by far one of our favorite places. Also, if you stop by Willsboro Bay Marina and want to drink for free, walk down Dock 4 and tell most any sailboater there that you know Pelican. Enjoy yourself!
 

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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
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 :D 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!:eek: 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 as well.

All in all, a great charter experience!

Mike
 
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