Dick and Gayl's Cruising Adventures

Lake Champlain

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There are three Lake Champlain pages.  To continue to page 2 or 3, click a link below.  (You can also get to the following page from links at the bottom of each page.)

Click here for Page 2 -- Our Adirondack Tour and Burlington, VT.

Click here for Page 3 -- Northern Lake Champlain

June 9, 2005  Whitehall to Westport, NY
48.2 miles
We headed off with hazy mountain views in light morning fog. The water was near mirror perfect. We slowed down often for men in small boats fishing. A flotilla of about 50 Canada Geese took flight as we approached, and we watched them organize in flight from a flock to an undulating line to two V formations, all in about twenty seconds. 
For the first four hours of our trip, Lake Champlain resembled a river more than a lake.  New York was on the west bank, with vacation homes and cottages along the shore, nestled at the edge of the Adirondack Mountains.  On the east bank, Vermont had lots of prosperous farms with rolling fields, big barns, and silos.

Fort Ticonderoga

We passed Fort Ticonderoga on the narrow part of the lake.  We would have liked to stop there, but there was no convenient place to anchor and dinghy in.  Fort Ticonderoga was built by the French at the beginning of the French and Indian War. The French built the fort, then called Fort Carillon, at the southernmost point of their empire here, in anticipation that the British Army would try to move up Lake Champlain in their seemingly insatiable quest for more land.
The French were right. They finished the fort in 1757, and 16,000 British and Colonial troops attacked it in 1758.  Even though the French only had 3,200 men defending the fort, they prevailed.  One year later, the Brits and Colonials were back, and this time, the French abandoned the fort after four days' fighting. The British promptly got rid of the French name of the fort and renamed it Fort Ticonderoga, because it lay on Ticonderoga Point.
The British held the fort until a fateful day in 1775 when Benedict Arnold and Ethan Allen led 83 Green Mountain Boys in an early morning raid that caught the sentry sleeping.  They seized the fort easily.  They attacked three weeks after the battles of Lexington and Concord, but due to the fort's remote location, the British soldiers stationed there had not heard about those battles and were not on alert.
Serendipitously, we had our satellite radio tuned to Diane Rehm interviewing David McCollough about his book, 1776.  It was a timely topic as we cruised from the "birrthplace of the US Navy" past Fort TiconderogaOne of David McCollough's most memorable thoughts was that the Revolution was the longest war in our history, except for Viet Nam; and the bloodiest war in our history, except the Civil War; and during the war, the tide turned so many times, often on small incidents, that its outcome was fortuitous, but by no means certain.
We rounded Crown Point and the lake suddenly opened before us, broad and mirror flat, surrounded by big hills and little mountains.  We were docked at the Westport Marina just a little over an hour later at 1 pm.

Our afternoon explorations of the town were cut short by rain showers that rapidly progressed to thunderstorms.  The fire siren went off, and we turned on the weather radio and pulled up the NOAA Weather site on our computer.  Severe thunderstorms were the order of the day.  We rode it out fine, but the power went out in the town, and didn't come back on until the middle of the next morning.  According to the marina staff, this is a frequent occurence around here.

June 10, 2005  Westport
We awoke and found that the marina was still without power, as was the rest of the town. We just fired up our generator, and had all the power we needed to make breakfast.
We mostly hung out around the boat, avoiding the many pop-up showers throughout the day.  After the power was restored, when we thought the weather had cleared, we took a walk up to town to look for a few galley provisions.  As we got to the check-out, the cashier was hanging up the phone -- her daughter had called to say there was a severe thunderstorm watch for this area now.  The rain started as we were walking back to the boat.  It was a repeat of yesterday afternoon on a smaller scale, and without the power outage.
We were hoping for much better weather, because our friends the Chapmans were coming to visit this afternoon.  When they arrived, the humidity was 100%, the temperature was in the high 80s, and their car air conditioner was broken.  We opted to sit inside a while and chill out.  After one last balmy shower, the sun stuggled to pop through the haze, and gave us a full rainbow.
We were able to enjoy dinner high and dry, up on the flybridge. We shared high hopes that the weather would turn for us tomorrow, because the Chapmans would be our tour guides for an Adirondack Adventure.

Click here to continue to Lake Champlain page 2. (But first, don't miss reading about Champ below.)

Introducing "Champ," the Lake Champlain creature:
Lake Champlain has its own version of the Loch Ness Monster.  Nicknamed "Champ," the creature has been sighted by hundreds of people over hundreds of years. 
The first recorded sighting of Champ is sometimes attributed to Samuel de Champlain, the first European to explore the lake that bears his name.  He described "a 20 foot serpent thick as a barrel with a head like a horse."  Researchers familiar with Champlain's notes clarify that he made this observation in the St. Lawrence estuary, not the lake. 
Nonetheless, farmers, fishermen and tourists through the ages have seen an unexplained monster rearing its ugly head in Lake Champlain.  In 1977, Sandra Manzi even got a picture of the creature, who interrupted a picnic she was having with friends.  The photo was published extensively, and examined by all sorts of tabloid media.  The photo is authentic, but what it is remains a mystery.
Lake Champlain does seem to be a good place for a monster to hide.  It is nearly 400 feet deep in spots, and over 100 miles long.  We will be watching for Champ in our travels up the lake, and will be sure to publish any discoveries here first, unless the National Enquirer offers us big bucks for exclusive coverage.