Canadian Yachting December 2015 - (Page 74)
CROSSING THE LINE
Story and photos by John Morris
Sparsely populated, Lake Champlain is a boater's paradise
with cheery marinas, a few small towns and miles of forested
coastline bordering endless coves, unspoiled islands and interesting channels.
Our boats have many uses - hospitality, racing, cruising,
seduction, relaxation, skills training and many more. But the
original purpose of boats was exploration; just ask the
Phoenicians. Although to the best of my knowledge those
Phoenicians never explored Lake Champlain. But I did!!
Last spring my delivery crew had joined me to pilot our newly
purchased, pre-loved sailboat from Plattsburg all the way to
Toronto via the Erie Canal. The Plattsburg Marina is on the
New York shore of the lake, about 100 clicks south of Montreal
making it essentially a Canadian boating harbour. The town of
Plattsburgh is pretty much bilingual thanks to the Quebec
boaters who keep their boats there and nearby. The marinas are
lined with Canadian and Quebec flags and you overhear français
all around the docks.
The boat we bought was one of those transplanted Canadian
beauties. It had been splashed at Marina Gosselin in St-PaulDe-l'ile-aux-Noix, QC, but spent its life exploring Lake
Champlain and only returned to Canadian waters when we
eventually crossed from Rochester, NY last summer.
But back to exploration: its scenery puts Champlain at the
front of the runway for pure beauty. Bordered by the Adirondack
Range on the western New York side and the Green Mountains
on the Vermont side to the east, its shores are the naturalist version of Italy's Lake Garda with winds to match. It's thin and narrow running 200 km (almost 2/3 the length of Lake Ontario!)
almost due north south right up into Canada where it drains via
the Richelieu into the St Lawrence.
A visit to Lake Champlain should be mandatory - often
referred to as North America's sixth Great Lake - it resembles
Georgian Bay more than the nearer southern Lakes with coves,
C a n a d i a n Ya c h t i n g
mini-fjords and more and more forested shore. And history -
wow. Champlain himself arrived there in 1609 and the lake
has been centre stage in the colonizing of North America, the
US Revolution and the War of 1812. The lake narrows to a
winding passage at the south end of the lake that follows a serpentine route through nearly untouched wilderness. That
meander leads down to Whitehall - the northern terminus of
the Champlain Canal.
Possibly even more charming than the Erie, the Champlain's
11 locks take you 97 km south to the Hudson River. The canal
was proposed in 1812 and completed in 1823 and still feels like
it's from another century. The towns along the way like
Whitehall, the entry point from Lake Champlain, are lost in
time. The lockmasters are universally helpful and accommodating (as they are on the Erie too), which makes it easy even for
canal rookies like myself, but the traffic is sparse so you can
allow yourself to feel a bit like you're discovering it all for the
We arrived at the bottom of the canal onto the Hudson River,
where we made a quick right to Waterford and the famous
Waterford Fligh, the locks that begin the Erie Canal's route.
Waterford is the oldest incorporated village in the US, dating
back to 1794, and our journey of discovery continued there and
all the way up the Erie and Oswego Canal to Lake Ontario.
This was a voyage that you wouldn't want to miss, loaded
with scenic beauty, history and (tame - just the way I like it)
adventure. It's a trip you can only do by boat. *
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Canadian Yachting December 2015
Vantage Point: The Wave of New Boaters is Starting!
Waterfront: What’s your Watermark? Seafaring Santa holiday gift ideas.
Club Profile: Stony Lake Yacht Club
CPS: Seamanship Courses
Feature: Binoculars - Everything you could possibly want to know about understanding, using and buying binoculars for marine use. By Rob Macleod
Electronics Feature: Pinging the Unknown - A look at technologies that support modern marine radar. By David Schmidt
Destination: La Marina, Casa de Campo, Dominican Republic - Luxuriate in this profile of the Casa de Campo, a 7,000-acre resort located in La Romana on the southeast coast of the island and boasting a port, a heliport and an airstrip and home of one of the best billfishing spots in the world. By Elizabeth Kerr
Destination: St John River - Offering cruising areas that are as inviting as any protected inland lake or river, the 75 miles between Saint John and Fredericton make for any easy weekend cruise but there are also many side trips which can occupy you for as much time as you have available. By Glen Cairns
Galley Guys: Krates
Power Review: Neptunus 62
Crossing the Line: The 6th Great Lake
Canadian Yachting December 2015