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Old 01-12-2020, 06:18   #1
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Summer on Lake Champlain

Recently purchased a sail boat on Lake Champlain, spending the summer on the lake learning all I can before heading south.

Although only a Great Lake for 18 days, looking for a recommendation on cruising guides or some must-see places. Tons of history in the area!
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Old 01-12-2020, 06:54   #2
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Re: Summer on Lake Champlain

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Originally Posted by El_Capitan.Mike View Post
Although only a Great Lake for 18 days,
Who declared it was a Great Lake? I know there have been a vocal minority proposing this, but it is ridiculous - Champlain is tiny compared to the real Great Lakes, and is smaller than a bunch of lakes in Canada, that we have no interest in calling a Great Lake.
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Old 01-12-2020, 07:32   #3
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Re: Summer on Lake Champlain

Actually president Clinton ,March 16 1998, senate Bill 927, rescinded March 24 1998. A plan to get Great Lakes research money for university of Vermont.
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Old 01-12-2020, 08:00   #4
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Re: Summer on Lake Champlain

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Actually president Clinton ,March 16 1998, senate Bill 927, rescinded March 24 1998. A plan to get Great Lakes research money for university of Vermont.
Funny enough, giving them the "Great Lake" status allowed New York and Vermont Universities to apply for Research and Education funds. Money that they continued to receive even after their "Great Lake" status was rescinded 18 days later.
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Old 01-12-2020, 09:25   #5
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Re: Summer on Lake Champlain

Political response aside, nobody has answered his question about cruising guides, etc.
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Old 01-12-2020, 09:43   #6
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Re: Summer on Lake Champlain

I sailed Lake Champlain for 5 years. The mountains are beautiful. Seeing most of the history and sites needs one to leave the shoreline to see it same with a lot of museums on the Vermont side. I was frustrated with the sailing there and it was a reason I moved to Lake Ontario 9 years ago. The wind is not great and usually seems to come from dead south in a north south lake. When the wind blows from the west it can be dangerous to be close to shore, especially around Willsboro. Boats were knocked over when I was there. Once you get away from Plattsburgh and Burlington, the water is incredibly clean. Great swimming. There are a couple waterfalls I found that were very pleasant to splash in. If you are driving from Ottawa, I am surprised you do not keep your boat in the 1000 Islands. Much closer for you. Obviously better sailing as well. USA side was closed last year due to COVID. Not sure if it will open up for 2021. As for guides/maps there are lots online that just need a google search to find them.
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Old 01-12-2020, 10:23   #7
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Re: Summer on Lake Champlain

Just don't decide to swim in Lake Champlain even mid summer. You will freeze your proverbial balls off.
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Old 01-12-2020, 11:15   #8
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Re: Summer on Lake Champlain

To answer the original question, I sailed Lake Champlain for nearly 30 years and over 3 boats (24' to 33' to 46'). Lots to see, first off get yourself a copy of the "Cruising Guide to Lake Champlain" which contains a ton of useful info and photos.



Some of our favourites:



Burlington is fun to walk Church Street and re-provision; they (used to?) run a free shuttle bus from the waterfront up to the mall with stops between.



Kingsland bay is a nicely protected anchorage, a bit tricky to anchor in the rocky deep part with all the moorings in the shallow ends, but still.


Westport is worth a visit, Larry and Lane are the great folks who run the marina and restaurant.


Across from and a bit north of Westport is the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, with moorings in the bay. Definitely worth a visit to learn about the lake and its history. Check out when they do reenactments.


Well to the south, Fort Ticonderoga is fun, though you'll need a dinghy to get ashore (last we were there the small dock was reserved for a tour boat, but you could drop passengers then beach elsewhere). A small dinghy can motor up to the town.


If you cross Carry Bay and pass the Grand Isle Drawbridge you can explore the Inland Sea; less busy than the rest of the lake and fewer anchorages except for the jewel of Burton Island State Park - water access only, with docks and campfire sites (and one of the cleanest pump-out facilities on the lake).

Follow the charts closely to go up the Otter Creek some 8 miles to Vergennes - totally different from the rest of the lake.


Shelburne Bay and Willsboro bays are both nicely sheltered from the prevailing south winds, with good holding. Shelburne Shipyard for provisioning, supplies and repairs.


I could go on, email if you want more, but start with the Guide.
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Old 01-12-2020, 11:46   #9
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Re: Summer on Lake Champlain

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Originally Posted by Redline452 View Post
To answer the original question, I sailed Lake Champlain for nearly 30 years and over 3 boats (24' to 33' to 46'). Lots to see, first off get yourself a copy of the "Cruising Guide to Lake Champlain" which contains a ton of useful info and photos.



Some of our favourites:



Burlington is fun to walk Church Street and re-provision; they (used to?) run a free shuttle bus from the waterfront up to the mall with stops between.



Kingsland bay is a nicely protected anchorage, a bit tricky to anchor in the rocky deep part with all the moorings in the shallow ends, but still.


Westport is worth a visit, Larry and Lane are the great folks who run the marina and restaurant.


Across from and a bit north of Westport is the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, with moorings in the bay. Definitely worth a visit to learn about the lake and its history. Check out when they do reenactments.


Well to the south, Fort Ticonderoga is fun, though you'll need a dinghy to get ashore (last we were there the small dock was reserved for a tour boat, but you could drop passengers then beach elsewhere). A small dinghy can motor up to the town.


If you cross Carry Bay and pass the Grand Isle Drawbridge you can explore the Inland Sea; less busy than the rest of the lake and fewer anchorages except for the jewel of Burton Island State Park - water access only, with docks and campfire sites (and one of the cleanest pump-out facilities on the lake).

Follow the charts closely to go up the Otter Creek some 8 miles to Vergennes - totally different from the rest of the lake.


Shelburne Bay and Willsboro bays are both nicely sheltered from the prevailing south winds, with good holding. Shelburne Shipyard for provisioning, supplies and repairs.


I could go on, email if you want more, but start with the Guide.
Exactly the response I was looking for. Thank you!

Originally I tried to research guides for the lake but I was surprised to find not that much, everything basically pointed me in the direction of the canal system guides. I have been reading up on Active Captain but I'll have to see if I can grab the guide.

How much water were you finding in "The Gut" when going through the Grand Isle Drawbridge? I was reading it was only about 4-5 feet through there and weedy by late in the year.

I'll have to check out Otter Creek, that sounds super cool to make a trip up there.
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Old 01-12-2020, 15:52   #10
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Re: Summer on Lake Champlain

It's not a Great Lake, but it's a Very Good Lake. I'll try to remember to find my notes and give some useful information.

Burton Island (not to be confused with Button Island) is one spot I remember fondly, and there are many lovely anchorages that are usually not too busy, as long as you get more than an hour away from Burlington and Plattsburgh.

Winds are usually up the lake or down the lake, and that will largely determine which direction you should try to go. When they're across the lake you can expect a pretty bouncy day on the water.
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Old 01-12-2020, 17:23   #11
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Re: Summer on Lake Champlain

I grew up in the Champlain Islands so pretty familiar with that end of the lake spending most of it within the inland sea. I never had a problem with depth in the gut but my Catalina only drew 4í. My favorite place to anchor is the north west end of Savage Island. Itís private so you canít go on it. That Anchorage is north of a long sandy spit so in a south wind your protected from waves but get some air to keep the bugs away. If a strong northerly kicks up you can move a couple miles west to pearl bay, a quiet anchorage with great holding, access to public beach, and walking distance to a general store with a great deli. North of there is Knight and Burton islands. Burton has a small marina, Knight is a state park. Due west of the gut on the ny side is deep bay where you can pick up a state park mooring. We spent many nights in the neighboring middle bay on anchor. This are is part of the ny state park system so access to great walking trails and a public beach.
Itís such a beautiful lake to sail on and so many of great anchorages, you wonít be disappointed.
And at 75 degrees, the clean water is beautiful for a swim.
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Old 01-12-2020, 17:23   #12
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Re: Summer on Lake Champlain

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Originally Posted by El_Capitan.Mike View Post
How much water were you finding in "The Gut" when going through the Grand Isle Drawbridge? I was reading it was only about 4-5 feet through there and weedy by late in the year.

It does get weedy, one year while circling waiting for the bridge we sucked up enough weed into the cooling intake that I had to stop, climb into the locker and remove the hose from the through-hull to clear it.



Usually manageable though, depending of course on water level and your draft (ours was 5' 3"). Follow the channel and watch your sounder, as usual.
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Old 01-12-2020, 19:17   #13
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Re: Summer on Lake Champlain

When you decide to go south, the narrows down to Whitehall has some awesome Osprey nests, Bald Eagles fishing, Blue Herons, Egrets and much, much more. The Ospreys chewed us out every time we passed a nest. Just a beautiful passage. We will remember it forever as it was the first trip with grandchildren. Enjoy!
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Old 02-12-2020, 07:48   #14
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Re: Summer on Lake Champlain

Lac Champlain is a great weekend sailing area.

Every anchorage bays are just a few hours sailing one from the other. You can always find a protected anchorage, what ever the wind direction is. Lake is very deep and you can usually anchor in 15-20 feet of water into thick mud. Anchoring is shallower water is usually very weedy.

In summer time, water gets warm, 78-80F in some bay, make a pleasant swim in fresh water.

North section of the lake is usually (north of the line Plattsburg - Burlington) is mostly sailed by french canadian. Lots of french traffic on VHF channel 9.

There is no issue going through The Gut all season long for most boats. Depth is around 8', and your sonar may read only 5.5-6' because of weeds. Check your engine temperature and cooling.

Wind is 80% of thet ime south. After a cold front you get 1 or 2 days of W-NW wind allowing nice sailing up and south the lake. Since the lake is pretty narrow (4-5nm) in its wider area, there is not much fetch. Even with 30kn wind (rare), wave cannot really grow more that 4'- 5' high, exceptionally 6'.

Hopefully the border will re-open sometime in 2021, so all canadian can return to their boat and enjoy much needed sailing time. The lake was really empty this past summer.
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Old 02-12-2020, 14:38   #15
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Re: Summer on Lake Champlain

Some excellent info in here. Thank you everyone.

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Originally Posted by daddio862 View Post
When you decide to go south, the narrows down to Whitehall has some awesome Osprey nests, Bald Eagles fishing, Blue Herons, Egrets and much, much more. The Ospreys chewed us out every time we passed a nest. Just a beautiful passage. We will remember it forever as it was the first trip with grandchildren. Enjoy!
Assuming you went through the canal, were you able to unstep the mast at that marina in Whitehall? I know there's a marina in Kingston that is popular to restep it. Did they offer to ship it or did you strap it to the deck?
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