Fall Sailing on Lake Champlain

By Barbara Garland

Well, October 4 ,2003 did not have a great weather prediction. That is probably one of the biggest understatements of the sailing season. (the other was "it's foggy" in Maine this summer). Pam and I had been monitoring the weather report all week and by Thursday it said chance of rain on Saturday 100%, temperature in the 50's and the "S" word for the higher elevations of NH and VT.

Pam - is Pam Foshay. She and Bruce had invited me to sail with them on Lake Champlain for the weekend. They had an ulterior motive - they needed help moving their boat from Mallet Bay to Willsboro Bay to haul it for the winter.

Many of you have seen my Latitudes and Attitudes shirt - "Attitude: the difference between and ordeal and an adventure". This has been my motto while sailing over the last few years - and for my life over the last 5 months.

So I left home on my adventure on Saturday at 6:45am. I drove out of the garage headed east on my road and saw the most glorious sunrise I have seen all summer. It got better as I stopped down the road at the post office to mail some letters.

I was hoping for some good foliage but the colors in southern NH are behind by about 2 weeks. I did, however notice the frost in the valleys along the river. I had a 3-hour drive ahead of me. Traffic was almost non-existent. The trees about an hour north were more brilliant but the clouds were thickening. I hit the VT-NH border and called Pam. We planned on meeting just south of Burlington so we could take one car to Willsboro. By the time I got to Burlington it had started raining.

The ferry ride was cold, windy and wet. It was fun to see the lake between Charlotte and Essex on the ferry. We dropped one car and headed back to the ferry and up to Colchester and "Charis". I had seen the boat before but hadn't been on it. I was greeted by Shadow and Shelby. It had stopped raining but it was raw and damp. Bruce had decided not to sail over to Willsboro on Saturday, so we headed out to the mooring for lunch.

Remember - this is an adventure so rather than just lunch we had hamburgers. Bruce left the engine on and ran their new CABIN HEATER - and we were warm - well that's maybe stretching it but we weren't freezing. We even decided to venture out around the inner bay to check one particular thing out - Frank and Sonja's new 26M. Yes, it has a blue hull!

The Boat
Then came drinks (I've taken that up this summer it seems) dinner and enough clearing to see a little blue sky and a spectacular sunset.

Sunset at Mallett Bay Boat Club
I brought my warm quilt and was warm all night. At daybreak, the sun that created sparkles on the water on the hatch covers and flooded the cockpit. The cabin was 48 degrees but no problem - just turn on the engine and things warmed up. We even dried the gloves that had gotten wet on Saturday.

Great breakfast, a trip to shore with Charis so the dogs could stretch their legs and Bruce could pull the mooring lines and we were headed out of the bay toward Willsboro. The sun was shining, we were warm, and moving along at 6-7 knots. There were some puffy clouds and it was obvious that some of them were dropping rain (and sometimes hail) (Pam would have referred to them as "intermittent squalls"). At one point I looked north to see a shower and a sort of rainbow in a small area under the cloud. "Charis" was sailing beautifully with a double reef in the main and the genny rolled in to less than 100%. The boat held a consistant 37 degree heel 30 in 30 knot winds.

As always the scenery was beautiful - the rolling hills down by the water, and the mountains in the background. Roger had sailed with Bruce and Pam on Champlain 3 years ago in early October. The color in the video they made was noticeable. This year the trees had hardly turned. I sat on board, in the 50 degree weather, just drinking it all in. It was great to be on the water and I expect I won't be out sailing again this year.

All too soon - well I guess it was good to be there considering it was not too warm - we were in Willsboro Bay, with it's tall cliffs, the railroad running along the shore, the trestle and finally the marina. After packing things up we headed for the ferry and another treat. The wind had died down and there was another shower over the Vermont hills. In the shower area was, again, a rainbow.

We headed back to Colchester and this time took some of the back roads. We drove along rolling fields and farms that had beautiful views of the lake and NY mountains. On our way home there were 3 more treats. First was the beautiful site of Mt. Mansfield with a snow-capped top. Second was the moon and stars lighting the night. Third was the final dinner in the wonderful company of 2 great friends.

To review

We could have had an ordeal - rain, cold, and wind,

What we had was an adventure - sunrise, sunset, ferry rides, exploring Mallet Bay, good food, CABIN HEATER, a warm comforter, no frost on the deck, beautiful scenery, sunshine, puffy clouds, rainbows, 2 cute dogs, snow capped mountains, the right clothes, SAILING, and best of all 2 great friends sharing their boat and a great weekend.

Thanks for a wonderful weekend, Bruce and Pam.