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Essex, Lake Champlain

June 21, 2011

June 16, Essex; in front of Burlington on Lake Champlain

Reluctantly, I sailed away from Chapman’s Point at 6 am. The wind was as advertised; it blew steadily from the south east at 10 miles per hour. Since we were expecting two days of southerly winds before a cold front from Quebec would turn the wind northward, I had to cover as much territory as I could in the following two days.

I managed to travel the first 22 miles before the wind died. An unending rock cliff was on my west side. Huge rock formations were plunging into the water almost vertically. It ended with a small rock island that marked the widening of Lake Champlain. My objective was Essex. I thought that there would be a campground there since a marina was boasting about it.

People were warning me about Lake Champlain as if it was a large and dangerous body of water. I had a lot of trouble at taking Lake Champlain seriously since all through my trip people had been warning me about the next big danger ahead, always presenting it like the “end all” peril. A careful look at the map soon put any anxiety to rest. The Lake is only 8 miles wide at its very widest and only for a few short miles. The Lake is long if you look at it from a north to south perspective and waves do have time to form and go unrestrained on that plane. As long as the wind comes from the south or the north, the lake can produce nice size waves. I was told to expect one foot per 5 miles per hour of wind. Obviously, the lake would be dangerous during hard northern or southern winds but that would be expected anywhere.

My first experience of the wide section of the lake was rather uneventful. As I pedaled the last miles to Essex, there was not enough wind to keep my sail opened and the lake was, to use a metaphoric platitude, like a mirror. Only the ferry, one kayak and a lone 16 foot sailboat were on the water with me.

The marinas at Essex were all underwater or piled on shore because of the flooding. I slowly wandered along the shore to find some place to stop. I finally stopped at a restaurant with one dock. The owner did not mind me tying up for the night.

The town of Essex is one of those lovely New England towns where every building looks like a well preserved historical monument. None of the buildings showed any trace of any sort of cheap modern materials. I stumble upon a guesthouse on Main Street and dealt a room. Donna, the owner, simply accepted my first low figure monetary offer out of kindness. It was no doubt the best accommodation I’ve found on this trip and she was probably asking for four times the amount I paid. Donna had restored the place and it now stood as what we all envision when we thinks of the perfect New England Bed and Breakfast and yes, there were lots of quilts.


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