Spring boating is all about fun and safety

The view from Point Bay Marina’s webcam shows lake conditions.
The view from Point Bay Marina’s webcam shows lake conditions.

Mild temperatures and snow-less slopes were a bummer for a lot of outdoor enthusiasts this winter, but boaters can rejoice—that easy winter is a sign of a great boating season to come. Lake Champlain is the place to be this spring and summer, so bust out those oars and water skis a little early and get ready for a fun time out on the water.

Todd Smith, business manager at Point Bay Marina in Charlotte, said that this spring was the “earliest start to our season ever. Last year the ice left our bay April 15, and we were on the water that day starting our dock install…this year we were starting our dock install March 15.” He said the first boat was in the water this year on April 14.

An early start to the boating season means more opportunities to take to the lake. The Lake Champlain Yacht Club in Shelburne has openings in their junior sailor summer camps that are open to all young people who want to learn how to sail.

Walt Marti, director of the LCYC junior sailing program, said that the camps provide “a supportive atmosphere where you can meet new friends, develop a new life long skill–passion–while gaining unbelievable self-confidence, critical thinking and independence.” Focusing on fun and safety, camps are open to kids of all levels of experience, and are flexible with dates and hours. More information on the yacht club’s camps is available at http://lcyc.info/junior-sailing.

The lake water is looking good for this time of year, Smith said. “Lack of snow means lack of run-off in our streams and rivers—very little debris in the lake–great news for early season boating and fishing.” To make it easier for those who don’t have Smith’s phone number at the ready for a personal update, Point Bay now has two webcam broadcasts on their website so people can check out lake conditions before they leave the house.

As always, safety should be the number one priority for anyone who wants to spend time out on the water. The LCYC web site reminds boaters that even in the summer months, Lake Champlain is still chilly enough to cause hypothermia. If a sailor is unlucky enough to end up in cold water, they suggest that floating with a personal flotation device rather than treading water will allow up to three hours in 50 degree water.

Smith also mentions that boaters should “always have enough life jackets for everyone on board, make sure your fire extinguisher and flares are up to date, and you must have some sort of emergency communication–cell phone or ship-to-shore radio.” He also said an anchor should always be on board, and that boaters should use common sense when it comes to the weather.