New England Trailer Sailors


Our First Rendezvous - a Week on Lake Champlain.

by Rani Chadowitz

By & By at Valcour
Being the smallest,oldest, and most people per square foot boat gave us special status, not to mention our doing this for the first time! "By & By" was the only blue boat, and the one always draped with drying clothes and towels. Our kids were the oldest, at 10 and 16.

The start was difficult, getting accustomed to the tight quarters,having to put away sleeping stuff, for example,before we could eat because the table was a bed, learning to navigate and read a chart(for me), and to all being together all the time....and banging our heads, elbows, whatever in the cabin. And I eventually realized that it's not so much heeling which frightens me, but unpredictability in maneuvers.

Then we started to have fun: meeting the sailors on the other 12, 13, 14? boats, trying to keep cool in the water and on the boat(buckets of lake water over your head were delicious!). We lost a bucket one day, and soberly realized we need to practice our "man-overboard" maneuvers better...
The Kazoo Brigade at Sonja and Franks

A row of sailboats moored/anchored alongside made for camaraderie, and we all became very good at looking out for one another. But we weren't prepared to brave the mosquitoes even for the campfires and singing. The kids had fun hanging out in the water and so did the adults! Later in the week, at Frank and Sonja's, we got to enjoy the music: two guitars(Bill and Carol), penny whistle(Carol Noyes), fiddle (Bob), wooden spoons and harmonica. Oh, and the 4-5 kazoos played by the kids.

Deep Bay may have been full of mosquitoes, but with our full cockpit netting, we never noticed.They found us well enough when we did venture out, or when they did sneak into the cabin at night in spite of the netting.
No mosquitoes will get me
Ask Revi, she got covered in bites! But at Deep Bay, the dinghy made for fun exploring of the beach, the cool water was deliciously refreshing, and there was time to play our mbira instruments.

Burton Island remains as a memory of heat, picnic with everyone, including the dogs, and another beautiful sunset.

Then there was the day we were trying to anchor off Valcour Island and each one of us in succession tried to winch up the keel for the shallow 2 feet of water, and it got to a certain point (oh, down still around 4 feet) and it wouldn't winch any further! Jack put on his dive mask and went down for a look:
The Chadowitz's picnicking on Burton Island

was the keel broken, distorted?? What was that misshapen thing down there?! He went down for another look, this time with the keel all the way down, and it was a log: 3 feet long and a good 4 inches around! Wedged in the keel where the cable comes through. He managed to pull it out and sailing was so much easier after that. We couldn't figure out for the previous 3 days why the boat seemed to have a mind of it's own and just wouldn't respond easily. That evening at Valcour, we felt we didn't need any manmade fireworks: a thunderstorm accompanied by spectacular lightning, passed by, lingering for long enough into the night to compete with the fireflies and stars.

It was interesting running before the storm, leaving Valcour and making our way,sailing when the winds were good, motoring when they died, as fast as we could to Mallet's Bay for the fireworks later that evening.
Sunset at Sonja and Frank's
That thunderstorm cloud seemed to always be right behind us, but we managed to outrun it. When it caught up with us after we had anchored, breakfast/lunch (we had packed and left Valcour with 15 minutes' notice, a minor miracle for By&By and crew)became a wet affair in the cockpit, with the rain pouring down our backs as our shade/rain shelter didn't quite make it beyond the sides of the boat!

We didn't know which way to look for the fireworks, there were so many options from where we stayed anchored in the north cove. The most spectacular ended up being right in front, in the vicinity of Clair's bay.

Next day, we all decided to meet up at Frank and Sonja's who live on Mallet's Bay, rather than cope with 20-mile-an-hour Northwest winds to Willsboro for dinner and back on Saturday. A caravan of cars pulled up outside their house, several boats went up the creek(without a paddle), and we all brought food and instruments and good cheer.The storm came back for a final goodby that evening, but we still managed to have a magnificent sunset.

I have so many lasting memories of this unbelievable week, I can't focus on a single one as best (or worst!). But Jack, Revi, Cheni ,and I did come away with a strong feeling of having become part of a group of unique people, and wanting to do it all over again next year!