All photos were provided by Marc Edgar and are copyrighted to him. Text is by myself, David Manthey.
Wednesday, 25 June 2008
This is the 6th year I've run the Big Row. This year is also the easiest -- down Lake George over three days to reach the 250th anniversary reenactment of Fort Ticonderoga. Our total distance will only be around 35 miles, we are camping a public campgrounds (where we pay and therefore don't have to ask permission), and launching at a commercial boat launch.
We have eight people and two boats this year. The crew is Kevin, Marc, Bill, Reb, Chris, Mary, Dawn, and myself. The boats are the Bobbie G and the Codpeace. Except for Dawn, everyone was present -- she will meet us Thursday morning. Bill, Chris, and Mary crewed the Codpeace, and the rest of us crewed the Bobbie G.
We met up at the Dunham Bay marina around 10 a.m. today (Wednesday). The launch prices are usurious ($35 to launch a boat, additional money to leave a car parked), but we paid them. There isn't even a caretaker at the launch to collect these absurd fees, one just slips them in a slot. I wrote down our license plate numbers on a slip of paper and included it with the boats.
A young man was working with DEC or some other environmental organization and 'inspected' our boats for invasive species, completely neglecting the devilweed seed pods on the trailers.
We got underway with a southerly breeze. We hadn't initially rigged for sailing, as we had to pass under a low bridge right away. Once clear from the bridge, we stepped the mast, hoisted sail, and glided forward with the least effort for a first day yet.
Lake George is a pleasant lake. There is a plethora of motorboats, and these kick up large and often seemingly random wakes. The Codpeace rocked quite a bit in the transverse wakes.
Contrary to most Big Rows, this trip was exceedingly smooth and easy. Reb managed the whisker boom (the gaff placed in the windward clew of our sail), and we sailed the bulk of the time. Occasionally the wind would slacken and we row a short distance. Marc itched to row more than was necessary.
Today was also a short day -- only 10 or 11 miles. We sailed up to Gravely Island, our camp for the night. We rowed in to the dock, then spent quite some time trying to secure the boats so that the wakes of passing motorboats wouldn't smash our boats too hard against the dock.
It was such nice weather that we elected not to pitch tents. There are two wooden tent platforms on the island where we rolled out our blankets. It would have been somewhat troubling to pitch the tents on these platforms. As its name implied, the island was gravely, and there was scant other places where a tent could be left.
A motorboat came by with a park ranger telling us that we had to check in at the ranger station on Glen Island. Reb, Chris, and I took the Codpeace the short distance to Glen Island. We confused the young man with the reservation system by having boats that didn't have registrations (non-motorized vessels under a certain size do not need to be registered in New York). He eventually wrote down 'wooden' as our identifier.
Kevin made a delicious stew for dinner. We were visited by a female mallard duck, who was tame enough to take bread from Bill. A good, easy day.
Thursday, 26 June 2008
This morning we were visited by the female mallard, this time with her brood of ducklings. They enjoyed our bread, found Chris's oatmeal shocking, and ate until their crops were bulging.
After breakfast, the Bobbie G put out to pick up Dawn from the nearby point of land. This point was a short distance to the south, back the way we had come. We accomplished this with some fuss, as much of the lake shore is private. It was raining lightly.
We sailed and rowed north, passing Gravely Island again. The Codpeace came out and joined up with us. Depending on the wind direction and strength, the boats took turns being fastest.
It rained off and on during the day. The low clouds and mist made it easy to imagine the lake as it must have been 250 years ago. A delightful setting.
Around midday, a DEC boat came alongside us. The ranger in the boat had been reading about one of his ancestors who was a bateauman on Lake George, so he felt compelled to come and talk with us. We were under sail, and we ended up taking his bow line in hand while talking. We were all amused to be towing a power boat.
Occasionally the wind was from the beam. We managed to hang on to a wind that came from a half point in front of the beam, racing ahead. With Reb controlling the whisker boom, we kept a good forward speed despite making some leeway.
The wind was freshening in the afternoon, almost to the point that steering was becoming too much effort. We reached Temple Knoll Island, our camp for the night, just in time to avoid a very fresh breeze. We could have handled it, but it was pleasant not to need to.
Temple Knoll Island is fairly large. We had two of the three campsites reserved, and the third one was empty. The dock was nicely sheltered. We pitched our tents, wandered about, took naps, and eventually had dinner. Dinner was a ham and pork stew that I made.
The evening was beautiful.
Friday, 27 June 2008
An easy start. We struck camp, had breakfast of eggs and sausage, and got under way. Once again the wind favors us, and we set sail. Today would prove to be the warmest of the trip.
We passed Roger's Slide. We scudded along the eastern shore under easy wind. We tried to remember words to period songs.
When we were a few miles from the end of the lake, the wind died, blocked by the surrounding hills, and we had to row. This corresponded with strong sun. Rowing seemed to take a long time after the ease of sailing.
We reached the boat launch at the northern end of the lake. Katie was waiting for us. Rather then take out right then, we took her aboard as an idler, and continued north to the end of the lake.
Lake George ducks under two bridges, then falls down La Chute River to Lake Champlain. Historically, there was a portage route around La Chute. Today, it is all homes along a residential area. We turned about at the bridges.
One of Marc's friends was waiting to greet us at the bridge. We had a brief talk, then headed back south.
We returned to the boat launch, tied up the boats, then dispatched all of our drivers with Katie to recover cars and trailers. By late afternoon, both boats were on their trailers, and we all headed over to Fort Ticonderoga for the big reenactment.
This year's trip could have been called the Big Sail. It was a delight to have such an easy time -- no trains, no lawn sprinklers at 4 a.m., and no pirates.