A Bigger Lake to Explore

Some say less is more. I generally subscribe to that philosophy. Lake Winnipesaukee equals more. We’ve ¬†vacationed now on Lake Ossipee for two years, now preferring the quiet coves, bays and channels which lead to the huge main lake. The main lake is windy and rough enough on any given day so you’re able to really feel the New Hampshire wind and see the amazing peaks of the White Mountains as well as a peak of Mount Washington.

Enter Lake Winnipesaukee. We vacationed there for three years. There is plenty to see and do in and around the lake. It is massive. We have enjoyed exploring islands throughout the lake, finding coves and conservation areas to explore and one of our favorite swim spots, Braun Bay. People anchor there for hours and enjoy the shallow water to float and swim around in, tossing balls and frisbees and even using their boat grill to sizzle up burgers and dogs for lunch. NHWedWinni_20090819_44

We returned to rent a power boat from Anchor Marina mainly to let our son’s friend Andrew have the Winnipesaukee experience. After seeing Lake Ossipee, which he thought was amazing, he was more amazed at the massive size and how different Winnipesaukee is. The wide, open areas which are great for water skiing and tubing, are never really smooth as glass.

Andrew's 1st attempt

Andrew's 1st attempt

For a beginner water skier, smooth water would have been best. But, he’s 15 and willing to give this a try. Doug gave him the safety lesson and on-board water skiing tips on the main thing: getting up. From a crunched, fetal position with these heavy water skis attached to your feet plus the ski rope which has to be between your skis and the ski vest. It’s a lot to negotiate all while floating in a deep lake. Andrew tried SIX times to get up on those skis. Once, he almost made it. He was exhausted; we applauded his efforts. Between the wind and the rougher water, I knew he might have a tough time. He gave it a shot.

Adam and Andrew then took turns tubing. That experience on Winnipesaukee was also more rough. On a Wednesday, water traffic isn’t too terrible, but the Winnipesaukee mail delivery boats, the Doris E. and Sophie C. were cruising the lake delivering mail to the islands, plus other boats made for more wake and rougher waters. The boys didn’t care; they loved jumping the wake of our boat and others to bounce around like no ride they have ever enjoyed more.

Adam on Winnipesaukee; barge hauling a deck on right

Adam on Winnipesaukee; barge hauling a deck on right

Lunch time came about quickly. I noticed a large, bare dock which turned out to be a camp dock that was apparently closed for the season. We gobbled lunch, then headed out to Braun Bay for some relaxing swim time.

Later, it was time for more tubing. We ended up near where our vacation house on Winnipesaukee is located. Both Andrew and Adam took turns tubing on a very rough patch of the lake. There was lots of bounce and Adam got thrown off the tube when we hit a wake of another boat. Watching their faces grinning with the excitement of the wet ride is what vacation is about with family and friends.

Despite a hearty lunch, the boys were hungry a bit later. We cruised in to Meredith Bay. It’s a lovely town with a great marina area and the Town Docks restaurant which has a couple of docks for drive-up service. We enjoyed a mid-afternoon snack and watched storm clouds pass overhead. There were a few raindrops, but nothing to spoil the day.

The boys were completely wiped out. We headed back to Anchor Marina on Weirs Bearch. The boys got off to head to the car to chill with their I-Pods while Doug and I had a half-hour power date. We wanted to cruise around Governor’s Island which has the most expensive real estate on Winnipesaukee. First, Doug told the marina staff the engine was losing power. That word brought Captain Bob to the dock. He is a character. I don’t know if he’s a captain; I just call him that. He wears a white, Anchor Marina shirt and shorts and has a gold chain with an anchor charm attached. His voice is distinct. He explains all of the safety hazards and basic “ins and outs” of the part of Winnipesaukee that the boat renters will cruise on during their 8-hour rental. Doug, fortunately, is an experienced boater and sailor. I think Captain Bob really appreciated that. He could tell Doug was responsible and not out to “hot dog” and be reckless on the lake. Bad things happen to good people; sometimes those things happen because they think nothing bad can happen to them. Back to the engine power. Captain Bob boarded the boat with us and wanted to “feel” the engine himself. After the staff added a few quarts of oil, the power problem dissipated, but the Captian said the engine was revving too high. No matter; in a few minutes, the Captain was back at the dock while Doug and I continued the power date.

The Governor’s Island properties vary from traditional lakehouse to obscenely huge and completely out of step with the landscape of the lake. The properties cost a minimum of about $5 million into the $20 million range and probably higher. The largest house on Governor’s island is 265′ long. Lord knows how many square feet; I’d guess in the 30,000 range. Obscene. There is a cute play-set in one of the many landscaped areas around the house, so kids or grand-kids can enjoy the place. Of course, the house had several boathouses, an extensive dock and more than your eyes could take in with a “boat-by” glance. Our favorite house was a blue-gray frame, Cape Cod-style house with a screened porch overlooking the lake; a very nice dock and just enough beach to enjoy three seasons a year. Still, that place had to be in the $5-7 million range. Yikes.

After turning in the boat after a long day on the water, we stopped at The Old Country Store in Moultonborough on Routes 25 and 109. It’s a tradition; we stop there almost every visit. I pick up a New Hampshire calendar for the next year; Adam combs through the toys and kid stuff in the back room and Doug plays with the puzzles. Andrew bought a Harley Davidson sign (?). We bumped into a nice couple. Tom is from Medford, NJ now living in Salem, NH. He wanted to know what happened to the racetrack in Cherry Hill; he had heard it burned down years ago, but he had loved the rebuilt sight. No more. All gone. That’s one thing about New Hampshire. There may be new, bigger and obscene houses here and there, but the simple scheme of life here continues. The lake will never change and life around it will be tweaked a little, but I’ll let the lake be my guide whether it’s Ossipee or Winnipesaukee.

Sweet Dreams from Danforth Bay.

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