By Manfried Rieder
It does not look like the boating season is about to begin on lake Memphremagog but that does not prevent avid boaters to look forward to the joys of the lake. Soon the local marinas will get the docks ready, the City of Newport is hiring a new harbor master, notices are being sent out to boaters of when they can begin to have their boats launched and repair work and maintenance is of course ongoing.
There is a great misconception about boating though: most people still believe in the old saying "A boat is a hole in the water into which one pours money". Today's boats do not often leak, engines if well maintained last a long time and canvas sails have long been replaced by synthetic fabrics that do not mildew or break at the seams. Stainless hardware took care of rusting fasteners and even with a cheap GPS you can probably find your way home in the fog. So what would be the entry level cost be for an average young family of four?
Not as much as one might expect. I checked out the last few issues of the Green Mountain Trading Post and Craigslist and have found seven acceptable family boats which, while dated, appear to be lake-worthy and sound. They range from small sailboats of the day -sailor variety to outboard runabouts and even a couple of inboard/outboard cruisers. Prices range from $ 500 to $ 1,200 for an acceptable and safe boat and most have trailers or you can certainly find an inexpensive trailer. A trailer-ed boat would be best for the financially challenged because there is no charge at many ramps around this lake. My preference is the boat-launching area at the Gateway Center in Newport City as there always is ample parking.
For even less money, used canoes or kayaks can be had for about $ 200.- and if this is not suitable, when spring starts, a lot of stores sell inexpensive 4-person inflatable boats which range from as low as $ 100 to about $ 500.- fora decent outfit which will fit in any car.
So join us on the lake but make sure you bring life jackets for every person on board and leave the beer at home. More harm has been done on the water by inexperienced boaters on booze than any other nautical mishap. See you on the lake.