Category Archives: Boating

Boating, canoeing, kayaking

Cold Water Boating Hazards

After a long, cold… very cold… North Country winter, we’re all looking forward to warmer weather recreational activities. These first warm days of spring often attract boaters and other recreational enthusiasts to the many beautiful lakes, rivers, and streams across Vermont and northern New York.

Particular caution is necessary early in the boating season across the North Country

This week’s rescue of three kayakers from Lake Champlain illustrates the need for proper precaution. Two of the kayaks capsized dumping the boaters into Lake Champlain. Fortunately they were able to be towed to Valcour Island by the third kayaker, and eventually rescued and treated for hypothermia.

The Hazard of Cold Water BoatingThe National Weather Service (NWS) in Burlington, Vermont urges extreme caution when boating, canoeing, or kayaking during the spring, when water temperatures typically remain dangerously cold in the event of a capsize.

Boaters should be aware of the dangers posed by cold water temperatures. On pleasantly warm and dry days in April and May, it is easy to forget that the water temperature is much responds more slowly to seasonal changes and warms much more slowly than the air temperature.

Rivers are often still affected by melting snow runoff from the mountains. Lakes continue to up-well cold water from below until a temperature of 39°F, and then increase in temperature slowly based on amount and days of sunshine, near surface air temperature, and the size of the body of water. On Lake Champlain, climate records indicate that surface water temperatures are typically in the upper 30s in late April, and only rise into the 40s during May.

Cold Water Immersion

Immersion in cold water can quickly become life threatening. If you capsize in water with temperatures in the upper 30s and 40s, hypothermia can occur in a matter of minutes. Since water conducts body heat away up to 26 times faster than air of the same temperature, the cold water rapidly weakens the extremities – making them numb and weakening the ability of muscles to work effectively.

Protect Yourself From Danger When Cold Water Boating

The NWS urges the following safety measures to protect yourself and maximize your enjoyment of area waterways:

  • Consider postponing small craft boating activities until water temperatures become warmer in late spring and summer.

    Cold Water Boating Hazards

    PFD Wear it !

  • If you do choose to boat, canoe, or kayak in April or May, wear a dry suit appropriate for water temperatures in the high 30s and 40s.
  • Wear all recommended protective gear to guard against the cold water in the event of an accident or capsize.
  • Remember, no matter the season, when you are on the water, always wear your life jacket.

Safe boating is no accident!

Take the time to think safety first and plan appropriately for weather and water conditions before heading out on lakes, rivers, and streams.

Further Hypothermia Information:


Shop for
Personal Flotation Devices
Click Here


More Articles About Lake Champlain Safety:


Anglers and boaters reminded of cold water safety

The ice has left, fishing seasons are beginning and boaters are anxious to get on the water.The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department reminds anglers and recreational boaters to be aware of the cold water conditions that are present in the spring.


Anglers and boaters reminded of cold water safety

Anglers and boaters reminded of cold water safety

“The spring season offers some of the best fishing of the year in Vermont, and can also be a very enjoyable time for boaters to get out on the water before the busy summer season begins. That being said, we’d like to remind anglers and boaters to exercise safe practices and be conscious of the cold, high and swift water that exists in various bodies of water across the state.” ~ Col. Jason Batchelder, Vermont Fish & Wildlife warden

Cold Water Safety

Lower water temperatures during the spring season increase the risk of hypothermia if there is an on-the-water accident. Sudden immersion in cold water can cause the loss of swimming ability and strength, gasping and the inhalation of water, and rapid unconsciousness.

“Often the first few warm, sunny days of spring can be misleading as water temperatures remain in the high 30’s and 40’s throughout Vermont. We strongly encourage folks to get out on the water and take advantage of the outdoor opportunities available in Vermont this spring, but just remember to be prepared and make good decisions. That goes for anglers fishing along streams and rivers also, as high water from melting snow can create strong current.”  ~ ~ Col. Jason Batchelder, Vermont Fish & Wildlife 

Wear Your PFD – It’s The Law

Vermont boating laws require that all vessels carry one U.S. Coast Guard-approved Type I, II, III or V PFD for each person on board. Vessels 16 feet in length or longer must also have one U.S. Coast Guard-approved Type IV PFD on board. Also, children under 12 years of age must wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved Type I, II or III PFD at all times while any vessel is underway.


Anglers and boaters reminded of cold water safety. PFD Wear it !

PFD… Wear It!

“The use of a Personal Flotation Device (PFD) is paramount at this time of year, given that it can significantly increase the odds of survival in cold-water situations,”  ~ Col. Jason Batchelder


Additionally, New York State boating laws, which apply to waters on the New York side of Lake Champlain, require all persons aboard motorboats, canoes, kayaks, rowboats and sailboats less than 21 feet in length to wear a PFD while on New York waters from November 1 to May 1.

To learn more about boating safety and Vermont’s boating laws, visit

To learn more about fishing in Vermont or to purchase a Vermont fishing license, visit


Shop for
Personal Flotation Devices
from Gander Mountain
Click Here


More Articles About Lake Champlain Safety:


Plattsburgh City Marina Plans

Plattsburgh City Marina PlansThis spring the city of Plattsburgh, NY will have some international help to open a marina.

Despite the chill of mid-winter, Plattsburgh is already planning for the upcoming boating season on Lake Champlain with a new Plattsburgh City marina plan. City councilors recently accepted a proposal from Navtours USA to staff the decks this summer for the city.

A year ago the City Council rejected a plan that would have turned over the entire operation of the marina to Navtours, a Montreal-based marina company that also rents boats on Lake Champlain. The newly approved plan calls for the marina at the Dock Street Landing to be run by the Plattsburgh recreation department with staff at at contracted through Navtours.

“This is a brand new arrangement, it’s a brand new facility, the city’s never operated a marina before. We have had the space on the water for a very long time… What we’re striving for is world class customer service, to be able to give the best impression of our city possible.” ~ Steve Peters, Plattsburgh City superintendent of recreation.

Plattsburgh City Marina Plans

Lake Champlain off the Dock Street Landing in Plattsburgh, NY

The Navtours staffers will provide bilingual service to all customers since each employee is required to speak both french and English. By hiring Navtours USA to run the decks, the city expects to provide the best service to both local customers and visitors from Quebec.

“Navtours USA was going to be on the docks anyway, so really we reached an agreement so their deckhands would be our deckhands, and their supervisor will also be our supervisor. But it’s a much different operation that what we contemplated last year.” ~ Plattsburgh Mayor James Calnon

The New Plattsburgh City Marina

The City Council agreed to spend $650,000 for the new docks. The project will be funded through a $100,000 grant, received last year; the balance to be borrowed. An existing building will be renovated to feature a welcome desk, as well as other conveniences for customers.

The city will install docks with 34 boat slips, able to accommodate boats up to 40′ long, and 25 moorings. The rate for boat slips at the new Plattsburgh City marina is $82 per lineal foot of boat length.

Plattsburgh City Marina Plans“If Lake Champlain’s a super highway, this is the off-ramp. We don’t provide gasoline, we don’t provide a ship store, we don’t provide a full service restaurant, we don’t provide a whole bunch of things that a normal marina might. We really just want to be the destination,” ~ Mayor James Calnon

Navtours will operate the marina during the established boating season, May 15 to Oct. 4. In addition to staffing the marina, Navtours will also provide 12 charter sail boats available for use by the general public.

Although the marina will be operating near another local boat deck, Mayor Calnon hopes that the arrangement will bring more business to the city rather than compete with existing businesses. 

City officials expect the marina will be ready in mid-May, although the official season begins in June.

More Lake Champlain News:

‘The Field Guide to Lake Monsters, Sea Serpents, and Other Mystery Denizens of the Deep’ is a casebook and field guide to the world’s mysterious sea creatures offers insight into pop culture and scientific beliefs, as well as advice on how to investigate such phenomena firsthand.

John Guilmette Fishing Access Area Closed for Improvements

John Guilmette Fishing Access Area Closed for Improvements

When the area reopens, it will feature an expanded two-lane concrete boat ramp and a 70-foot dock. A redesigned parking lot will better accommodate persons with disabilities. The closure will begin immediately and may last through the winter, depending on fall weather conditions.

“We purchased this land nearly two years ago from private landowners who were operating the site as a boat ramp. This is a great location for people to access the Inland Sea, and acquisition was a critical step in maintaining this access for boaters and anglers, but the site was in serious need of upgrades. We think anglers and boaters will be very happy to see these improvements made.” ~ Mike Wichrowski, lands and facilities coordinator, Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department

John Guilmette Fishing Access Area Closed for Improvements - U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Sport Fish Restoration Program

The construction project at John Guilmette Fishing Access area is being funded through the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Sport Fish Restoration Program. These funds are generated as part of an excise tax on fishing equipment, boats and motors, and marine fuel taxes.

To purchase a Vermont fishing license or to find out more about fishing opportunities in Vermont, visit



Other Lake Champlain Wildlife Articles: