Navigation and Water Safety

Lake Champlain can present many navigation challenges for boaters, especially when lake water is low. Be sure to study navigation charts to be aware of shallow water and other obstructions that may do damage to your boat. Use NOAA chart 14782 Cumberland Head to Four Brothers Island to navigate Valcour and Crab Islands:

Use the official, full-scale NOAA nautical chart for real navigation whenever possible.

Kelley offers his advice:

“Lake Champlain is notorious for changing weather patterns. What starts off as calm mirror-like water can quickly turn rough, with wave heights exceeding 4 feet.

Winds are normally from the south and have the full length of the lake to build up speed. As such, they can quickly exceed the capabilities of novice paddlers. Winds from the north can also have the same affect. Winds from the west often don’t have enough time to build up speed because of the land mass it must pass over to affect paddlers heading out to Valcour or Crab Islands. Winds from the east are just the opposite as they have a better opportunity to build up speed from Vermont before reaching Valcour.

Physical strength and experience can make what appears to be a walk in the park for one group a life or death experience for another.

I’ve often seen kayakers with their personal flotation devices (PFD) strapped to the deck of their boats. This is great for keeping your kayak afloat, but does little for the kayaker. With the wind pushing it, an empty kayak can drift away faster than most people can swim.”