Culture | Exploration | Seasons | Travel

Rafting Up on Lake Winnipesaukee

This hasn’t been a great month in New England for some of the traditional activities of summer. Not a lot of beach days, not a lot of dry hiking days, and not a lot of days when you’d want to raft up with other boats and soak up the sun, casually float in the lake and catch up with people you don’t spend a lot of time with. July 24th was one of the exceptions to an otherwise wet month, and it was an opportunity to take advantage of an invitation to raft up for an afternoon.

There are 258 islands on Lake Winnipesaukee, each unique and full of stories. I found myself rafted up near Little Bear Island in about 18 feet of water, one of six boats and twenty people each with plenty of stories themselves. I don’t usually slow down enough to enjoy this type of activity very often, but when you’re rafted up on other people’s boats for the entire afternoon, it forces you to chill out a bit and enjoy the moment.

In a raft up, boats tie on to each other, and at least a couple drop anchors to hold the entire floating island together in one place. With all the rain the water in the lake was higher than normal for the third week in July. It had finally warmed up nicely, making it easy to float for hours in the water, warm up in the sun on one of the boats and then take another plunge when the mood struck you.

If you like big crowds, people watching and a wilder vibe you might choose to raft up in another location on the lake. There’s an abundance of wilder scenes for the party crowd.. For us, anchoring just outside the channel near Little Bear Island was the best of both worlds. Plenty of opportunities to watch boats motor by in a no wake zone, and of course plenty of chances to ignore the rest of the world and look at the beautiful mountain and lake scenery all around us.

There are plenty of people who are experts on navigating the lake and it’s many islands, coves, eateries and pubs and history. As a visitor, I had a chance to play tourist on someone else’s boat, experience the lake as a relative newbie and marinate in its waters long enough that it soaked deep into me. A weekend on the lake is just enough to help you see what all the fuss is about. And fill you with memories and anticipation to return again someday soon.

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