“We did it for a few years, and then I started getting tired of visiting the same islands,” Guilmette said. “I started thinking. I got a map from the Bizer map company. By their count, there are 253 islands in Lake Winnipesaukee. I wondered if anyone had ever visited all of them before.”
With idea in hand, he approached Leccese, who has spent his summers on “Big Winni” since the now-24-year-old Stoneham resident was a child.
“I asked him if he’d like to take on visiting all the islands with me,” Guilmette said.
“I said yes. I thought it was a great way to know the lake better,” said Leccese, who has a dual college degree in philosophy and criminal justice and works as a dispatcher at Merrimack College in North Andover.
With a tad of the obsessive/compulsive meticulousness that one might expect from a law enforcement official, Guilmette started planning. Bizer separates the lake into a number of geographic sections, which Guilmette used as the basis for their daylong trips. The weather, lake conditions and their schedules would be major contributors to the mission’s timing, but Guilmette figured it was doable over the two warm-weather seasons in 2012 and 2013.
They started their quest on Aug. 18, 2012, in the familiar waters around Cow Island, then proceeded on Aug. 19 and 30, Sept. 13 and 25, and Oct. 18 of that year. This year, they completed their task with the last three of the daylong excursions on June 21, June 22 and July 16.
Finding some of the islands was dicey, Guilmette said, because there aren’t road signs on a lake. Although a good compass, detailed map enlargements and Bizer’s GPS coordinates were their guiding lights most of the time, for one small speck of an island — that had a number instead of a name — social media came to the rescue.