, Newburyport, MA


August 30, 2013

Adventures in paddling

Salisbury man and nephew visit all of Lake Winnipesaukee's islands


“I found that one on Facebook,” Guilmette said, laughing.

Most of the time, Leccese navigated based on Guilmette’s planning. Evidence of each island visitation was documented with pictures. On large islands that were inhabited, the twosome could tie up, walk around a few minutes, maybe take a swim and even talk to residents. But on some of the tiny islands, Guilmette said, the visitation consisted of one of them paddling up and touching the island, while the other snapped a shot.

The first couple of trips taught them a lot, they said, like the day they paddled 22 miles, visiting 59 islands, an exhausting feat.

“That day, we barely got back by sunset,” Guilmette said.

The experience changed their routine, and they got smarter. Sometimes, instead of taking one car and leaving and returning to the same spot, the men took two cars. They’d leave one at their starting point and the other where they intended to end their day. Not having to loop back to where they started shortened the trips. And on a lake that’s almost 23 miles across — roughly the drive between Newburyport and Portsmouth, N.H. — that’s not such a bad thing.

“People who don’t know the lake would be surprised at how quick the weather and conditions can change on Lake Winnipesaukee,” Leccese said. “One day, we came around Barn Door Island, and there were white caps, 2- to 3-foot waves.”

Winnipesaukee is a Native American word, and, depending on who’s telling the tale, the lake was named after the tribe of the same name or christened because it means “beautiful water in a high place” or “smile of the Great Spirit.”

A glacially made lake that drains most of central New Hampshire, its deep waters flow into the Winnipesaukee River, which has a link to Guilmette’s hometown of Salisbury. The river travels west until it joins the Pemigewasset River in Franklin, N.H. And it is the confluence of the Winnipesaukee and Pemigewasset rivers that form the mighty Merrimack River, which winds its way through New Hampshire and Massachusetts to the Atlantic, ending its life at Salisbury Beach.

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