(NECN: Jack Thurston, Shelburne, Vt.) - Wednesday morning, Diane Hartman and Susan Declue put "Laverne," a 1950s motorboat, into Lake Champlain for their first trip of 2011 from Shelburne, Vt. "Finally!" Declue beamed.
The boating season has been delayed in Northwestern Vermont, as the region recovers from record high lake levels this Spring. "It would probably be a month earlier," Hartman said of her ideal first outing of the season.
Wicked rainfall combined with melting snow from a long winter claimed property up and down the lake shore. The hot weather this week was helping slowly draw down the floodwaters, but thunderstorms were in the forecast for Wednesday night. "I don't want rain! I don't want rain!" said Bruce Deming of the Champlain Marina. "Another week of this [nice] weather and we can start to do things."
The water at the Champlain Marina in Colchester, Vt. is still too high to put boats at the docks. Other concerns to the business are access to the fuel pumps and power to the buildings. The marina hopes to back to normal by July 4th.
Some people are already celebrating. Bob Beach's family has run The Basin Harbor Club, a lakeside resort in Vergennes, Vt., for 125 years. After weeks of waiting, they can now offer their guests the pleasure cruises they've been waiting for. "This is a great day for us," Beach said.
Beach put the club's cruise boat, the Escape, into the water Wednesday, several weeks late. As Brian Donaldson piloted the Escape, he was watching out for driftwood and other garbage in the water. Debris from the flooding is worse than in past years. "If you're cruising along and you're not paying attention, you could definitely do some damage," Donaldson warned.
Susan Declue and Diane Hartman were staying on alert on their trip, too. They're relieved that after all the damage, Lake Champlain is starting to look like its beautiful self again. "It's going to take a while to heal," Hartman predicted.