September brings the annual steamboat meet to the Lakes Region. My husband and I discovered this years ago quite by accident, and over the years we heard about it sporadically. But it seems to have grown in popularity and this year the event made the local news. I had missed it in the past and did not want to make that same mistake this year.
The steamboat meet lasts for about a week and includes a boat race and a parade; it is the largest event of its kind in the country. This year it drew around 50 boats and, judging from the number of cars in the parking lot, many people from all around the region. Who doesn’t love a steamboat?
I had meant to make just a quick stop here to get a few photos. But I am easily sucked into this sort of thing … the whole scene was fascinating, with the smell of woodsmoke and steam in the air and the sound of those whistles. The boats seemed to be everywhere – many tied up along the shore, but just as many coming and going and I could see them out in the distance, coming around the backside of an island or passing one another with that haunting whistle and a wave. I loved it. There were people there with cameras, so I was not alone in what I was doing. We stood on shore and admired the sights, sounds and smell of the boats.
About the time I should have been leaving to attend to my other chores I heard, “Do you want to go for a ride?” I looked around at the people standing nearby and I think I said, “…what?” The captain of the boat in front of us was offering a ride! Let’s see … I had a long list of things to do that day, I was already behind schedule, I had planned on being home by noon. I climbed into the boat.
As we pulled away from the dock the captain told a little about the mechanics of a steam engine, none of which I understood. I only know that the soft chukka-chukka-chukka sound coming from it was wonderful. Once we picked up steam – literally – the sound changed to a lovely soft whir. Other than that, it was complete quiet.
We were out for over an hour. Lake Winnipesaukee, in this area, is shallow. Winding our way through narrow passages we found ourselves in a little cove, everything a brilliant green, and then and there I fell in love with Green’s Basin. The power boaters can have the deep, fast water – I’ll take this any day: small islands, quiet water, rocky outcrops, kayakers, green hills rising behind it all. It was stunning.
I never imagined I would ever get to ride in a steamboat. All I could think about was that my husband would have loved it. By the time I left vintage cars were starting to arrive, including a Stanley Steamer. I wanted to stay all day. You can bet I’ll be back again next year for this wonderful, unusual, New Hampshire-unique event … and I’ll stay for the parade!