Time travel is the stuff of science fiction, made up of futuristic visions that usually involve spacecraft, right? But I often find that maritime excursions offer time travel of a more real-life sort. Take my cruise on the Mt. Sunapee II over the Memorial Day weekend in New Hampshire. It was definitely 2015 by my calendar, but don’t tell the good people of the lake that.
My local guide took me to the lakeside village of Sunapee for a 90-minute tour of the scenic mountain lake near the Vermont border. I am a Jersey girl, transplanted to the Chesapeake and have logged little time in fresh water, but I was amazed how “old-timey” the whole scene was.
We boarded the 57' Mt. Sunapee II on the maiden voyage of boat’s 49th season. Capt. Kipper Brown (who has worked on the boat since he was 14) began his narration with a bit about the boat. She was built in 1966 by Gladding-Hearn in Somerset, Mass. The fresh paint may have had something to do with it, but the boat looked remarkable for being close to 50. As my guide pointed out, fresh water is only part of the reason. The season is short in New Hampshire and the boat spends much of its time shrink-wrapped on a railway while Lake Sunapee freezes to 4' thick in winter.
As we cruised around the shore of the lake and its islands, we passed the yacht club that boasts the largest fleet of Star-class sailboats in the country, a classic old-style racing boat. The weekenders were arriving to open up their cottages by the lake and one after another, small groups of kids (and some adults) ran down to the docks to greet the sightseeing boat with waves, bells and more than a few dance routines. This could have been the maiden voyage of the Mt. Sunapee II in 1966, with wholesome preteens kicking like the Rockettes. The few hardy guests (it was really chilly) waved back and our skipper blew the whistle.
We returned to the dock, chilled but invigorated, and the boat ramp was lined up with trailerable party boats ready to launch into another season of poking around the lake on their retro-futuristic aluminum pontoons.