Lake Wini in the news

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Gary Scharoff
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Lake Wini in the news

Postby Gary Scharoff » Thu Feb 21, 2002 5:18 pm

Found this on another site:

<STRONG><CENTER>N.H. caught on thin ice </STRONG></CENTER>

By Eileen McNamara, Globe Columnist, 2/20/2002

EREDITH, N.H. - They are swimming in Lake Winnipesaukee this winter. Not the hearty L Street Brownies; the hapless weekend snowmobilers.

On Sunday alone, three parka-and-Polartec-clad riders took unplanned plunges through the thin ice. A fourth stayed dry thanks only to a last-minute maneuver that avoided a sudden, short stretch of open water on Paugus Bay. He slammed into the brick wall of a lakeside condominium complex, instead. All of the accident-prone emerged shaken but unharmed.

The spring-like weather that seems so odd in Boston this winter feels even more unnatural in central New Hampshire, where the region's many lakes are usually frozen to a depth of 18 inches at this time of year. To be sure, there are young figure skaters mimicking Michelle Kwan on the smaller ponds and schoolboy hockey games on the basins of the bigger lakes. But for the first time in 151 years of record-keeping, Lake Winnipesaukee is not entirely frozen this winter. The anomaly is especially stark because last year was so cold that Winnipesaukee was not clear of ice until May, the latest date of ''ice out'' on the 44,000-acre lake since 1971.

The mild weather has wreaked havoc with the upcountry social scene. In Meredith, the annual Family Skating Party had to be postponed. In Laconia, the World Championship Dog Sled Races had to be rerouted to avoid thin ice on Lake Opeechee. And on Winnipesaukee, the Great Rotary Ice Fishing Derby had to be delayed for two weeks because ice conditions were so uncertain.

The event is the major fund-raiser for the Meredith Rotary Club that, for 23 years, has funneled the proceeds to the town library, the police and fire departments, and a college scholarship fund for local high school students. When the anglers at last got the OK to tow their bobhouses onto Meredith Bay last weekend, there were 3,000 fewer fishermen drilling holes in the slushy ice than there were a year ago, when 8,000 turned out.

The leader board on the town docks that recorded the winning catches of rainbow trout, cusk, perch, and pickerel also warned anglers not to light bonfires or to park their pickups on the precarious ice. There was little need for a warming fire. With bright sunshine and temperatures in the 40s, more than one entrant shed several layers of down and fleece to fish comfortably in flannel shirtsleeves.

The unseasonable weather is not entirely unwelcome in these parts. Time out of doors is more pleasure than an endurance. The woods are quieter when the snow that proves too thin for snowmobiles carries the cross-country skiier instead. And the stench of gasoline fumes does not compete with the sharp smell of pine.

Activities foreclosed by the mild weather have also provided an excuse to stay indoors and watch the local favorites in the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. A sign outside Moultonboro Central School cheers on Hannah Hardaway, a town native who placed fifth in the mogul ski competition.

Spring promises to bring its own challenges to Winnipesaukee. The drought plaguing all of New England could delay the start of boating season on the lake, where many docks now stand on dry land. That would be bad news for Weymouth Sargent Jr. of Northfield, who won an 18-foot powerboat as grand prize in the Great Rotary Ice Fishing Derby with his 3.25-pound rainbow trout on Sunday.

Drought or no drought, spring will bring one unwelcome task to the couple who plunged into the frigid waters off Gilford Town Beach on Sunday. That's when Fish and Game authorities will expect them to haul their sunken snowmobile off the bottom of the lake that would not freeze.

Eileen McNamara can be reached by e-mail at <A HREF="mailto:mcnamara@globe.com">mcnamara@globe.com</A>.

This story ran on page B1 of the Boston Globe on 2/20/2002.
? Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company.

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