Cayuga: the great lake of the Finger Lakes

September 6, 2010 at 3:03 pm Leave a comment

Its time to take our boat and explore another Finger Lake.” How about Owasco?” I say, noticing that its cloudy, cold and windy.

“No” says Charlie, “Let’s go to one of the big lakes.” (Never mind the fact that Hurricane Earl is passing through town, shaking the trees and bringing the clouds down low.) This man is on a serious “Explore”.

We put our boat in at Cayuga Lake State Park (see listing below of all public launches on the lake). It’s an easy boat launch. Perhaps we should have paid closer to the capsized catamaran.

WOW! There is a lot of seaweed at the north end of the lake. Once we cleared the sea of seaweed, we started to enjoy our ride hugging the western shore.  I glibly said “Let’s cross the lake and find our friends on the east side.”

Westie Fest

Feeding time at the Westie farm

“Westie Fest” is a yearly gathering of Westfalia owners, and we had been invited to crash it. We tried once twice three times to cross the lake, only to get hit with huge swells and blanketed with spray. “I am not having fun.” Charlie exclaims. (I was!) We were not used to the rougher waters of Cayuga.

Hurricane Earl meets the lake

Would you venture out in this?

There is a lot of power in this lake. The swells were big enough to incline our boat way UP, and just as suddenly tip us down so that the nose of our boat was 3′ below the tip of the next wave. (I now see how easy it is for boats to capsize). Charlie set a course and started to plow his way, traveling with the big swells, across the lake. Once across it was apparent that the east side was much rougher and windier than the west side, and we could not find safe boating, even if we were close to shore.

Boatride on Cayuga Lake

Frontenac island has some amazing fossils

We motored up past an island, near  Union Springs. Frontenac Island, named after Louis de Buade, Comte de Frontenac the Governor-General of New France (That’s what this area was known as back in the 1670-80s).  The island is made of mostly limestone. It is uninhabited today but was at one time an Indian burial grounds. This was not the right day for an explore.

We had lost the lake battle.
Cayuga 1, Coté dinghy 0.

Time to head back to the park, before we ran out of gas or it became dark.  We wound up joining the WestieFest via our Qwest (QwestieFest?).

Lessons learned: The Finger Lakes are all very different when it comes to traveling on the water. If you’re going out on Cayuga, think of it more like a great lake, and prepare for anything to happen once you’re a mile off shore.

I learned that my husband is a fearless boat driver, who loves a challenge.

Where to launch a boat on Cayuga Lake:

Cayuga Lake State Park– Seneca County. Route 89, three miles east of the Village of Seneca Falls. Concrete ramp. Pumpout. Parking for 50 cars and trailers.

Taughannock Falls State Park – Tompkins County. Route 89, eight miles north of the City of Ithaca. Concrete launching ramp. Pumpout. Parking for 16 cars and trailers.

Allen H. Treman Marine Park – Tompkins County. Route 89, one mile north of the City of Ithaca. Concrete launching ramps. Parking for 141 cars and trailers. Pumpout.

Long Point State Park – Cayuga County. Off Route 90, one mile southwest of Aurora. Hard surface launching ramp. Parking for 35 cars.

Dean’s Cove State Marine Park– Seneca County. On Route 89, 24 miles north of Ithaca. Two concrete ramps. Parking for 48 cars and trailers.

Mudlock Canal Park – Cayuga County. Off Route 90 on River Road, three miles north of the Village of Cayuga. Concrete ramp. Parking for 16 cars and trailers



Entry filed under: Activities, boating, Cayuga Lake, Finger Lakes, New York. Tags: , , , , , .

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