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White's Beach
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White's Beach is at the southern tip of the island of South Hero with a clear fetch to the south and southwest. There is something magic going on here with the wind. Particularly in the fall, the wind speed can be much higher here than anywhere else around. Conditions are lake chop, with good swell building in +20 knot conditions. This is one of the top sites on Lake Champlain. It is not uncommon to have many 20-30 knot days in the fall. Spring is tricky on warm southerly winds due to the cold boundary layer, keeping winds up off the water. Summer can have excellent lightwind sailing, with some 20+ knot days thrown in.

It is helpful to check both the White's beach sensor, as well as the Colchester reef sensor. Colchester collects data all night long, so you can observe the trend for "dawn patrol". The White's Beach sensor does not start charting until 6:00 am.

South Hero is connected to the Vermont side by the Sandbar Causeway and to New York, by the Grand Isle Ferry. The best directions are due S, and SE. Generally the winds are very steady. SE may be slightly gusty as the wind blows over the peninsula to the east. If the wind is very SE, some parts of the bay are windier (the far side, along Providence Island, locally known as "The Slot"). White's is a town beach and requires an annual parking sticker. Stickers are available for nonresidents. Please be sensitive to swimmers, as windsurfing has been close to being banned here. There is possibility for kite launching here, but it is a very sketchy onshore launch on a tree covered beach. This is an advanced launch only and is limited to later in the season as the lake drops and beach is exposed.

Another excellent location to take advantage of southerly blows is the Lamoille River / Sandbar Wildlife Management Area (WMA) which is simply a dirt lot directly across from the entrance to Sandbar State Park. This free parking area is open year 'round, closer to Burlington than White's Beach, and has an outstanding southerly fetch. The wind picks up significantly, about 300 yards out to the West. WMA is best in South winds. SW is a a fine direction, but it is often gusty and the harbinger of a rapidly approaching cold front. Watch for thunderstorm clouds on SW. Big swell develops as one approaches the South Hero island side of this bay.

The WMA gets weedy and dangerously shallow when the lake level drops below 95.5 feet. There are also 10 underwater cribs left over from the days when the powerlines were above ground. They run parallel to the causeway -- about 100 yards south of it -- and are at fin depth when the lake level is below 95 feet. The cribs are easily located and avoided if you note the last transmission tower on either side of the bridge and avoid the line between the two. Debris from the Lamoille River also gets blown into the shallows here, so watch out for tree trunks.

No kite launching would be feasible here. Trees overhang the beach, and the busy Route 2 causeway is only 100 yards directly downwind. However, in the winter, this is one of the most popular kiteboarding launches and the site of the Kitestorm event.

The Sandbar launch, across the street from the WMA is popular for W, NW, and N winds. This is a State Park with entrance fees. Kite launcing is possible here, but is advanced only. There is a high risk of banning here due to inconsiderate behavior. Please be an ambassador of goodwill and stay away from the swim area.

Special thanks to member Gary kjelleren for updating this information- 05/11/06
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From the West, taking route 2 go into South Hero and turn left onto South Street. Go straight about 2.5 miles until you see a gravel road on the right called West Shore Rd. Continue until you see the water about 3/4 mile. White's beach is at the far left side of the entire beach area. The parking area is immediately to the right once you see the water. The parking area is a small, grassy turn out area great for rigging! The public portion of the beach is immediately accross the road from the parking area. Make sure you stay to the left of the nearest "private beach" sign. The public use part of White's beach is only about 80 yards of beach. There are no windsurfing restrictions as long as you stay on the Public Beach. Parking restrictions are enforced "As long as the lake is thawed". Passes can be obtained at the South Hero town office for $5 South Hero residents, or $25 non residents. Passes are good for the year.

The sensor is located just a few hundred feet from White's Beach itself. The meter has a great fetch in the ESE-SW directions. The offshore readings, NW, N, NE, & E will be slightly lower than the conditions you'll find once out of the lee of the land. Nonetheless, these offshore reports should be fairly a good because the meter is above the trees and has a good fetch behind it. In offshore winds, one trick is to ignore the lull and average, and use just the reported gust as if it were the average. For more accurate readings when the wind is offshore at White's, use the Colchester Reef meter since the Sandbar meter is no longer in service. With these two meters, Champlain sailors are assured of knowing when and where the best winds are. Important note: this sensor was reportedly "upgraded" recently, however on many days with clearly consistent southerly winds the graph has depicted spurious wind directions and seems to have grossly underestimated wind strength while exaggerating the lull-gust gap. A more useful approximation for south winds necessitates an educated "averaging" of readings from both Plattsburgh Bay and Colchester Reef.


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