Bruce Hill Yacht Sales

Water Works

Our annual roundup of folks who make their living on the lake

by Virginia Lindauer Simmon

Water. Vermont has a lot of it. Liquid or frozen, water creates the underpinnings of our state’s identity to the rest of the world.

Frozen, as snow, water beckons skiers and winter enthusiasts each year to come play on our mountains. In its liquid form, it pulls sailors and water skiers, dinner cruisers, power boaters and canoeists and kayakers to enjoy our short, but breathtaking, summers.

April is the time when the focus shifts, from frozen to liquid. Since 2005, we have presented, in our April issue, at least a story or two featuring business people whose bottom lines depend on water in its liquid form.

shelburneshipyard_steve_north Shelburne Shipyard, Steve North

We’ve had fun tracking some of them on a long map of Lake Champlain, which we’ve published in several forms over the years. We’ve covered environmental issues with the lake and the watershed and the organizations that keep watch. In 2012, we had a double-whammy to recount: the early flooding in 2011 and the horrific damage that August from Tropical Storm Irene.

This year, we again interviewed a short list of lake-related business people. As in the past, we asked to borrow summer photographs we might use to illustrate our story. They sent us some beauties. And so we opted for a photo feature, with only a few quotes to round things out.


“Lake Champlain is just a beautiful 500-acre playground. The health of Lake Champlain is of huge importance to all of us. It’s where we get our drinking water; we swim in it, fish in it, recreate on it. A lot of steps are being taken by people way above me, and we hope everyone gives their support to make it happen.”
Todd Smith,
Point Bay Marina

“We’re hoping for more water this year, and this recent snow storm makes us optimistic, because if you get too early a spring, the water from the mountains sinks in and you don’t get as much on the lake.”
Emily Clark,
Ladd’s Landing

laddslanding0417_300Ladd’s Landing

“Thirty years ago, a 40-foot boat would be considered a really big boat; there weren’t very many of those on the lake. Right now those are commonplace, and many are 50 to 55 feet in length. So the average size has gotten bigger. Part of that is Montreal, although the dollar exchange rate is not very favorable for us right now. But Montreal didn’t have the recession we had 10 years ago, and it’s a much bigger population base.”
Bill Fastiggi, Vermont Sailing Partners

pointbaymarinabpv2 Point Bay Marina

“I’ve been here for 31 years and have seen a real shift from a lot of sailboats when I first came to a little more into the powerboat range, although we did see less powerboat usage when we had that really expensive fuel issue.”
Karen Claxton,
Shelburne Shipyard

“On the boat, nothing can go wrong. If you drop your popcorn, the dog’ll eat it up. Nobody’s yelling at you to pick your shoes up from the living room. It’s just great family fun.”
John Freeman,
Small Boat Exchange

pointbaymarina_30417_300Point Bay Marina

“Last summer was definitely up over the prior year. And nationwide brokerage boat sales climbed in January over last year, so that’s always a good signal to kick off the year.”
Jeff Hill,
Bruce Hill Yacht Sales

“I think people who are committed to sailing make that a big priority. It’s very common to see people who name their sailboats after a spouse or child. They tend to have a sailboat for a long time and think of it as part of the family. So they make that a big priority and they spend money on it.”
Bill Fastiggi,
Vermont Sailing Partners

pointbaymarinadiamo0417_300Point Bay Marina

“Last season was terrific. We had some low water issues toward the end of the year, but people forget that in 2016 we had 80 days in Vermont that got over 80 degrees, and a lot of sunshine. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”
Todd Smith, Point Bay Marina

“We are seeing a resurgence of younger buyers. Millennials are finally getting into boating. I guess they have a returning confidence in the economy.”
John Freeman,
Small Boat Exchange

shelburneshipyard_chuck_kirby0417_300Shelburne Shipyard, Chuck Kirby

“I’ve sold boats in the last year to couples in their early 20s, and the other end of the spectrum, a guy who wants to buy a trawler, but with really wide decks because they’re both in their 80s.
Stephen Crane, Bruce Hill Yacht Sales

“We have retired teachers that come and live on their boats for the summer. And we’re seeing lately a reintroduction of families getting back into boating. We didn’t see them six, seven years ago.”
Todd Smith, Point Bay Marina

Lake-Related Businesses

  • Bruce Hill Yacht Sales 4520 Harbor Road, Shelburne,
  • The Coburn Agency, Allstate 1134 So. Brownell Rd., Williston, 658-7800
  • Creative Sound 500 Lawrence Place, Blair Park, Williston,
  • Hickok & Boardman 346 Shelburne Road, Burlington,
  • Ladd’s Landing 412 US Route 2, Grand Isle,
  • Land Air 7 Kellogg Road, Essex Junction,
  • Palmer Insurance Agency 33 Blair Park Rd., Ste. 102, Williston,
  • Perfection Motorsports & Trailer Sales 3216 E. Main St., Richmond,
  • Point Bay Marina 1401 Thompsons Point Road, Charlotte,
  • Saba Marine 390 Prim Rd., Colchester,
  • Shelburne Shipyard 4584 Harbor Rd., Shelburne,
  • Small Boat Exchange 2649 Shelburne Rd., Shelburne,
  • Vermont Sailing Partners 150 West Canal Street, Winooski,
  • Waterfront Diving Center 214 Battery St., Ste. 1, Burlington,
  • Woodard Marine 53 E. Creek Dr., Castleton, •

shelburneshipyard_karen_claxton0417_300Shelburne Shipyard, Karen Claxton