Sunday, July 31, 2016

The Floating Post Office on Lake Winnipesaukee

     Mail delivery by boat, and you’re welcome to come along for the ride! 

Lake Winnipesaukee's vast 72 square miles (44,000 acres with a depth of 4000 feet) is one of the New Hampshire’s most famous loon-laden lakes. Not surprisingly, it becomes a playground during the summer.  But camps, cottages and the few permanent residents need to get their mail. Most of these folks are staying on one of the lake's 240 habitable islands. In total, there are 365 islands of which 274 are navigable. The depth of this wondrous lake is 4000 feet.

One frequent visitor, carrying a special load, floats into view every day from June 15th until September 2nd. It’s the M/V Sophie C. It stops at two YMCA Camps, another smaller camp, several island associations, and all kinds of stops – dropping off packages and letters, along with lots of ice cream for the many residents.

This unique pontoon with its lower and outside deck of seats for tourists has been doing this for decades. It’s the only one of its kind in the USA; and although I am no mailman, it’s one ride I didn’t want to miss. So I boarded the boat and sat next to three huge bags stuffed with letters.

What a great way to enjoy the lake while getting lots of information from Captain Paul Smith who’s been doing this for 31 years. His trusty assistant Betty was there to do the book keeping.


 We passed several islands: Rattlesnake Island, Bear Island, Long Island, even an 1860’s former grist mill that stands like a pointed steeple on one island. You can see it from the boat. At each wharf, we were always greeted by happy campers.

The itinerary was mapped carefully. Here’s what I enjoyed: Captain Smith would dock the mail boat, and residents standing on the dock seemed to put on a show – jumping off tall steeple poles  they had climbed at the wharf – counting 1,2,3; or simply waving to us all as we arrived and as we left. 

The entire two-hour trip was so much fun – thanks to Captain Smith's joking and eagerness for us to come up and talk to him and Betty. “We don’t just deliver the mail, we deliver a party," he said.

I learned a lot about Lake Winnipesaukee, but most of all I had a darn good time out on this beautiful lake with all the folks on board.  We left from Weirs Beach at 2 pm. But there’s also a morning departure at 11 am.

You can buy your ticket before departure at the booth, or order it on line at:

photos taken by Terry Rotoring (except first one of boat)

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