Fort Ti Ferry closes early because of low lake level

SHOREHAM — The drought that has hurt famers and gardeners in Addison County has claimed one more victim — the Fort Ticonderoga Ferry.
The barge that carries up to 18 cars at a time across Lake Champlain between Larrabees Point in Shoreham and Ticonderoga, N.Y., was ending it’s season early today because of the lower than normal water level.
“The lake is so low now, there are days with the south wind that you can feel (the barge) dragging on the bottom,” said Alison Matot, who runs the ferry with her husband, Mike.
The depth of Lake Champlain was measured at 93.43 feet on Sunday, Matot said. When the water is that low, not only can it result in drag on the bottom, but the ferry is sitting in the water six feet or more below the docks where vehicles load and unload making the ramps for entering and exiting the ferry precipitously steep.
“I (would) turn away a camper that wants to get on the ferry now; it will drag its end (going down the ramp),” Alison Matot said.
The other day she had to take two cars off the ferry so that it could leave the dock. The ferry’s been running with a maximum of nine cars — half as many as the usual max.
It is too late for a little rain to raise the water level enough to make the Matots change their mind about closing. Normally they would remain open until Oct. 30, but not this year.
Just a few summers ago Lake Champlain was at flood stage — 100 feet. But this year it has been low from the start, Matot said. They hope the Champlain basin will see a lot of snow this year, which would allow the Fort Ti Ferry to reopen on schedule next spring — May 1.
Alison Matot will keep busy all winter as a kindergarten teacher at Addison Central School. She said Mike is an avid — and quite successful — hunter, and she hopes he will use the extra time with the ferry closed taking part in his favorite pastime.
“I told my husband that he could go out bow hunting next Saturday, and he said, no, he’d rather be down on the lake running the ferry,” Alison Matot said.

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