ST. ALBANS TOWN – It was quiet at the St. Albans Bay Marina on Monday afternoon, with a collection of boats resting in their slips and a lone fisherman casting from his kayak near the guest dock.  But the quiet docks are a little more populated now: Since opening last June, the private, 154-slip venture has gone from 12 paid slips to 56—a clear sign the $3 million enterprise is paying off for co-owners Chuck Lowe and Rene Boissoneault. 

The full-service marina is the only game in town in the 7.5 square mile inlet, and the facility might become more than just an option for Franklin County boaters who would rather not go all the way down the Mallet’s Bay or across to the islands each season. 

A happy group of French Canadians amble down the gangway, returning from a late lunch at the Bayside Pavilion. They added laughter to the otherwise quiet afternoon, making jokes in French and carrying themselves with the casual attitude of vacationers. They’ve been coming to Lake Champlain for 20 years, said Georges Girard, a dentist from Wakefield, in western Quebec, and owner of the 40-foot luxury motor yacht, Nemesis. He said only because of the new marina, this time they decided to stop in St. Albans. During their nautical travels this season, they’ve been back at least three times.

“Before we would just go south,” said Girard, explaining how the lake for them would begin just past St. Albans Bay. “But this time I said, ‘let’s go to the new marina,’ and now this is our favorite part of the lake.”

Alain Thivierge, Josee Gamache, Suzanne Martineau, and Georges Girard smile before casting off from St. Albans Bay Marina for Butler Island on Monday afternoon. The quartet, down from Wakefield, Quebec, for vacation, say the new marina and its surrounding destinations is their new favorite part of the lake. (NEIL ZAWICKI, Messenger Staff)

Girard’s wife, Suzanne Martineau, also a dentist, said she also enjoys the new spot, and was excited to cast off and head to nearby Butler Island for an evening of swimming and relaxing at anchor. Joining Girard and Martineau are their long-time friends Alain Thivierge, another dentist, and Josee Gamache, an attorney.

“It’s so quiet in the bay, that’s why we like it,” said Thivierge. “And it’s leeward,” he added, referencing the fact the marina is located in a spot protected from the larger weather patterns on the lake, making it a nice, protected harbor.

At the same time, Thivierge joked that a newspaper story reporting how quiet the marina is might ruin their new find. But co-owner Lowe is not as concerned with such a thing.

“Hey, if my problem becomes the marina gets too crowded, I’ll take that,” he said. “It takes a little bit to get the thing full, but it’s really worth it for St. Albans residents.”

Lowe said the marina is on track to have a little more than 100 slips booked next season. 

“This part of the lake has a lot to offer,” he said. “There’s Burton Island, which is a great asset, and there are restaurants here and out on the [North and South Hero] islands.”

Lowe said he traveled to the Montreal Boat and Watersports Show in January to market to Canadian boaters. This season, there are two paid slips that fly the Maple Leaf.

“Hopefully we can get more permanent slips from Canada,” he said. 

Stay informed. Subscribe to the Messenger.