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Boat ramps reopen as current calms down

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  • Recorder/David Rainville<br/>Amy St. Germain, of Turners Falls, waits for her ride at the Barton Cove boat ramp after a brief kayak trip Wednesday. The boat ramp reopened this week after being closed due to high currents.

    Recorder/David Rainville
    Amy St. Germain, of Turners Falls, waits for her ride at the Barton Cove boat ramp after a brief kayak trip Wednesday. The boat ramp reopened this week after being closed due to high currents.

  • Recorder/David Rainville<br/>Amy St. Germain, of Turners Falls, waits for her ride at the Barton Cove boat ramp after a brief kayak trip Wednesday. The boat ramp reopened this week after being closed due to high currents.

    Recorder/David Rainville
    Amy St. Germain, of Turners Falls, waits for her ride at the Barton Cove boat ramp after a brief kayak trip Wednesday. The boat ramp reopened this week after being closed due to high currents.

  • Recorder/David Rainville<br/>Amy St. Germain, of Turners Falls, waits for her ride at the Barton Cove boat ramp after a brief kayak trip Wednesday. The boat ramp reopened this week after being closed due to high currents.
  • Recorder/David Rainville<br/>Amy St. Germain, of Turners Falls, waits for her ride at the Barton Cove boat ramp after a brief kayak trip Wednesday. The boat ramp reopened this week after being closed due to high currents.

GILL — The waters of Barton Cove were eerily calm Wednesday afternoon, despite the fact that its boat ramp had reopened after being closed for several days due to rushing currents.

“There’s an increased danger when the river’s running fast,” said Wayne Pleasant, 61, a member of the Franklin County Boat Club. Though he missed being able to get out on the water over the Fourth of July weekend, he understood the necessity of closing river access from the Fourth of July until gates reopened Monday afternoon.

He and soon-to-be wife Gina Pleasant waited out the storm Wednesday, hoping to take a cruise in their 171∕2-foot Larson motorboat. Set to be wed by the end of the month, Gina felt no need to give her maiden name.

The Pleasants have been waiting all year to hit the water.

“I just put my boat in last week, and between the rain and the high water, we haven’t been able to go out,” said Wayne Pleasant, walking from his boat’s slip to the clubhouse.

“We were just about to go out, but the sky looks pretty gray,” he continued, just before it began to sprinkle. “We’ll wait and see what it does.”

That gray started to give way to blue by the end of the interview, and the Pleasants thought they’d be able to take a boat ride after all.

In addition to the perils of high currents, debris rushing downriver added extra danger, said Pleasant.

“I’ve lived on this river my whole life, and seen a lot of interesting stuff float down the river,” he said.

The big orange safety buoys strung across the river upstream from the Turners Falls dam caught much of that debris, including whole trees that had entered the river somewhere past the Vernon, Vt. dam.

The waters that closed the ramps at Barton Cove and Northfield’s Pauchaug Brook came from the Green Mountain State, which experienced heavy rains last week, Firstlight Power Resources spokesman Charles Burnham told The Recorder Friday.

Firstlight, which runs the Northfield Mountain Pumped Storage Project and a handful of hydroelectric dams in Turners Falls, monitors river levels and forwards the data to the state Department of Conservation and Recreation, which decides whether to bar access to the state boat ramps.

Neither Burnham nor a DCR spokesperson returned calls for comment Wednesday.

Staff at Barton Cove Canoe and Kayak Rentals said the shop had to close up for the day due to the rain and forecasted thunderstorms.

One lone boater out Wednesday afternoon didn’t think it was just the weather that kept people off the water Wednesday.

“I don’t think the word that it’s open is out there yet,” Amy St. Germain of Turners Falls postulated, as she sat at the end of the Barton Cove boat ramp’s dock Wednesday. “I came out because my sister texted me this morning to tell me it was open. It was nice, then the storm came over the hill, and I came back before I got drenched.”

Germain, 30, braved the iffy forecast of scattered thunderstorms and launched her kayak at about 1 p.m. Wednesday. An hour later, rain showers moved in, and Germain pulled ashore to wait for her ride. As the showers subsided, she sat on the dock to dry off in the sun.

Though she said she gets out on the river as often as possible, Germain wasn’t able to do so for most of her week-long vacation, which ended Wednesday. She was grateful to get that one brief trip in, though.

“There wasn’t another soul out there,” she said. “It was really peaceful; I needed it.”

Without the powerboats making a wake and disturbing wildlife, she glided quietly around the cove and between the many birds that sat on its surface.

David Rainville can be reached at:
drainville@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 279

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