Canandaigua Lake


The Lake

Canandaigua Lake is the westernmost of the five finger lakes. The finger lakes get their name from the imprint of a palm formed by their location. Each of the digits is long and slender like a finger as they extend southward and fan out like a hand. The lakes were formed as the glacier receded after the ice age. Several other lesser lakes also make up the region. Canandaigua is about 18  miles long.

Legend has it, that Canandaigua was called the "Chosen Place" by the Native Americans. One only has to sail its length to understand why. The lake is surrounded by rolling hills in the North where our club is located and we do most of our sailing. If one were to sail South the first vista is large hills formed like buttresses shouldering up from the water. One of my favorite vistas in times of changeable weather is to see storms rounding the buttresses and heading our way. As you sail further South the hills rise on both sides and eventually form cliffs. Homes are sparse and the owners have performed great feats to get access to the water.

At the South end, the lake opens up into a larger basin and a small quaint town, The town called Woodville, is located on the west shore up against a cliff. The Southern tip of the lake turns into a Marsh area with an inlet creek called West River. West River is a wet land, home to wild life and a popular place for canoes and kayaks.



The Winds

Topography on small lakes has a lot to do with the winds. At the North end where we sail our basic winds in the summer time are westerly. The shore line, rolling hills and general topography disturb the air near shore. Prevailing winds bring the thermal pockets off the land and provide challenges particularly at the end of a windward leg. The West winds provide the opportunity for long reaches.

On days of stagnant high pressure an interesting phenomena sets up. In the early morning we get a Southerly breeze of about 10-12 knots. On shore and the surrounding area everything is still. The local's call it drainage. It is a by product of the heating of the landscape and the wind is usually drained by 11:00 am. While this may sound dismal, there is an opposite effect that often happens. Late afternoon when the heat of the day has passed, a Northerly fills in and builds, often to 12-15 knots with gusts. For sailors sailing out of the club, they are greeted with nice air and flat water. Nothing can beat sitting on the rail of a J-22 driving to wind on the flat water playing with the soft gusts. Both North and South favored winds provide us with an opportunity for windward leeward courses.

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Satellite View of the lake...North top




Other Attractions

The area offers may other attractions off the water. Across from the club is CMAC, the performing arts center located on Finger Lakes Community College camps. CMAC is the home of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO). It is also the venue for many other musical events.

The Finger Lakes are home to the fabled New York wine industry. The industry suffered serious declines about 20 years ago. Since then there has been a major resurgence, mostly from small family vineyards. These cottage industries have tasting rooms and hospitality that are second only to their wine. Fall at Canandaigua is a special time. The winds are more reliable and the hills are ablaze with the changing color. A sail to the other end of the lake is something spectacular that the locals never tire from.  The fall grape harvest with all its festivities is abound everywhere. Upstate New York is second to no other area that time of the year.