There were four passengers and six crew members aboard the Moonlight Lady, a 65-foot passenger yacht that plies the waters of Lake Champlain, when I took a trip there recently with my mother.
Our overnight lake excursion is the only one of its kind operating out of Burlington, Vt. Snacks were waiting for us in the dining room, and the crew made sure that we would never suffer from thirst.
The Moonlight Lady is a throwback to an era when traveling by water was both functional and glamorous. Overnight passenger ships taking travelers to towns such as St. Albans in Vermont and Westport and Port Kent in New York disappeared from Lake Champlain more than 50 years ago.
The Moonlight Lady was once the Bonny Blue, an overnight sailing ship in Virginia's Dismal Swamp Canal. In 2007, Mike Shea, who also offers 90-minute to 2 1/2 -hour cruises on the Ethan Allen out of Burlington, bought, refurbished, expanded and renamed her.
In her new incarnation, the Lady has eight staterooms, plenty of deck space, a large dining room with an open kitchen and an entertainment room.
In our room, the two small beds were arranged in an L-shape. Our bathroom operated as both a shower and a toilet stall, and our mirror concealed a closet. The bath products, which to my surprise even included makeup remover, were Gilcrest & Soames.
I spent some time in the pilothouse, watching Capt. Stan Walker steer the boat. "Lake Champlain has many faces," he said. "I love the way it's constantly changing. Every day it's just as dramatic as the day before."
The lake, nestled between the Green Mountains of Vermont and New York's Adirondacks, seemed to be smiling at us as we pulled away from Burlington's waterfront. We passed Rock Dunder, a solitary boulder jutting out of the lake. A crew member told us that during the Revolution, the British had mistaken it for a ship and attacked, hence the name. (There were two other theories of how it got its name, but I liked this one best.)
Then we passed Shelburne Farms, a National Historic Landmark established in 1886. It remains a working farm with a cheesemaking operation.
We drifted by several small islands, some of them private. One was Juniper Island, home to one of the oldest lighthouses on the lake. Then there was Diamond Island. It was tiny and had an equally tiny wooden house on it. "That little thing is someone's idea of paradise," said Capt. Stan.
At Basin Harbor, we spotted the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum and the replica gunboat from Benedict Arnold's Revolutionary War fleet.
It took us five hours to get to Westport, a quaint little town with antique shops, a bookstore and an inn.
The next morning Capt. Stan invited us into the pilothouse and pointed out the yellow mooring buoys that mark the many shipwrecks deep in the lake. He and his wife regularly dive down to look at them. "It's like a wonderful piece of history," he said.