PORTLAND (AP) – Boating enthusiasts with a hankering for open water and sunny skies are being stymied by cold weather that has left many boats shrink-wrapped and some lakes still covered with ice.

Boating season has been pushed back a few weeks because it has been so cold this spring.

Maine saw several days of record-breaking cold last week, and many of its lakes are still covered with ice.

“There’s still 18 inches of ice on Sebago Lake,” said Mark Latti, spokesman for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

Sebago, Maine’s second-largest lake, is one of the state’s most popular spots for boating and fishing.

Latti said it’s unusual for the ice to hang on so late in the season.

Maine has 120,000 registered boats, whose owners are itching to get out on the water.

At Spring Point Marina in South Portland, Lloyd Davies spent last weekend crouched beneath his 31-foot sailboat, scraping off old bottom paint.

But most of the dozens of boats, from outboards to yachts, sat on steel cradles, wrapped in plastic, protected from the weather. It is a common sight across Maine, a state with a rich seafaring tradition.

Boat owners will be watching the forecast to see when they can, once and for all, tear off that shrink-wrap and get into the water.

Humorist Tim Sample, who grew up in Boothbay Harbor, said he remembers, as a child, that the boats in winter were covered with nothing fancier than blue tarps.

“My worst fear is that shrink-wrap is cutting into Maine’s blue-tarp culture,” Sample said.

Although it will be a while before most boaters hit the water, Latti said it’s important for the hardy souls who venture forth to be careful.

Especially with the water so cold, it’s important that anyone going out on the water wear a life jacket, said Latti, whose department oversees boating safety on inland waters.

AP-ES-04-22-03 0921EDT



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