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Lake Escapes: On Lake Winnisquam, the sandbar is where it’s at

  • People gather at the sandbar on Lake Winnisquam last Saturday afternoon.<br/>(GEOFF FORESTER/Monitor staff)

    People gather at the sandbar on Lake Winnisquam last Saturday afternoon.
    (GEOFF FORESTER/Monitor staff)

  • Mike Slavinsky helps friend Angela Morrison with her dog Shadow as friends party at the sandbar on Lake Winnisquam last Saturday afternoon.<br/><br/>“Basically, we just come here to chill and have a good time,” said 27-year-old Angela Morrison of Acton, Mass. Morrison’s family has owned a summer cottage in Tilton since she was a kid, and every year a group of friends from the northeast meet for a weekend.<br/>(GEOFF FORESTER/Monitor staff

    Mike Slavinsky helps friend Angela Morrison with her dog Shadow as friends party at the sandbar on Lake Winnisquam last Saturday afternoon.

    “Basically, we just come here to chill and have a good time,” said 27-year-old Angela Morrison of Acton, Mass. Morrison’s family has owned a summer cottage in Tilton since she was a kid, and every year a group of friends from the northeast meet for a weekend.
    (GEOFF FORESTER/Monitor staff

  • Mike Slavinsky from Massachusetts throws a bean bag with friends at the sandbar at Lake Winnisquam Saturday. <br/>As Slavinsky's friend put it, “Basically, we just come here to chill and have a good time,” said 27-year-old Angela Morrison of Acton, Mass. Morrison’s family has owned a summer cottage in Tilton since she was a kid, and every year a group of friends from the northeast meet for a weekend.<br/><br/>(GEOFF FORESTER/Monitor staff

    Mike Slavinsky from Massachusetts throws a bean bag with friends at the sandbar at Lake Winnisquam Saturday.
    As Slavinsky's friend put it, “Basically, we just come here to chill and have a good time,” said 27-year-old Angela Morrison of Acton, Mass. Morrison’s family has owned a summer cottage in Tilton since she was a kid, and every year a group of friends from the northeast meet for a weekend.

    (GEOFF FORESTER/Monitor staff

  • Angela Morrison cheses her dog Shadow as she plays at the sandbar on Lake Winnisquam last Saturday afternoon.<br/><br/>“Basically, we just come here to chill and have a good time,” said 27-year-old Angela Morrison of Acton, Mass. Morrison’s family has owned a summer cottage in Tilton since she was a kid, and every year a group of friends from the northeast meet for a weekend.<br/><br/>(GEOFF FORESTER/Monitor staff<br/>

    Angela Morrison cheses her dog Shadow as she plays at the sandbar on Lake Winnisquam last Saturday afternoon.

    “Basically, we just come here to chill and have a good time,” said 27-year-old Angela Morrison of Acton, Mass. Morrison’s family has owned a summer cottage in Tilton since she was a kid, and every year a group of friends from the northeast meet for a weekend.

    (GEOFF FORESTER/Monitor staff

  • People gather at the sandbar on Lake Winnisquam last Saturday afternoon<br/><br/>(GEOFF FORESTER/Monitor staff

    People gather at the sandbar on Lake Winnisquam last Saturday afternoon

    (GEOFF FORESTER/Monitor staff

  • Ed Santoro, left, Billy Hayes, center and Joe Hurley get ready to do some grilling at the sandbar on Lake Winnisquam last Saturday afternoon. The three met when their sons all played youth hockey in Massachusetts and make a yearly trek to the lake.<br/><br/>(GEOFF FORESTER/Monitor staff

    Ed Santoro, left, Billy Hayes, center and Joe Hurley get ready to do some grilling at the sandbar on Lake Winnisquam last Saturday afternoon. The three met when their sons all played youth hockey in Massachusetts and make a yearly trek to the lake.

    (GEOFF FORESTER/Monitor staff

  • People gather at the sandbar on Lake Winnisquam last Saturday afternoon.<br/>(GEOFF FORESTER/Monitor staff)
  • Mike Slavinsky helps friend Angela Morrison with her dog Shadow as friends party at the sandbar on Lake Winnisquam last Saturday afternoon.<br/><br/>“Basically, we just come here to chill and have a good time,” said 27-year-old Angela Morrison of Acton, Mass. Morrison’s family has owned a summer cottage in Tilton since she was a kid, and every year a group of friends from the northeast meet for a weekend.<br/>(GEOFF FORESTER/Monitor staff
  • Mike Slavinsky from Massachusetts throws a bean bag with friends at the sandbar at Lake Winnisquam Saturday. <br/>As Slavinsky's friend put it, “Basically, we just come here to chill and have a good time,” said 27-year-old Angela Morrison of Acton, Mass. Morrison’s family has owned a summer cottage in Tilton since she was a kid, and every year a group of friends from the northeast meet for a weekend.<br/><br/>(GEOFF FORESTER/Monitor staff
  • Angela Morrison cheses her dog Shadow as she plays at the sandbar on Lake Winnisquam last Saturday afternoon.<br/><br/>“Basically, we just come here to chill and have a good time,” said 27-year-old Angela Morrison of Acton, Mass. Morrison’s family has owned a summer cottage in Tilton since she was a kid, and every year a group of friends from the northeast meet for a weekend.<br/><br/>(GEOFF FORESTER/Monitor staff<br/>
  • People gather at the sandbar on Lake Winnisquam last Saturday afternoon<br/><br/>(GEOFF FORESTER/Monitor staff
  • Ed Santoro, left, Billy Hayes, center and Joe Hurley get ready to do some grilling at the sandbar on Lake Winnisquam last Saturday afternoon. The three met when their sons all played youth hockey in Massachusetts and make a yearly trek to the lake.<br/><br/>(GEOFF FORESTER/Monitor staff

Temperatures hovered in the mid-70s Saturday afternoon, with some cloud cover and no breeze.

Sure, it could have been a bit sunnier on Lake Winnisquam, but those who had dropped anchor in the shallow waters of the Winnisquam sandbar certainly weren’t complaining

“Basically, we just come here to chill and have a good time,” said 27-year-old Angela Morrison of Acton, Mass. Morrison’s family has owned a summer cottage in Tilton since she was a kid, and every year a group of friends from the Northeast meet for a weekend.

Their plans were pretty straightforward: hang out on the pontoon boat, play games and enjoy some food and cold beverages while wading in cool, waist-deep water.

“I wish it were a little nicer, but I think it’s going to get better,” said Mike Collins, 24, of Littleton, Mass.

Lake Winnisquam is a sliver of fresh water with shoreline in Tilton, Belmont, Sanborton, Laconia and Meredith. It measures 10½ miles long by 1½ miles wide, and at 4,264 acres is the fourth-largest lake located entirely in New Hampshire.

The sandbar is at the southern part of the narrow lake, and can be seen from the road at the Route 11 bridge, near Winnisquam Marine. The sandbar never breaches, and if it isn’t visible, it’s probably because boaters have staked their claim for the day.

Thirty or so boats had their engines out of the water and their anchors in the sand Saturday. Locals say that more than 100 boats call it home on sunny weekends and summer holidays. Prime real estate goes early, so get there before noon on a sunny day

to ensure you get a space you want.

Also, bring a grill and snacks if you plan on staying for a while.

At least, that was the thinking for a group of friends from Billerica, Mass., who were doing an annual “guys” weekend in Meredith. One of the guys, Ed Santoro, didn’t say a word when asked why they visit the lake. He simply raised his arms in front of him, as if to frame the scene.

“Do you really have to ask,” he said with a smile. “We just come out here and joke and hang out.”

Santoro and his friends had set up a grill right on the sandbar, and the menu for the day included sausage and peppers and steak tips.

Getting to the sandbar requires a boat. If you don’t have frontage on Lake Winnisquam, you can launch your boat at the public boat ramp on Water Street in Laconia, which features two ramps, a floating dock and is handicap accessible. Most marinas on the lake do have boat ramps. If you don’t own a boat and want to get on the water, nearby Winnisquam Marine offers daily boat rentals.

This is exactly what Phil Morrison had done, opting for a pontoon boat. It doesn’t have the horsepower, but it fits a lot of people – and a lot of food and drink. “It’s the Titanic of the lake,” he joked. His father used to take him to the sandbar as a kid, he said, which made time spent there special.

Sure, he’ll vacation other places, but he’ll always come back home.

“I don’t think I could ever leave the sandbar,” he said.

(Iain Wilson can be reached at 369-3313 or iwilson@cmonitor.com on Twitter@iainwilsoncm.)

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