LAKE WINNIPESAUKEE – MSS Mt. Washington completes trial cruise


Mike Colclough/For The Citizen GOV. JOHN LYNCH takes the helm of the MS Mount Washington during its annual shakedown cruise on Monday as Capt. Paul Smith provides navigation tips. Capt. Leo O’Connell is in the background.

The first call of the Lakes Region’s summer season sounded through Center Harbor in the low blare of the MS Mount Washington’s horn. The Mount made its annual shakedown cruise around the lake before starting its summer season, a season state officials are remaining cautiously optimistic about.

The MS Mount Washington pulled out of its winter dock in Center Harbor Monday to warm weather and fair skies. According to crew counts, 302 passengers boarded for the shakedown cruise. Capt. Jim Morash said the turnout was one of the highest counts for a shakedown cruise.

Gov. John Lynch was on board as were members of the state Senate and House, local officials and area business people among many others.

“The weather’s spectacular,” Lynch said. “I expect it’s going to be a good omen for travel and tourism for the summer months.”

The shakedown cruise was the Mount Washington’s first run around Lake Winnipesaukee for the season. Crews performed test maneuvers around the widest area of the lake known as The Broads.

David Barrett, director of the Department of Safety Services, said inspectors found the boat “to be in stellar condition” and gave Morash the ship’s registration certificate.

New Hampshire Fire Marshal William Degnan gave the Mount its certificate of occupancy, praising the work done by the ship’s crew and their high safety standard.

“That example that’s set by this facility should be heeded by all boaters,” he said.

Attendees were also welcome to enter the wheelhouse and several made their way in to observe the captains and pilots at work. Lynch entered the wheelhouse and made a special offer to Morash and his fiance.

“The governor offered to marry me today,” Morash said. “I said, ‘Thanks, but I’ve got another month.'”

With the shakedown cruise being a sign of the start of summer, the health of this year’s tourist season was on the minds of many cruise goers, especially with concerns over the economy and rising gas prices.

“Given the high cost of gas, people will vacation in their own back yard,” Lynch said. “I think it looks good not only for New Hampshire citizens. I think maybe neighboring citizens are also thinking to travel here. With all New Hampshire has to offer I think it bodes well for travel and tourism.”


DARYL CARLSON/CITIZEN PHOTO DOCKHAND SHEP MERRILL waits for the MS Mount Washington to arrive at The Weirs port-of-call during the ship’s shakedown cruise Monday. The beautiful weather brought more than 300 passengers, including Gov. John Lynch, to the annual event.

“I think we’re all looking forward to what we think will be a robust summer tourism season,” said state Sen. Deb Reynolds of Plymouth. “I think all of us in state government are going to do what we can to promote tourism. I still think there will be great potential for everybody in the hospitality industry.”

George Bald, commissioner of the Department of Resources and Economic Development, and Alice DeSouza, director of the Department of Travel and Tourism, said steps are being taken to further promote travel and tourism in the state. Advertising is being done in other states to draw more visitors while state residents are encouraged to travel close to home.

“I predict that we’re going to have a terrific summer,” Bald said. “I’m sure people in the industry are going to do a lot to make this a good summer.”

“This is one of the jewels in our crown here in New Hampshire,” said DeSouza. “We invite each of you as residents of this state to rediscover your New Hampshire.”

Nice weather for the shakedown cruise is seen by many as a sign of a good tourism season. The Mount Washington cruised through calm waters that had been covered in ice nearly a month ago and remnants of the harsh winter were not seen. Lynch also expressed relief that the snow melted gradually in the state and did not result in major flooding.

With Ice-Out occurring on time this year “it gives a chance for the debris to filter to shore,” Morash said.

Due to the efforts of the Mount Washington’s crew, the ship remained in good condition despite the past winter’s conditions.

“We pretty much protected the ship the best we can. It does affect a lot of the paint,” Morash said, saying workers were on the ship on a regular basis during the winter to help clear snow, paint and complete other forms of upkeep. “A lot of the work the crew has done over the years has lessened the effect of Mother Nature. They were shoveling snow just about every day.”

Morash said he is “cautiously optimistic” about the upcoming season, especially with fuel rates.

“Save gas, take the cruise with us and see the area,” he said


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