Thousands of canoes & kayaks expected off of Weirs Beach as LakeFest goes for the record

LACONIA – One by one the canoes and kayaks are amassing at Weirs Beach this morning in an attempt to break the Guinness World record for most boats "rafted" at one time.

Hosted by New Hampshire Lakes Association – a volunteer agency that works to educate and stop boaters including canoeists and kayakers from introducing invasive plant and animal species into New Hampshire's lakes - LakeFest's rafting goal is to link together more than 2,099 canoes and kayaks at one time.

Volunteer and LakeFest coordinator Andrea LaMoreaux said the attempt to break the record is also a way of promoting the organization's Clean, Dry and Drive Program.

LaMoreaux explained that water in boats can host invasive species, such as zebra mussels, in larval form and even a small amount of water can host thousands of microscopic larvae.

She said all canoes and kayaks entered in today's rafting will be power-washed before entering the water unless the owner says the craft has been out of the water and dry for five days.

"The critical part here is the dry part," LaMoreaux said. Five days of being out of the water and dried will kill the larvae.

She said the invasive plant species milfoil is typically transferred by boat propellers but can typically be seen and cleaned before the boat hits the water. LakeFest volunteers through the New Hampshire Lakes Association have been checking boats in New Hampshire for 11 years and have recorded 1,256 "saves" from invasive plant species contamination.

But the fun part is breaking the record.

There are three places where boaters can enter today's event – Weirs Beach, Akwa Marina in Weirs Beach and the boat ramp in Meredith Bay.

She said organizers are aiming to have all of the canoes and kayaks assembled in the Weirs Beach area early in the morning. She said the actual rafting - where every boat has to be in contact with the boats on either side – will begin after the Mount Washington embarks on its 10 a.m. cruise.

The cost to enter on the day of the rafting is $20 and every boater must be wearing a life jacket in order to be counted. A number is assigned to each entrant as he or she registers and a blue wristband will be issued as a means of identification.

She said three auditors will be on hand to count the boaters and report their findings to the Guinness World Book of records.

Caption (Photo in email) Mike Mooney (left) of Irwin Marine and LakeFest volunteer Dan O'Brien portage one of the kayaks that will be entered in today's attempt to break the Guinness world record of 2,099 canoes and kayaks rafted together at one time. (Laconia Daily Sun Photo – Gail Ober)