Diver and captain Fred Fayette grew up exploring Lake Champlain and still makes the trip from Burlington to Juniper Island and his family's summer home.
Yet he continues to marvel at the discoveries he helped uncover beneath the water's surface. Fayette was a key member of the crew that over the last decade mapped the bottom of Champlain with precision and technology never brought to bear before.
Fayette's research boat, Neptune, is outfitted with sonar, remote underwater cameras, and computers that probed the lake floor each summer, back and forth across computer-guided grids.
It was often tedious work, he recalls, the equivalent of driving from New York to San Francisco at three miles per hour.
Until, that is, his sonar got a hit -- his crew was electrified by the image of an unknown or previously undiscovered object on the screen.
"It was very exciting," he said. "We've had dozens of shipwrecks over the years. We had airplanes appear, a small plane appear in the southern part of the lake in 200 feet of water."
Fayette recalled finding a few railroad cars on the lake bottom off Rouses Point, NY too.
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