PORT HENRY – Equipped with a new boat and an underwater drone, Katy Elizabeth is ready to spend her summer searching for Champ.
The 36-year-old head of the Champ Search group also has a book out, “Water Horse of Lake Champlain: The Search,” that details Katy Elizabeth’s decade long quest for the Lake Champlain monster.
“I know he’s out there,” she said. “It’s just a matter of time until I find him.”
She said her new research vessel, a cabin cruiser named Kelpie II, should be ready in a couple weeks.
“It needs some seals changed,” she said. “I’m really excited. It’ll be nice to spend nights on the lake. And it will be beneficial when I start Champ tours.”
At some point, she said, she wants to offer guided tours of places on the lake, like Bulwagga Bay in Port Henry or Button Bay in Ferrisburgh, Vt., where Champ has been seen the most.
Katy Elizabeth divides her time between Vermont and Port Henry as she hunts for the elusive underwater creature.
“Port Henry is the sort of official ‘Home of Champ,’” she said. “More sightings there than anywhere else.”
This year she has an underwater video drone, called a ROV, or Remotely Operated Underwater Vehicle, to search the depths of the lake for the creature.
“The ROV can go to a depth of 350 feet and you can control it with an app on your phone,” she said. “It could act as a lure for Champ. It’s bright orange.”
Katy Elizabeth is working with a film crew to create a documentary on “how I got into Champ,” she said, that will air on Amazon Prime Video.
“It will be my journey from the very beginning. It’s an obsession and a passion.”
Her interest in the legendary Lake Champlain creature began when she was 7 years old, when she saw a Champ segment on “Unsolved Mysteries” on TV and became fascinated with the prospect of finding the monster.
When she got older, she went camping at Button Bay State Park in Ferrisburgh and started looking for Champ.
Later, she moved from Rhode Island to Ferrisburgh and began a full-time search for Champ, and while she hasn’t made a definitive sighting yet, some mysterious encounters have encouraged her that it’s out there.
“I have a video I took of a large dark shadow moving underwater.”
Champ sightings have been reported in Lake Champlain for hundreds of years, and there have been many blurry photographs, including the famous Sandra Mansi photo from 1977, taken while Mansi and her family were at a camp near Willsboro.
Some believe Champ is a huge sturgeon, others believe it’s a prehistoric throwback similar to a plesiosaur. Cryptozoologists say a breeding colony of the creatures would be necessary for them to have been spotted over such a long period of time.
There haven’t been any Champ sightings reported to her so far this year, but most occur in July and August, she said, so it’s still early.
“A lot of people are on the lake then,” she said. “Fireworks might make them come. They (Champ) have super sensitive hearing, I believe.
“I’ll find him. Hard work and dedication always prevails.”