Yankee Classic: The Champ Believer
“What if you’d been alone when you saw it?” I asked.
“I wouldn’t have talked to you!” she said forcefully.
Later that evening we sought out another eyewitness, Ann Koch of Wilmington, Delaware. Her sighting came on July 2 about noon, while she was opening her lakeside camp, several miles south of Basin Harbor, along with a friend from Wilmington, Rita Shaffer. “We had been cleaning and just sat down for a rest,” she said. “If we’d gone on cleaning for another ten minutes …. ”
Ann had been to Loch Ness and was a believer in lake monsters in general, Champ in particular. Her friend Rita was a skeptic. But it was Rita who first spotted the undulating black hump and screamed for Ann to get a camera. Ann came outside just in time to see the creature submerging, leaving a broad, muddy wake in the shallow water just offshore.
“If I hadn’t seen it myself, I’d have believed Rita was making fun of me,” Ann mused. “And if I’d seen it, but Rita hadn’t, she certainly wouldn’t have believed me.”
We left and started looking for the house of still another recent witness. “We’ve had sightings by a women’s bowling team going into a restaurant, by a lady making a cake — one of my favorites was a young couple on their way to a football game who pulled over to neck,” said Zarro “We had a mass sighting off the Spirit of Ethan Allen last summer — more than 60 people saw it.”
Zarr tries to interview every witness and check to be sure what they saw was not one of the more prosaic inhabitants of the lake. “The first thing I look for is a head sighting,” he explained. “If there’s something sticking four or five feet out of the water, it’s not likely to be a loon. Size is important, too. If it’s 10 to 15 feet long, it’s probably not a sturgeon.” “Do you think there’s more than one Champ?” I asked.
He nodded. “And they have their own territories. You’d have to say that this area, from here up to Basin Harbor, has been a very active area, this year anyway.”
We were driving down a long straight dirt road without streetlights, looking for a yellow house belonging to a man who claimed to have taken videotape of the creature. In the bright moonlight every house looked yellow. We paused at every mailbox, straining to read the names. We couldn’t find it. Zarr was frustrated.
“A monster-hunter must be patient,” I reminded him.