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Nine on Nine: Mel Borrin – a Lakes Region Latitude and Attitude

Kathi Caldwell-Hopper - April 29, 2011





Mel Borrin is the owner, with his wife Tina. of Latitude 43 Charters. The couple offer private boat tours around Lake Winnipesaukee in the summer and fall. Passengers can spend the day or part of the day on these special tours on the custom-built Latitude 43 boat.

1. How long have you lived in the Lakes Region and what businesses have you been involved in?

Mel: “I have lived in the area since 1963 (I was originally from Montreal). I started Preferred Properties in 1967 and also Preferred Vacation Rentals. We sold Preferred Properties in 2004. We have been involved with real estate and consulting in the Lakes Region for years and I also owned a small water company. Now my wife Tina and I are semi retired and we operate Latitude 43, a charter boat on Lake Winnipesaukee.”

2. Can you describe your job as captain of Latitude 43 Charters, because it is an unusual occupation?

Mel: “I think it’s one of the neatest things Tina and I have done over the years. I don’t really call myself the captain, but rather the skipper. That gives me the right to operate the boat, do chores, explain the highlights of the lake to passengers, and perform marriages on board. Tina and I keep the boat maintained as part of our jbo. It’s a soup to nuts operation – we own, operate and clean the boat!”

3. Why did you decide to open the boat tour business when you could have retired or done something else?

Mel: “Actually, the original plan was to keep some interest in Preferred Vacation Rentals, which is now run by my son. I am still on their board of directors. After retiring the thought was we should buy ourselves a boat. We had one constructed in Maine by someone who builds lobster boats and custom cruise boats. After the boat was built, we decided we wanted to share it with others. When I mentioned doing boat charters, Tina nodded slightly, and that was my ok to go for it! We’ve been running Latitude 43 for five years now. It has just been a wonderful experience for us. We have met some great people from all over the United States and Europe.”

4. What’s it like being out on the lake?

Mel: “One of the things we try to find out before people come on board is whether they have spent any time on the lake. With that knowledge, I will then come up with an area to travel that is the most interesting for each group of passengers. For example, if the passengers are out for a limited time, we give a broad view of the lake and islands. For those out longer, we will stop at ports. I think some of the things that are amazing to our passengers are the lake views, the islands, going through such areas on the lake as Sally’s Gut and the Hole in the Wall, and the far reaches of the lake with gorgeous estates. We try to make our cruises as interesting as possible. One of the most interesting requests we get are from people who were on the lake in their youth but have never been back. So far we have met the challenge of finding the properties where they stayed years ago in their youth. It’s a thrill for them to see a cottage where they stayed long ago all these years later.”

5. What are your favorite spots when on the lake?

Mel: “The cove by Timber Island is a great spot. Going through the Graveyard is interesting in Moultonboro Bay; traveling up to Green’s Basin in Moultonboro is also fun. It is interesting when you can see Bald Peak and Castle in the Clouds and as you get closer in you see a lot of wild life – loons, eagles nesting, muskrats and other wildlife along the shore. Looking out from Bear Island to Mt. Washington, which is still snow capped in spring, is beautiful.”

6. You get around the lake a lot on the boat; what spots do tourists point out as favorites or places that they really get excited to see?

Mel: “Anything with a spectacular view brings excitement and is great for photo taking. Going out in the middle of the Broads when it’s slightly choppy almost looks like an ocean to some people. The area in and around Rattlesnake Island has excellent views. The names of the islands always raise questions from our passengers, such as are there rattlesnakes on Rattlesnake Island and are there cows on Cow Island?”

7. What do you think makes the area so special and what do you think will be different in the Lakes Region 10 years from now?

Mel: “I think what makes the area special was pointed out by a family on board our boat from Paris. We stopped in the middle of lake so they could swim. They jumped in water and said ‘This water is sweet.’ You don’t find such clean water in Europe. It’s special – we maintain the cleanliness of the water. Our legislature has done a lot to protect the lake. Also, individual Lakes Region towns have enacted legislature to protect the lake. Lakes Regioners are protective of the lake and the environment. In 10 years I don’t think we will see an awful lot of changes. We have seen properties change ownership over the years, but we are more aware of ecology and environmental protection. There will be some commercial growth but we won’t see the 1970s-90s boom again.”

8. What do you do in the winter months when Latitude is not running?

Mel: “A typical schedule is to put the boat away when we have had enough! We go until September, depending on the water depths and temperature. Then we take a break and head out and travel for a month or so. Then the snow comes. We love to ski, so being here in the winter is great. We are taking delivery of a new boat this spring, so we are staying in the area and not doing any spring time travel we might otherwise have done before we get busy in the summer.”

9. What are your plans for the future?

Mel: “I plan to follow the path Tina and I have been on for the past few years. As long as our health prevails, we enjoy each day. We have no plans to move. The Lakes Region is a great place to live and it was a great place to bring up our kids. It’s home to us.”

Learn more about Latitude 43° at www.latitude43charters.com 

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