So we left Waterford at about 7 am this morning. You can see the map below, the Mohawk River is the same as the Erie Canal. From Waterford, we just head a little east and take a hard right and we are now in the Hudson River. We will head south through Albany and about another 30 miles south of there to the Catskills area of New York. In total we will travel about 40 miles today.

First up on our journey today, was the Federal lock at Troy. And you thought we were done with locks! One left which is this one at Troy. It is not part of the Erie Canal system and is separately managed. Where the Erie Canal system of locks are managed by New York state. The lock at Troy is a Federal lock, managed by the Federal government. This lock will drop us only 14 feet. We also went under a series of bridges, some fixed bridges with the lowest being only 25 feet clearance. We still don’t have our mast on the boat and our mast is waiting for us at Hop-O-Nose marina in the Catskills, which is where we are heading. After the Catskills we won’t have to contend with any low bridges.

Here is one of the more unique bridges on our journey today. This is the Green Island Bridge. It has quite a modern look to it and the center span between the two towers lifts up to allow clearance for vessels that require it. We didn’t need to have it raised since our mast is not on the boat at the moment.

We quickly came up on Albany and we took in the downtown skyline and the other interesting buildings in the area.

We noticed how wide the Hudson River seems in comparison to the Erie Canal. Also for the first time we have to contend with and think about tides and currents. We have had some currents in rivers before now, such as the Detroit River or the St Clair River, however the tides are a new thing for us.

For those unfamiliar, the ocean and the waterways connected to the ocean, such as the Hudson River have 2 high tides per day and 2 low tides per day. The tidal range in this area of New York is about 5 feet. The Hudson River runs north and south geographically and the flow of water generally heads south toward the Atlantic ocean. So, during a flood tide (high tide) – water coming in from the ocean the current would be flowing north on the Hudson River. During an ebb tide (low tide) – water going back out to the ocean, the current would be flowing south on the Hudson River. The speed of the current hits a maximum of about 1.5 – 2.0 knots of speed. So, when transiting this area you generally want to go with the tide and current as it would make your boat go about 1.5 – 2.0 knots faster. If you go against the tide and current then it will slow you down by 1.5 – 2.0 knots. You can certainly do that, but it will slow you down. Lucky for us the ebb tide starts early in the morning which is exactly when we would want to get going anyway, so that works out pretty well.

We also started to see commercial traffic once again. The Erie Canal is not used for commercial shipping any longer and ships will go through the St Lawrence Seaway to get into the Great Lakes, so there was no commercial shipping traffic on the Erie Canal. We ran into a few today on the Hudson however. Well, not literally ran into. Motored past.

We pulled into Hop-O-Nose marina about 1 pm. Our mast was there waiting for us up on blocks in the parking lot area. Once we got docked, we started in right away unpacking our mast of all the shipping material that we used to protect it on it’s journey to Hop-O-Nose. In case you forgot, we had it shipped on a truck from Buffalo, NY here to Hop-O-Nose. The mast arrived a couple weeks before we did and has been waiting for us to return to it’s rightful spot. We also had to re-attach all the wires (stays and shrouds) that hold the mast upright. Re-attached the spreaders and all the instruments that adorn the top of our mast. One thing we discovered is that either in Buffalo or here at Hop-O-Nose someone mowed the lawn near our mast and it was coated in now dried and very stuck clumps of grass. I had to get a bucket of water and wash down the entire mast to remove all the grass that was stuck to it.

As we were working on the mast, we noticed another boat pull into the marina. It was a boat we knew from our time in Newark, NY. It was Dale aboard Veritas. His mast was here as well and we thought he was looking to get the mast put back on. However, we learned that he was hauling his boat out for the winter and will have to leave his boat here until next spring. We learned that this was not in his plan. His wife was at home in Wisconsin and fell walking the dog and broke her hip and a couple of ribs. Dale would need to cut his trip short and head home to help his wife. That is really too bad. Hope her recovery goes smoothly!

After all our work on the mast was done for the day, we took showers and headed to the restaurant at the marina for a nice dinner. Tomorrow the marina staff will be putting the mast back into the boat.

Waterford is a really cool stop since virtually all boats tend to stop here when they are starting the Erie Canal or ending the Erie Canal depending on which direction they are traveling. They have a great visitor center with helpful staff, lots of space on the wall for at least 12 – 15 boats. There’s a great little town to walk to as well.

We left a bit later this morning from Crescent since we really didn’t have far to travel today. We only have about 4 miles to travel today. However, in that short distance is the 5 locks of the Waterford flight that we have to go through. I can’t imagine encountering the Waterford flight heading west on the canal as your first experience going through locks. This would definitely be a trial by fire, but I guess on the flip side, you would learn to locks quickly.

The good news about these locks are once you start, they open the next lock and and ready and waiting for you to enter the next. They are so close together that you literally leave one lock and enter the next just a quarter of a mile further. We were able to get through all 5 locks in about 90 minutes and we were the only boat going through. As a general rule of thumb, it takes about 30 minutes per lock to get through, so 90 minutes for 5 locks was doing really well. Not that we are in any kind of a hurry.

Over those 5 locks, we drop about 170 feet in elevation. That’s about 33 – 34 feet per lock. As evidence by they drop in elevation. The landscape has also changed in this area. No longer is it flat ground for miles but we are starting to see some hills and contours to the landscape.

Once we got to Waterford, we checked in and got settled and decided to explore town. We also had to do some laundry. We haven’t done laundry since we were stranded on the wall at Newark. So, we loaded up our bags and headed into town. We were told there was a laundromat in town, no laundry at the visitor center by the wall where we are parked. Conveniently enough, we found the laundromat right across the street from an Irish pub. I think every laundromat should have an Irish Pub across the street. We popped the clothes into the washer and headed to the pub. Put them in the dryer before our food arrived and had fresh laundry waiting for us after our lunch. Easy-peasy!

Of course all the walking around town and the hard work of doing laundry and perhaps a bit of the Irish Pub, led to an afternoon nap.

I spent some time walking the dock and getting acquainted with all the other boaters on the wall. I met a couple on a large 45 foot motor yacht who just purchased their boat and were headed back home in Ohio. Also met another couple on a sailboat who had just left Ithaca, NY; Michelle and Robert. They too are headed to the Bahamas, so perhaps we will see them along the way. After a bit, we heard the lock opening at the far end of the wall, so we looked to see who was exiting the lock. Sure enough, it was our friends on Blue Moon, David and Kendra. They pulled up to the wall in Waterford for the next day or two. We also saw Dale aboard Veritas coming out of the lock. However, Dale kept on going and didn’t stop in Waterford. We also heard through their blog that s/v Undone had passed us this morning and kept heading down the Hudson and didn’t stop in Waterford. It’s fun keeping track of the people and boats that we know or have met along the way.

Waterford is a pretty area.

Here are a few pictures from town. I guess I didn’t get a shot of the Irish Pub.

So now that we are officially done with the Erie Canal. Here are some stats for the entire length of the Erie Canal. Because a lot of people have asked me already, how many locks did you go through? Definitely, a lot! But hey, we got pretty good at them and after one or two clumsy attempts early on, we rather enjoyed it. The scenery along the Erie Canal was really beautiful and it’s a area we would really like to go through again in the future.

Total Erie Canal Stats:

Miles traveled – 303 miles

Lift Bridges – 11

Fixed Bridges – 250

Guard Gates – 19

Locks – 35

Countless pictures and beautiful vistas, priceless new friends met along the way. It was a great experience on this leg of the journey. We are looking forward to the next part of the journey as we head down the Hudson River and into NYC.

Crescent

We woke up this morning in Amsterdam, getting ready to head to Waterford today. It will be a big day with 10 locks today. However, the minute we stepped outside the boat, it became readily apparent we were not going anywhere. We were fogged in! You could not even see the surface of the water or past the boat. Certainly could not see the banks of the canal. We will have to wait until the sun comes out and starts to burn off this fog before we start moving.

So, we made coffee and chatted with Ed and Evelyn about the fog and the travels for the day. We are looking to go about 40 miles today and we will have to go through 10 locks today in that 40 miles. There are 5 locks that are dispersed along the canal but then there are 5 locks at Waterford that are in very quick succession and very close together. These 5 Waterford locks are collectively known as the Waterford flight. Once we start on the Waterford flight of locks you must complete all 5 locks and you may not stop along the route once you start.

We heard from our friend John today, who was stuck in Newark with us, and he is at lock 19 and looking to head to Little Falls today. He was curious about the wall there and what was available. It’s nice to have others that we know scattered at different points along our route and we can all share information about what is happening at different points.

We decided that once we were able to see both banks of the canal, we would declare that the fog had lifted enough for us to depart. Still a bit foggy but pretty.

As we came through lock 10, on the east side of the lock, you can see remnants of damage to the lock from Hurricane Irene from 2011.

A bit further down the canal are the remnants of an aqueduct that was built in 1842.

Just as we were making our way to lock 7, our VHF began alarming and gave us a weather warning. There is a severe thunderstorm warning and a tornado watch for our area. We see the darker storm clouds heading our way and we checked out the radar to determine where this weather was in relation to us. It looks like there is a small blog of rain that will catch up with us, but there is a second wave of weather that appears to be building and getting red on the radar that has us more concerned.

We texted Ed and Evelyn ahead of us and let them know we made the decision to pull up to the wall just before lock 7 and wait out the weather. We felt better being tied to a solid wall rather than running about during the roughest of the weather. It was a good time to make lunch as well. Of course, as I was making lunch the skies opened up and rain down upon us. The wind had picked up pretty significantly as well. The wind was now 20 – 25 knots ahead of the storm.

Once the rain let up, we decided to go through lock 7. Because the wind was still fairly strong, we had a bit of difficulty in the lock getting secured. We got the stern line well enough, however the bow got away from us and was quickly drifting away from the wall. I was able to quickly extend the boat hook all the way and try to reach for the line on the wall as we were drifting away from it. Ed saw we were struggling before we even knew we were. Ed was next to the boat before I knew it and he grabbed the line and tossed it out to me so I could grab a hold of it and get the bow secure. Thanks Ed!

After lock 7, we decided that given the weather and the fact that we were getting fatigued from going through the locks today, we decided to not go through the 5 locks of the Waterford flight today and we would pull over and spend the night at the wall in Crescent and do the Waterford flight of locks when we leave Waterford and we are fresh. 10 locks in one day is too many locks!

The wall in Crescent was not glamorous but it was a place to stay to sleep for the night. There is really only room for 1 or 2 boats here and the wall is in rough shape.

Ed and Evelyn decided to go ahead and go through the Waterford flight and stay at the wall in Waterford. So, it’s here that we said goodbye to our new friends Ed and Evelyn.

Stats for today:

Lift bridges – 0

Fixed bridges – 9

Guard gates – 0

Locks – 4

Amsterdam, NY

That’s Amsterdam, NY not the Netherlands. We haven’t crossed the Atlantic, yet! We left Little Falls around 8:30 am and headed toward our first lock for the day, which is lock 17.

Lock 17 is a unique lock on the Erie Canal. It has the highest water level change of all the locks on the Erie. This lock will drop us 40 feet. The other unique feature is that it is the only lock on the canal that has a lift gate on the eastern end of the lock which means your boat needs to pass UNDER the door that lifts open to get out of the lock. There are only 2 such locks in all of North America and this is the largest one.

Here we are nearing the low water in the lock after we have already dropped the 40 feet.

Mark managing his line and keeping us off the wall with his boat hook. The doors behind him in the lock do typically leak water and create a nice water feature inside the lock.

This is my view from the bow of the boat, holding on to my line. 40 feet is a long way down. And yes, the walls are really slimy.

Here is the lift gate that we had to go under to get out of the lock. Again, this is the only lock on the entire Erie that is like this.

As we went along the Erie Canal today, we spotted a campground ahead and it just so happened to have a classic car show or some such event going on. We saw all these cool old cars on shore. It was awesome to see. Would have liked to pull over to go check it out but there was no place to pull over.

Here’s a really nice view of one of the dams by lock 15 as we went through this area.

Then we got some rain on and off for the next hour or so.

Finally we pulled up to the wall in Amsterdam. We were initially worried that we might find a lot of boats on the wall in Amsterdam since last night in Little Falls was full. However, as we pulled up, we found there was no one there. Just Mark and I and our friends Ed and Evelyn. We had the place to ourselves. It was a nice park like area near the wall but everything was really quiet and nothing around this area seemed open at all. There was a restaurant right near the water that was closed today. There was also this tall structure that had stairs and an elevator that turned out to be a pedestrian bridge over the highway and train tracks behind us.

I was able to get some great photos from the top of the tower.

We had a nice dinner aboard Jersey Grace with Ed and Evelyn. She made a nice tortilla soup. With the rain today it was starting to feel a bit fall like and soup sounded really good. After dinner we headed over the pedestrian bridge to check out the town. The town was like a ghost town, literally nothing was open, however it is a Sunday, so I guess that makes sense.

Stats for today:

Lift Bridges – 0

Fixed Bridges – 9

Guard Gates – 1

Locks – 7, the most locks in one day!

Little Falls….Maybe

We were up with the sun this morning to make our way from Brewerton to Little Falls. It’s about 75 miles which will be our longest day yet on the Erie Canal. And we will have 6 locks to go through today. Also the most number of locks we have done in one day on the canal. Generally, they say that it takes about an additional 30 minutes per lock that is added on to our overall run time for the day. So, an extra 3 hours to get through 6 locks.

First up, we have to cross Lake Oneida. This is one of the largest lakes in New York, other than the Great Lakes. The lake is 21 miles long by 5 miles wide and an average depth of 22 feet. It’s because of this shallow depth that with any sort of significant wind, the chop on this lake can get significant quickly. We timed our transit for the quiet of the morning. The sunrise was spectacular this morning:

Big open water after weeks on the narrow canal. We hardly know what to do. We are glad auto pilot is back in action. It was difficult to use the auto pilot in such a narrow canal. Now we can sit back, set the auto pilot and enjoy our morning coffee.

It took a couple hours to transit the open waters of Lake Oneida until we got to the other end where it narrows again into the continuation of the Erie Canal at Sylvan Beach. As we got closer to the Sylvan Beach area, there was a significant amount of debris in the water that we needed to dodge. This always reminds me of the movie Twister. You might remember the scene where a house rolls into the road way and then an entire tractor lands in the road. “Debris people! We have debris!” Yes, that was true in this case, not just a twig but an entire tree!

Coming into Sylvan Beach

We are still traveling in the company of John; Ed and Evelyn and Dave and Kendra. John decided to pull over at Sylvan Beach for the night and the remaining 3 boats decided to push on to Little Falls.

Today we actually have 2 locks that we have to go through in fairly quick succession that are up bound locks when heading east. All the remaining locks heading east are down bound locks. We hadn’t yet really experienced being raised up in the lock as yet. One real difference is waiting for the lock doors to open. As they drop the water level inside the lock, there is some water that leaks through the closed doors as this process happens. This creates a bit of turbulence in the water as we are waiting for the doors to open. We had always had this existing the locks but now we have it waiting to enter the lock. These 2 locks will raise us 25 feet each for a total of 50 feet in less than a half mile.

We still go in slowly and grab the lines hanging down, this time the slimier end of the line for sure. As the water action raises us up in the lock, the boat gets pushed into the wall. This is a real work out using our boat hooks to keep the boat pushed away from the wall as the water fills. These 2 up bound locks are locks 22 and 21. Decreasing numbers as we head east bound.

Shortly after we got through locks 22 and 21, we got a text from Dave and Kendra. “Is lock 18 and all remaining locks only open until 5 pm?” Mark and I both look at each other….say what? Now the sections of the Erie Canal we have been on so far, the locks and lift bridges have been open until 10 pm everyday, so it didn’t really dawn on us that all the other locks wouldn’t be open until 10 pm as well. Well, we didn’t double check and come to find out that yes, 20, 19 and 18 that we need to get through to get to Little Falls, close at 5 pm today.

Well, right now it’s only about noon, so we can definitely get through lock 20 and 19. Right now our ETA to lock 20 is about 1:15 pm. So we should be good there. We will also be able to get through lock 19 in time. However, lock 18 is looking questionable since our ETA to that lock is right about 5 pm but that doesn’t account for the added time we know we will need to go through locks 20 and 19.

We have 2 power boats ahead of us that we don’t know and then us and Dave and Kendra traveling in a loosely defined pack. Fortunately for us, the power boats got held up and had to wait for the lock to open a bit at lock 20. This allowed us to catch up to them and get to lock 20 with no wait for us and we simply just locked right through. Had we not locked through this lock with the 2 power boats and had to wait for another cycle of the lock, we would have had no hope of making it to Little Falls tonight.

After lock 20, the 2 power boats again got ahead of us, however it was only 5 miles until we got to lock 19. So once again, we were able to catch up at the lock and the lock master held the lock as we straggled in with the 2 waiting power boats. Again, had we not made this lock timely we would not get to Little Falls tonight.

Now the afternoon is wearing on and we are pushing our speed as hard as we dare to try to make it to lock 18 before they close at 5 pm. Ed and Evelyn are a full lock cycle ahead of us and they will make Little Falls easily today. We have about 11 miles between lock 19 and lock 18. Our ETA right now is 4:55 pm and we can’t run any faster.

Mark gets on the phone and calls the lock master at lock 18. The conversation goes something like this:

Mark: Yes, what time do you close today?

Lockmaster: 5 pm

Mark: What time do I have to be there to ensure we can still lock through before you close?

Lockmaster: 4:45 pm. You must be here by then to lock through today.

Mark: What if we were just 10 minutes later than that?

Lockmaster: You need to be here at 4:45 pm to lock through

Mark: What would it take to hold the lock? We have 2 power boats and 2 sailboats heading your way and will be there just before 5 pm. What would it take? Would beer help?

Lockmaster: Sure, beer always works!

Yes, we just bribed the lockmaster to hold the lock for us with beer! He agreed he would wait for us and we prepared a bag and emptied some beers from the fridge into the bag as a care package for our new favorite lockmaster!

As we pulled into the lock, we set our care package at the edge of the wall and thanked Dave the lock master profusely for the favor of holding the lock. Thanks again Dave! Cheers!

We texted Ed and Evelyn that yes, we would make it through the lock and we would be able to meet them at the wall in Little Falls. Ed was waiting to help us tie up.

Painkiller all tied up on the wall at Little Falls

Dave and Kendra behind us

We enjoyed a little happy hour with the six of us in Little Falls

Brewerton

Lock 25 at May’s Point is scheduled to open at 7 am sharp. I guess they opened a little earlier than 7 am. I was still laying in bed when I heard Ed’s motor behind us as he pulled away from the wall. Mark was already up but hadn’t yet stuck his head out of the cabin. Once we heard Ed’s motor, we were like….it’s show time! We didn’t want to miss the lock opening and have to wait at least 30 – 40 minutes for them to turn the lock around. We were the last ones off the wall but we made it into the lock with everyone else.

6 boats in the lock together this morning. On the left is Ed and Evelyn with Paul and Lisa behind them and then us. On the right we have Ryan and Justin, then Dave and Kendra and then John who is just out of the picture.

As soon as we made it through the lock, Paul and Lisa immediately pulled over to the wall on the right as they must have gotten up as quickly as we did. Paul was still in his pajama bottoms and we thought they likely pulled over to make coffee and get dressed. So now we were 5 boats in the pack. Ryan and Justin are delivering this boat they are on to Key West, FL so they are in a hurry and not really on a sight seeing tour. They quickly pulled ahead of the pack and we didn’t see them again after the first lock. Now we are 4 boats in the pack.

We feel fortunate that we are in the first pack of boats to get through the canal heading east which means we should not have any trouble finding spots to dock on the walls since there is no one ahead of us. There are plenty of people behind us however!

There is evidence of high water in this section of the canal. You can see in this photo the water was at least 3 feet higher up the embankment.

Here it looks like the water was all the way up to that tent canopy in the left of the picture. The house would have been under water and just in front of the house it’s just mud flats from the water that was recently there.

Multiple trees were also downed from the high water. There are multiple logs and branches in the water that we have to keep a sharp eye out for as we make our way up the canal.

Many of the bouys are not where they should be and have been drug around due to the high water as well.

Not to worry however, the canal guys are actively out and about working to put all the bouys back where they belong.

These guys are working so hard they have 2 tents and a porta potty on the barge to keep working around the clock.

Otherwise, we just enjoyed the scenery as we headed down the canal.

We kept in contact via text with Ed and Evelyn; John; and Dave and Kendra on our journey today. Ed and Evelyn go a bit faster than us and were ahead. Dave and Kendra go about the same speed as us and John is a bit slower so he is behind. We are all headed toward Brewerton. We went through 3 locks today and at each lock we would catch up with one another before spreading out again.

Stats for today:

lift bridges – 0

fixed bridges – 24

guard gates – 0

Locks – 3

Miles traveled – 50

We passed by several points of interest on the way to Brewerton. We went through Cross Lake, which is a small lake in the middle of the canal. At one point we thought we would anchor for the night here in Cross Lake but now we needed to put on some miles in case it rains and they shut down the canal again.

We also passed the junction of where the Oswego canal joins the Erie Canal. The Oswego canal takes you out to Lake Ontario. It is at this junction that we officially transition from the Western Erie Canal to the Eastern Erie Canal. This junction marks the dividing point. It also makes a difference in the current within the Erie Canal. The eastern Erie at this point up until Rome flows westward and up the Oswego canal and into Lake Ontario. As soon as we crossed the junction of the Oswego canal this was readily evident. Our boat speed dropped about 1.5 knots due to the current now working against us.

We got to the wall at Brewerton and just relaxed for a bit.

There’s a restaurant just overlooking the canal here, so the 7 of us went to dinner together just overlooking our boats. We called it a night since we will all be up bright and early. Tomorrow we are heading for Little Falls.

I feel like we have grown roots here in Newark, NY. Not sure we know what a moving boat feels like any more. The canal system is slowly opening and locks 21 – 25 will open on Sept 3rd at 7 am. Today is Sept 2nd. We have met some wonderful people here in Newark and it seems like perhaps the fun is not done yet since we basically all have to leave and head in the same direction.

John left yesterday, he was the first boat to leave. He is only able to get about 23 miles further east before he will have to wait until the 3rd when lock 25 at May’s point will open. We walked down to lock 28 nearby to see John going through the lock.

This morning we intend to leave as well and get at least the 23 miles that we can and wait tonight on the wall just outside lock 25 so we can be there at 7 am tomorrow when it opens. Dave and Kendra on Blue Moon pulled off the wall as we were chatting with others and just like that we decided we better follow them since they would be opening lock 28 for them. Better to catch the lock opening together than to have to wait for another one. So, just like that we jumped aboard, turned the key and we were off. We were able to catch up to them in the lock and lock through with them.

Here are some pictures coming through lock 27 at Lyons

So, the middle section of the Erie Canal from like Newark to Sylvan Beach is the lowest section of the canal, other than the most eastern portion that drops significantly in elevation down to the Hudson River. This is why the middle section was closed due to flooding and why it is also known as the swamp of the Erie Canal. This area is also known as Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge. So, lots of birds and also lots of mosquitos the size of birds. You can see in this elevation view of the Erie Canal what I am talking about.

So understanding all this…I have not idea why anyone would want to camp in a tent along the banks of the Erie Canal in this area.

Once we got closer to lock 25 at May’s point, we had heard that there weren’t many things to tie a boat to on the wall. We texted ahead to John, who confirmed that there were rings and bollards to tie to in some places. In other places we might have to get creative what we tie to.

Once we arrived at the wall, John was there to greet us and help us tie up. There was one other boat there besides John as well. David and Kendra pulled in right behind us and just a bit later Ed and Evelyn came along as well. I guess we are already having a Newark reunion on the wall at lock 25.

We decided since we were all friends, a couple new ones and many of us from Newark, it was a great night to have a pizza party. We polled what each boat had in their pantry to contribute to the makings of homemade pizza. Everyone contributed and we were able to make about 6 pizzas for a crowd of 11 people. It was a fun night!

We all chatted about our next destination and collectively decided that we should head to Brewerton tomorrow. Not sure what you call a bunch of boats all traveling in the same direction….a pack, a flock…a flotilla….yes, that’s it a flotilla!

Stranded Boat Club

We made it back to the boat parked in Newark, NY on the Erie Canal. There are a few more boat parked here now than when we left on our mini boat vacation. There are now 14 boats parked along both the south wall and the north wall of the canal. Today is day 13 of being stranded in Newark with the locks closed. We are starting hear of things opening up on the Erie Canal. They are opening the closed sections in phases, starting with the eastern most portion of the closure opening first from locks 2 – 20 and another section from 26 to 34. We are currently sitting just west of lock 28, so we could technically go a bit east however we will not get past lock 26 right now and there are no good places to stay between Newark and lock 26. So, we are all staying put until they announce that locks 25 through 21 will open. Right now the anticipated reopening is on September 3rd at 7 am. That will put us at 17 days waiting in Newark.

So, what do 14 boats stranded in Newark do? Throw a party of course! We planned a pot luck in the picnic pavilion right by our boats. It was complete with decorations, party favors, lots of great food and great company. We dubbed ourselves the “Stranded Boat Club” and everyone got to take a little life ring as a token of our time together.

We met so many great people during our time so far in Newark. John, who watched our boat for us while we were in upstate New York. We even met a couple on a sailboat who just arrived who are from Manitowoc WI! They left from the same marina we did and we hadn’t yet met each other. We had heard about each other through other friends at Manitowoc and then we meet face to face in Newark. How cool is that? We also met Ed and Evelyn aboard Jersey Grace who are from North Carolina and are heading back there with the boat. We also met another Island Packet who recently pulled up along the wall as well.

One common conversation that everyone is having….when are the locks going to open? We are anxious for any little bit of information anyone has. Our friends Dwight and Kay got stranded further east on the Erie just before lock 17 in Little Falls. They were having issues there with the water level rising 5 1/2 feet. Here in Newark the water has dropped about 3 inches.

We spent the next 3 days doing little things here and there. Washing the boat, put a couple of coat of varnish on the eye brows of the cabin top. We did some grocery shopping. Ed and Evelyn happened to have a rental car and Evelyn offered to take me to the grocery store with her. How nice!

We did some laundry and everyone, including us, have been pumping out their holding tanks and filling up water tanks in anticipation of Sept 3rd at 7 am for the proposed opening of the remaining locks on the Erie. Here’s hoping that Sept 3rd is our day.

Boat Vacation

We have been in Newark, NY with the locks closed for 4 days now. Hurricane Henri is now heading up the east coast and likely to dump more rain in the area. We are hearing that it will be at least 3 or more days until the locks will open. The New York canal system folks have decided to drain a large section of the canal down to winter water levels in anticipation of the rain that will come with Henri. This is all we know, which leaves us with more questions than answers at this point.

How often do they drain the canal? How long does it take to refill it? What will that do to the water level where we are? So many questions.

So, when life gives you lemons, your supposed to make lemonaide right? So, we decided to take a boat vacation and visit our daughter in upstate New York while we are here and go and have some fun.

We tried to get a rental car, however the local Enterprise only had 3 cars and 10 reservations. So, Abbie was gracious enough to come and pick us up from the boat and bring us to her house.

We spent a week with Abbie and her husband Ryan and packed in quite a few fun activities.

One day we went to Alexandria Bay which is up by the Thousand Islands area of New York by the St Lawrence River. We took a ferry over to Boldt Castle and took a tour. Boldt Castle was constructed as a summer home in 1900 by millionaire hotel magnate George Boldt for his beloved wife Louise. Mrs. Boldt died suddenly just months before the castle was completed. George was inconsolable and immediately stopped construction and the property was vacant for 70 years. The Thousand Islands Bridge Authority is still actively restoring the property and providing tours. Here are some pics from the castle.

We also went to the local race track one night near Ryan and Abbie’s. It was really fun to see! There were a few mishaps on the track too to add to the excitement. At one point one of the cars lost a tire and it went bouncing around the track and through the infield before coming to a stop. There were a few bumps and spin outs too.

One of the best part of the trip however was Ryan flying the 4 of us to Lake Placid for the day in a Cessna. It was about an hour flight and Ryan is an excellent pilot. We had a great brunch at Big Slide Brewery and then toured the big ski jump that was used during the Lake Placid Olympics.

The scenery from the air was breathtaking!

Here’s a view of the big ski jump from the bottom.

And here’s a view from the top! Nope, not going down that….

The views from the top were amazing however. That’s the airport down there, where we landed.

We also had lots of great meals together, both home cooked and eating out. Played lots of card games, lots of chatting and visiting during our week long visit. Ryan also gave us a great tour of Fort Drum where he is stationed in the army. No photos of the base however, security you know. We thoroughly enjoyed our time with Abbie and Ryan and hope to see you guys soon!

What do you do when the locks are closed? We walked about a 1/2 mile from Newark up to lock 28B to take a little tour. It was great to see the locks from a little different perspective rather than on a boat.

This lock is typical of most of the locks that are on the New York Canal System on the Erie Canal. As we approach on our boat, we call the lockmaster on channel 13 on the VHF. This is a bit of a mixed bag in terms of the response you might get. You might not get any response at all, they might answer and tell you they are ready and waiting. You might have to wait until the lock can be refilled or traffic let out going the other direction before it is our turn to lock through.

Once the lockmaster is ready he will open the front doors. They usually open with a loud creak, groan or clank that can be heard quite a ways off, so you know the doors are opening. Once the doors are open, there is a red light that turns green telling you it’s time to proceed into the lock. You are free to pick which ever side of the lock you would like. Generally there are weighted ropes hanging down every so often and I need to get out my boat hook and hook one of these lines as the boat slowly moves forward. Generally I hand this first line back to Mark at the stern of the boat. Then I head back up to the bow area to hook the next line for me to hold at the bow.

Now let me give you some pointers that we have learned along the way for all my boating friends who might have an occasion to go through a lock:

  1. On your boat hook, get rid of those plastic tips on the end of the hook and the end of the boat hook itself. It is so much easier to hook a line without those plastic tips on the boat hook.
  2. You need 2 boat hooks – one for the person on the stern and one for the person on the bow. You will use these to push the boat away from the lock wall.
  3. When going down in a lock the water action will cause the boat to move away from the wall
  4. When going up in a lock the water action will cause the boat to move into the wall
  5. You do not need to keep the boat tight against the wall. Relax!
  6. The boat will move forward and backwards in the lock. As long as you are holding on to your line. Relax!
  7. The lock master’s are your friends. Ask them questions, they are happy to help.
  8. It’s always nice to great the lock master and thank them at the end.
  9. The walls and the lines are slimy – wear gloves!
  10. Regardless of what it looks like, most boats in the lock are just as experienced at this as you are.

Once the water in the lock lowers or raises, the doors will open on the other end, again with a creak, moan or clank and then you are free to drop the lines and motor out of the lock.

Across the street from lock 28B was remnants of an old lock that existed before it was modernized in the 1930’s. I was cool to see the old original locks when the Erie Canal was built.

These gears cut into the stone were where the doors were for the lock and they would be able to crank them open along the gear track.

This particular lock used to generate it’s own power from the hydroelectric operation of the lock. The hydroelectric generators are no longer in use however the lock master gave us a tour of the building that still houses this equipment.

Even though the locks are closed, the lock masters still work everyday. When they aren’t operating the locks that are also responsible for caretaking of the grounds and buildings of the lock. So, they mow the lawn, paint the buildings, railings, etc. Anything that needs painting! I guess they also act as PR people giving people such as us a little tour.

It has been 3 days since we arrived in Newark and we haven’t the foggiest idea of when the locks are going to open.