Hello virtual crew members and fellow adventurers!
Welcome aboard to Sharon P. as our newest virtual crew member! Too bad those Michigan Wolverines did not live up to their billing. But like the skipper, I am a Big 12 fan so I was glad to see the Sooners win the Softball Championship.
Henry Hudson here with a few parting words as I and the crew have parted ways. The skipper took time on Monday to re-measure the air clearance of Still Waters II. He was hoping that he could take down the track-vision satellite and anchor light to get enough clearance to pass under a few 15 foot bridges on the Champlain Route. When these measurements and tactics came up empty, he finally decided that they would scrap the Champlain Route and take the Erie Canal.
Since I have never seen the head waters of the Hudson, or travelled to Lake Champlain, I have decided to go north while the crew turned West. Eric has returned to continue the adventure. It was fun cruising my namesake river with you. Be safe on the canal.
The crew spent most of Monday working around the boat and studying up on the Erie Canal. Back in the day, many stated that the canal was an impossible engineering feat and a colossal waste of money. The canal finally opened in 1825 as the largest public works project ever undertaken by a state. The canal opened the great lakes and mid-America to the consumers of the east coast.
But everything has a season, and so it was with the canal. With the advent of trains to carry cargo, the canal fell out of favor. However, the canal re-invented itself as a passageway for recreational boaters such as you and I.
The Waterford Town dock was the first stop along the Erie Canal. There is a mule statue along the waterfront paying homage to the past. When the canal first opened, mules would pull the ships loaded with cargo along the canal.
The skipper went up to Lock 2 and purchased a 10 day permit to transient the Erie Canal and Oswego Canal.
Day 1 Erie Canal: Lock Training
The next morning, Tuesday, 4 boats agreed to leave about 0900 and transient the locks together. The first lock was a first rate goat rope. One boat got pushed off the starboard wall and their crew lost control of the ropes. Their boat began to drift towards Still Waters II on the port wall. The Lock Master noticed and changed the water flow. This resulted in the boat getting pushed back against the wall but caused Still Waters II to then drift off the wall. The crew was able to pull Still Waters II back against the wall but not before much grinding and gnashing of teeth.
After the Lock was full of water and had lifted the boats 34 feet, the Lock Master kept the gates shut and went around the different boats and gave them all some on-the -job training. He had some good pointers to help everyone develop better skills locking through the system.
There would be plenty of practice because in this first 1.5 miles there are 5 locks which lifted the boats 34 feet per lock. These 5 locks are referred to as ‘The Flight of Five.’ By the end of the day the crew completed a total of 7 locks for a total lift of 211 feet.
Leaving Lock 4 enter Lock 5
Waiting for Lock 8 to open
Day 2 Erie Canal: Gaining Proficiency
The crew shoved off the Lock 8 wall at 0915 and fell in behind another boat to Lock E9. The temperature was a cool 52 degrees, and with the 12 mph winds it felt much worse. In the first Lock, the boat the crew was traveling with lost hold of the ropes and had to restart their engines as the water was filling the lock chamber. Because of the swirling current as the lock fills, the boat drifted across and hit the lock wall on the opposite side as they started. The captain regained control and got back over on the starboard wall. But then they lost their hold on the ropes a second time. The wind was really causing them problems. Reminded the crew how the first lock yesterday started.
The skipper could tell the Admiral was struggling to keep control of the bow lines she was holding. He cleated his line and went to take the bow line from her. She then moved aft and took the stern line. They managed to clear the lock with no issues.
On the second lock, the wind had gained strength so the crew decided to follow the same game plan of the skipper taking the bow line. As the skipper maneuvered the boat into the lock, The Admiral secured a bow line. The skipper then went and secured a stern line. He went back to the helm, secured the engines, and then took the bow line. The Admiral handled the stern line and all went well.
The crew needed to get their holding tanks pumped out so they made a stop in Amsterdam, at the River Link Park. The wind just kept building so they decided to call it a day and wait till the morning to push further west.
After the two locks the crew had only risen 30 feet. Avocet cruised by after our crew stopped for the day.
Day 3 Erie Canal: Going Solo
Today found Still Waters II going through 5 locks by themselves. This was certainly much easier and stress free. The total lift for the day was up 47 feet. Traffic on the Canal is picking up and causing some places to be full. With that said the crew did find a good spot to stop because others had cancelled due to the high winds. The winds started at 12 mph and built to 20 mph. This caused most people to sit tight. However, our crew pushed westward because the locks were not going to be that difficult.
Crew did see one bald eagle while cruising today. He flew in and landed on the North shore just upstream of the boat.
The crew stopped in St Johnsville marina and met another looper boat from Canada, ‘On Business.’ The crew met Andy and Twylla McKendry and enjoyed speaking to them about the Canadian waters that lay ahead.
Day 4 Erie Canal: High Point
The weather is once again dictating the moves of Still Waters II. Forecasts show 20 plus mph winds for Sunday and Monday that would make crossing Lake Oneida foolish. Rather than wait for good weather next week, the crew has decided to put in a couple of longer than planned for days to get across on Saturday, while the wind is relatively calm. Calm being a relative term because the wind is blowing 12-15 mph.
The crew put in 38 miles with 5 locks. One lock was 16 feet, three locks were 21 feet, and one lock was 40 feet. Wrestling the lines in the locks makes for a tired crew. After clearing Lock 20, the crew was at the highest point on the Erie Canal. The Locks tomorrow will start dropping the crew back towards sea level.
Day 5 Erie Canal: Dreary Erie
With the weather about to turn even worse, the crew got an early start with a goal to get across Lake Oneida by mid-afternoon. They left in the rain as the skipper monitored the weather radar. He was adjusting speed as they travelled west and managed to arrive while the rain began to slacken.
With about a 20 minute rain delay the crew entered and negotiated their first down lock on the Erie Canal. The lock lowered the boat 25 feet. The crew commented that these down locks are much easier than the up locks. Another mile and the crew went down another 25 feet in Lock 22. The crew then headed out across Lake Oneida.
With the wind out of the Southwest the swells were on the boats starboard quarter and made for an uneventful crossing. The crew then pulled into Winter Harbor Marina to wait out the high winds that are predicted for the next couple of days before heading North to Oswego.
The skipper noticed that the crew of ‘Tasteful Traveler’ was in a nearby marina. He checked their blog and found that they were on a sabbatical back home in Minneapolis. Our crew will leave Brewerton before the ‘Tasteful Travel’ crew returns next week so we will give them a shout out and say “hope to see you on the water soon.”
The plan next week is to exit the Erie Canal and take the Oswego Canal to Lake Ontario. Cross Lake Ontario and head up the St Lawrence River to Montreal.
Come back next week and see how the crew has progressed. The skipper likes the Highwaymen and so I am altering a line from their signature song as my closing from now on.
The water goes on forever and the adventure never ends.
Eric the Red