Tuesday – Erie Canal

I’m writing this from home, but let me continue on the adventure:

Saturday – Palmyra has showers! – visable in background:

Palmyra tieup

Palmyra tieup

A few other boats come by in the evening.

Other boats in Palmyra

Other boats in Palmyra

All of these boats are cruisers on the canal. In front of me is a 25′ boat with two people aboard – just the right size. In front of that a cabin cruiser. In front of that a rental canal barge with two couples aboard.Seems like I’m one of the smaller boats.

Sunday – Another gorgeous day! I’m asked “What’s the best section of the canal?” It’s all good. If you want shopping, I’d select the more westward portion. Maybe it’s a little more open for scenery on the western half too.

Did I mention the impromptu race with a riding lawnmower? I don’t want to talk about the results.

I wash dishes with canal water, but don’t drink it. People don’t swim in the canal but do in Onedia lake and Cross lake. I toss gray water (dishwater) overboard but porti potti waste gets dumped in toilets or marina facilities.

9:10am – lock thru E30 in Macedon. Good size fish are jumping in the lock. Wonder if they know they’re locking thru?

10:20am – I barely fit under the lift bridge in Fairport. The bridge is sloped and I can squeeze under the south end. Otherwise it would be a call to have the bridge raised.

noon: I’m at the end of the line for me in Pittsford, just outside Rochester.

Pittsford

Pittsford

Very busy town with tourists on a Sunday. Shops, eateries, canal rides. Accross from me:

Pittsford across the canal

Pittsford across the canal

There’s a good launching ramp in town so I can haul out. Lots of antics to go thru. Friends Lou and Barb stop by next morning, we all have breakfast, and they take me to car rental in Rochester. I drive back east across the state to Waterford, return the car, drive my truck and trailer west across the state (NY Thruway), load my boat, and crash for the nite.

Tuesday I drive east again across NY and continue on home.

Goodbye folks  - thanks Lou for the photo

Goodbye folks – thanks Lou for the photo

Advertisements

Saturday – Erie Canal

Not had internet for a while. I’m at the Palmyra public tieup, a very nice place:

Palmyra public landing

Palmyra public landing

Continuing from my last post, here’s the unique drop gate to Lock 17, all the others are swing gates:

big drop gate to the tallest lock

big drop gate to the tallest lock

gate closing

gate closing

Electricity where I stopped in Ilion. charge up: cell phone, laptop, ipad, vhf radio; using all the outlets at once. I went to the Remington Arms factory and museum, it’s ok. A couple people compared my boat to the African Queen. I feel the part with all the overhanging trees. A couple general comments about my boat, It’s roomy enough for one person; sleeping, cooking, toilet, etc. A bigger boat would go faster (longer waterline length), but other than that there’s no need. For two people though, another 5′ would be very desirable. For  you Camdenites: ‘Where the mountains meet the sea’

Where the mountains meet the sea

Where the mountains meet the sea

Wednesday – Bald eagles and great blue herons are common, fishermen of the bird species. There are many human fishermen as well, men and women. I haven’t mentioned the guard gates. There are no guards standing at the gates to collect a fee or check your papers, these are huge gates that can drop down should flooding conditions be imminent.

double guard gate

double guard gate

Thursday – My first of a few ‘downhill’ locks, going down instead of up. The big thing today is crossing the length of Oneida Lake, part of the Erie Canal system. It can be very rough but today was calm. Hot and hazy. While I can see the north and south shores, the far end is way out of sight. I plot a course from buoy to buoy. A big boat with lots of gadgets would have no problem. I have a compass and binoculars, neither of which is electronic, thank god.

lighthouse at the east end of Oneida Lake

lighthouse at the east end of Oneida Lake

Oneida Lake - can't see much!

Oneida Lake – can’t see much!

_Thursday 1pm: I arrive at the far end in Brewerton. Glad the engine ran ok.

3:30pm: Thunderstorm. I’m glad for the cooler weather but don’t need this. I snap the canopy windscreen in place and manage to stay dry. Lightning flashing, I head out of the middle of the river and under a railroad bridge for safety. An hour later it has gone thru and the air is much less humid.

Going by a few towns. Belgium looks quite prosperous, at least along the waterfront. The canal is coincident with the Oneida River for a while. Then the Oswego River splits off and heads north, and the canal and Seneca River are one and the same.

Originally the Erie Canal was pretty much a dug ditch, spanning the state. Revisions have involved damming up rivers and installing locks and having the canal follow rivers for some distance. There’s still a fair amount of dug canal however.

Stayed in a marina in Cold Springs overnite.

Friday – The Seneca has many small camps along it. I stopped in Baldwinsville, a very pretty town. Missed my friends traveling thru there by a couple hours! In a canal cut, bypassing a big loop in the Seneca. Two other cruising boats today, one a big rental canal boat, the other a much smaller 25′ boat.

Tied up in Clyde for the nite. Pretty spot. Had drinks with an older couple on the smaller cruising boat. They’ve rented it for a week. Also met a young couple on a sailboat headed east for the intercoastal waterway and Florida.

Saturday – underway at 7am.

Did I describe the interior of my boat? It’s got a vee berth layout. My sleeping bag is to port, clothes and dishes are stored to starboard. The porti potti is wedged inbetween. There’s an overhead light down  below, but for reading I use a headlamp.

10am – The first canoes I’ve seen! Much more traffic on Saturday. Newark is a nice town, had a restaurant meal!

Aug 21 Erie Canal

Aug. 20 2013  – I’m at Ilion Marina with the first internet access on the trip.

Aug 18 – 1:30pm Arrived at launching ramp in Waterford.  This is just upstream of lock E6 and guard gate #2. It’s an excellent ramp with a float and room to launch on either side. This is good for me as launching Snipa is a bit involved. Because of its deep draft I can’t just back in. The procedure is: back down the ramp to close to the waters edge, chock the trailer wheels, use the tongue jack to raise the trailer off the truck hitch, position my boogie wheel assembly under the trailer and lower the jack back down, tie a rope to the trailer and cleat it off to the truck bumper, drive the truck forward a few inches, remove the chocks, and gradually pay out the rope to lower the boat and trailer into the water. Once the boat is off I pull the trailer/boggie wheel assembly up onto the flat, disassemble it, load the boogie wheels into the back of the truck and reattach the trailer. This takes several minutes and the launching ramp is busy on a Sunday afternoon with fishermen and jet skis launching.

launching ramp, Waterford

launching ramp, Waterford

So then I had a problem with leaks. My boat leaks a little but not like this! All that jarring over the highway must have knocked some seam compound loose. With forethought I brought some fine sawdust. Changing into my swimsuit, I waded in and spread handfuls of it along the planking seams where the leaks were the worst (which I could see from the inside). This worked, just like Stop Leak in a radiator. About 3pm I shoved off.

headed out

headed out

The Mohawk River is very wide here. It’s well buoyed. My first stop was Albany boatyard to get a permit for the locks. That was pretty much closed but someone suggested I continue on to Blains Bay Marina and get one there, which worked out fine.

The weather was ideal, a high overcast keeping the sun off me. There’s no noticeable current in the Mohawk. Some of the river bank was built up with houses/cabins with docks. Other portions were marshy. There were many fishermen out.

lock 7, my first lock

lock 7, my first lock

5pm –  Approaching lock E7 (“E” stands for Erie Canal). The lock is adjacent to the downstream side of a waterfall which is controlled by gates. Being a river, the water has to flow; much more than goes thru the locks. Usually a lock is beside a gate controlled waterfall. Channel 13 on my handheld VHF, “Lock E7 lockmaster, this is a westbound boat within sight of the lock. I would like to lock thru please.” “Sorry, you just missed it, there will be about a 25 minute delay” was the reply. This turned out to be the longest time I ever had to wait, by far. There’s a wall with ropes hanging for me to grab while waiting. Then the lock gates opened, eastbound traffic came out, and the lockmaster waved me in. My 20’ boat was the only one in the 300’ long lock.

upstream lock doors, note solid rock below the doors

upstream lock doors, note solid rock below the doors

_

I grabbed on to a similar hanging rope on the lock wall, the doors closed behind me, and the water welled up with some turbulence. I held tight onto the rope. The water rose quickly and in just a few minutes that huge chamber was filled.  When I was up at the top, the lockmaster (not some old grizzled guy, but a young fellow) came over and copied information from my permit. We chatted a bit. I told him it was my first time thru a lock. He said I was welcome to tie up for the nite at the terminal wall just beyond the lock.  Just a note, generally the red/green lites on the locks were not used (but sometimes they were). When you’re in the lock you can see a little red lite, but that’s not for you. That’s the back side of a red light for oncoming boats. The lockmaster came over and asked about my boat and was very friendly. I had tied up across from a canal repair barge. It had a big crane and a tree stump on deck.

work barge

work barge

_The lockmaster said during the flood two years ago many trees got washed into the river and they were still being pulled out. That was the flood doing so much damage in Vermont. Also, I could have gotten my canal permit right there at lock 7, although not all locks sell permits.

Hotdogs and beans and a glass of wine for dinner. Mosquitos that night, for which I was unprepared.

Aug. 19, 7:20am. I’m underway after an onboard meal of sausage, eggs, toast, and coffee.

breakfast

breakfast

_

I cook on a propane Coleman stove. This is said to be dangerous on a boat with a cabin; propane leaking into the bilge, hence the Big Bang theory. Snipa only has the smallest cabin with the smallest bilge. Even so, I installed a bilge blower in case I did smell propane (which I used once). My boat, being diesel powered, does not otherwise need a bilge blower.  Weather: sunny. I erected my canopy for shade.

Except for a few fishermen I was almost the only boat on the water. Weekdays are not busy. There was a barge with a construction crane, being pushed by a small tug.

I thought I would see a city in Schenectady. Except for one industrial complex (GE?) it was pretty much trees along the riverbank.

some fields

some fields

_

a few rock walls

a few rock walls

_

mostly overhanging trees

mostly overhanging trees

_ I took a side trip in Scotia to Jumpin Jacks Restaurant (Canal Guide pg. E63). A THUMP, I probably bounced off a submerged tree, no damage. Coming out of there I saw many little buoys marking obstructions. I crept along. Right close to getting back into the channel I ran aground on gravel. Changed into my swimsuit and jumped overboard. With some pushing and pulling I got Snipa off and into a deeper area.  Then I was in the navigatable portion of the river again. Probably outboard motorboats would have no problem, but with a 3’ draft, I’m sticking to the main channel!

9:15am – locked thru E8.

10:30am- locked thru E9. Is my porti potti acting up? No I’m in farm country.  The riverbank was a mix of trees (mostly) and cornfields, some roads (NY Thruway), and railroads. Many trains went by, something I’m not use to in Maine. Just passed under a railroad bridge when a train approached. I waved to the engineer, he waved back.

Lockmaster at Lock 10 advised me of a hardware store at Riverlink Park in Amsterdam (page E60). A nice place to tie up. Shopping nearby. Chatted with a couple on their sailboat who were finishing up a six year cruise! Their mast was unstepped and laying across the top (bridge heights a problem). They’re headed to Toronto. “From Maine! Here’s our stock question: do you know Roger Taylor?” Yes, I know that boating guru. Seems everyone does.

I purchased mosquito screening and duct tape. Made a screen for my companionway. It worked so well I didn’t need it, no mosquitos that nite. 1:30pm I was in motion again.

2:30pm Lock 12. People say you need gloves to handle the lines in the locks. They must be girls! Fenders though, that’s another thing. I had two 12” round buoys. They worked great, could have used a couple more. A regular boat fender would not be enough for some of those rough walls.

typical wide area of the Mohawk, lock on right

typical wide area of the Mohawk, lock on right

_4:10pm Lock E13, thru at 4:25.

5:35 at Canajoharie Terminal Wall for the nite. A nice place.

_ _Trains all nite across the river and the thruway next door, but I slept well. Electrical outlet (120v, 30a twistlock).  A nice place.  A short walk for ice at a store.  A short walk for 5 gal. diesel (but a longer walk back).

Tuesday, August 20, 2013 – underway at 10:15am. Busy writing the blog before then. I immediately go thru lock 14. Overhanging trees along the banks are the main feature. An occasional floating log as an obstacle. A big barge pushed by a tug approaches. That wall of water in front of me makes me take notice. I go thru lock 15. I’m out of the hilly country. There’s a lot of low growth. I see farm  buildings far off. For lunch I stop at St. Johnsville Marina and Redneck Boat Club. Very clean and very friendly. A shower at last, and I empty the porti potti. Lock 16, smooth sailing. The Mohawk river has diverted for a ways and I’m in a real canal. Narrower, overhanging trees as before.

Erie Canal 015

narrower portion after Mohawk has diverted

There are several logs in the water to watch out for. I just passed a dredging operation so they’re doing their best to take care of it. Two sailboats (masts unstopped) going the other way. First other cruisers today. Now the Mohawk has rejoined. The hills are rising again on both sides. There are a few houses on the river. Lock 17 is impressive, a huge drop gate rather than the swing open gates.  At 40’ it’s the tallest lock in NY. Went by the town of Little Falls which seems very nice, but I wanted to keep going. Stopped at Ilion Marina for the nite. WiFi, great!

My boat

Image

My boat

“… 15 Miles on the Erie Canal”

Aug. 18, 2013 – I’m off on a 6 hr. drive from Camden, Maine to Albany NY, towing my boat.

The boat: a Swedish snipa (pronounced sneepa ) or archipelago boat. It was built in 1960 and restored by me a couple years ago.

The quest: To explore the Erie Canal. I’ve driven along the NY Thruway (which parallels the canal off and on) and imagined cruising the Canal.