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!

2 thoughts on “Aug 21 Erie Canal

  1. Hi Bill, I sent this without an explanation. This little boat built in Sweden in the 1960’s was given to my cousin Bruce in Maine. He thought it was cute, so he restored it; now he’s traveling the Erie Canal with it. This look like it would be a fun trip with your “tug”. ENJOY! Betsy

    Date: Wed, 21 Aug 2013 13:43:30 +0000 To: betsyshaw92@hotmail.com

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