The weather continues to be amazing, highs in the 80’s, low humidity & a nice cool breeze. It was perfect for biking so we did the town tour and found the old, original Champlain Canal. Unlike some cities between here and Canada who used the old canals for landfills, Waterford has maintained their original canals and the old paths beside them are used for walking and biking trails. There are historic informational markers along the way showing where the weigh station and locks were located. We met a gentleman at Lock 5 who was resting from his bike ride and enjoyed chatting with him about the history of the canal. He showed us a picture on the marker of the boat called “Robert Weightman” that was owned by his grandfather. We will start our own trip up the Erie Canal tomorrow. We are told that in the first 2 hours we will go through 6 locks. There are some marinas, but mostly we will be tying to the town walls. We have no schedule and will stop and explore when things look interesting. My turn to cook tonight. We’re having Italian!
Entered the first of 10 locks for the day around 8am. Learned our first lesson bright & early. These locks do not have bollards like on the TN River. They have big cables that are connected at the top & bottom. You can loop your line around it and it will slide up as the water gets deeper. That seems good to us. No chance of the bollard sticking and causing a problem. What we didn’t know was how high they would float us. The cable ran out at the top of the wall, but our cleat was floating higher. When we reached the top there was some tale-tale rainwater from an early morning shower resting on our fly bridge canvas top. Oops, when it pours off, that’s the first signal that you are listing! Also, when that “water weight” ran off the top we floated even higher (or at least one side of us did)! After a quick expletive, I was able to loosen the line but it was no easy chore with that much torque on it. Lesson learned, now I hold slack line for the last 6 ft or so. The last 4 locks had nothing to put a line through, only weighted lines hanging from the top you hang on to by hand. They were not very deep locks. We also had to lay our dinghy davit down to get under the low bridges. The canals run in and out of the Mohawk River. On occasion you get a glimpse of the old canals. The scenery has been very nice and we docked at Riverlink Town Docks in Amsterdam, NY. After a hard day we were hoping to eat in the restaurant, but they only serve dinner Thurs-Sunday. There is a new family running this facility who were very accommodating. We asked where we could get some hamburger buns and they gave us some from the restaurant!
On the water by 8am we followed the Erie Canal through 7 locks today and past many little towns including Canajoharie & St Johnsville in Mohawk Valley. We ran through 2 short showers today and, of course, we were locking through during both of them. Half the locks today had vertical poles to pass your line around (like yesterdays) and the other half were “Hang on for dear life” locks. Just a rope secured & thrown down from the top of the lock and you hang on to one from the bow & one from the stern (not very secure). The last lock was a “guillotine” style lock. The gate lifted from the bottom and slid up the wall & the boat passed under. We moved in underneath & got just what we needed, an additional shower from the dripping gate. Around 3pm we tied up on the town wall here in Little Falls, NY for 2 nights. We will explore tomorrow. For the most part, we still have had our weather bubble in place. Even though we are bringing up the rear, as far as other Looper’s are concerned, the early birds had rain all day everyday and cold temperatures for most of the last month. Dinner out tonight! Many of the local restaurants will pick us up at the marina if you call them. We haven’t decided yet what we are hungry for!
Little Falls has a big history & we had a beautiful upstate NY day to explore it. Once a thriving textile community, it has huge cliffs on one side of the river and a quaint sleepy little town nestled in sloping hills on the other. Lots of nice architecture showing up in the old buildings and warehouses that have been renovated for retail and restaurants.
There are biking/walking trails that run along both sides of the canals and of course, the ever present train tracks that have been beside us ever since we started up the Hudson from NYC. After our town tour, I got my hair cut, we picked up our Rx from CVS, picked up a few items from the grocery and biked home. Last night we had a great meal at East End Steak House so tonight we will cook. Our destination for tomorrow is Sylvan Beach.
Exotic cruising through areas called Frankfort, Rome, Verona and Vienna! Did we make a wrong turn somewhere? Fifty miles and five locks later we arrive in Sylvan Beach. We must have topped the hill on the Erie Canal because at Lock 21 today, the locks started taking us to lower elevations instead of higher ones. Around 3pm, after docking in Sylvan Beach NY, we headed into town on our bikes. This is a popular vacation spot for this area and there was lots of activity. The beaches on Oneida Lake were full of people and there is an amusement park here that was built in the 50’s that will take you back in time. If you are our age, you will see every carnival ride you loved as a child. We played skeeball, rode the Tilt-A-Whirl and ate dinner at Harpoon Eddies. What a fun afternoon. Weather predicted to deteriorate tomorrow so we will get up early and cross the Oneida Lake (20+ miles in a more open water environment than the canal).
The weatherman says “Into every life a little rain must fall” and then he predicted ours would be today at 11am. So we got up and were out at 7am to beat the storm. We crossed the most open portion of the Erie Canal, 22 miles through Oneida Lake. It was a beautiful morning and hard to believe storms were coming our way. We were at Winter Harbor Marina in Brewerton, NY by 9:30 am and the rain held off until around 3ish. We had time to grab the courtesy car and make our rounds in town. Tomorrow, weather permitting , we will leave the Erie Canal on its own to meander further west toward Niagara Falls & Buffalo before spilling out into Lake Erie. When we come out of Lock 23 a mile down the way, we will go in a new northerly direction on the Oswego Canal 30+ miles, step down 8 locks and poise in the Port of Oswego, ready to cross Lake Ontario into Canadian waters. We are checking all our list to make sure all details are handled for Customs & Immigration, Homeland Security, passports, Verizon arrangements (we won’t have any service), etc. I will have to give away my herbs tomorrow because we cannot take foreign soil into Canada. They are much pickier than the Bahamian mon was, eh?
Blue skies and out we go at 7am! Ah, the sweet smell of diesel fumes to accompany your morning java! We jump off the Erie Canal and enter the Oswego Canal almost immediately. We had 8 locks and figured we would average 30 minutes per lock=4 hours of locking, plus 30+ miles at 7-8 mph avg (Yes, there are speed limits posted all the way through the canal system). So imagine our delight when we arrived in Oswego before 1pm!! Only one little problem today, about halfway through Oswego Canal we hit a deadhead. I was below and heard the loud hit, Brad throttled back immediately and I got to the aft deck just in time to see a huge log pop above the surface and then sink out of sight again. Dang! And we had just swapped to our nicer props in NJ. Slight vibrations seem to be coming from our port side. We called ahead and got an appointment with a diver for 4pm. Our marina is just short of entering Lake Ontario, but when we came in we were close enough to see the breakers out there. Glad we are not headed out today. Tuesday looks like our best bet for crossing over to Canada. The Great Lakes can get just as nasty as the ocean when she has a bad day. Sailors beware!! I’m doing a liquor inventory today because Canada charges an exorbitant price to bring in alcohol. We may end up pouring out a lot of our ship’s bar (but not Brad’s beer or my wine). Guess there will be some happy fish swimming around our boat this afternoon! We are thinking we will all head up the hill to the Mexican restaurant tonight!
The weather is beautiful but windy with high around 80. Lake Ontario is still kicking up her heels! Too rough for pleasure cruisers like us to be out there. We have work to do anyway today. Our divers said that the props & shaft looked fine so we didn’t swap to our spare prop yesterday, but we took the boat out again this morning to try to diagnose the exact characteristics of the vibration and the mechanic expert says his money is still on it being a prop issue. We hope that’s where our money is too because we know our money will go further on a prop issue than on a shaft issue!! Hurray, at 1pm the divers return & pull the prop and there is a definite bend in one of the blades. We swap props and should be good to go when the Lake lays down. Mary & I spent literally hours on the phone rearranging wireless coverage to include Canada and unfortunately someone used our credit card number for some fraudulent internet purchases this week so we had to deal with that and arranging for a new card. Our Canadian Garmin Chart Plotter did not load so we had to have a software upgrade to our unit. Closest we’ve come to feeling like a day in the office in quite awhile. Going out for Mexican tonight.
Tomorrow’s forecast is for 1 foot seas and winds less than 10mph. Oh Canada, looks like our day to visit! We have a 50+ mile day so we will be out early. Sure hope our port engine vibration is totally gone! We were finally able to get a Canadian package from Verizon for our broadband, but we have heard that Verizon signals will not be available everywhere. Hopefully there will be some Wifi available in some of the marinas and with both of those capabilities, we will try to continue posting as regularly as possible. With most of our work done yesterday, it was nice to have a day to explore Oswego. We visited Fort Oswego that has been restored to its 1868 appearance, the City Hall and Main Street, the pedestrian bridge over Lock 8 and several parks along the way. And of course, we visited the hardware and grocery stores (a must in every city we visit). Grilling the last of our Mahi-Mahi tonight.
This town is gearing up because they have a major golf tourney here this weekend. Tiger will be here. Hope the winds die down for him too.