Sunday: Forecast is calling for some rain and possibly heavy downpours later in the day, plus we’re hoping to get space on the wall at the Waterford Visiter’s Center which is first come first served, so the earlier we get there the better. However, we still are trying to slow down and enjoy the journey. So if we get space, we’re lucky, if we don’t, there will be other options.
We leave the docks of Donovan’s Shady Harbor at 9:45am for our short 22 nautical mile cruise up the final (for us) leg of the Hudson. Again, the surrounding riverside is looking more like a conventional river versus the striking mountains and cliffs we cruised thru farther south of here. Soon we are in the Albany area, the capital of New York State with it’s striking row of high-rise state office buildings and many older renovated buildings alongside the river. In the port of Albany, just south of downtown, we spotted a barge with a piece of the old Tappan Zee on it. We supposed that this is the burial ground for the old structure. I had a thought and debated trying to call the proper authorities and see if we could purchase the old piece. I was prepared for the following conversation if I got the right person: They would ask me why I was interested in the ‘hunk’ and I would say that we were in the process of building our family tree and that we could use it to span the generations! Then I would offered him $200 for the hunk and he would laugh in my face saying it was worth way more than that just in salvage value. I would proceed to argue with him saying that it wasn’t even complete it was only an abridged version of its former self, it had millions of miles on her, and except for the constant dripping from vehicles, it probably never had a complete oil change! I would even mention to him that if he was concerned about going thru all the paperwork only to find out that we couldn’t afford it, I would re-assure him that we were already approved for a bridge loan. Sorry to say, I never made the call, but just imagining the scenario was fun. Can you all imagine being alone on a boat with this punny guy? -tc
Anyway, back to our cruising, we texted ahead to a fellow looper that had left the marina earlier than us and he kept texting back with the status of the wall and his last text let us know there were at least 4 spots still available on the wall, so we proceeded up to the Troy Lock and waited for an opening. There was a barge and tug moving south above the lock and he had the right of way, so, along with fellow looper Morning Sun, we floated for nearly 40 minutes before locking thru. Right after the lock is the entrance to Waterford Harbor and the wall at the Visitor’s Center. The Erie Canal in Bricks! -tc There’s a Farmer’s Market going on today along with the Corning GlassBarge and there is lots of pedestrian traffic despite the threat of rain (which has still held off). By 1:00pm we are safely docked behind LarryO in Sea Life and Morning Sun ties up just ahead of Sea Life. There are at least 10 looper boats here today and there’s lots of camaraderie.
Tracy had made arrangements with our college friends, Sheree ( My sorority sister!) -tc and Jerry Mirochnik and they show up to reminisce. We have a great time catching up on kids, grandkids, etc. and head out for dinner around 6 pm. They take us to a favorite of theirs called Salty’s and the meal is delicious! Back aboard Kailani, we say our reluctant goodbye’s and they leave with all of us updating our contact information. They own a house in DelRay Florida and we make arrangements to stop on our way thru for golf and more time together. Before turning in for the evening, we decide to stay on the Watertown wall for tomorrow and enjoy the friendship and local fair.
Monday: With so many Looper boats in port, it’s an easy decision to stay for the day and have some fun with fellow loopers. First off, we have to try Don & Paul’s Restaurant in town. A short three block walk from the harbor and you are amazed at the food and the prices. Tracy & I ate till stuffed for $10.80 and we went with Larry and Susan from Sea Life and their bill wasn’t much more. Afterwards and before returning to Kailani, Tracy walked into an antique store and found reproduction of a map similar to one we already have hanging on board and wanted to get it. So we carried a picture frame back to the harbor! A Blau map! What a find! He wanted $30, I got it for $20 -tc.
The local area is very picturesque, so I got some pics of the lock and the surrounding area. We both tried some fishing and I caught two small Smallmouth Bass and Tracy didn’t get much (for a change). Then just before dusk, we were standing around on the dock talking and we started to smell smoke, like burning rubber and it was coming from one of the junction boxes on the pier. So I went up to the office and let them know and in about ten minutes a town electrician was there locating, diagnosing and repairing the burnt power connection and we were back in business with power on our dock. We also took the opportunity to pump out our holding tanks because it’s been longer than a week and we will probably be anchoring or at walls with no facilities for the next couple of days.
Finally, before turning in, Larry and I agree to shove off at 7:30 am to get thru the flightlock early. They will open at 7:00 am and hopefully, we will get thru right after that. So with an early plan for Tuesday, we turn in before it’s ridiculously late. The lock at night, sunset in the opposite direction. -tc
Tuesday: I have the coffee set for auto brew at 6:00 am, but I end up waking at 5:45 am. So after waiting for my first cup of coffee, we start preparing for the day. Larry needs a pump out and so he leap-frogs past Kailani to get to the pump out station and cleans out his black water holding tanks. As we’re preparing our lines and utilities for a 7:30 am departure, several boats line up at the lock and get an opening at 7:10 am and the day is off. Larry and I agree that we’ll get into the lock right after it raises those boats and lowers again to catch us. However, as the cruising saying goes, ‘never have a schedule or agenda because you never know what might arise!’ Today reaffirmed that adage so just as we were calling the lock for an opening, a third vessel behind us was asking for the same and we thought it was another motor yacht. However the call came for the Tug Captain pushing the Corning Glass Barge down the Erie Canal and the dockmaster called us to say that the commercial vessel would have the right of way, sop we would have to wait until the barge cleared. So with interest, we watched the Captain of the Jay Bee IV blindly push the tug towards the lock. I say blindly because she was completely blocked from a forward view by the barge she was pushing! So she had to have a spotter on the front of the barge speaking to her on Marine VHF Safety Channel 6 giving her directions to avoid hitting bridge abutments, lock walls, etc. As you can imagine, this became a slow process and we began to realize that we were in it for the long haul. So Tracy dashed down to Kailani’s Galley and ten minutes later had full breakfast(s) for Larry, Sue, me and herself! That was a nice way to spend the downtime! Our plan for a 7:30 am departure turned into an 8:50 am departure and to rub salt on the wounds, the tug and barge were extremely slow going from lock to lock, so the Waterford Flightlock (as it’s referred to) took three hours to complete and it usually takes two hours! Oh well, patience is a boating requirement.
We travelled with loopers Sea Life, Tortuga and Loofah III throughout the day and made it to and thru Lock 8 in Scotia, NY. So our statistics for the day are twenty-one nautical miles completed in seven hours and forty five minutes! Well, they call the Erie Canal “Life in the Past Lane”.
After passing thru Lock 8, we met up with Morning Sun at the wall and Morning Sun, Sea Life and us spent a nice evening on the wall looking forward to getting some miles under our keels tomorrow!
Wednesday: For some strange reason, I wake up at 5:15 am! Maybe I knew I would have to turn on the generator to make a pot of coffee! Can’t auto brew when we don’t have shore power. So the coffee brewed and I started my morning routine. We planned to go 36 nautical miles today and end up at the Canajoharie Terminal Wall which will include 5 locks. So we’re ready to depart by 7:30 am but Sea Life and Morning Sun are moving a bit slower today. Also, I had mentioned to them that I needed to burn off some blow-by today since I had spent the entire day yesterday below 1,000 rpm’s. So Tracy and ZI left at 8:00 am and we all agreed to meet at in Canajoharie later in the day.
Our day was like we owned the waterway! We passed two Canadian trawlers and one sailboat, that’s it! So we pretty much had the canal to ourselves including each of the five locks, and since there wasn’t much traffic, the lock masters phoned ahead for us and nearly all the locks were ready for us to cruise right in without any significant waiting time. So we expected to be on the water until nearly 3:00 pm but we were pulling into Canajoharie by 1:00 pm. That was the good news, the bad news was that the floating dock with power and water was full, plus the rain that we weren’t supposed to get until later on this evening had already begun and we would have to dock on the concrete wall in the rain.
Another Looper boat was one of the four already docked and he called me on the VHF and said he would meet us on the concrete wall to grab our lines, so that was nice of him. Then I touched base with Sea Life and Morning Sun to let them know that we had missed the power, but there was plenty of space for both of them on the wall. Larry let me know that they had picked up another looper, ‘Navigator’ and I let him know there was 250 feet of wall, so there should be no issues with space, but I wasn’t sure of the depths farther in on the creek. As it turned out, Sea Life, Morning Sun, Navigator and Tortuga all pulled in and there was room for all five loopers.
But lets go back to just prior to Sea Life, Morning Sun and Navigator turning into the creek. I was talking to Sea Life on the VHF and telling him to turn to port and slide in right in front of me on the wall when all of a sudden, an irresponsible Sea Ray boater (probably 50 feet or more) shoots to Larry’s port side and passes him at full speed! Larry has to maneuver out of the way, negotiate the obnoxious wake, and clean up the galley after that idiotic move! But after a lot of cussing and finger gestures towards the Sea Ray, we got all Looper boats safely tied up on the wall and set for the evening.
Rain was expected for later this evening and into Thursday, however, the rains had already come if heavy fashion and everyone stayed pretty much dry by staying indoors on their own boats. We were looking at forecasts that were calling for about twenty hours of rain with some locally heavy downpours. But Thursday would prove the forecasters wrong.
Thursday: We did get the rains on Wednesday afternoon into the evening and more thru the night, but when morning broke on Thursday, the rains were over. It was still overcast, but the rains were gone, so one by one, we all decided to get out of dodge while the getting was good. Our plan was to call the Ilion Marina as we cruised and try for a reservation along their wall which had power and water. So Navigator was in the lead followed by Morning Sun, Sea Life then us as we pulled away from the docks and at 8:00am the looper brigade was back on the canal.
Today’s cruise to Ilion was 25 NM and five locks including the tallest lock on the system at Little Falls where 4.5 million gallons of water would lift us 40.5 feet.
As we cruised, Tracy called Ilion Marina and confirmed that there would be room for us and the rest of the caravan.
As the lock gates opened on lock E15, our second lock of the day, our starboard engine would not start. So I started the port engine and got us out of the lock to contemplate our options. I looked on the voltmeter for the starboard engine and it was reading 10 volts. This is not enough power to start these engines, so I decide to have Tracy take over the helm while I go down to the engine room and check it out. We’re both wearing headsets, so I talk to Tracy the whole time and when I get into the engine room, I turn the battery switch for the port engine over to feed the starboard engine and ask Tracy to start the engine and as I suspected, it fires right up and we’re back in business (cruising at least). However, I monitor the voltmeter for the rest of the cruise and it never really gets above 10.5 volts, so for the last three locks, I chose to keep the starboard engine running so we won’t have any starting issues for the remainder of the day. It’s not the preferred way of locking up since while we’re down in the bottom of the lock, the fumes can build up and get nasty, but I let the other three boats know what I’m doing and we stay in the back of the pack and the rest of the day in the locks works out well. I think the bigger picture is an issue with one of my combiner/separators where it did not properly isolate the starting battery form the power drawdown at 12.3 volts as it should and the battery fell down to 10 volts and that’s simply not enough juice to kick over the engine. Another factor today that helps is that there isn’t really much traffic on the canal, so each lock master called ahead to the next lock and except the Little Falls lock, each lock was open and ready for us to cruise right in when we approached with no waiting. However, the distance from lock E17 to E18 (Little Falls) is over and hour’s cruise time, so in that time, there was an eastbound vessel that got to the lock before us, so the dockmaster had to lock him down before we could enter. As he was locking down and we were waiting, we got to see what 4.5 million gallons of water looks like dumping out of a 40.5 foot high lock. The water boiled to about six feet high coming out of the lower end of the lock,that’s powerful!
Also, on our last lock apparently there was some work going on but we’re not really sure where the work was taking place because the sign at the entrance to the lock warned us of “ Anal Construction Ahead”!
The day started out sort of cloudy and overcast, but by the time we were turning to port to dock at Ilion Marina, the sun was breaking thru the clouds and the rest of the day would be spectacular. After Navigator docked and Morning Sun pulled to the fuel dock, Sea Life docked and we pulled in right behind her. Back while we had been waiting for lock E18 to open, Tracy had gone over the VHF to the armada and suggested we get together for a potluck dinner this evening and everyone agreed. So we planned for an 8 person potluck, but as the afternoon went on, Cormarant II showed up followed by Tortuga, so the pot-luck just grew to 12 people. That’s one of the advantages of membership in the AGLCA, instant camaraderie.
The marina is very friendly, with an extremely nice setting, really good power and the internet isn’t half bad either. It’s a great deal for one dollar per foot. Supper was delicious, the friendship conversation went into the night after dinner and we all turned in to see what tomorrow would bring. However, Larry and I have already decided that we will stay for another day no matter what.
Friday: We start the day to learn that Navigator, Morning Sun and Tortuga will all be heading out this morning, but along with Sea Life and us, Cormarant II will stay also. Some of the guys want to own and carry onboard their vessels, the same pump out adaptor that I carry already and Bill (Morning Sun) learned form a post in the AGLCA Forum, that they can be scored very inexpensively at Tractor Supply because farmers have found a use for them. So instead of the typical $35 marine store price, we can get them for less than $10 from the farm store. So Larry and I decide to ride bikes to the local Tractor Supply store (2 miles away) while Tracy, Carol (Sea Life), Mal and Corrine (Cormarant II) decide to go to the Herkimer Diamond Mines. https://www.herkimerdiamond.com/
Don Sterling, the Marina General Manager helps us locate the Tractor Supply store, then he says ‘the roads to get there aren’t really safe for bicycles, let me drive you there’ So Larry and I go with Don to buy pump out adaptors. In the end, we buy three adaptors fro Tractor Supply and three gasket O-rings from the Ace Hardware and end up with three complete pump out adaptors for less than ten dollars each. Larry spots an Aldi’s Market next to the Ace Hardware, so he and I go in and he buys some of his favorite chocolates and I buy some fresh fruit, then we walk back to the marina. Bill from Morning Sun is still there, so we fit him with one of the three sets and off he goes west on the canal.
On Don’s recommendation, Larry and I give the steak and cheese sandwich a try for lunch and they’re delicious. We’re not talking shaved beef here we’re talking a 3/4” cut of tenderloin steak.
The diamond seekers return and the afternoon starts to heat up, but the real heat won’t start until tomorrow with a few days near 100 degrees in the forecast.
Tracy gets confirmation that another sorority sister from college days, Lynn and her husband John will have tome tonight to drop by, so we make arrangements for their visit. I also take the time to confirm reservations for Saturday at Mariners Landing and Sunday to Monday at Winter Harbor Marina. That eases some stress because this is the fourth of July holiday week and transient slips could be hard to nail down during this holiday.
John and Lynn show shortly after six and we have some cheese and crackers aboard Kailani, then over to Voss’s Diner right here at the marina and have a nice dinner whilst catching up on old and new times. After they leave around 9:00 pm we do a few chores aboard Kailani and turn in for the evening.
Saturday: Larry & I are both up early getting our vessels ready for an early departure to Sylvan Beach. We’re looking at 35 NM which is a four hour cruise with four locks to negotiate, so add thirty minutes for each lock and we have a six hour cruise ahead of us. The weather is very comfortable this early in the morning but we know it will get oppressive this afternoon. We have a reservation at the Mariner’s Landing Marina in Sylvan Beach, but the deal there is that they put transients on the fuel dock, so they don’t let you move onto the dock until 5:30pm. So Larry decides to just tie up on the wall and stay there without power and Tracy & I decide to get there, tie up to the wall, then see how the weather is before deciding whether to go to the marina or not, and off we go. Cormarant II is working on his lines and getting ready to leave as well, however he is admittedly, a much slower sailboat.
The first two locks today will be the last two locks lifting us up in the system and the last two locks will start bringing us back down to the elevation of Lake Ontario. All in all we will have been lifted 419 feet from the Hudson River up to a total elevation of 420.4 feet above sea level, then we will be dropped back down to 245.1 feet at Lake Ontario.
Once we are under way, two other fairly fast boats appear in our rear view mirrors and they are the two Flemings that were at the Ilion Marina with us yesterday. So they are with us in our first lock E-19, then we let them pass us before reaching lock E-20 and that turns out to be a bad move because lock E-20 is a port side tie only, meaning that we can only use the left side wall of the lock to secure our vessels. The lock master asks Cormarant II to wait outside the lock for him to lift us and bring the water back down to get him and that move puts him way behind us for the rest of the day. There was also an unusually long wait at this lock and it added thirty minutes to our commute.
After the two lifts and the two drops, we were soon approaching Sylvan Beach and we were able to make contact with Morning Sun and Navigator who were holding three slips on the wall for us. So as Sea Life and Kailani approached the wall, Bill and Dennis were waiting for our lines and quickly, we were secured to the wall. However, the heat was full fledged cranking and there was no way we could keep the cabin comfortable, so we ran the generator for an hour and turned on the AC, then promptly made a decision to take the slip waiting for us at Mariner’s Landing even if we had to wait until 5:30pm. At 5:35pm we were tying up at the dock and hooking up the shore power for the AC to run all night if necessary.
Since we are on their fuel dock they’ll want us off rather early in the morning (8:00am) but we want to get an early start across Oneida Lake anyway so we can miss the early bird fisherman and the afternoon crazies! We find out soon enough that the power at this marina is severely outdated and we’re only getting 102 volts into the boat where we should be getting 120 volts. Needless to say we won’t be enjoying any air conditioning after all but the humidity is gone and the sun is starting to fall so we may have some comfort with the fans running. But there’s a campground attached to this marina and we get to enjoy some bad Karaoke from the campers. I can’t handle the heat, so I set up a mosquito net on the sundeck and “camp out for the night. Was kinda fun actually! -tc This will be our first evening since New York City without trains and highways adjacent to our dockage, so we we’re looking forward to a quiet evening with a pizza delivery. At least we’ll get one out of two!
One bit of noteworthy information is that we have completed 1,428 nautical miles to date so we are virtually 25% completed on our year long adventure over the past two and one half months.