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The First Mate's Journal
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Great Lakes to The Bahamas
Who: Wayne & Pat
Port: Jackson
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Still in Little Falls
Wet, Rainy 70s
09/06/2008, Little Falls, NY

Woke up to the patter of raindrops at 5 am and ran around the boat in the dark closing all the ports and hatches. It looks like the remnants of Tropical Storm Hannah have caught up to us so we stayed put today. Why go stand in the rain and fight the slippery ropes in the locks if there's no real hurry...

Walked into Little Falls with our rain slickers on (yep out walking in the rain) and went to the Post Office (Hannah - watch for the mail), Farmers Market, Bank, and Grocery store. Got another better picture of a train for Blade but still not with the engine.

Wet, gloomy day but with power - I got the chance to work on uploading pictures to the website. For those wondering why I'm not in the pictures? I'm taking them J
Can't wait to get the sails back up! Bill your comment cracked both of us up. Ahhhh I can feel the gentle winds now Ha Ha Ha

There's a fisherman outside our boat (3 actually). I told him we get every third one and he said we wouldn't want them - mercury poison, and a host of other things are in the canal. He called what they were doing a "certain type" of fishing, which I took offense at and told him I didn't think fish could be "ignorant". It went over his head. I hate when people use racial terms, be they white, black, or green... I came back in and want nothing to do with him...

Oh hey - my cell phone works - Nathan called earlier - and left a message so I tried calling him back (one of my favorite students). I think Allie was there too (another favorite) but she didn't say anything. Hope they're doing well and in college now!!! Allie has a terrific eye - wish I could take pictures like she does... Oh well... Enough - lets see if I can get my pages uploaded... Called Steph - JESSE's playing football tonight!!! Wow - go Jesse!

09/21/2008 | Alli
:) I was so there.

& I gave in and took a photography class this year...
I looked at your pictures on your website, and they're quite goood! :D

Ilion to Little Falls, NY
92 and sunny
09/05/2008, Little Falls, NY

Wow - forgot to mention the trains here! There are an unbelievable amount of trains that follow the river system and canal system in this part of the trip. Longggg and louddd but really kinda cool! Everytime I hear them coming I run for the camera to get a shot of the triple engines roaring past but it's to late (thought Blade would like a pic but I don't think it's going to happen!). They stack the cars up on each other so I can see why they need 3 engines to haul them!

Ilion was a pretty nice place - it looks like a lot of the retirees come here for the summer months in their RVs and then head back to Florida for the winter. I chatted with one older female that has pots of geraniums and other flowers around her RV and felt bad because she looked so crest fallen to find out that we were leaving today. She told me how she used to make sails in her younger days (even for some of the America's Cup winners) and how she'd never been on a sailboat in her life. Amazing... I'd have invited her aboard but she looked so frail.

We went to Herkimer from Ilion - somewhere I always wanted to go to dig Herkimer Diamonds but it was so bloody hot, I didn't have the energy to take rock hammer to the stones or go through the mine tailings. We did tie up to the dock and visit their giftshop though - the air conditioning felt marrrrvelous! I wasn't up to a 7 mile hike to visit the mines but the shop had tailings and rocks from the mines surrounding it so people were scouring around the shop grounds. You can rent tools and from what I understand specimens are easier to find since they blasted part of the mine.

From Herkimer we came to Little Falls and decided to put in here. Not sure if it's only for a night or for two nights, depending on what Tropical storm Hannah is bringing here. The prediction is rain and winds so we'll see. If it's raining tomorrow we'll probably stay and work on things that need to be done around the boat. If it's not bad we'll probably head on to Amsterdam (birthplace of Kirk Douglas - seriously - that's what it's known for), which is about 34 miles.

It's pretty nice here - in a valley so no cell service and no wireless but my broadband sprint card seems to be able to access the internet, and I have 30 amp POWER!!! This is one of the nicer stops, on the south side of the canal. It's a 1918 Barge canal terminal building that's been renovated - it has an office, meeting room, showers, restrooms, laundry, fountain (not running due to low water) and rumor has it that you can get a lift into town to the restaurants and back (they'll pick you up). It's a little under a mile to the center of town, with supermarkets, CVS Pharmacy, movie, Dollar General, etc... Nice place. I gave Wayne a haircut in the park here then we went for a shower and read in the shade.

There's a young man here that's bicycling to Florida that the Dock Master is going to take into town for some dinner. It's cute - he has his laundry all over one picnic table to dry. Odds are he'll get there before us - we saw one jogger a few days ago, jogging along the canal and she caught up to us, paced us and passed us over the course of 3 -5 miles. We think she was training for a marathon - you go girl! It was neat when she pulled ahead of us and... just keppppt going, and going, like the energizer bunny....

The next lock we come to is a mile away - Lock 17. It has rope handholds and lowers us 40 ft. This one is the largest single step locks on the Erie and from what I hear the east gate of the lock is pulled up over the canal and you go under it... If it's hot as today, that might feel pretty good to get dripped on, even with canal water... According to Skipper Bob's book, not only is it the highest lift-lock, it's also one of only 2 locks in N. America where the entrance gate is lifted above the boater.

In looking at the charts, the locks start coming closer and faster. The last 5 on the Erie are called "The Waterford Flight of Five" because you must do them all together. These 5 will drop our boat in elevation 169 feet in less than 2 miles - YIKES - no stops permitted on these locks (#s 2-6). The first lock on the Erie is #2. There is no lock 1 or 31 for some reason... That will be an interesting day! Depending on whether it's 3 days away or 4 (weather, etc...) Mary I may not get to wish you a Happy Birthday. I know it's coming up (Tuesday) so just in case: HAPPY BIRTHDAY WOMAN! Did you know that you're a Saint? See my pictures on the website.

Sylvan Beach to Ilion
90 and hot
09/04/2008, Ilion, NY

We were originally going to Utica but ended up in Ilion. I really needed a shower, and power to catch up on my journal and pictures. We covered 4 locks today; two up and now back down again. Lock 22 carried us up 25 ft, then lock 21 another 26 ft up. Sore, sore, sore... But at least the rest of them are going down so we don't have the turbulence to deal with. Hey guess what... they're right, after 20 locks its old hat!

Long day - but beautiful. How can I describe it for you. It was like we were alone on this long winding river and canal, except for a barge and tug here and there. The colors are on the verge of changing. The smells are incredible, sweet wildflowers, the aroma of pine, cedar, and burning campfires all hint at fall. Trees are tinted yellow, and leaves dance on the surface of the water, and the fish... the fish are huge and jumping. Bushes and scrub with red berries line the waterfront, ready for the geese and ducks to start harvesting them. The reed grass and small bamboo grass break through the surface and ripple the water as the wind dances across them. Now that the wild humans are gone the blue herons are along the waters edge hunting for their feast of minnows in the shallows. Ducks and cormorants act as vanguards and swim ahead then part to the side to let us pass almost as if to say, "you lead" and "farwell"...

Some of the old pilings stand entwined in cable in the water - sentinels of days past when they held up old piers perhaps, now at haphazard angles in the canal. Graceful in a sad way...

There were several barges and tugs along the canal today. Some were inspecting bridges, some dredging, some harvesting wood and trees that had fallen into the water. One barge/tug (Erie) that we came up to were getting ready to close the canal behind us to work on a bridge and had heard we were coming so waited for us to pass before closing it. It was funny because it was a beautiful tug (The Erie) so I had to take a picture of it as I passed. After I did, I noticed the tugboat captain was taking my picture in return, and the guy on the barge was snapping a picture of us with his camera phone. We all cracked up - it was funny - I guess you had to be there.

The lock tenders are curious about us and quite courteous. They're quite a breed apart - very special people. I'm convinced they're the friendliest people on earth. Everyone we've met so far has been so wonderful - it amazes me. They take care of you - like you're family - they radio ahead to let the next lock or lift bridge know that you're coming. One couple got yelled at the next day because they didn't show up (decided to stay the night somewhere) so the lock tender was quite concerned about them LOL.

It was hot getting in tonight and after tying up, a shower was in order, then we made Thai peanut chicken for dinner, only I couldn't find my peanuts so used cashews in place. Didn't turn out bad... It feels good to get caught up on the journal...

There's more to Ilion than meets the eye. The Marina and RV Park where we stayed has newer facilities as a result of a grant through a member item from Senator James Seward and other programs from the village. Wi-fi (which I'm currently using to catch up on my journal, grills, blacktop, washers and dryers (pay type) a Veterans Memorial wall and a few other things to attract the RVs and boaters to the village. Very nice - I might add.

A little history of Ilion (a Village in Herkimer County). Ilion (pronounced Ill-E-on) is a name for the ancient city of Troy. It was settled by Palatine Germans around 1725 along Steele's Creek that flows through the village into the Mohawk River. After the American Revolution the community started to flourish with mills, etc. but went through a name change of New London and some of the buildings still have London on them. In 1816 Eliphalet Remington created his first gun, later to become Remington Arms Company and the village continued to grow when the Erie Canal was finished in 1825. In 1843 the citizens wanted a post office but Remington rejected the use of his name for the village so the name Ilion was eventually decided on. So anyone wanting to know where Remington guns began? Yup, right here...

09/05/2008 | Bill
Good Morning, Just thought I would let you know I love reading the blogs, please keep them coming. Us at work are trying to follow your course on the map. We found Ilion but cannot find the lock you are describing. Pictures are awesome. I close my eyes and try to imagine the wind on my face and a full sail then I realize its my coworker blowing on my forehead. LOL take care and I will try and respond to the blogs more often. Bill

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