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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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Little Falls to Fonda
Mostly Sunny, Low to mid 70s
09/07/2008, Fonda, NY

Started out the day (after coffee of course) going to Amsterdam but didn't make it. The locks close earlier now that the summer trade has ended. Instead of closing at 7 they close at 5pm so we ended up putting in at Fonda (where Henry Fonda was born - for those to young: Peter Fonda or Jane Fonda; for those still younger - grand daughter Bridgette Fonda).

Lock 17 was our first Lock of the day. Wow! It was a 40 and a half foot drop. Spectacular, then we had to go UNDER the gate to get out. We were baptized in Erie Canal water as the gate rained down on us. It was pretty exciting for me (honest), until I saw how greenish brown the water wrang out of my gloves (yuk - LOL).

Going up to Lock 16 (6miles further down stream and another 20 ft drop), it just didn't look right and I couldn't figure out why until we got closer. There was a huge commercial Canal Boat that filled it completely so that they had to take the lines out of the water - I mean it filled the Lock! As it was lifted up it looked enormous! We barely had room to get out of the way when it left the lock - quite impressive! All the people (some kind of cruise boat) were waving at us and I could hear the captain come on the loud speaker talking about how sailboats de-mast to transit the canal and go south for the winter. Once we got into the lock we had to fish for the ropes to hang on to because they were all up on the wall.

7 miles more and at Lock 15 (another 8 ft drop) we were the entertainment for an audience of little girls that were waving their hands off- at us (they were so cute). I waved until I was below their line of site, then noticed that they ran ahead to watch us emerge at the bottom. I miss the days when we had little girls to explore the world with - it's sad that it ended and it seems so abruptly...

3 miles further to Lock 14 and an 8 ft drop. There was a 5 engine train hauling oil tankers that would have made a spectacular picture if I'd have grabbed my camera in time, then once we traversed another 8 miles to Lock 13 we decided that there was no way we were going to make it to Lock 12 before 5pm. It was 3:30pm and with almost 13 miles to go at 5.5 knots per hour we were looking at a little over 2 - 2 and a half hours so we tied up in Fonda on the North wall before the Bridge (N42degrees57.023 minutes x W74degrees22.276minutes). This was an interesting stop. The bollards to tie up to were not made for smaller boats - we had to connect 2 ropes together to reach the next bollard and there wasn't a cleat or anything in-between that we could use. This was definitely a place for barges to tie up to. It smelled of thyme and dead things... I kid you not (hopefully not Henry). Every time the wind shifted to over the back of the boat from up stream on shore of the park it smelled like something had died up there (gag)... Luckily the wind didn't shift that way to often so the BBQ Pork chops/broccoli/cheesy potatoes for dinner smelled and tasted pretty good... This looks like a public works park that we tied up to - the gate to the park closes at 3:30 but to be honest - it's not a park I would stop at unless I had to (we had to).

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.

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