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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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Continuation of a long day - Lift & Swing Bridges
08/21/2008, Black Rock Canal - Erie, PA to Buffalo, NY to Tonawanda NY 1

The Bascule is a lift bridge with a vertical clearance of 17 feet so we had to wait. The Bridge tender said there were 3 boats coming from the other direction and asked if we could wait - sure not a problem. Forward a little, neutral, reverse, kinda good practice for me. From there through the Black Rock Canal to another bridge - this one a swing bridge. When we called, nobody answered on channel 13 so we tried channel 16 too. Still no answer, then we noticed a sign that said wait here until the light changes. More good practice - forward, shuffle to the right, neutral, shuffle back to the left, reverse - don't go past the sign that says stop here... the Black Rock Swing bridge (we soon discovered) opens up right to the Black Rock Locke (say that fast) that lets down bound traffic through the lock on the hour, and up bound traffic through on the hour.

First Night Trip
E. Winds 5-10knots; Temp: Low 50s; High Pressure System; moon very bright though
08/21/2008, Erie, PA to Buffalo, NY to Tonawanda NY 1:30AM

Oh my gosh! At 1:30 am my phone started playing loud rap music! That was quite an alarm... I probably woke up the sailboat next to us. I definitely need to figure out how to change the volume for the alarm clock - it works quite well LOL!!!

2:15 am with coffee in hand, the anchor came up, and we were navigating in the dark staying between the red and green buoys out of the lagoon. Then into the harbor, find the buoys again, check the charts and out of the harbor, into Lake Erie once more. This is our first night sail and I was on pins and needles all the way out. At 3:50am I plotted our position at 42o11.30 x 80o01.8 and from there we headed 51o to Buffalo. We both stayed up top for a bit, then Wayne took the helm and I went below for a little over an hour before Wayne called me up for sunrise. The horizon started to glow faintly, then turn red for about a half hour before sunrise (6:35am). Sunset today is at 8:35pm which gives us plenty of time to get across the lake and into Buffalo.

It was really difficult to sleep but we both tried catnaps all morning before giving up. I'm sure we look like the living dead. We went under the Peace Bridge that connects Buffalo to Ontario with a vertical clearance of 83 ft.

Ashtabula OH to Erie PA (Presque Isle Bay State Park Marina)
Wind on the nose
08/20/2008, N42o09.33 x W080o07.28

Got up and looked out to see the sky pink and clearing, with very little wind and no sound of crashing waves on the breakwater. Got a weather report and decided we could go today so headed to Erie PA. We're going to get to bed early and get up at 2 in the morning, to head out to Tonawanda, so that we can get through Buffalo NY while it's daylight. We forgot to bring an alarm clock but I noticed my phone has an alarm so hopefully that will work.

We pulled out right behind Carpe' Diem - again - he pulled out about a half hour ahead and this time I watched and noted we were going in the same direction. About half way there it occurred to me that he'd have his ears on channel 16 so I hailed him and asked if they were going to Erie and he acknowledged that they were, so I asked about the Erie Canal - affirmative, and the Bahamas - affirmative! We met up finally at the gas and pump out docks in Erie - the boat is an Endeavor (Curt & Karen) - and chatted briefly. They're going to hang around for a couple days so we'll probably meet up on the Erie Canal again. We're both going to Wardell's to have our masts unstepped for the trip down the canal. Everyone we've talked to seems to go to Wardell's. They're not ecstatic about the place and say that they have to do all the work themselves, but heck, that's how I learn things the best - by doing them. I hear that it's kind of rustic but it will be interesting.

Erie has a large harbor - nice size city to the left as you enter the harbor. Presque Isle Bay is a completely land locked harbor that you can sail around or motor boat around in without having to enter Lake Erie if there's a nasty blow on the big water. We anchored in the Presque Isle State Park Lagoon on the western side for the night. Very nice anchorage.

Leftover spaghetti for dinner and early to bed... here's hoping the alarm works on the phone.



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