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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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Guard Gate 2 to Waterford, End of The Erie Canal
T storms/rain Cold Front moved it
09/09/2008, Waterford, NY

It was a dark and stormy night... errr day... that is... (cold front moved in this morning around 7:30)

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MARY!

Got up at 6 (and yes - I need my coffee) and eyed the sky. Wayne went topside to have his coffee and Heinz came by and told us that they'd be lifting the Guard Gate shortly.

They went through and we vacillated - to wait - or go... These are the last 5 locks on the Erie Canal and there is no stopping over. Once you start - you have to finish, and it takes about 2 hours to transit them (they're pretty close together - all 5 are within 1.5 miles). The" flight of 5" We decided to go - so cast off about 7:30. You could see the front approaching from behind us.

We managed to transit Lock 6 (33ft drop in elevation) no problem. Cold front was whipping up the winds. Lock 5 (33 ft drop in elevation) we got a quarter of the way down and the rains came down in buckets, thunder and lightening ensued and the Lock Master apologized and told us to tie up and wait it out. Hope we didn't mind... I looked at him like he was crazy and yelled - you're the one standing on the metal gate - get in out of the lightening! He grinned and disappeared with a wave and we tied up using the canal ropes then went below and cut the power and instruments for the boat, and had our second cup of coffee, while we waited out the lightening storm. I thought about it and we were in the safest place we could be - about 12 ft below the winds - sheltered by 4 walls (granted the walls were metal, the gates were metal, the rails were metal, etc... but we were now below the level of strike). I had to laugh because I was actually having fun!

After the lightening lessened the Lock Master yelled back down to us to untie now, so we did and went on to Lock 4 in the rain (man it was pouring buckets until we managed to tie up in Waterford). It was amazing. All the algae that had covered the lock walls was gone... and on our boat... When we came topside, there was black flakes and spots all over our deck in massive amounts. We had to circle and circle until Lock 4 opened (he was transiting up another sailboat -westbound). So I'd pull near the wall in my circle and chase the gulls off the wall - couldn't believe how many were perched there. A lot of the algae was flushed off by the heavy rains, that which didn't get flushed... oh well... Lock 4 was a 35 ft drop, then Lock 3 in the torrential rain (35 ft drop also). I yelled to Wayne in Lock 3 "Man! This is fun!" "What?" "I said - I'M HAVING FUN!!!" and I meant it. I was having fun traveling the locks in the thunderstorm, then the torrential downpours. Then the rain lessened a bit and when we got to Lock 2 (34 ft drop) we noticed that Heinz and Marlena were still in the Lock holding their ropes in the rain (nice raingear too). It looked like the Lock Master was waiting for us for the last lock. So we transited 169 ft down within 1.5 miles. I think that this is the steepest gradient drop anywhere.

We followed La Buena Vida into Waterford, the docks were really filled - so many tugboats all along the free dock (with the power and water). We later found out that there had been a Tug Boat Competition this last weekend - which explained all the tugs tied to the wall. La Buena Vida pulled into the one free spot, and we went ahead and circled back waiting for someone to leave (which they did) and we pulled in as they pulled out. This area has a very high wall and has 15 amp power lines lying along the grass - none of which reached our boat so Wayne got our trusty adapter and extension cord and wella - I have power to type up my journal. They're supposed to have wireless here, but it doesn't show up... oh well... I'll post these when I can, but type and download my pics first. A fire truck and rescue boats came by and launched off the boat dock next to us and the truck that launched the rescue boat got stuck so the fire truck had to hoist him back up. I guess somebody said a boat got loose so they were launching a rescue. Only problem was - there were no boats that got loose. I figured it was probably just a drill...

When we got all tied up, I had to pop some bubbly! 346 miles down and this was our last lock on the Erie Canal. Salude!

Yes, yes... 11:00 am, but that Asti was just calling - "It's 5:00 o Clock somewhere!?" So leg two - of the Erie Canal - over. Next up is the Hudson River and New York City Harbor... Cheers!





09/10/2008 | Stephanie
Mom - What a trip through the Erie locks! Seeing your photo (toasting with my matching dolphin glass : ) made me feel so good. And reading about the fun you're having, challenges - you're living life - and again I am so happy for you. I love you.
Fonda to Guard Gate 2
High Pressure - Sunny 70s
09/08/2008, N42o48.370 x W73o42.877

Locks 12 to 7 today, so a long day for us. Lock 12 had no power but got it back 5 minutes after we got there. There was one guy standing there watching us come in and when the Lock Master said "Morning Captain" to me, I said "oh no, he's the Captain, I'm the helmsmen" We laughed (except the guy watching me). The observer turned to the Lock Master and said "we'll they need to learn sooner or later aye?" in reference to my handling the boat into the lock. I cozied up to the wall, threw the engine in reverse, stopped the boat in front of the rope, picked it up, looked him in the eye and said better sooner than later aye?" He didn't like that, but looked me square in the eye and said where you heading? Wayne said "the Bahama's. I just smiled, and he left.

Lock 11 went without a hitch, but when we got to 10 and locked in, he had some problems and let us know. "Letting the water out is no problem, but letting it in there's only one inlet working". Then we sat for a while and he yelled down at us that he couldn't get the gates open, do we mind? Well, no. But do we have a choice? 5 minutes later he asked if we could get out if he got one gate open? We said we're 12 ft wide, and he said it's 20 ft, so shouldn't be a problem. 10 minutes later, they both started opening, so it wasn't a problem. The rest of the Locks went without a hitch. So a total elevation drop today of 98 ft.

We Tried to stop at the Crescent Terminal Wall in Saratoga County at the free dock east of Bridge E-6 but it was filled with two barges and a tug so we went on to Guard Gate 2 hoping to be able to tie up there. There was room behind another green sailboat called La Buena Vida so we pulled in behind them and they came up and caught our lines. Nice couple from Kingston, Ontario Canada - Marlena and Heinz. They're heading down for the Bahamas also (they've made this trip several times already). Very nice boat and very nice people.

A cold front is supposed to be approaching late night/early morn with some severe thunderstorms heading our way tomorrow. The following day is supposed to be nice though so we'll see.

Sausage & garlic/butter egg noodles for dinner (wish I had some sauerkraut to go with mmmmmm). Theoretically - Waterford and power tomorrow.

Oh the picture for the day? The second lock we went to was next to an industrial area. I spotted this VW Beetle on top of the smoke stack. Don't know the story behind it but Wow I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it...

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).


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