On to Newark & Problem Solving Opportunities
01 September 2011
We pushed on down the Erie Canal to Newark. This trip began well. The canal was beautiful, and over part of the morning we were going over a section that was actually higher than the land alongside it, so that we were looking down at trees! We went through two more locks (we've done six on the Erie by now). The first lock of the two lowered us another 25 feet and the second 17.
What was challenging was that a HUGE barge and tug went through these to locks with us. The Lockmaster told us to pull all the way forward in the locks, taking the last rope to hold the stern and a boat hook to a ladder on the lock to hold in the bow. Merry handled the boat hook at the bow, while Wiley grasped the rope hanging down the canal wall by the stern. Interestingly, the tug and barge didn't use any lines at all; they just floated down' pretty close to us at the front of the long, as the water went out. It it kind of like being in a big bathtub with the plug being pulled - only we were in the tub with Baby Huey! The tug and barge began drifting toward us, and Wiley yelled to the deck hand on the barge that if they hit us, he would sue them for the full cash value of our boat $300. He laughed and told us not to worry, "the Captain knows what he is doing," which indeed proved to be the case, as our Little Les Miserables and the barge emerged from both canals without so much as a new scratch!
The BAD news - the Lockmaster told us that the 4 locks on the eastern Erie Canal were flooded, damaged and closed. So we are now thinking we may not be able to finish the Canal trip in the time frame needed.
We wanted to spend the night at Newark because they have a six screen movie theater, and Merry wanted to see "The Help". When we got to Newark we found friendly people and free facilities - showers, wi-fi and laundry. What we didn't find was the movie -"The Help". However, "the help" is what we needed!
2 Days before we got to Newark, something (our guess is a wasp) stung Merry in the wrist. By the next day, Merry's hand and lower arm had swelled up (she was looking more and more like Popeye), it turned red, and was painful. She was also dizzy and the red mark and swelling was moving up her arm. She took some antihistamine - but really it did nothing for her except let her sleep. One of the helpful dockmasters, actually helped walk her with Wiley to the doctors (who kindly gave up his lunch hour to see her) . She had an allergic reaction and a possible infection and he prescribed medications. She has been waiting for the "glow of retirement" and the side effects of the medication has her "glowing" her face is bright red - so we now suspect that she may be allergic to the meds.... yikes! However, the swelling and redness is going down. It is all good?!
Meanwhile, we have learned that the eastern Erie Canal will probably be closed for the rest of the year. This is the near universal opinion of experienced local boaters, and is what some of the Lockmasters have been saying privately. We called the State of New York Canal Authority, and what they say is that they simply don't know when the canal will reopen and will not know for at least a week; if the canal is closed, it means that we cannot do the trip we planned.
In addition to half the east coast, that wicked hurricane Irene has wrecked our voyage! To make matters worse, we learned that the marina where we shipped our mast, boom, and dinghy (on the Catskill River just up from the Hudson) is UNDERWATER, and we haven't been able to get through by phone or e-mail. However, unlike many who suffered because of the hurricane; we are alive and (with the exception of the wasp sting) well, and our boat (with the possible exception of her mast, book, roller furling and dinghy) is in good shape. (Aside from that Mrs. Lincoln - how was the play?) If we had not had the disagreement over whether or not to install refrigeration, we would have left weeks earlier than we did, and our boat would have taken a "direct hit" from the hurricane. (Back to the I told you so...) We have much to be thankful for... needless to say, however, instead of being thankful Wiley has fallen into a deep depression over the idea of giving up his "trip of a lifetime". A glass or three of Bordeaux would help his mood, and he has only one bottle that he picked up in Holley. However he refuses to drink alone, and medications prevent his "co-captain" from having any wine. A sorry state of affairs.