09/25/2011, Annapolis, Maryland
We had an easy trip to Annapolis and stayed at the lovely Westin Hotel. We borrowed their free bikes and biked to Annapolis to sight see while we waited for the arrival of our boat to the Bert Jabins Marina. The Naval Training Base was impressive - we especially enjoyed the Tomb of John Paul Jones and the Naval Museum. It reminded us how rich in history this area is. We saw George Washington's shoe buckles, comb, dishes, etc. in the musuem and were reminded that this was for a brief period the capital of our government. It is also where George Washington surrendered his commission as general - a shock to many - giving up the absolute power that Congress had given him. The tribute to African American slaves by Alex Hailey the author of Roots is in downtown Annappolis. This is where Kunte Kinte was brought by ship from Africa. We dined in a building, formerly a tavern, built in 1747 where George Washington had been and enjoyed some crab. We barely scratched the surface of all that Annapolis has to offer and are hoping to do more touring when our boat is ready.
We arrived at the marina just as our boat came in on its truck. It was amazing to see our friends boat, Kathy and John Noland's boat Aurora, along with ours on one transport. We began the challenge of preparing the boat once again to continue our trip.
We soon discovered that while our boom, mast, and dinghy did not float on down the Hudson during the Irene Hurricane - it was FILLED with mud! We spent a full day hosing the mud out of the mast and boom. We had the mast tipped at an angle to let the mud roll out and left it over night to hopefully complete the job. Yardsmen said that it would "preserve" the boat. Trying to keep a sense of humor I said I thought that maybe I should put some mud on me since I too needed preserving - they offered to help me out!
Of course, a cloud of rain continues to follow us so it rained, rained, and rained.
We finally were able to have the mast put up and out came more mud. Every line we run through the mast is covered in mud. We have hosed down every line over and over. Every time we raise the main we will need to keep a bucket of water to douse the main sheet line. After reattaching everything, we discovered that our anchor light is not working. Also, in addition to spending time cleaning out mud Merry had the great experience of going up the mast to grab the jib halyard which was on the wrong side of the spreaders at the top of the mast. Lucky Wiley was the "winch man" and he got the great opportunity to winch his wife up the mast. it was no easy feat, and we had to do it twice because the first time Merry was tangled in an extra safety line. The view from up the mast was fantastic - when you looked out over the harbor - however looking down definitely made Merry think about totally trusting Wiley's skills as the "winch man". However, even though he had his opportunity to finish off his wife (and he had reason to - Merry was not a joy to be around as we cleaned off mud and dealt with all of the rain) he returned Merry safely to the boat. We worked all day on preparing the boat. Our friends Kathy and John, those without mud, set off to anchor in Annapolis and think about next steps. Our hope is to provision the boat today, have the anchor light fixed on Monday, and finally begin the next step of the trip. Please PRAY for no more rain for us - we would appreciate it!!
09/25/2011, Annapolis, Maryland
Faced with the reality that a hurricane had made this trip we planned impossible, we headed for Lake Cayuga and the marina where our boat would be left for haul out and shipment to Annapolis. The Erie Canal continued its panorama of beauty, the lockmasters continued to be friendly and helpful, but our progress down the canal did not have the same sense of purpose.We wrestled with a couple of blips in our progress in Newark - Merry's allergic reaction to a sting, Wiley throwing his back out, and finding that the entire bow of the boat had filled with muddy water as a result of a loose fitting in the water supply system. We thought for a few scary moments that our boat may actually be sinking as the bow was completely filled with water - however after pumping it out, cleaning, and repairing our fitting we discovered that we still float!!
We tied up along the wall in our next stop along the canal - in Lyons, New York over Labor Day weekend. It is an interesting situation, because you use the bathroom and showers at the fire department, walking past the firemen on duty in the Lyons 911 center each time. Merry had thoughts of the Firemen's Calendar - which unfortunately, were not realized. There were not many stores or restaurants, and most of what the town had to offer was closed. It rained much of the weekend; so we spent a lot of time reading on the boat. At last, the day after labor day it stopped raining, and we got underway. We enjoyed our last passage on the Erie Canal, and then turned onto the Cayuga- Seneca canal. The lock on this canal was a surprise - it was a "lift" rather than a "drop", and a pretty big lift too! We did the lock with a big excursion boat. We have turned into "real pros," when it comes to locks, however, as we got through without difficulty and proceeded onto Lake Cayuga.
Lake Cayuga is one of the Finger lakes in N.Y. It is beautiful - the lakes are set among rolling hills. The north end of this lake is very shallow, with a narrow channel, so we navigated carefully from "buoy to buoy". We went past the marina that we were going to leave the boat at where it would be hauled, because they had candidly told us that there were no stores or restaurants within miles of their location. We went five miles down the lake to another marian that we had called. When we got there, we found their office closed and no one around. The mariana was full of weed (our nemesis), and we ended up running aground and getting weed wrapped around the prop. This is how we spent the night- with our boat sitting in weed + mud. Wiley, the brave hero, went into the muck with mask and fins, cleared the weed off the prop, and "swam" a line across the fairway to a piling. he then used the sheet winch to pull the boat off so that we could get underway and get out of there! It had been Port Austin all over again!!
We then went back up the Lake five miles to Beacon Bay Marina, where our boat was to be hauled out. We found that the boat yard was just as spartan as described, but the folks that own the marina, and Larry who works there, were very friendly. It is an industrial facility - you have to walk around a backhoe and into a huge old building to use the bathrooms and showers. However, there is a little "community" of people who keep their boats there - they call themselves "the Red-Neck Yacht Club."
Rain, rain, and more rain!! It rained for two solid days, so we did a LOT more reading! Finally, the rain let up, and we lucked out! There is a small business at the Marina called "Mahoney Canvas" and Bill and Jim (the owners) dropped what they were doing and went to work fixing the "tornado damage" to our canvas - the bent tube, the rip in the Bimini. They did a great job, and the Bimini is "as good as new". They wanted to charge $54.00 for all this, but Wiley insisted on paying them $75.00. We readied the boat for leaving - taking down everything on deck and storing all below deck so that we could be ready to have the boat hauled while we were away.
Nickolas the son of the owners of Lockview Marina and Transport came (for a fee of $100.00) and took us to the airport in Ithaca, New York. Originally, we had planned on taking the AMTRACK to Chicago from Rochester. However, at 1:30AM we received a "robo-call" informing us that the train was canceled due to flooding in the East. After a long ride (about 12 hours) we made it home - and as Dorothy says, "there is no place like home".
We loved: being with family, watching the kids participate in the Warrior Dash, visiting with friends, seeing the pets, enjoying the garden, watching the Bears play, etc. We had to adjust to being able to run water without concern about how much was in the water tank, having our private bathrooms, being able to easily shop for groceries, run laundry whenever we wanted etc.
My niece Katie tells that she thinks of a "first world problem" - it is a minor complaint compared to what the rest of the world may be enduring. Her example was complaining about having to get up from a comfy bed, surrounded by the things she loves, ... when others do not even have a bed. So... we are thinking that as we look back to some of the craziness of this trip we remind ourselves just how lucky we are to have what we have and be able to continue enjoy the adventures of this trip. Some days it is harder than others to admit to our "first world problem" - but all in all we realize that how fortunate we are to go home and then be able to continue our trip.
Today with clarity on the problem of the canals and decsions we needed to make we made some calls to Lockview Marine (our shippers of the mast, etc. Allison our Angel found out that our mast, boom, etc. are "alive and well".
Wiley's smile is beginning to take shape. In addition, we talked to her about shipping our boat to the Hudson River -/ Catskills where the mast, boom, et are at Hop-O-Nose-Marina. We learned that this is not possible because there are too many restrictions about trucking oversized loads, however she suggest that we could ship to Annapolis.
This means we will go down the Cayuga and Seneca Canal to Lake Cayuga. We have contracted to have the boat hauled at a marina on the Cayuga Lake -near the Lockview Marine and they will pick it up and get the mast etc. to us in Annapolis. This will allow us to go home during the time it will take this to happen, see family, and for Merry to honor her commitment to do some consultant work she had agreed to do in September. The good news is we will be further down the coast toward our destination and hopefully miss any of Katia's-the next Hurricane's impact- the bad news is we will give up seeing New York City on the way down. It will have to wait until we take the trip back.
Merry's arm is healing, so just as her decrepit body is coming around,Wiley's old body takes its turn by throwing his back out. He managed to do this by getting on the boat from the wall.
He took a muscle relaxant and while this is not a cure it does provide Merry with some peace and quiet for the period he sleeps it off. Poor guy! ( I am amazed to watch all of the twitching, sighing, and pacing subside even if it is for just a short period of time. ) He is hopeful that his back will be better tomorrow so the dream can live on... with its new challenges.
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.
The Erie Canal turns out to be just as beautiful, just as lazy and the towns along it, just as friendly as we had been told. We hope that our posted photos will give some idea of what it looks like. We move down the canal quietly, keeping an average speed of five knots. We see lots of herons; and also saw a kingfisher. Each of the towns we have stopped at has its own individual charms. Holley had a little park with a magnificent, and surprisingly large waterfall. Wiley was able to walk a mere 2 1/2 miles to a wine shop, where he picked up four bottles of wine (2 French, 1 Italian and then walked back 21/2 miles with his treasure! We knew that Hurricane Irene was coming, so we traveled only five miles from Holley to Brockport, where we would wait the storm out.
Brockport is a 'college' town and our favorite thus far. We tied up along the wall. The town has a fabulous bookstore-, and was full of college kids. We had our first New York style pizza which (although it cannot compare to our noble Chicago - deep dish) was very tasty. The winds reached 30 mph during the day, but the 50 mph gusts which had been predicted but not occur where we were. They had bikes we could use for free and we rode down to the sports store and around town. We had breakfast at Corrines and she gives you a card with her rules on it, which include no use of the "f" word, no talking on cell phones etc. before she gives you a menu. Wiley told her the only improvement to the place, that he could suggest would be hanging posters of Walter Payton, "Da Coach" and Dick Butkus!
At our next port, Fairport, the friendly dockmaster came down to our boat and greeted us. Fairport is the first place since Wardell's where we had to pay anything to stay, but it was only $7.00 a night and the facilities were beautiful. Unfortunately, after a run Merry was stung once again. We went over to the Irish pub for dinner as Merry whined about her sting!
We learned that because of the severe flooding Lock 19 and all of the locks east of there had been closed, but we decided that since it would take us four days to get to lock 19 we would leave Fairport in the morning.
Wiley's nightmare of going over a chasm actually came true, and we discovered that going over a chasm is not so bad when you do it with the assistance of a wonderful Lock Master (John) and two massive locks that are engineering masterpieces. We thought that we were supposed to get our Erie Canal permit before we entered the lock (this turned out not to be true). There is a wall 1/2 mile before you reach the locks and we maneuvered the boat to pull up alongside this wall. The maneuver wasn't very pretty because there was a strong wind behind us and all that we could see to tie up to was huge bollards (originally designed for huge barges) which are 100 feet apart. Merry jumped up and out of the boat - throwing her body on the top of the cement wall - with lines. She was able to throw a line around the bollard - Wiley helped out with the stern line and we exchanged some words of advice for each other. To say it was not a graceful exercise is a major understatement - but in the end we were tied up. We walked into Lockport to purchase our permit and see the locks to help ease our fears. Fortunately we were able to purchase a season's permit ($75.00) and unfortunately we saw the locks - two drops of approximately 25 feet each right next to each other seemed daunting. However, John - the Lock Master - kindly talked us through the experience and we were successful.
We decided to stay at Widewaters Marina just outside of Lockport because they had hot showers and we had been showering on the boat for the past 3 days. We were the only transient boat in the whole marina and while they had electricity they did not have water hook ups. They did have laundry facilities, a shower, and their sign said they had a pump out - so we thought we were in business. However, we discovered differently. Merry went in to take her shower at 7:45 and was undressing when a man came running into the ladies room shouting, "I am not waiting for any shower! I am locking this place up - you will be locked in! Get out now!" Merry was embarrassed and scurried out of the shower and in her strongest voice said to this crude man - "You don't have to talk to me like a child!" He responded, "Well, you don't have to get so upset!" Merry tearfully ran back to the boat and took her shower - well, at least this time the water was hot on the boat because we had motored from Tonawanda through the canal. However, there was another issue - if you are a boater you understand that when using the "head" you must be sure to keep the valve in the correct position when done - if not the holding tank fills with water. Someone, who will remain nameless, left the lever in the wrong position. You can imagine how delighted we were each morning when they opened the bathroom at 7AM and continued to be dismayed that they only stayed open until 8PM. Most marinas provide you with a key or code to use the facility - but they said, "We could never do that!" These people would not last two days in Chicago- they would be killed and eaten!
Merry feeling boat fatigue thought that getting her hair done would be just the treat she needed. She went to the Blue Door Hair Salon, which was "upscale in comparison with Super Clip" and they said they were willing to squeeze her in. The girl who was styling her hair kept saying, "So, you are on this boat trip - you should have a 'windy cut' so it can be messy and still be in style!" The results are that Merry now has a very, very, very, short and windy style! We are now spending some of our time ashore shopping for cute hats!
Upon preparing to depart this marina we asked again about a pump out for our head. We discovered that it was on display in the marine office like an artifact of some long-lost civilization because it had been "out of commission for about a year". The part had been " uptown" and no one had ever gotten around to "fixin it". The men who worked at this marina, with the exception of one gentleman named Mike, were limited, slow, and lacked any initiative. Mostly, they sat outside of the marina at a picnic table and talked with the locals - ALL day. Prior to leaving we asked to purchase some ice - and we cleaned them out - all 4 bags - they said, "Yeah, well I guess we will have to call the ice company soon." Again - in Chicago they would be killed and eaten within two days.
We motored up to Gasport to purchase some diesel fuel as listed in the Canal Guide. Craig, at Gasport, said he would get us some diesel if we needed it. That meant that Craig and his dog Bear would get his barrel of diesel that he purchases at a truck stop and using a dolly roll it over to where we could fill our boat. They did have a pump out - thank goodness. He has refurbished a tug boat hull and built his boat around this hull. It is impressive work. Craig is an obviously resourceful and nice guy. He recommended that our next stop be at Holley, New York because there were nice facilities and a waterfall there.