Sights and Sounds of Blood on the Sails

07 September 2013 | Ilion to Frankfort, NY
07 September 2013 | Sherburne, NY
05 August 2013 | Hamilton, NY
18 July 2013 | Brewerton, NY
14 July 2013 | Richfield Springs, NY
06 July 2013 | Hamilton, NY
14 June 2013 | Sherburne, NY
15 June 2012 | Seaford, NY
14 June 2012 | Seaford, NY
14 June 2012 | Seaford, NY
14 June 2012 | Seaford, NY
27 May 2012 | Seaford, NY

Mohawk River Sailing & trolling

07 September 2013 | Ilion to Frankfort, NY
Ginnie/cloudy/rainy 5mph wind
We entered the Mohawk River from the Ilion Marina. Our plan was to sail up to the town of Frankfort two miles away & then troll back. During our sail we started thinking about the history of this muddy edged river with its noisy trains running on the north side every 20 minutes or so. Such a relaxing sail we naturally started thinking about this area, what it's like now and what it must have been like, back in its heyday.
[The Mohawk River is a 149-mile-long (240 km) river in the state of New York. It is the largest tributary of the Hudson River. The Mohawk flows into the Hudson in the Capital District, a few miles north of the city of Albany. The river is named for the Mohawk Nation of the Iroquois Confederacy. It is a major waterway in north-central New York. The river and its supporting canal, the Erie Canal (a part of the New York State Canal System, called the New York State Barge Canal for much of the 20th century), connect the Hudson River and port of New York with the Great Lakes at Buffalo, New York. The lower part of the Mohawk River has five permanent dams, nine movable dams (seasonal), and five active hydropower plants.
The river has long been important to transportation and migration to the west as a passage through the Appalachian Mountains, between the Catskill Mountains and Allegheny Plateau to the south and the Adirondack Mountains to the north. The Mohawk Valley allowed easier passage than going over the mountains to the north or south of the valley. As a result, it was strategically important during the French and Indian War and the American Revolutionary War, and a number of important battles were fought here. The fertile Mohawk Valley also attracted early settlers.]

We sailed down the Mohawk for two hours with only a 5 knot wind and finally came across our turn towards the Frankfort Marina. Shortly after we spied the welcoming dock, and the marina's lovely "period" lighting. I just had to take a picture, it looked so cool and I started imagining pulling up to dock there, from a *packet boat, in the mid 1800's.

[In the early years of the Enlarged Erie Canal, both passenger boats (called "packets" or "packet boats") usually horse-drawn, and working boats (called "line boats" or "freighters"), drawn by either horses or mules, were common. Originally intended as a more comfortable alternative to the bone-jarring stagecoach, the packet boat fell out of favor as railroad travel improved, and basically disappeared by the latter half of the 1800s. On the current Erie (Barge) Canal, there being no towpath, line boats were replaced by tugboats ("tugs" or towing boats) with their attached barges, as well as motorized freighters. Today, the most common boats are recreational boats, although commercial traffic still exists, and has actually increased in recent years.

On the town of Frankfort: It was incorporated as a village in 1863 and is situated 9 1/2 miles east of Utica on the Mohawk River, the Barge canal, and the West Shore and the New York Central railroads. Interurban trolleys connect with Ilion, Little Falls and Utica. The principal industries are the manufacture of hoes and forks, chucks, castings and road building machinery. A considerable number of local workmen are employed in the factories of Ilion. The village is a shipping point for hay, straw and dairy products. Frankfort has a sewer system, electric lighting service and municipal water works. In 1912 Frankfort had 8 factories, with 473 operatives. The New York Central station here is North Frankfort and is connected with Frankfort, by bridge. There is a Barge canal retaining dam at Frankfort, to the west of which the canal generally follows a land line, westward to Rome, 25 miles. A Barge canal terminal dock is at Frankfort.]

Great sail and really interesting history!

Boat Camping? Yes please!

07 September 2013 | Sherburne, NY
Ginnie/sunny & warm
After visiting Lock 23 on the Erie Canal, Tom and I have been doing a lot of reading up on travelling through all the locks and visiting all the little towns along the way. This has become a dream we plan to pursue with a passion, next spring & summer. We have started collecting everything we might possibly need to complete our quest. We've purchased a small self standing backpacking tent which fits perfectly on the Caledonia. Tom created a sleeping platform for the tent out of 6 pine boards and has waterproofed them with urethane. They will lay across the bench seats of the boat and then the tent will be erected on top of them. We'll be able to put the whole thing together in ten minutes (& while on the boat) without stepping into the water to do it. There is still room on the boat for our porta potty, Coleman stove, and a small folding dining table. We also plan to build a cooler which will fit under the seat and sleeping platform. We want the Caledonia to have many of the comforts of home (or at the very least, a cheap motel) so we can sleep aboard wherever we go, whether we tie-up to the Locks docks or anchor out in some nice quiet area. For a long journey, we'll probably take a break in a hotel/motel for shower usage and a non rocking bed. :)

Lake Moraine Boating with Kristin & Kim

05 August 2013 | Hamilton, NY
Ginnie/sunny/windy
We were supposed to go sailing with our good friends, but once again our plans were thwarted when the forecast was calling for wind gusts up to 35 mph. Way too windy for our little boat and us being new sailors and all. We decided to just go fishing instead. When we arrived at Lake Moraine in Hamilton there was one sailboat out on the water whose little boat was practically sideways, so we were very glad we had decided not to bring the sails. We enjoyed a wonderful picnic lunch and very good company with our buddies instead. The fishing wasn't all that great, although I did manage to catch a very lively and large pickerel.

Lake Moraine was created in 1837 as a feeder reservoir for the Chenango Canal. It covers 250 acres with a maximum depth of 46 feet. The southern section of this lake is ringed with cottages and their associated motor boats. The northern lake is more natural and quiet.

Oneida Lake, Oneida River & the Erie Canal

18 July 2013 | Brewerton, NY
Ginnie/Sunny and Hot!
We were going to be spending 2 days with three of our kids in a rental house in Brewerton, NY on the Oneida River. Tom and Matt trailered the boat to Bob's Big Bay Marina & launched it into Oneida Lake, so it could be sailed down to the dock at the house. The girls and I drove directly to the house and proceeded to plant silly objects on the dock, so the guys would know which one was ours as they traveled up the Oneida River. It was the hottest week ever and both days were well over 90 degrees, but the river was cool and we did a little swimming (when we weren't bathed in sunscreen and bug repellent while sightseeing from the boat.) We did a little fishing and spent an afternoon sailing up the Oneida River to the Erie Canal. It was so hot the girls and I held colorful umbrellas as parasols, and looked akin to the women of the 1890's while puttering along the Erie Canal in the old days. We decided to dock the boat at Lock 23, and climbed upon the dock and took a walk to the Lock Master's office for a history lesson. He gave us a little tour and told us how the lock worked and lucky us got to see firsthand exactly how it worked when a large cabin cruiser came through. Although we didn't realize it at the time that 20 minute tour would open up new ideas for us to travel the locks ourselves, and check out all of the small towns along the way. So interesting I really enjoy the history part of it all. Our little boat is going to help us learn all sorts of new things! What fun!

The Oneida River is a large river that forms part of the boundary between Oswego and Onondaga counties. Flowing roughly westward it is the outlet of Oneida Lake and part of the NYS Barge Canal. The Oneida River stretches approximently 18 miles from Oneida Lake to Three Rivers where it joins with the Seneca River, to form the Oswego River. There are three "cuts" or channels for the canal system: Big Bend, Morgan Cut, and Anthony Cut. Each of the channel cuts form an island. Lock 23 is located in Anthony Cut and a water level control dam is located at Caughdenoy.

Canadarago Lake with Shannon

14 July 2013 | Richfield Springs, NY
Ginnie/Cloudy/ 5-6 mph winds
On July 13th our daughter Shannon arrived from North Carolina to spend a week with us and to later share in a little 2 day family reunion vacation along with her sister, one brother, and us, along with several sailing adventures to be, aboard the Caledonia. Our first time sailing on Canadarago Lake in Richfield Springs (we'd fished there in the canoe often) but we were looking forward to sailing down a mile or two after fishing and touring, the area. It is now more than a week after the flooding, but still many properties had their docks under water although the lawns and homes were pretty much flood free. The launch and lake were now open to all boaters, but I'd hoped the motor boats would be respectful of the property owners and not zoom past their homes. We had a wonderful day sailing and trolling for fish & although we didn't catch any monsters, tiger muskies, on the trolls we did catch a bunch of rock bass and a few legal sized smallmouth bass using our regular fishing rods, which were thrown back. Note in the photo, some bloodstains still existed on the sails from the week before.

The Canadarago is approximately 5 miles long and 1 1/2 miles wide, and is the 2nd largest lake in Otsego County.

Lake Moraine Maiden Voyage

06 July 2013 | Hamilton, NY
Ginnie/recent flooding & cloudy
On Friday June 28 and then again on Monday July 1, our Upstate NY communities were the recipients of a deluge! Rainstorms flooded all of our lakes, rivers, streams, and towns, with more than 9 inches of rain which fell over the course of those 3 days. Sherburne and so many other low-lying towns were declared disaster areas. Flooding was substantial and our hearts go out to our neighbors and friends who lost many of their belongings. Some homes literally became islands, roads were washed out and folks were cut off from getting to town for a couple of days. We had just brought the Caledonia home and although we were pumping 6 inches of water out of our basement we were still anxious to get her on the water.
We had plans of going to Canadarago Lake in Richfield Springs that following Saturday but when we arrived there we could see that many of the homes on the lake were still underwater. The lake's homeowners association had closed the launch for fear of boat wakes and more damage being done to the homes. We thought we'd try Lake Moraine in Hamilton NY, with hopes that we would be able to do a little sailing there instead of just driving home. Lake Moraine was also flooded with the launch's dock a foot under water and a "5 mph wakes only please" sign posted on a barrel next to the dock, along with a "Please respect our property homeowners still battling water damage." We made a decision to tour and fish the area very gingerly, using our little electric 2hp trolling motor, and then hopefully we'd be able to sail back to the dock afterwards. So many of the homeowners were out in their yards attempting to salvage their soaked belongings. Lawn furniture, small boats, lawnmowers, and docks were still underwater, just so heartbreaking to see. Many of the people spoke to us kindly as we slowly and cautiously made our way around the lake offering our condolences to them, on their losses. They seemed to brighten up as we past, saying "pretty boat" or "she's a beauty" etc. They asked us how we came about purchasing her, to which we'd reply "thank-you, my husband's dad built her", etc. We only had the Mizzen up at the time, as we didn't want to create any wakes. These poor people after losing so much, were offering us heartfelt words, just so touching. Perhaps our floating by brought them some piece of normalcy of still being able to witness the beauty of a sailboat from their property, even though their property was currently so sadly flooded. We wish them well and hope their homes are all ok, and that this flood is just a thing of the past now.
Our little sailboat received her name that day when I managed to catch a rather large bass that afternoon, and although one of my lure's hooks was in his mouth, the other had caught in his gills causing the poor guy to bleed like mad all over the boat and our wrapped main sail. As I desperately tried to remove the hook, I said to Tom "Oh my, look at all the blood on the sails, my poor fishy!"
I have to say, all 4 of our kids (and us) have always had a penchant for all things Pirate, and with "International Talk Like a Pirate Day" just around the corner (September 19) all I can say is "aargh matey, thou blood has spilt all over thy sails little fishy." So now, with chilled Champagne in hand, "I proclaim this wee sloop to be named and forever known as, Blood on the Sails"
Vessel Name: Blood on the Sails
Vessel Make/Model: Caledonia Yawl
Hailing Port: Sherburne, NY
Crew: Ginnie & Tom McDermott
About: Husband & wife married in 1984, both born and raised on Long Island, NY. Moved up to Chenango County in rural Upstate NY in 1991 & raised 4 kids to adulthood. We have been fishing and boating companions, for more than 32 years.
Extra: Tom's father built our 19 foot Caledonia Yawl back in 2012 for Tom, and we were able to finally bring her home to Sherburne, in June 2013!
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Blood on the Sails's Photos -

Who: Ginnie & Tom McDermott
Port: Sherburne, NY