A Good Run with a Disappointing End
24 October 2010 | Canajoharie Town Dock
Today we did more locks and fewer miles, but still made decent progress. The Utica dock did turn out to be free since no one came out to collect any money. Our goal for the day was the Canajoharie town dock, which was listed as free with 30/50 Amp power service.
We started fairly early again. We left the dock at 7:25 AM. Bud felt we could have seen well enough to leave at 7 AM. We weren't pushing too hard, but we are both waking up early. I couldn't sleep because I was worried that the wind had come up and we wouldn't be able to get away from the dock (or else the boat would get away quickly, but since the dock was so low it was hard to climb on the boat, I wouldn't be on it). Bud said he was worried about things down the line. When I asked him if he should tell me or if it would make me crazy to know, he said it would probably make me crazy to know. So I didn't ask, I know my limits.
Anyway, it turned out to be easy getting away from the dock. Which just underlines what I try to keep telling myself, that there is no sense in worrying because you are almost certainly worried about the wrong thing.
We went through some pretty places today, but I didn't get any pictures. I noticed that the most picturesque places were always right at the locks where I'm busy with boat hooks and lines and so forth. The prettiest place was Little Falls. The canal walls were solid rock with moss and ferns. There was a lot of wooded area and above the woods you could see the old buildings and houses of the town. That was another place I was worried for nothing. Little Falls has the highest lock on the canal (40 foot drop) and even though we were going down I was worried about it. Turned out to be the smoothest lock we were in, it felt like going down in an elevator.
The whole locking thing is getting much easier. For one thing, we're going down. For another thing, we gave up on coming in on the port side of the locks. Having me able to walk the rope back to Bud didn't offset the problems of having the prop push the boat away from the wall. So now we come in along the starboard wall, I grab a rope at the bow and Bud stops the boat and gets his rope. Seems to work just fine.
We made good time today. No problems with the engine, and we arrived at the Canajoharie free dock about an hour earlier than we thought. As we docked, a man from the village drove down. He told us to keep to the center of the dock where it's deepest. We asked where the power was and he said "Oh, that was washed out in the last flood. That's the second time a flood took it out and the town wouldn't pay the $1000 to replace the posts again."
So, after freezing all day, our warm free dock is just a free dock. The picture is of the boat at the very pretty little riverside park with no power. What the picture doesn't show is the Thruway right behind that pretty little building and the two very well used railroad tracks on the opposite bank of the canal. I also have to confess that I enhanced the colors in the picture, which makes it look like a brighter day than it was.
We definitely need some heat, so Bud checked out the generator. Now we've only tested the generator a couple of times since we bought the boat and we've never actually used it. We never even checked it out this season, since our list of things to fix was so long. Before we used it Bud wanted to check the oil and antifreeze. A simple thing, except it's a boat. The dipstick for the oil is behind the generator. To access it you have to empty everything out of the wet locker (where you hang your soaking foul weather gear, etc.) and remove a panel on the aft wall of that compartment. You can see the top of the dipstick to remove it, but once it's out you can't even see the hole where it goes back in.
Oil was OK, water, OK. Bud held down the preheat switch and you could hear the little priming pump working. Then Bud held down the start switch and nothing happened. Nothing. So out came the electric multimeter. We tried to check the voltage at the starter and weren't measuring anything. A little more investigation and we found the actual ground cable, so I used that instead of the generator body as a ground, and we measured 12 volts. Then we noticed a little wire on the top of the starter solenoid that was loose. We put that on better and tried again. It started, but was running slowly. We turned the switch to power the boat, and the gauge showed only about 75 Volts. A minute later the generator died. Bud poked around again while I consulted the operator's manual. Bud tried tightening the loose wire, and then just tried to start it again. It started, it produced 125 Volts, it ran the reverse cycle heater, the battery charger, the outlets and the microwave. I wouldn't let Bud use the microwave and the box heater at the same time - that seemed like it would be pushing it.
So we're sort of warm (we are only running the generator part time, we sailors are getting mighty tired of constant engine drone) and Bud is fixing roast turkey and baked potatoes for dinner. Once dinner is done and the oven is off, we'll probably turn the generator back on and heat the boat back up and then go to bed. I think this might all be fun if only we were somewhere WARM.