Welcome to the blog of Fred and Julaine as we chronicle our adventures traveling the "Great Loop" on Boreas, our Carver 405.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Day 360 – St. Johnsville to Ilion Marina, Ilion, NY - June 30, 2012

We have been travelling the Erie Canal with Bob and Ivy from Karma.  It’s nice to travel with other Loopers as it gives you another opinion about weather forecasts, possible stops and things to watch out for on the route ahead (it also gives you someone to share docktails with).  After discussions with Bob and Ivy yesterday, we adjusted our plan for today and we’re going to stop a few miles sooner than our original plan.

It was another beautiful day for travel.  It wasn’t too hot when we departed and it was very calm.  We got through all three locks without any incidents – yeah!  We locked through the largest single lift lock (Lock #17) on the Erie Canal at 40.5 feet.  But the lift of this lock is not its most interesting feature.  It’s most interesting feature is its door – on the downstream side, instead of two doors with hinges that swing out, there is a guillotine door that raises and lowers.  It certainly looks different as you enter this lock from the downstream side.

We arrived at Ilion Marina just after noon and got tied to their long wall in time to watch a wedding that took place right in the park next to the marina.  The afternoon temperatures soared into the 90’s and we are glad to be at a marina where we are plugged into 50amp power and can run the air conditioner without having to run the generator.

You will notice a new category in the statistics below (the previous two days have been updated as well).  On the Erie Canal we have gone through five guard gates.  The gates are very similar to the guillotine door we saw on Lock #17.  We aren’t completely sure of the purpose of the guard gates, but they appear on man-made sections of the canal and we suspect they are to help keep too much water from flowing into these sections of the canal.
            Miles: 17.2      Bridges: 8        Locks: 3          Gates: 3

Lock #16, our first lock of the morning

it was beautifully calm first thing this morning - the scenery along the
Erie Canal is just fantastic

more great scenery along the Canal

one of the gates we went through today - this one doesn't look like its
been in the water lately (based on all the non-water plants growing on it)

looking under a bridge to Lock #17 with its guillotine gate (which is
down in this picture)

the guillotine gate is almost all the way up, you can see the last few feet of
the gate showing just below the concrete wall

Lock #17 - the gate is up and we are headed in

entering Lock #17 - if you look closely, you can see the water dripping
off the gate

awesome rock formations along the canal

Julaine hanging out in Lock #18 waiting for the
other boats to enter the lock and get secured

another gate on the Erie Canal, this one a double gate

Friday, June 29, 2012

Day 359 – Amsterdam, NY to St. Johnsville Marina, St. Johnsville, NY - June 29, 2012

The Erie Canal locks are open from 7:00am to 10:00pm.  We were off the wall in Amsterdam just after 7:00am so that we would be at Lock #11 (our first lock of the day) just after it opens.  We had a bit of rain overnight, but it appears to have moved off to our east this morning.  The bigger concern is that it is predicted to get quite windy this afternoon – and we do not want to be navigating locks in a strong wind.  The early start should get us to our intended destination before the wind kicks up.

Today’s locks went relatively well with no big issues.  We did have one lock where we had a bit of difficulty getting off the wall after the gates opened.  When we are having trouble getting off a wall or dock, Fred usually likes to back off.  That is difficult to do in a lock where you often have another boat in the lock right behind you. The more locks we do, the better we get at dealing with any unexpected issues that arise.

Just as we were clearing our last lock of the day, the wind began to pick up.  Fortunately we got to the St. Johnsville Marina, added fuel, got the holding tanks pumped out and slid back into our spot on the wall before the wind really started howling.  It is very warm this afternoon and the breeze is helping us feel like we aren’t sitting in an oven.  The breeze is blowing the leaves off the trees that are behind the boat and we are covered in leaf debris.  So, after the wind died down this evening we swept all the leaves off the deck and vacuumed them out of the back porch and helm area.

            Miles: 26.0      Bridges: 5        Locks: 5        Gates: 0

Lock #11, our first lock of the day, with the doors opening for us

the Mohawk River - calm and beautiful this morning

Lock #12 is having some maintenance work done - whatever was going on
under the canvas was so loud it was difficult to even hear yourself think

Lock #13 is also undergoing some repair work

the Mohawk River cuts its way through a valley...

...with train tracks on one side...

...and Interstate 90 on the other

we have see lots of ducks and geese along the river - this family of
Canadian Geese was checking things out near Lock #15

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Day 358 – Waterford, NY to Riverlink Park, Amsterdam, NY - June 28, 2012

We have the first nine locks of the Erie Canal behind us.  We also passed under sixteen bridges today.  Bridges on the Erie Canal are pretty easy – none of them open and they are all have 20 feet of clearance or more.  The first five locks today are called “The Flight of Five” and raise the boat 170 feet up in just over 1.2 miles of canal.   The lockmasters for these five locks keep things pretty well coordinated so that you don’t have to wait much between locks – we probably had to wait about five minutes for the second lock to open, but after that, the lock doors were open as we approached the next three locks.  The “Flight of Five” went well and we felt confident that we could handle these Erie Canal locks.

Of course, that is when something unexpected happens.  The sixth lock of the day was our downfall.  We were the first of three boats into the chamber and we headed to the front of the lock on the starboard side.  We moved as far into the lock chamber as we could so that all three boats could tie up on the starboard side as we had done in the previous five locks.  The problem was that we had never gone this close to the lock doors in any of the previous locks.  There was tons of water movement in the end of the lock and we had trouble getting close to the wall.  I was able to grab the cable we needed to tie to with the boat hook, but I wasn’t able to pull us close enough to the wall to get the line around the cable.  Needless to say there was screaming on my part as my arm was all but ripped out of the socket trying to pull the boat to the wall to no avail.  The current was pushing too strong against the boat.  Fred came down from the helm and grabbed the boat hook from me and he tried to pull us in while I (following his instructions) used the engines to help get us tight to the wall, but nothing we did got us any closer.  We finally gave up and slid over to the port wall where we easily grabbed a cable and got Boreas secure.

I wasn’t sure I wanted to do any more locks after that, but we cleared the rest of them without incident – and with a bit more planning; not too close to the front of the lock and on the port side when the wind made that a better choice.  I do want to report that I like the locks with a cable or pipe to tie to versus the locks with only ropes to grab.

We are tied up tonight at Riverlink Park in Amsterdam.  This is a great place to stay with power, restrooms, laundry and wifi for only $1/foot.  The dock is managed by the people who run the Riverlink Café which is right up the hill from the dock.  We had a wonderful dinner at the café with Ivy and Bob from Karma.  Five more locks are planned for tomorrow.    

            Miles: 32.3      Bridges: 16      Locks: 9      Gates: 2

heading toward Lock #3

a momma duck with her babies - we think this is a Wood Duck, but it
is a little hard to tell

entering Lock #3

looking out of Lock #3 - the lock is almost full and the gates are about to open

we have just cleared Lock #4 and we are headed toward Lock #5
looking out of Lock #5 toward Lock #6 - these last three locks in "The
Flight of Five" are very close together

one of the guard gates we passed under today

looking at Lock #7 and the dam next to it

the lockmaster is emptying the chamber of Lock #7 (see the turbulance at
the base of the lock doors) so that he can open the lock gates and let us in

the doors of Lock #7 are beginning to open

a portion of the Rexford Historic Aqueduct that was part
of the original Erie Canal

Lock #9 and its dam

beautiful colors in the night sky

Day 357 – at Waterford Harbor Visitor Center, Waterford, NY - June 27, 2012

We decided to stay a second day in Waterford because the wind forecast is for wind in the 15-25 mph range all day today.  We didn’t think we wanted to navigate our first locks on the Erie Canal in that much wind.  So we basically spent a lazy day on the boat and got lots of things done on our “to do” list.  The wind is supposed to diminish tonight, so hopefully we can get on our way tomorrow.  
            Miles: 0           Bridges: 0        Locks: 0

beautiful evening cloud colors

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Day 356 – Albany, NY to Waterford Harbor Visitor Center, Waterford, NY - June 26, 2012

We have an extremely short day planned for today, just the last ten miles on the Hudson River and one lock, the Troy Lock.  As we cleared the Troy Lock, I did a little happy dance – no more tides to deal with!  Yeah!  In just the last couple of days we have put two of our least favorite things behind us – salt water and tides.

This move is to set ourselves up for starting the Erie Canal.  We are staying at the free dock at the Waterford visitor center and we can see the first lock on the Erie Canal (officially called Lock #2) from Boreas.  Not long after we got the boat secured, we took a walk to the lock and purchased our Ten-Day Canal Pass. The pass gives us ten consecutive days of use of any of the New York State Canals.  We will be traveling the Erie Canal and the Oswego Canal and our ten-day pass should give us plenty of time.

We are lucky we weren’t planning to start the Erie Canal locks today as Lock #3 is having some valve issues and isn’t open right now.  The problem is being addresses and they expect everything to be working again soon.  As a result of the work they are doing on Lock #3, they have had to empty the lock and in turn dump enormous amounts of water down the canal.  We can see (and feel) the effect of all that water coming down the canal – check out the pictures.

The locks in the New York State Canal system are basically for recreational use and as a result the areas around the locks are much less restricted than we saw on the Mississippi, Ohio, Tennessee and Tenn-Tom (where national security is a concern).  When we purchased our pass, we walked all around the lock and checked everything out.  Later in the afternoon we went back with the camera, took some awesome pictures and Fred, along with a couple of other Loopers, got a great tour of how the lock works – again, check out the pictures.
            Miles: 9.9        Bridges: 9        Locks: 1

looking over the wall of the Troy Lock at the spillway
looking out the back of Boreas while we are in the Troy Lock

there was lots of debris on the shore just past the Troy Lock as well as a
fair amount stuck on one of the bridge piers - this most likely came down
the river after tropical storm Irene came through last year

a directional sign on the Hudson River

looking at Lock #2 from the deck of Boreas when we first arrived
in Waterford

the same picture a few hours later as they are dumping water from Lock #3
and it is being let through Lock #2

standing on the walkway above the lock gates, watching all the water
rush out

this was an old side cut canal that was built after the War of 1812 - it is now
used to help control water levels in the canal - there is heavy flow now
because of the emptying of Lock #3

another picture of all the water flowing out of Lock #2

inside Lock #2 - water is flowing from the left to the right
in this picture and the ropes used to help control a boat
in the lock are flowing away from the lock wall

the relay panel for the outlet gate valve

this is the drive motor for one of the gates - this is the original
equipment that was installed when the lock was built in 1909

another picture of the side cut canal with the
heavy flow of water

less than an hour later and the water from Lock #3 has
worked its way downstream and the flow in the
side cut canal is back to normal

Monday, June 25, 2012

Day 355 – Kingston, NY to Albany Yacht Club, Albany, NY - June 25, 2012

After a few days off from traveling we headed north again today.  We have had a bit of unsettled weather over the past few days with some pretty impressive thunderstorms.  More are predicted today, but they are suppose to be widely scattered – we hope they are scattered somewhere besides where we are travelling.  The first part of the day was good and it looked like the clouds were breaking up.  But it didn’t take long and a couple of storm cells moved in around us.  We traveled in the rain for about an hour and saw some lightning in some of the cells.  Fortunately the lightning didn’t get too close – the worst cells passed by us, one to the north and one to the south.

We are staying at the Albany Yacht Club tonight and we will head to Waterford tomorrow.  The dock at Waterford looks right at the first lock on the Erie Canal.  It is exciting to think that we will begin our journey on the Erie Canal so soon.

            Miles: 47.5      Bridges: 5        Locks: 0

the Catskill Mountains hiding in the clouds

Saugerties Lighthouse

there is a swimming event going on for the next few days where swimmers
swim downriver from one bridge on the Hudson River to the next - today's
swim was over 15 miles long

the mountains weren't easy to see through the clouds, but what we could
see was certainly beautiful

Hudson-Athens Lighthouse