Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Our Locking Phase Has Begun!

Days on Cruise:  81

Distance traveled today:  27.5 miles

Travel time:  3 hrs, 14 mins

Total trip odometer:  1,841 statute miles

Last night the wind finally died down, but the river current kept running.  The Hudson River once had a different name which we’ve forgotten, but this Native American name meant “River That Runs Both Directions”, and that’s an apt name as it has 3-foot tidal swings. We had a pleasant night at anchor and slept well in a pretty spot.

This morning we finished the Hudson River, a beautiful stretch which was mostly rural until we hit industrialized Albany.




Though we weren’t anchored together last night, we found ourselves again traveling with “Native Son”, another Looper boat whose occupants we’ve not yet met.


Here they are above approaching the Troy Lock, the first of many to come.  Below, the spillway is on the left, the lock gates on the right, not yet opened. The procedure is to call the lockmaster on the VHF radio, channel 13, and tell him you want to lock through. There’s a “traffic signal” on top of the wall on the left, not really visible in this photo, which is red most of the time, and when the gates are fully open it turns green, telling you to enter the lock.


Below is Native Son tied up at the lock wall ahead of us, the only two boats locking through in this case.  This lock raises you 33 feet, so we were much deeper at the beginning.


We decided to put Bob’s longer legs and arms, and greater strength, on the dock line as we weren’t sure how it would go and what to expect.  He looped our midship dockline around the pipe recessed in the lock wall, turned it around a cleat on the boat, and made sure our line moved smoothly up the pipe as the water raised our boat. He says it was easy.


Cathryn thought driving the boat was probably easier.


Then we were at the top of the lock, the gates opened, and off we went!  Voila, we succeeded in transiting our first REAL lock (though we did two “baby locks” back at the Dismal Swamp in Virginia, only rising and dropping 8 feet)


Next we came to the turning point where boats have to decide which route to take:  west on the Erie Canal, or north on the Champlain.  We turned west. 


The beginning of the Erie Canal is at Waterford, NY, a sweet little town which probably wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the Canal. We made a quick trip to the grocery store, a 10-bock walk, where they allow boaters to take shopping carts back to the Erie Canal Visitors Center to be retrieved later. Nice!


There’s a high wall with bollards and cleats that boaters can tie to for free, up to two nights, and an Erie Canal Visitors Center adjacent.  We walked up to Lock #2 (below) to buy our New York Canal Pass, $50 for the ten-day pass, which is more time than we’ll probably need to get through the Erie and Oswego canals, but we knew we didn’t want to tackle it in two days, or buy a season pass, the other alternatives.


After buying our pass, the lockmaster seemed interested in chatting and proudly offered to show us the mechanical systems of the lock, which he is responsible for maintaining.  The mechanical systems are 100 years old this year and look absolutely new!  We were astonished at their condition.


Below, the lockmaster and electrical system. This stretch of the Erie Canal was hard-hit during Hurricane Irene last year, with extensive flooding and damage. We’re astonished at what a great job the New York Canal System employees have done of repairing the damage and getting the system up and running again just a month ago.


Two days ago we got an email from Debbie and Dennis who live in upstate New York.  We met them in Florida back in March when they were there for boat training with Captains Chris and Alyse Caldwell, and the 4 of them came on our boat for cocktails one night.  They’ve been following our blog, knew we were getting close to where they live, and proposed coming to see us on the boat and going out to dinner together. They arrived this afternoon in the pouring down rain, and we sat on the sundeck talking and telling stories for a couple of hours. They plan to buy a Loop boat and begin their Loop as soon as their home here sells.


Dennis and Debbie were full of hilarious stories and had lots of questions about doing the Loop, so they had to leave to head back home long before we ran out of things to talk about.  They’ve suggested we make a side trip eastward to the Thousand Islands once we make it to Lake Ontario, and we agreed that if we do that, we’ll see each other again. What nice people and what a great evening!

No comments: