Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A Birthday Adventure- Sept 29,2008


At 6 am this morning Christopher woke up for his real birthday time – and so we could cast off by 6:30 to catch the opening of the lock at Troy – our last lock! The idea was to get out early because this is where the Hudson is first affected by tides – which means for part of the day the river flows up and part it flows down. Going with the flow is good. So an excited Christopher and mom and dad took off as planned. The lock went well – although we were surrounded by ooey-gooey stuff and weeds which proved to be more serious later. We left the dock and hit the downstream current and were making good time. Then I noticed a different sound, different exhaust and the heat gage was climbing. “Dang!” I said. Shirley took over the wheel, we stopped the engine and I leapt ever so gracefully into the cabin to check the through hull strainer that catches gunk for the cooling water. Aha – full of weeds! With a mighty thrust I removed the villains and claimed victory. And off we went. But a few minutes later the same thing! “Double dang!” I said (or something similar). So the same routine – only this time I wisely poked at a few other things. No good. Poking works so well with the computer, but not here. So I took the strainer off and opened the through hull valve – which is supposed to flood the boat with water. No flood. Good but bad. That meant something was stuck in the intake, which we didn’t know how to get at. Finally we made it to a dock and got in touch with a mechanic who came and saved the day. Yay! And showed us how to do it ourselves should this nasty event occur again.
So now it was noon and we were cruising down the river heading to the place where we can put the mast back up. The race was on now to fight the upstream current and make it there in time to have supper and a decent birthday celebration. Cranking the engine hard we were only making 5.2 knots. But then the tide turned and we zoomed the last couple of miles triumphantly!
And so it was that Christopher endured a crazy day for his birthday in wonderful and helpful spirits and got to have great birthday boat party – with cake, singing, reading the many birthday emails, listening to voice messages, talking to Grandma and Uncle George and presents! Thank you to all the senders!!! A young couple from Montreal in a boat next to us came over with a card and a present as well.

First rainy day and the 'Waterford Flight"

Friday (the 26th) left the dock at Canajoharie around 8:30 and noticed that Blue Blazer was coming down the canal right behind us. This was our first full day of rain. We went through locks 13 to 9 with them. Had some excitement at a couple of locks. At one, the close overhead power lines played some havoc with our steering (because we happened to have the auto helm power on as it powers the GPS). Thankfully Don from the Blue Blazer tipped us off that was what was happening and turning it off solved the problem. At another, a large power yacht went in the lock just ahead of us and tied up on the same side we were preparing to so there was a last minute scramble to change the fenders. Our other mission for the day was to find a place to pump out and many of the places we planned to go to were closed. Finally we found a marina that was open and left feeling much lighter. Tied up on the wall before Lock 8 for the night and we were all asleep pretty early.
On Saturday we left as soon as the lockmaster was there at 7am. Christopher had his second sleep in day, letting Mom and Dad go though the lock on their own. He joined us before lock 7. Then we did the ‘Waterford Flight’, which are the last (or first) 5 locks of the Erie Canal, Locks 6 to 2. There is no stopping between them and they provide the biggest drop over the shortest distance of any canal in the world. After lock 2 is the Town of Waterford and a really welcoming Visitor Centre. The nice low floating dock with power was full so we tied up on the high wall. We decided to stay there another day before starting out down the Hudson. Did all the essential things like groceries, laundry, showers etc. On the Sunday there was a farmer’s market at the harbour. Also a number of the Canadian boats that we had seen along the way were leaving to head south so we were able to move to the low dock (with power, always a hit with all of us, especially Christopher). It was great to take a day to just enjoy Waterford. The end of another leg. Time to put away the Canal charts and guidebooks and find the ones for the Hudson River.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

September 25 - One sleep in

More sun on the canal. An early start for Shirley and Dave but Christopher decided it was a sleep in day - which he announced last night. So off we went with Christopher still sort of snoozing. And wouldn't you know it, about 20 minutes down the canal there's a train bridge and an Amtrak train shoots over it - and guess who didn't see it? So many lessons on this trip, like the early bird gets the worm! But that didn't matter because when he did get up and had breakfast our route took us close to the tracks and we must have seen ten trains go by today. And to top it off we have landed for the night at a dock that is right across the river from the tracks. Doesn' get much better than that! Nice little park here in Canajoharie NY. And only a block and a half to the library with this internet access. Time to run over there and update this and then go BBQ a few pork chops. Tough day today...

On to Utica - gateway to the Adirondacks

We were up, underway and left Brewerton by 7:10. Headed out to cross Lake Oneida. It was a bit misty and very cool. The breeze made it a bit choppy, and because we’ve been travelling all fendered up for the canal locks, we had forgotten to take them up for the lake crossing; so one fender reminded us by falling off and requiring a rescue. We were at the other side of the lake shortly after 10 and back to the serenity of cruising the canal. The next two locks were our last locks going up and I think we finally adjusted how we do it to be able to say, “Hey, this is working well!” In fact, we were stress free enough that Christopher started taking pictures. He’s becoming our main photographer. After a nice lengthy cruise on the canal where we got in some boat schooling, we did our first lock going down. Someone had told us going down was easier, and our first impression is this is so. In Utica we tied up at a dock where there is power and water. “Finally!” said Christopher. (The last time we had power and water was Sunday. He’s looking forward to anchoring. I hope he realizes that we won’t be plugging in then either!) Headed out to explore Utica and ended up at the Amtrak station. Lots of train spotting for our train fan. Back at the boat, tried to scrub off some of the slime and debris that we pick up going through the locks. Our fenders will be wanting a day at the spa when we’re done the locks. Picked up some supplies at the Price Chopper. It was a great day, 50 miles of progress, and still time to do some fun stuff at the end of the day.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Starting up the canals

It's Tuesday now and the first time we've been able to get internet access. Spent Sunday the 21st in Oswego. Woke up to see Distant Shores, the Shard's boat, docked there. (They are kind of famous in the sailing world for making cruising DVDs and TV shows -called Distant Shores). Dave chatted with them and found out they are filming the canals and the intracoastal waterway. They had just stopped to clear customs having put their mast on their frame in Port Credit. Spent the day getting our wood frame ready for the unstepping on Monday. It might have been a blessing in disguise that there had been a mistake about the Sunday appointment. Another boat from Toronto, the Blue Blazer, was doing the same thing so it was great to exchange ideas. Dave worked all day on this project and Shirley and Christopher followed the old railway trail to the grocery store which turned out to be the old train station.
Monday found us up and ready early as we were the first of a few boats to be unstepped that day. Once we got the mast on the frame, spent some time securing everything before heading off. Went through locks 8, 7, and 6 right away, our first experience at that procedure. It was good to do right away, baptism by fire, I think they call it. It can be a bit unnerving because the mast is so much longer than the boat and the water motion in the locks make the possibility of the mast hitting the wall a bit of a worry. We seemed to get the hang of it, but each lock is a new experience. Had time to enjoy the serenity of the canal between locks 6 and 3 as they were more spaced out than the first three. The Blue Blazer, which had been travelling with us through the locks kept going after lock 3 (Fulton, NY) but we decided to tie up there for the night. We had a mission. Find the Walmart to buy an Amercan phone. After a bit of an extended hike we did get there, and voila, we can now make phone calls, even to Canada, without breaking the bank. The lockmaster at Fulton was really helpful. We overnighted at a free dock and were given keys to the washroom and shower.
Today it was a bit misty when we left, but after we cleared lock 2 we had about fifteen minutes of almost no visability, so we made really slow progress. After the fog lifted it was a beautiful day as we cruised the canal. Willie, from the Blue Blazer was at lock 1 and filmed us going through, which, if we ever get the video from him will be the only way we can share that experience, as we're not yet casual enough about it to film it ourselves. We finished the Oswego canal and turned east on the Erie Canal. Went through their lock 23 and stopped in Brewerton. Stopped for fuel and met up again with the Shards. We're docked next to the railway bridge and are at the public library using their internet. Christopher's already seen one train go by.

To the end of the Lake! Sept 20

Wow – another fantastic full day sail from Pultneyville to Oswego. The strong winds pushed us the 32 miles in about 5 hours. We were bundled up with the chilly morning and then when we arrived at Oswego it was shorts and T-shirts weather. When we arrived we found out that they had incorrectly booked us for a Sunday unstepping of the mast. The upside of this is that it has given us a day to relax and decompress from the first leg of our journey. We’ll also have more time to get the rig and cradle ready for when the mast comes down. It was also exciting to put one set of maps and guidebooks away a bring out the ones for the canal system.
We have had very sporadic internet access and haven't been able to post pictures lately. We'll update when we can.

Stitch in Time after a good day on the lake

Another wonderfully sunny day – but a lot colder in the morning. Had a really good close hauled sail for the morning. The lake wasn’t nearly as rough today and Christopher spent more time at the helm. He got really good at watching the GPS and calling out our distance to destination. We arrived at Pultneyville and docked at the yacht club there. Shirley got to perform our first significant medical procedure by taking out the stitches in my finger. I was very brave. Christopher didn’t want to look.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

A Head to Wind Day

Yesterday was strong winds going our way and today it was the same winds coming straight on our nose. That made for wilder day. As Christopher described it “Whoa – a water roller coaster!” With some of the larger waves he said it was like going up a mountain. So there was a lot of water splashing over the deck and occasionally over the dodger. We ended up motor sailing the whole way to Oak Orchard NY. Here we met someone from the club there who guided us down the river to a great docking spot - where Christopher is standing.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A Great Sailing Day

Day two turned out to be one of our best sails ever. There was a strong wind warning with winds around 20 knots and the accompanying waves of about 4 feet. We were on a broad reach most of the day and were cruising with the wind at a pretty steady 6 knots and with the wave action even got up to eight knots occasionally. We flew past Port Dalhousie and Niagara-On-The Lake and landed at Olcott at 4pm. Our first repair was needed here. We blew out a sail slide on the way, but had the stuff on board to fix it. Christopher took a pile of pictures – I imagine he’ll publish a portfolio at some point.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


What a day! Much emotional and logistical turmoil to actually cast off on such a journey. We had so much help and support leading up to this it has been marvelous. And now - here we are! Not very far, mind you, we only went as far as Fifty Point Marina. We got the 3:30 bridge lift out of Hamilton Harbour and arrived here by 5:15. Now we can plan our next few days getting to Oswego NY on the weekend to take down our mast for the canals. Christopher even got a little bit of "boat schooling in - although he was most impressed with the wi-fi access we have here and his time to check out You Tube! Not roughing it yet.
Here is a link to a video that Jessica took as we were leaving. http://s437.photobucket.com/albums/qq97/jess_v485/?action=view&current=030.flv

Making the Mast Cradle

When we get to the end of Lake Ontario we have to take the mast down to travel throught the Erie Canal to the Hudson River. Grandpa was a big help here and we finally got it together!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Getting ready

We have moved out of the house as of Sept 1 and now were are in the final stages of getting ready and hanging around the boat. We put the new dinghy in the water and went for a tour of the marina and to visit Melody and Doug on SKAMPI. They are heading south soon as well.

Pirate Party - June 30

The gang at InCourage threw a great "Bon Voyage" pirate party. Now we are ready for anything!!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Mono Centre Party

The weekend before we left our house we had a fun party with neighbours, friends and family. It was a combo see you later and 50th birthday for Dave - who is not really 50 yet!! It was GREAT to see everyone. Thanks for coming!! Christopher took all the pictures.