Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A nice visit and more lock ‘fun’. July 12 –14

Uncle George came for a visit in Utica

Cam and Laurean on Y Knot - and Christopher with a new hat from Vancouver!

Sunday morning we set out to wrestle with a few more locks and hopefully meet up after that with my brother George. After stopping at the St. Johnsville Marina for fuel, pump out and water we called George at home in Brockville to let him know that we were aiming for the dock in Utica.
When you are going up in a lock the force and flow of the water as it is filling sometimes makes it a good workout just holding the boat in place. There’s a constant ‘push me, pull you” motion going on where one minute you are pushing off the wall trying to keep the mast from scraping the side, then the next minute the current is pushing the bow out and I’m afraid I might lose it and let the boat swing right around. Some locks are more vigorous than others and by the time we were at lock 19 I was ready for a peaceful one. Oops!….the boat hook (an essential lock tool) is floating away………let go of the rope, mad scramble, retrieve boat hook, grab ropes again before the water current starts.‘Phew’! Or……. not ‘phew’, apparently a pump in the lock was broken and the ride up was rougher than usual. I rate the lock as difficult if I hear myself swearing under my breath. I’m afraid that time I heard the words right out loud.
Leaving the lock we were really hoping the dock in Utica would have a free space. Just then, George called, he had made it to Utica, and had found the dock and thought there was space. The Canadian trawler ‘Y Knot’ from Vancouver was ahead of us, and they pulled in first and radioed that they would pull ahead to make room for us. So we pulled in with Cam, Stan and Laurean from Y Knot and George there to grab our dock lines. A nice end to the day’s travel.
Christopher was excited to see Uncle George. Once we organized ourselves for leaving the boat, we piled into George’s car to do Christopher’s favourite thing….watch trains. The Utica train station is quite nice. We ate dinner there and we had a chance to catch up with George, and Christopher got to get what we think will be his last viewing of trains on this trip. After supper George dropped us back at the dock and headed back to Brockville. It sure was nice of him to drive down all that way for the day to visit.
Monday, we set out to do our last lock going up. After that we started down. After we left the 2nd lock down Dave realized that we must have got something in the water intake as we left the lock. That needs attention fairly promptly so we radioed back to the lockmaster who told us where we could dock. After a quite a bit of trying most of the tricks Dave knew to clear it the water started to flow again so we cautiously headed off. When we got to Sylvan Beach at the east end of Lake Oneida the wind was howling and the waves were high. The trip on Lake Oneida is 20 miles long and a sailboat with the mast down can’t go in those conditions. So we looked for a place to tie up on the wall provided by the town. There were our guardian angels from Y Knot, waving us in to a spot.
Sylvan Beach is a nice resort town and the three of us enjoyed a game of mini golf. We had a nice visit on Y Knot in the evening.
We were up Tuesday at 4 am hoping we could get across the lake before the wind picked up. It was actually after 5 when we left. By halfway across you could feel the wind building and we were glad we hadn’t left any later. We travelled past Brewerton and down Lock 23, only to have to circle back to a wall to deal with the blocked water intake again. As Stan on Y Knot says… “There seems to be a pattern here.” Our water intake seems to have a thing with the down locks. Only 7 to go!
We turned off the Erie Canal and headed north into the Oswego Canal. The dock in Phoenix is nice and there is free electricity and water here, so we stopped to leave the rest of the locks for another day.

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