Thursday, July 27, 2017

Are we there yet? Or what lock are we on now?

Dates are a little off above but start in correctly here,  There TS Waterway was beautsiful but getting a little monotonous.

July 22, 23, 2017
         From Bobcaygeon we had two days to the boat yard through some more lakes and the Trent Canal which is literally a one way canal, 6 feet deep that is cut out of granite.  When we entered a section of the canal we had to broadcast on the radio that we were entering from one end so that other large boats would wait till be had come through. 

Th water is really clear so you can see the rocks and try to avoid them.

A golf course along the canal that we didn't stop at.


Elevator going down.

Another tight spot

         The first night we stayed above the Kirkfield Lock.  Our only requirement was that we could tie up in a spot where our TV antennae could get a good signal for the British open, so that night we stayed on the top of another lift lock so the trees were not in the way.  Some people we had met along the way went through the lock (now we were going down) and stayed down below.  And had had a rough day since their boats needed 4 and 5 feet of water respectively.  We have a little easier time since we only need 3 feet.
          The next day we pushed on and emerged on Lake Simcoe.  We were lucky and inspite of some wind the lake was reasonably calm and we traveled along the lake for 10 miles to our marina.  
This marina even has docks for sea planes.
 It is a very fancy membership club, where people keep their boats and furnish the dock like a deck or patio and the marina furnishes very good gas grills for them to use.  Also the docks and covered, which made reception for our antennae a challenge, but we finished worked it out and finished the Open. 
July 23, 24, 2017
      First thing Monday morning the service department of the boat yard came over, analyzed our problem with the same solution that John had figured out, got the part ordered and we left to play golf.  A round of golf in Canadian mist, kind of like Oregon, where it doesn’t really rain but you get pretty wet, but the sun eventually came out. 
       On Tuesday we got a rental car and headed to Toronto and Niagara Falls.

Summertime in Ontario

July 20, 2017
     We found out how Canadians play in the summer.  They all have summer “cottages” on the lakes.  The TS waterway is actually a series of locks which link a huge network of lakes. In their short summer, they all take to the water.  Some of the cottages are funky old cabins, some RV’s and some really beautiful homes, but all with boats, or houseboats you can rent.
cottage country
We left Young’s Point and had some really white knuckle cruising among the rocks and islands on Stony Lake and its neighbors.  The problem here is that if you hit bottom its granite and is not kind to your boat hull. 
Dange!! There be rocks!

Pretty little church on a small island with really high water
We cruised with the party boats through cottage country all day and got to Bobcaygeon, a classic Canadian vacation town, with a shoe store like I had never seen.  So many pairs of shoes, and really expensive.    Canadians don’t have to have a cottage though.  Lots of them just have  small day cruise boats that they spend the weekends in, either on the water or just hanging out in the marinas.  Kind of floating condos.  The best recommended restaurant was Just for the Halibut, so we got fish and chips to go and ate on the boat.  Again, a mob scene on the lock wall, but we do like to have power when we can so we found a marina.
Where's the party?

Navigating without a bow thruster

July 19,
      The next day was a long one with not much to show for it but more elevation and 15 miles.
The most exciting thing was that the first lift of the day was a lift lock.  In this style there a really just two “bath tubs” .  Our boat went into the lower one, and they filled the upper one with a little more water than in the lower, and like a teeter totter we went up!  Really slick and lots faster than the standard gate variety.  Also this lock took us up 65 feet. 

View from the bottom
Going up

View from the top
this house boat got a little too close

     We also picked up a lot more boat traffic and had to fit more boats into each lock.  The first one was a house boat that was really wide and barely fit next to us.  After that we tried to get the house boat to go in first next to a smaller boat and then we paired up with another small boat.
      Found a really little marina and got in with some help with the dock master, and a little bumper car play with another boat on the dock.  We wanted to stay at one of the locks, but it was filled up by the time we got there.  We had really picked up a lot more traffic and there was less room for tying up at the locks.


Starting the Trent-Severn Waterway

July 17, 2017

      We got a good taste of locks on the Trent Severn with 8 locks right off the bat.  They are much smaller since they never really had any commercial traffic and very user friendly.  On these you catch a cable that is connected at the top and bottom and then tie a line around them, but there are more people working the locks and they are really helpful if you’re having trouble getting a line on the cable.  Lots of these are the old manually turned gates and water valves.   Its also nice since this is Canada’s 150th  birthday the locks and parks are all free.   They are set up so that we can tie up for the night right at the lock.  After 8 locks we had had enough on Monday night so we tied up above the lock in a lovely little park with a grill so I listened to music, drank some wine and grilled a rib eye.   It was a lovely evening, though usually I tell people that living in western Colorado, I didn’t come on this trip for tranquil parks but once in a while its nice.   And did I say the lock workers were helpful?  The guy came up to where we were trying to catch a cleat and helped us tie up.
The Trent-Severn was finally built in the early 20th century when the possibilty of electrical power became a reality. On the left is the dam and water coming over, the lock in the middle and the power plant.

Peaceful evening at Lock 8

Friday, July 21, 2017

Green tunnel, locks and canals

July 8, 2017
       Future planning doesn’t work very well on boats.  We played golf at a very nice course on Saturday, between thunderstorms on the front and back nines, and spent some time talking to the locals waiting for Uber.  Fortunately Uber just started in the small towns along the New York Barge Canal so we can get transportation from the boat into the towns, which is more necessary than I had thought.
       I had a vision of small historic towns all along the canal, but the present canal is not in the same place as the original.   I read a great book, The Wedding of the Waters, which explained the history and politics of the building of the original canal in 1817-25.  That canal was dug separately from the rivers, specifically the Mohawk, in the area and just used the water to fill the canals.  That’s the canal of the song about mules pulling barges along the tow path.  The next canal was an enlarged version of that, about 30 years later.  The present canal moved to the actual rivers and dammed them and built locks around when the potential for hydroelectric power was realized in the early 20th century.  The original canal was an incredible feat of engineering for its day, through virgin forest of huge timbers.  So the bottom line is that trip up the Erie Canal was a lovely boat ride through a green tunnel.
         As to future planning, when we got back to the boat after golf we found out that the canal locks were opening a day early so we planned to head out the next day.  We also blew something in our 50 amp power cord, so we would be off of shore power until we could get it fixed.   Not too much of a problem since there are not too many marinas along the canal where we can plug into anyway, but we have a generator and are pretty self-sufficient.  We were a couple miles from Schenectady but there was a really good Chinese food place that delivered so we were set.

July 9, 2017
       We were off the next day to more green tunnel interspersed with hard work catching and hanging on to the ropes in the locks but we were getting the idea pretty well.  Our biggest problem is to communicate with each other.  We had a set of two way head phones but John dumped his set in the lock reaching for a rope, so we figured out a way to use our phones, which worked pretty well.   The locks are 300 feet long and 40 feet wide and often there a two or more boats in them.  A group of boats kind of convoys up the canal and locks together, and then while we’re waiting for the lock to fill or empty as the case may be we can talk to the people on the other boats.  The way were moor in the lock is either by catching a rope off the side, the easiest, or wrap one of our ropes around a cable or pipe in the wall if they are available.  We usually have to use a boat hook to catch the rope because it is hard to get too close to the wall since we have to have big fenders on the boat to keep it from scraping along the wall going up or down.  We went through 6 locks the first day and 6 the second.  Above and below most of the locks there are concrete walls we can tie to for the night, if I can catch a rope on a cleat and jump off the boat to tie it up.  So far I haven’t landed in the water, but we are being much more careful about wearing our life jackets now.  We stopped in Fort Plain New York and a pretty little park.   I rode my bike into town to mail Louis’ birthday card and see what there was to see.  I was a pretty sad little town with lots of old buildings and houses that weren’t being used.  This is really Trump country with all of the industry that grew up around the Erie Canal long gone.   There was a nice park with a decorated gazebo and people waiting for something so I asked what was going on and was told an ecumenical worship service was going to start so I stayed and sang some camp type bible songs to the accompaniment of a banjo and listed to a sermon on Romans 6:14, since I hadn’t been to church that Sunday.
         Back at the boat we had left over Chinese for dinner, and a gentleman who had seen me at the park came by to talk about our trip and drool over the boat.    I keep telling John he is really lucky I thought the idea of this trip sounded fun, cause there are a lot of guys out there who would kill to do what we’re doing but their wives aren’t interested.

July 10, 2017
     Next day was another green tunnel along the canal and 6 more locks and we landed in Rome, NY.   This town seemed like to be trying harder and doing better than some we had seen.  They are building a marina to attract the boaters to stop.  This was pretty much at the top of the canal.  We were now about 420 feet higher than where we started on the Hudson River.  This park/wall that we tied up to had some grills so I cooked a pork loin on the hibachi.  Still having trouble getting the interior temp right but it tasted good.

July 11, 2017
      Had our first try at locking down.  This is a little harder for us because it is hard to pick up the ropes since the deck of the boat is 4-8 feet above the wall of the lock, but I can go down to almost water level on the back swim platform and catch a rope and then John stops the boat and catches one from the top with the boat hook.  We had been calling ahead to find a boat yard that could fix our electrical problems, not too many have services on the canal.  We talked to the people at EssKay Marina in Brewerton and they thought they could help.  That was good because our right engine started overheating the last 10 miles into Brewerton and we had to limp in on one engine.  Brewerton is a small town part of the Syracuse metro area.  While John worked with a mechanic on our boat problems I went into town with some other people in the marina in the courtesy car the marina lends people and got groceries for the rest of the canal trip.    Real good mechanic got us going the next day.

July 12-13
     We left Brewerton and a few miles later turned off of the Erie Canal and went north on the Oswego Canal to Lake Ontario.   (For the story about why the canal was built to both Buffalo on Lake Erie and Oswego on Lake Ontario read the book.  Politics haven’t changed much in two hundred years. )  One note is that this is the 200th anniversary of the start of the canal project, so all of the locks are free this year.  It’s also 150th anniversary of Canada so the Canadian parks and locks are free too.  They don’t actually cost too much normally.
         We were afraid that we wouldn’t make to it the last lock these were all down locks and into Oswego before it closed, but following a local boater who called ahead to the locks and had them ready as we came into sight we made it with 15 minutes to spare.  Last lock through on Oswego is 4:45 pm.   We stayed at a marina that was right on the patio of a really good restaurant and had a lovely dinner and both agreed that we were going to take a day off whether there was anything interesting to see  in Oswego or not.   Actually the next part of the trip was 48 miles across Lake Ontario and the wind was kicking up the water pretty good so staying in port was a good idea. 
         I left the boat for a latte and pastry downtown and a little shopping the next morning.  First time for a while.  John took his bike for a tune up since the gears weren’t working too well and made a tee time for the afternoon, but the skies were threatening and I think he was too tired even for golf so he cancelled.     We went to a nice Farmer’s Market Friday afternoon and a short bike ride around the shore of the lake and listened to a band concert on the boat from across the river that evening.  Oswego is another town that is really trying to reinvent itself after the loss of all the industry in the area. 

July 14, 2017
    The winds were down and the lake pretty calm so we headed to Canada.  The border is somewhere in the middle of Lake Ontario.   Out in the middle of the Lake is pretty boring, but pretty.  We made it to Kingston, ON and fell in love with the city.  This was one of the first that we had seen that was built on the lake at the head of the St Lawrence River and really oriented to the water.  We found a pub that had Guinness on tap and poutine (fries with melted cheese and gravy) a Canadian specialty.  Both took long naps after two pints of beer and then I went back to a wind symphony concert at the City hall plaza.  Pretty much Symphony of the Valley without the string instruments.  Lots of people and the rain held off. 
July 15, 2017
       The next morning I went for coffee and a little shopping, all very close to the marina and happened upon a wonderful farmers’ market set up in the city hall market square. And found a perfect T shirt for my quilt.

July 16, 2017
        Sixty miles along the north shore of Lake Ontario until we could find a marina in Belleville, ON, made a long day, but the marina was next to a park and the town just across a small bridge.  There wasn’t much open when I rode into town after a tour of the regional park, with parts still under water, but there were two sushi places and I figured Canada was probably pretty good for Sushi, so I got some take out.  Next morning I tried the Tim Horton’s across the road from the marina, for coffee, since our Wisconsin friends always raved about it and wasn’t impressed, but they did have a great chees biscuit and a raisin bran muffin.  The donuts also looked really good but I’m not much of a donut person.  Too many calories for too little food.  Even a Snicker’s bar is more nutritional.

July 17, 2017
          A short hop to Trenton (Quinte West) and we were at the entrance to the Trent Severn Waterway.  240 more miles of rivers and locks.   We met some other Looper couples in the Marina and got together to share stories over “docktails”.  Every time I get on someone else’s boat I realize we really got the right boat for John and me.  One of the couples had lived in Aspen, the wife lived in Carbondale for 30 years.  I rode up the Trent River 2 miles to the first lock to get the charts for the waterway that we needed.  We like to have paper and digital charts of everywhere we travel.e

A rotisserie chicken and salad for dinner and we slept great before the next great section of the trip.  Actually we have both been sleeping really well on the trip. 

  That is until we had a mosquito attack last nite.
  I'm going to publish this section of blog now, without pictures because the internet speed we're getting in Canada is not good enough to download pictures.  I'll add pictures when we get back to the states.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Starting the Erie Canal

July 7, 2017

      Upstate New York and the Great Lakes have had tons of rain this spring and summer and they are having a hard time keeping the canal open.  We were able to stay at the free dock in Waterford Visitor Center because the lock there, which is the first on the Waterford Flight, a series of 5 locks right together which raise boats 200 feet above the Hudson River, had just opened after being closed for a few days.  The locks close when the water is too high, or the debris gets so bad that the lock gates get stuck.  We knew that the canal  was still closed further up but we decided to get started anyway.  After navigating the Waterford flight we feel like pros!  And my fender set up is working great.
Lock 5 with the green light to go forward

 After Lock 7 we started calling ahead for a marina for the night.  There are lots of places we can tie up overnight but not many marinas for a boat our size with electricity.  One night isn’t bad, but we found out that it will be three more days till the locks above Lock 14 open.  Everything ahead was full of boats waiting for the canal to open, so we went back to Schenectady, a mile or so and found a very nice marina with a pool and grills.  While John found us golf courses and tee times for the weekend, I checked in and we’re set to enjoy our delay.

Lock 7 on the left and the dam on the Mohawk on the right which creates the upper pool.

Finish the Hudson

July 5-6, 2017
     Thirty more miles of the Hudson and we were in New Baltimore at another locals’ favorite marina.   John went on a bike ride but I took one look at the cliff behind the marina and headed to the pool where all the locals seemed to congregate.  They had great grills for people to use so I fixed our favorite looping dinner.  Ribeye, mushrooms, grilled onions, salad and rolls.  the next morning John got the resident mechanic to change the transmission fluid and I consulted with the guy in the boat next to ours about what we needed for fenders to protect the boat in the locks through the Erie Canal.  He had done the canal a number of times in a boat bigger than ours. I got two more big fenders and we finished off the Hudson River, passing Albany, which really hasn’t done anything with its waterfront, and through Troy Lock to Waterford on the Mohawk River.  At Troy you can go north on the Champlain Canal to Lake Champlain or turn west towards Lake Ontario.
Troy Lock #1

         We met with my sister Laurie and her friend John  who were passing through from Burlington VT and had a great dinner in the small town.  Laurie has those pictures.

Hudson River

July 2-3, 2017
   Heading up the Hudson, which is tidal all the way to the Erie Canal, we got ahead of the incoming tide and it was slow going to our first stop just north of New York City at Half Moon Bay in Croton –on-Hudson.   Nice marina, very nice bike path all along the bay and real 4th of July party going on boats in the bay by the state park.  Kind of Biscayne-bay-on-the-Hudson.   A great classic diner for dinner that fed us for two nights!   And a fireworks show across the river in Haverstraw Bay to top off Sunday night. 
     Stayed two nights at the marina hoping to find someone to change the oil and filters in the engines but marine mechanics are really hard to get to work sometimes.  So over my strenuous objections John decided to do it himself.  I was remembering an earlier episode where he forgot to but the cap back on the oil and only figured out that oil was flying around the engine room when the temp gauge started going up.  And then he had fun cleaning up all of the oil.    This time things went much better and except that his knees and back hurt for the next two days from crawling around the engine room, it was a successful endeavor. 
Hudson River looking a lot like the Columbia with smaller mountains

July 4, 2017
     This time we caught the rising tide perfectly and went zooming up the river at 8.5 NMI.  

One of the sights on the Hudson, West Point  Most of the famous places were lost in the trees.

       Made 48 miles and found a beautiful marina already starting its celebrations in Kingston on Rondout Creek.  Lots of people seem to use their boats as condos, and spend weekends and holidays with the family at the marina.  This was no exception.  We got in early enough for me to get out my kayak and spend a couple of hours exploring farther up the Creek.  Then an hour by the lovely pool, dinner on the boat and a nap before the fireworks.  They set off the fireworks about 500 yards from our boat off of a bridge over the creek and they were wonderful.  Lots of boats were out in the river, anchored and watching too.  Great local celebration that we were lucky enough to share.

Kayaking on Rondout  Creek

Waiting for fireworks

New York City

June 27,2017

  We left Manasquan Inlet into the Atlantic early the next morning.  It was our first time in the open ocean since Florida Bay, but the weather was perfect and the seas really calm.  Our boat can handle wind and waves but it’s really uncomfortable to be rocking and rolling on the boat for 5 hours.  We had decided to stop on Staten Island at a marina for our visit to Margie and family in Brooklyn so we got into the lower New York harbor and ended up at Great Kills State Park
John and I both got bike rides in the afternoon.  I found a place to get my hair cut and groceries.  John headed north along the harbor and got up to the Verrazano Narrow Bridge.  We had decided that it was as easy to get to Brooklyn from Staten Island as from Jersey City so we rented a car the next day, and headed to Brooklyn.  First problem was that John’s Google Maps was set for bicycling and it took us to the Staten Island Ferry.  Which is strictly pedestrian.  We got turned around and headed over the bridge to Brooklyn, but is was stop and go the whole way.  The traffic is really terrible even in the outer boroughs of New York.  Seventeen miles and two hours later we got to the bike shop for our guided bike tour of Brooklyn.  Obviously late they were cool and helped us catch up to the tour.

Cycling in Brooklyn under the bridge

Roof top garden in the old Navy Yard

  We saw Williamsburg, north and south with the invisible line running between them, Dumbo, Brooklyn Heights and the old Navy Yard they are repurposing into lots of different new businesses, including a profitable two acre garden on one of the roofs.  There is also a nice park, bike path all along the section of the Brooklyn along the East river.  After authentic Brooklyn pizza, I wasn’t impressed, we headed across the island to Margie’s.  Another 5 miles and 45 minutes later we got to an area called Carol Gardens, because the flats are set back and have room for a little garden in front, though most people use them for storage.  Seems like parking would be a better use like in London.  We had a great visit with Margie, and Brendan and the kids.  Cecelia never cried, actually she was asleep most of the time.
Cousin Cal McCarthy

Cal is a pretty active kid.  I brought a present of Candy Land and we played it for a while, then got serious with trucks and cars and a pretty neat crane.   Take out Italian for dinner seemed perfect and we headed back to Staten Island.  That was a snap, 35 minutes at 8 pm.

June 29 -30, 2017

    We finally went under the Narrows Bridge with the incoming tide and entered New York Harbor proper, and got our first look at the Statue of Liberty.     We finally went under the Narrows Bridge with the incoming tide and entered New York Harbor proper, and got our first look at the Statue of Liberty.  Totally cool.

  We docked at Liberty Landing in New Jersey, right next to the Liberty Landing State Park that got shut down for the 4th of July because the governor and the legislature couldn’t agree on a budget.  I had invited Lorelei Burns, a friend from high school to brunch the next morning.  I insisted that it is really fun for me to be able to put on a simple continental breakfast with croissants from a genuine French cafĂ©, that I could cycle a half mile to in Jersey City.   Also stopped at a great farmers’ market in the downtown area and got fruit from a Korean store.  There are drawbacks to big cities, but a lot of nice things too.  

     Lorelei and her husband Carl came the next morning and were visited on the boat.  They enjoyed the boat, since they had owned a live on sail boat for many years.  John doesn’t do walking around cities very well and Carl has some balance issues so we left them on the boat and Lorelei and I caught a ferry and headed into lower Manhattan.  
This is one of the memorials which are two large fountains built on the footprint of each building with the names of the victims written around the edge.  They are way more beautiful than this picture can capture

  We had lots of time to catch up and chat and went to the 9/11 memorials and the museum.  It was really well done and talking to Lorelei about it was interesting.  She was in Manhattan on 9/11 and a lot of people from the small town in New Jersey when they live were killed.  After a late lunch back at Liberty Landing we said good bye. 
In the museum looking down into the foundation of the building.

July 1, 2017

   I had planned a totally New York day with a bike tour of central Park, a Broadway show, Beautiful, The Carol King Musical, and dinner at the most famous deli in New York, Katz.  All were great, though the deli wasn’t as good as we had expected, but the atmosphere was strictly lower east side.   And that was enough for New York for these two Colorado Cowboys. 
Central park fountain

Sunday, July 2, 2017

On to New York

June 26, 2017
     Four hours in Atlantic city was plenty for both of us and we were anxious to take advantage to the good weather to get to New York so we headed out on the rising tide again.  The tides in this area are about 5 feet so we have a lot less trouble with shallow water on a high tide.  When the biting flies come out in the swampy grass lands we are really glad we have a fully enclosed pilot house.  And they were out in swarms to Manasquan Inlet.  We had some  trouble getting off the boat with  short fixed docks and a very high tide, but I managed to climb off and walk into a cute little town, Point Pleasant Beach and get burgers from a soda fountain diner for dinner.

June 27,2017

  We left Manasquan Inlet into the Atlantic early the next morning.  It was our first time in the open ocean since Florida Bay, but the weather was perfect and the seas really calm.  Our boat can handle wind and waves but its really uncomfortable to be rocking and rolling on the boat for 5 hours.  We had decided to stop on Staten Island at a marina for our visit to Margie and family in Brooklyn so we got into the lower New York harbor and ended up at Great Kills State Park.
First view of New York Harbor at the Verrazanno Narrows Bridge.

Monopoly world

June 25, 2017

  The next day the winds were down and we headed up the New Jersey Intercoastal waterway.  Carefully following the channel markers and following the rising tide we arrived in Atlantic City without any more problems than the usual Sunday boating crazies in populated waters.  John wasn’t too interested in Atlantic City but I talked him into a walk on the Boardwalk.  It was hard to find old Atlantic city of Monopoly fame and our Uber driver assured us the town was lots better when it was run by the mafia than the new legal gambling corporations.  It was really a super sized Seaside, but a nice beach and a great old inn and men’s club for dinner.  Actually the town looked pretty good  and the Boardwalk prosperous.
Pennsylvania Avemue
It really was a beautiful beach with wonderful colored umbrellas

Knife and Fork restaurant

Addendum to Cape May

 John played golf both days we were in Cape May and got  write up in the local sports section.