Thursday, May 31, 2018

Champlain Canal Locks

May 30- we left the Hudson River at Fort Edward and entered the man-made section of the Champlain Canal. We transited locks 5, 6, 7 and 8 going up in elevation while 9, 11 and 12 lowered us. (There is no lock 10) We also went through our first Guard Gate. 

Leaving our first lock on a gorgeous morning

A Guard Gate. Looks like a guillotine.

The biggest waves we saw this morning were created by a flock of Canada geese taking off. Barely a ripple showed otherwise.

A mirror-like reflection

A fixer upper??

We shared lock 12- the final lock on this waterway- with 2 Canadian sailboats. Both had their masts stepped (taken down and placed on wooden supports on their decks). Masts must be removed to allow the sailboats to pass under the fixed bridges. 

Sailboat leaving Whitehall, NY

Beautiful scenery heading toward Lake Champlain 

Fort Ticonderoga
Fort Ticonderoga (formerly Fort Carillon) is a star-shaped fort built by the French, 1755-1757, during the French and Indian War.

Cable ferry to Fort Ticonderoga

 There are several cable ferries crossing the waterway around here. These ferries move by pulling themselves along a steel cable. The cable lies on the bottom of the lake until the ferry’s progress pulls it up to the surface. We gave this ferry a wide berth. 

The tour boat Carillon returning from Ticonderoga.

Champlain Monument and Memorial Lighthouse

The Champlain Monument and memorial lighthouse commemorates the 300th anniversary of Samuel de Champlain's discovery of Lake Champlain. The bronze statue is of Champlain, a fellow Frenchman, and a Huron native. It was a gift from the French government.

We are currently in Westport, NY, waiting out strong winds on the Lake- hoping to cross over to Burlington, VT, early tomorrow. Winds and waves are too intense for a crossing of the "broad lake".

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Champlain Canal

This morning we untied our lines and headed north- it felt great to be traveling again! We soon passed the Hudson-Athens Lighthouse. built in 1874.

Now its on the National Historic Registry 

Next up was Albany, the capital of New York, and the end of tidal influence on the Hudson. Hard to believe the tide comes 140+ miles up the Hudson. Tides are a pain because they change the current in the river every few hours. Going against the tide can slow us down by more than 3 miles per hour (a significant amount considering our cruising speed is 7-12 mph). Tides also mean that dock lines have to be able to accommodate the rising and falling water levels. Anyway, we are pleased to be out of the tidal reach.

Gothic style government building

Empire State Plaza

A lift bridge

Soon after Albany we came to Troy and the Federal Lock.

Inside the lock

Decision time- left to the Erie Canal or right to the Champlain Canal

We hesitated for just a minute- should we take the Erie Canal rather than the Champlain?? We wavered, but stuck with our plan to do the Champlain route.

Looks like the Mississippi River, right?

So peaceful- we had the water to ourselves.

Until this behemoth appeared

Big boy
We passed through locks 1, 2, 3 and 4 on the Champlain Canal with ease. We were the only boat locking through. Each lock master called the next lock to advise them of our approach, so the gates were open and the lights were green for us. Awesome!

We are in Schuylerville, NY for the night. The marina is small but nice, and dockage is free if you eat at the nearby restaurant- what a deal!

Monday, May 28, 2018

Memorial Day Weekend

We took advantage of our time at Catskill to sight see, run errands, tackle a few boat chores, do laundry, visit friends, and re-stock our provisions.

Thursday noon Slade and Susan took us to Hudson, just across the Rip Van Winkle Bridge, for lunch. We met them at the Ranger Tug Rendezvous in Florida back in February. Boating is a small world!
Church in Hudson

A mural in Hudson

Hudson has numerous art galleries, antiques stores, and restaurants- it reminded us of Galena, IL.

Friday we drove north to Waterford to check out the town and our next stopover. The Erie Canal begins here. Who among us didn't learn the words to the Erie Canal song in grade school music class a few decades ago??

"Got an old mule, her name is Sal. 15 years on the Erie Canal..."
This is the start of the Erie Canal, which goes west to Buffalo.

Erie Canal to the left.
We will not be turning left here- we will go right, up the Champlain Canal towards Lake Champlain and Canada.

Our route will take us under the bridge and through this lock.
Arriving at the Visitor Center, we were pleasantly surprised to see "Diadema," the boat we met back in Great Kills and again here at Catskill, tied up along the wall. Barbara and Jorge were not on board, but we found them at a nearby grocery store and enjoyed lunch together at Don & Paul & Annie's Coffee Shop. Unfortunately, I didn't get a pic.

This homemade wooden boat had two tiers of solar panels to power its batteries. Another boat hit it while attempting to dock and knocked off the top tier of panels.

A large crane was brought in to lift the broken panel up. We did not stick around to see the end results.

That night we saw "Solo," the new Star Wars movie. I liked it but Mark thought it had too much action. I didn't know that was even possible for him!

Friday night we went to a play at the Bridge Theatre. We saw "Leni," the true story of a talented female German filmmaker who was a friend of Hitler's. There were only two actors in the play, but it was surprisingly complex and well done.

Saturday was boat chore day. Mark tested our windlass to make sure we can lower and raise the anchor. We've never anchored out on this boat, but we definitely will during the Canadian portion of our trip. This boat has much smaller capacities for water, fuel, and waste than Mara Beel I- so we are augmenting our 50 gallon water tank with two five-gallon solar showers and two five-gallon water jugs. Cooking and washing dishes uses a lot of water, so we will switch to paper plates and a few frozen entrees while we are on the hook. We hope to be able to anchor four days before going to a marina for water and a pumpout. The adventure continually evolves.

Next - dinghy practice. we have a blow-up dinghy that we have never used, which is stored on our roof. Mark hoisted it down and inflated it with our 12-volt pump. The 2.5 hp motor is stored mounted on our rail, so he took it down and attached it to the dinghy. Fortunately it weighs a mere 38 pounds. Tiny boat = tiny dinghy.

It works!
We took a ride around Catskill Creek and checked out the other marinas.

Our tiny home on the water

We found another Looper couple- Dan and Lurita on "Proper State of Mind" and had docktails on their spacious Grand Banks.

Sunday we drove about two hours to Utica and met our good friends Pam and John. Their boat, "Short Vacation," spent the winter on the hard in Winter Harbor, NY. They are busy getting ready to splash her later this week. It was wonderful to be reunited with these two fun and wonderful people! We spent the night in a hotel and talked about old times and their travels in Canada last summer.

We first met when we were all in the boat shopping phase of Looping.

Dressing our fenders
From now on we will be transiting literally dozens of locks with gunky walls that our fenders will rub against. John and Pam advised us to buy cheap t-shirts to cover our fenders, which can then be thrown away.

We arrived back at our boat today to discover that the dinghy motor has a tiny leak in the gas tank which is dripping into our cockpit. We are again reminded of the boat wisdom that says, "Everything on a boat is broken- you just haven't found it yet." So true! Mark is working on safely draining the gas from the motor, and we hope to find a replacement gas tank in Burlington, VT, later this week.

Tomorrow we will be back on the water!

So long, Rip Van Winkle

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Catskill, NY

Tuesday was another gray rainy day. We left Haverstraw around 0700 to meet up with Looper friends Linda and Robert on Errante- we first met them back in 2014. They were headed south and we are headed north so we connected (literally) just downriver from West Point. We tied up alongside their 42' Nordic tug and floated together while we caught up on each others' adventures. It was fun to see them again!

West Point from the river.

"Beat Air Force" on this side of the roof, "Beat Navy" on the other.
We saw several small tows pushing a barge or two and a few pleasure boats, but not much traffic on the Hudson.

Esopus Meadows Lighthouse

Bannerman's Castle ruins on Pollepel Island

Saugerties Lighthouse

We had planned to stop at Kingston for the night, but it was just noon when we approached, and the weather was not appealing, so we decided to keep going to the next day's destination, Catskill. The Catskill Mountains are beautiful! "Kill" is part of many geographic names in New York. It is a Dutch word that means stream.

Catskill is a small, historic town along the river. This area has river towns, valley towns, and mountaintop towns. We will spend about a week here exploring all of these and waiting for other Loopers to catch up. We have rented a car to make the most of our time here. Today (Wednesday) was bright and sunny, so we drove up in the mountains to Kaaterskill Falls.

Kaaterskill Falls is a 2-tier waterfall that drops an impressive 260 feet. Niagara Falls, in comparison, is 187 feet high. 
The upper tier plummets 180 feet. I was nauseous just standing on the viewing platform built out from the side of the cliff.

The young woman sitting at the foot of the falls gives an idea of its size.

This is Rip Van Winkle Country and home to the Hudson River School, a mid-19th century American art movement- romantic landscape painting- typified by Frederic Church and Thomas Cole- their homes are on the tourist circuit here. More about that later...

Kaaterskill Clove, a deep gorge near Palenville.

Monday, May 21, 2018

United States Military Academy at West Point

There is an unusual bright light in the sky today- if I remember correctly, it is called the Sun. It has been awhile since we've seen it in all its glory. We felt almost giddy to have those clear azure skies all day long!

We are enjoying our time at Haverstraw Marina.

Today we joined fellow Loopers Carolyn and Robert on a tour of nearby West Point. Duty, Honor, Country..... West Point is awe inspiring. It is the oldest active military base in the U.S. Tomorrow, May 22, marks the start of graduation festivities here.

The setting overlooking the Hudson is breathtaking.

Amphitheater for band performances

Some of the captured canons displayed at Trophy Point.

During the American Revolution General George Washington had several forts built along the Hudson in this area, including Fort Clinton and Fort Putnam. The river narrows and twists here, making in an ideal spot for fortifications.

In 1778 Washington had the Great Chain constructed and installed across  the Hudson from West Point to Constitution  Island to prevent the British from sailing up the river. Each link is two feet long and weighs 114 pounds. The entire chain weighed 75 tons and was over 600 yards long. The British Royal Navy chose not to test these fortifications. These 13 links, representing the 13 colonies, are all that remain of the original chain.

Civil War Monument. The column is the largest single piece of polished pinkgranite in the western hemisphere. Canons are buried barrels down in a circle around the monument in the hope Americans will never again fire on each other.

The bronze angel atop the monument.

The base of the Civil War Monument. The names of officers killed in battle victories are inscribed on the base.The torches are upside down to signify extinguishing civil conflict.

The names of enlisted men who were killed in these battles are inscribed on the belts circling the globes.

The cannon mouths are each inscribed with the name of a battle.

We ate lunch at the historic Thayer Hotel.

It was a great day, topped off with stops at West Marine and Stop and Shop- then back to the boat to relax.