Friday, May 31, 2013

The Home Stretch

Erie Canal Westbound

Coming back across the Erie Canal we wanted to stop at different towns than
we did when eastbound last fall. We enjoyed the towns last fall and a few fit
well in our daily progression this time but we experienced new places too.
We enjoyed our days on the Erie Canal this spring again and recommend the
canal to boaters and also to cyclists as there is a wonderful bikepath along most
of the canal. We plan to do the canal by bike in the future as there are lots of
camping areas, especially at the locks, and B&Bs in the towns along the canal.

Monday, May 13

We left Waterford at 7:15 AM with five other boats, crowding into the first
five locks together as the locks are closely spaced in this flight of  locks. After
these locks two of the powerboats moved far ahead and it was just three other
boats for the other four locks we went through today. Upbound locks are more
difficult because of the greater turbulence of filling the locks with water versus
emptying the locks of water. After our first lock of the day we were back in
our "lock groove"  and comfortable with the process again. We stopped at
Amsterdam Riverlink Park which was free because they hadn't opened for the
season yet. We walked into town, which was very dead with many empty

9 locks
37 miles

Tuesday, May 14

There was frost on the deck this morning with temperature 34 at departure
time. We turned the boat so the sun shown on the deck to melt the frost so
Carol would not slip while going through the first lock of the day at 7:15.
Fortunately we were able to have electricity at the overnight dock and had
our little electric space heater going overnight, a big help.
We went through eight locks today, getting our workout for the day keeping
the boat off the lock walls on these up locks.
We stopped at Herkimer Town Wall, free, and were impressed by all Herkimer
has to offer. This is probably the easiest provisioning stop of our trip, outside
of Vero Beach. Walmart is about .7 miles away and there are other stores and
auto parts places even closer. Ice Cream is close by and lots of restaurants, too.

8 locks
49 miles

Wednesday, May15

We woke to 37 degrees ( 46 in the cabin ) and decided to stop at Utica for a visit
to Saranac Brewing but they weren't open for tours and were out of my favorite
beer. We headed on to Rome Bellamy Harbor wall for overnight and tied up to
the rough part of the wall as the floating docks were already taken. We headed
up to town, a short walk away for dinner with Jim from "Mystique", a single-
hander we met on the Hudson River. A delightful guy, Jim has a paralyzed arm
from a motorcycle racing accident thirty years ago, but it barely slows him down.
We refer to him as "the single-handed  single- hander" and he handles his 34 foot
sailboat by himself as he cruises to the Bahamas, Caribbean, and elsewhere. He
is very competitive and enjoys sailboat racing on others' boats back in his home
port of Buffalo.

2 locks
29 miles

Thursday, May 16

Originally intending to spend this day at the dock due to a forecast of high
winds for crossing Oneida Lake, we awoke to a calm morning and decided to
take off for Sylvan Beach and reassess at that point. The wind was still calm
at that point so we headed out across Oneida Lake, figuring that with the wind
on our nose, as we went across the fetch would decrease as we progressed and
we'd be OK. The wind came up halfway across, blowing 20-25 K and gusts to
35K but we were fine.
We saw lots of mallards, geese, swans and herons today and got to Baldwinsville
where we tied up below the lock so the wind would be blocked. Baldwinsville
is a nice, clean town that seems more vibrant than most of the towns in Upper
NY and we enjoyed the classic car show happening that evening.

3 locks
58 miles

Friday, May 17

We had a nice day with calm winds and things went smoothly even with a long
day. We were the only boat to go through some of the locks today and saw an
eagle and several minks.
The Medina Town wall has beautiful facilities and the dockmaster Mike is very
friendly.  We were the first cruisers of the season here and enjoyed the free dock
with free electric and water. We also availed ourselves of the free laundry, using
their brand new washer and dryer. The town seemed alive here as we walked
downtown and around the block, with several restaurants nearby.

5 locks
54 miles

Saturday, May 18

It was quiet and calm overnight and we left early to allow a long day. We were
back in the part of the canal with lift bridges again and stopped at Spencerport
for an hour to go to the nearby grocery store. After going through the lift bridge
we pumped out at the free facility on the west side of the bridge with easy access.
We continued on to Holley, a very nice free dock with free electric and water.
A short walk away there is a beautiful waterfall.

5 lift bridges
4 locks
58 miles

Sunday, May 19

The day started with the first warm morning since leaving the Bahamas as we
left to meet Doug and Pat Reichenbach in Middleport where Carol would get
off the boat to return to Madison and Doug would join me for the remainder
of the trip. This was our first day in shorts and short sleeves and it was a
welcome change.
Carol's niece was getting married in southern Indiana Memorial Day weekend
and Carol volunteered to make 150 individual - size pies for the reception. She
needed to head home to prepare and attend. I originally thought I would not
be able to make it  back in time to attend but was aiming to make it if at all
possible. We had been pushing hard to make it back in time.
Doug joined me after lunch at the Towpath CafĂ© and we went through the last
two locks at Lockport, a double lock that gave Doug a taste of the canal. He
also got to go through 3 lift bridges and since the day was so nice and we were
making good time we continued all the way to North Tonawanda.
Doug and Pat meeting us at Middleport.

3 lift bridges
2 locks
58 miles

Monday, May 20

After stepping the mast at Wardell's we left at noon to sail nonstop to Geneva.
The forecast was for beautiful calm weather for a day and a half followed by
very bad weather for three days after that. We had a very calm crossing
motoring and motorsailing the whole way. After 8:00 PM we shared two hour
watches and Doug got to do his first all night cruise. The moon was beautiful
as it lit the sky most of the night and Doug did a great job. It was nice to have
him along.
The sky started to light up at 5:30 AM and we continued on, reaching our home
port of Geneva, Ohio at 7:30 AM Tuesday.

Geneva, Ohio, our home port

150 miles
19 1/2 hours

Chris and Raina, the newlyweds.

We had a wonderful trip of a lifetime and we actually survived being together
24/7, even enjoying it. Carol was a real trooper and we make a good team
sailing, docking, anchoring, and navigating our boat.
We saw so many beautiful sites and met an enormous amount of great people
we enjoyed spending time with.
We both agree the most impacting part of the trip was how alive it made us feel.
There is a constant need to be vigilant and alert, whether it be navigating through
shallow waterways, timing the lift bridges, locking through the canals, docking
in new places all the time under varying conditions, anchoring and all the
decisions that accompany that, or the ocean crossings.
It was great to leave right after a wedding because we got see so many friends
and family before taking off. It was also great to come home to a wedding and
Thanks to all for following us with your thoughts and prayers.

4500 miles + sailing around the Abacos for three months
667 gallons diesel fuel
9 wonderful months

1 comment:

  1. What an awesome trip. I'm glad you made it home safe.