The Route South

Monday, June 25, 2012

Up the Hudson River

OK.  Most of you know where New York City is.  But we know some of you are shaky on geography after that.  (You know who you are!)  So here is a map showing the area of our cruise this summer.  We will leave NYC and head north on the Hudson River, much like we did in 2007.  Waterford is located at the junction of the Hudson and the Erie Canal.  We turn left and travel out the Erie Canal until we meet the Oswego Canal.  At Lake Ontario, our course will take us across to Kingston, Ontario.  From there, up the Rideau to Ottawa, the capital of Canada.  The Ottawa River will carry us to Montreal where we will join up with the St. Lawrence River and travel on to Sorel.  From Sorel we will travel down the Chambly Canal and Richelieu River to Lake Champlain and the Champlain Canal, returning back to Waterford.  Its about 750 miles out and back.  We could do that in three weeks but we intend to take most of July and August and then get out of there by Labor Day.  OK, now that that's over you can click on the map and see the enlargement.  Go know you want to.

Wednesday June 13, 2012
It rained all day yesterday so we just hung out on our mooring in Great Kills.  Today we are up early and underway shortly after 0630.  By 0800 Verrazano Narrows Bridge looms over us and the current is against us.  Our speed is down to 4 knots, likely for most of the day.  There is just no avoiding it. Lady Liberty slid by on our port side an hour later and two hours after that the 79th St Boat Basin is on our starboard and our speed is down to 3.3 knots!
Just as we were eating lunch and approaching the George Washington Bridge, the skies opened up.  The rain was really coming down and our visibility was nil.  We had the running lights and radar on as we slowly felt our way along.  Fortunately, it was short-lived and by 1330, as we passed Yonkers, the rain was over and the sky was improving.  By 1500 the current was done with us and we were making 6.3 kts. passing under the Tappan Zee Bridge.  An hour later we were abeam Croton Point at Ossining, where we had a front-seat view of the infamous Sing-Sing prison.  Scary place!  Larry and Jeanne Bateman on Sea Dweller (KK44) had a short day running up from Tarrytown so they were already anchored when we arrived at 1620.  Although we don't like to raft together overnight, we did so for two hours so we could share a glass of wine.  We haven't seen each other since Stuart so it was good to catch up and do a bit of travel planning.  Larry and Jean are also heading to Canada but heading in a different direction when we get to Lake Ontario.
46 NM

The Space Shuttle "Enterprise "aboard the retired aircraft carrier" Intrepid".
One of the supersonic Concord airliners is also on display to the left.

Thursday June 14, 2012
Its pretty easy to get an early start up here.  The pre-dawn twilight begins shortly after 0500 and the sun is fully up by 0530.  So a 0615 start-up is pretty easy.  Just as we were preparing to pull up the anchor the VHF radio squawked with someone calling "Morning Star, Morning Star".  The voice wasn't Larry's but it was vaguely familiar.  When I answered back, it was Rick Smith on Broulee (KK42)!  They were in a nearby marina and had us in sight!  They were leaving the boat there and going to do family things before chugging for Maine and had seen us come in yesterday afternoon. We haven't seen them in  at least two years and our chat was too short.  
The wind was gusting over 30 kts. as we passed under the Bear Mountain Bridge at 0745.  The mountains on each side of the river are beautiful but they act as a wind tunnel so we don't expect the wind to hold all day.  But it was still strong as we passed West Point, the US Military Academy.  Cindy served lunch shortly after we passed Poughkeepsie, the home of Vassar College (who knew?).  We pulled out of the river at Rondout Creek and tied up at the Kingston City Marina just a bit before 1400 - an early day.  We spent the afternoon getting Sea Dweller's mast and boom lowered in preparation for the Erie Canal.  Two winters ago we cut 5 ft. off Morning Star's mast to get the overhead clearance down to 17' so we don't have to lower the mast for this trip.  Jeanne and Cindy made reservations for dinner at the little restaurant by the harbor.
48 NM

Larry and Jeanne Bateman will be our traveling companions until Lake Ontario aboard "Sea Dweller".

The imposing fortress that is the US Military Academy at West Point.

Friday June 15, 2012
By common agreement, we pull away from our slip at 0545 and head up the river.  Shortly after 0900 the two boats passed under the Rip van Winkle Bridge at Catskill, NY and by 1145 we were steaming past Castleton-On-Hudson.  I'm always surprised to see the ocean-going ships docked 100 miles up the river at Albany, the state capital.  We passed there shortly after lunch and arrived at the Troy lock at 1400.  Also known as Federal Lock because it is operated by the Army Corps of Engineers, this will be the first of many, many locks this summer.  It only took fifteen minutes to lock through and it was a short trip from there to Waterford and the beginning of the Erie Canal.  We are going to take the weekend off, relax and play tourist.  The crews of Morning Star and Sea Dweller plan to rent a car and go to see FDR's home at Hyde Park and have lunch at the CIA.  No, not that CIA, the Culinary Institute of America.  The meals are all prepared and served by the students as a part of their curriculum.  Yumm!
57 NM

On the "wall" at Waterford.  The lock ahead is the beginning of the Erie Canal.

Jeff and Linda aboard the Pilgrim 40, "Vagabond", in the first lock.  Going Up!

The Culinary Institute of America at Hyde Park, NY

The American Bounty dining room at the CIA.

Good lunch with good friends.
The guys even had on long pants!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Erie Canal

Monday June 18, 2012
Waterford has what is called the “Flight of Five” locks – five locks one right after another, numbered #2 through #6. (Lock #1 was the Federal Lock in Troy which we went through last Friday)  So after returning our rental car to Enterprise at 0730 and getting a quick ride back to the boat we started the boat up at 0820.  But then we had to wait for the lock to clear so Sea Dweller and Morning Star didn’t enter until 0845.  It was 1025 before we finished the Flight of Five.  We continued along the Erie Canal, which at this point is traveling through the riverbed of the Mowhawk River.  It is a beautiful setting with farms and wooded fields on both sides of the river.  Frequently, we see trains or hear their horns as the tracks run mostly along the riverbank.  By 1710 we had transited Lock #11 and decided to call it a day.  When we did this trip in 2007, Cindy and I stopped at a small park called Putman Park a.k.a. Yankee Hill. The lockmaster at #11 assured us that it survived last summer’s flood just fine, but when we got there only part of the dock was left and there wasn’t room enough to tie two boats up, so we went back to #11 and tied up to the wall for the night.  It was a nice place to stop except the aforementioned train track passes about 50 ft. away.  For some reason, they all seem to want to blow their horns as they go by! 
That darn Sharon aboard “Stevedore” (KK42) is putting us all to shame by baking cookies.  She bakes untold dozens of the darn things and puts them in plastic bags and hands them out to the lockmasters.  So Cindy made the lockmaster at #11 a chocolate cupcake frosted with Nutella and we walked it over to him after dinner.  Take that, Sharon!
36 NM

Erie Canal workboat.  All the Canal Company boats are well maintained antiques.

A peaceful morning.  Under way on the Erie Canal.
Tuesday June 19, 2012
The locks start operating at 0700 so there is no such thing as a real early start, but we were away from the Lock #11 wall at 0630 and locked through #12 by 0715.  Locks #13 through #17 were each about an hour apart and at 1325 we passed through the lock chamber at #17.  It is notable for two things; 1) its guillotine-like gate that raises up rather than the conventional doors we are used to, and 2) its 40’ lift.  That’s the highest lift on the Erie Canal.  At 1340 we tied up at the terminal wall at Little Falls.  It is a warm afternoon, well into the 90's, and we are grateful to be plugged in to the power and running the air conditioning.  Many of the towns along the canal have what are called terminal walls.  These are actually old freight terminals that date back to when the Erie Canal was used for commerce.  Many of the towns have seen fit to renovate these into park-like settings and provide free or reasonably priced dockage for transient boaters.  Its a win-win situation - boaters get dockage for little or no cost and that encourages them to stop and patronize the local restaurants and stores.

Most of the locks look like this....
 Notice the stop light to the left.  A green light is the signal that its OK to enter.
                                                                                                                                                                  photo courtesy of Jeanne Bateman
...except for Lock #17 - the guillotine!                   photo courtesy of Jeanne Bateman

Larry and Jeanne on Sea Dweller are dwarfed in Lock 17.

Wednesday June 20, 2012
The engine was running at 0800.  Sea Dweller had to go to the pump-out to empty their holding tank before we got under way, but by 0845 we had locked through #18.  We had an almost two hour run before we got to #19 and by the time we got to #20 it was 1200.  Lock #20 is truly the high point of the trip.  When we pass through, we will be at an elevation of 420 ft. above sea level, the highest point on the Canal.  From now on, it’s all downhill!  Lock #21 is going down, much easier on the crew.  After passing through #22, we decided to go to Mariners Landing Marina for the night.  There is space on the Sylvan Beach town wall but no electricity.  The temperature is again in the 90’s and air conditioning would be nice so by 1615 we were tied up and plugged in.  We asked at the marina office for a referral for dinner and got unanimous raves for “Eddies”, just a short walk away.  Over cocktails with Larry and Jeanne, we decided to try it.  The place was jam-packed with local folks which we took as a good sign but seldom have we had such a mediocre meal.  What a disappointment!
43 NM

Sea Dweller on a peaceful Erie Canal morning.

Thursday June 21, 2012
By 0635 we are away from the dock and into Oneida Lake ten minutes later.  The lake is as flat as a pool table today and we made excellent time running down its length, arriving in Brewerton at 0915.  Ess-Kay marina was on the bow.  Ess-Kay will be our home for almost two weeks and at 0930 we went to the pump-out and then to our dock.  Nice marina with two courtesy cars!
19 NM

Larry and Jeanne are renting a car and driving to Atlanta for a family event.  Randy is flying to Clearwater for a week.  But first, Randy and Cindy are renting a car and doing a quick one-day roadtrip around the Finger Lakes – Ithaca, the home of Ithaca College and Cornell University; Watkins Glen – the week before the big car race; and the wine country – there have to be hundreds of wineries there.  We are hardly wine connoisseurs and our palates are pretty blue-collar, we did stop for a tasting and bought a couple of bottles.  Hey, we already have the corkscrew!

Grapes as far as the eye can see.  Lake Seneca, NY

We had to visit a winery.

Quiet country setting.
Morning Star's (and Cindy's) home for two weeks. Brewerton, NY

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Big Apple

Sunday, June 10, 2012
Today we will reconnoiter.  We are going to figure out how to go into "the City" for lunch and a look around.  Understand, we are not big city people.  Haven't spent much time in big cities and don't really care much for crowds.  We have little experience with public transportation.  Busses, trains and subways are pretty far outside our experience.  But we are trying to do better.  We figured out the Tube in London and it worked well for us.  When we visited Montreal we used the subway with success.  In Baltimore we took the light rail to the baseball game.  But somehow, NYC seems like a bigger deal.  Yeah, I know, millions of people do this every day.  Even young kids.  So we studied up and went for it!
We were planning to take the bus to the ferry terminal and take the Staten Island Ferry to Manhattan.  We were standing alongside the road waiting for the bus when the Commodore of the yacht club where we are moored drove by.  We met Dave Barr in the yacht club bar during lunch yesterday.  He is a retired NYC cop, a detective with over 20 years and a nice guy.  He insisted on loading us into his car and taking us to the train station.  Thanks Dave!  

NYC iconography,  The Statue of Liberty and the Staten Island Ferry.
Yes, that's a Krogen on the left.
Downtown Manhattan from the Staten Island Ferry

Monday June 11, 2012
Sister Jane and Sam are coming for a visit today.  For some time we have been talking about meeting up when we get to NYC and its finally coming together.  They drove over from Allentown on Monday morning and we took the train and Staten Island Ferry into the City, where we toured for the entire day,  We stopped for lunch at Ellen's Stardust Dinner on Broadway.  The servers are all Broadway wannabes and they sing while they work.  These kids are all very talented and are using this gig to pay some bills while hoping to get discovered.  We had a great day. 


Ellen's Stardust Diner on Broadway, where all the wait staff aspires to a bigger stage.

St. Patrick's Cathedral. 

Out of the ashes - a new World Trade Center.

Times Square
Team photo in Great Kills, Staten Is, NY after a great day in the City.

The (real) Jersey Shore

Thursday June 7, 2012
After a good night's sleep, its time to climb back on the horse.  At 0720 the engine was warmed up and the anchor was coming aboard when Cindy suddenly announced that she couldn't shift the boat into gear!  Yikes!!  After quickly dropping the anchor again, I checked the shift cable connections under the dash - OK here.  I jumped down into the engine room and discovered that the fitting which attaches the shift cable to the shifter had become disconnected.  The offending cotter pin was lying there in plain sight and it only took a few seconds to reconnect everything and we were under way again.  

The anchorage at the Cape May Coast Guard station

By shortly after 0730 we were out Cape May Inlet into the Atlantic.  There was a gentle 2-3 ft. swell with some wind waves on top, but everything was going in our direction, Yeah!
At 1250 we entered Absecon Inlet and less than a half-hour later we were snuggly anchored at Brigantine, just across the inlet from Atlantic City.  We had beautiful view of the casinos but were out of their budget- busting reach.  
Before the afternoon was over, we had rain and wind, up to 27 knots, but before sunset it had quieted down and the night was calm and peaceful.
37 nm

An ominous looking line squall in the afternoon leads to...

...A peaceful night with the casino lights reflecting off the water-Atlantic City, NJ

Friday June 8, 2012 - Cindy's birthday!
Today is Cindy's birthday and my present to her is that we will run inside, up the New Jersey ICW instead of going outside in the Atlantic.  By 0700 the anchor was aboard and we were slowly sneaking back out the narrow entrance to the Brigantine anchorage, seeing a minimum of 6.7' on our depth sounder at low tide.  We will have a rising tide for most of the day.  At 1000 we made a 30 minute fuel and water stop at Beach Haven Y.C. and Marina.  They have the best price on fuel north of the Chesapeake.  We topped off the tank at $3.40 per gallon!  I fixed Cindy a birthday-lunch as she steered past Barnegat Inlet.  Barnegat Bay is a very large, relatively shallow body of water and it was 1600 before we finished with it.  We anchored for the night in the Metedeconk River, in excellent position to negotiate Manasquan Inlet tomorrow morning.
56 nm

Saturday June 9, 2012
Another early start!  Our start was timed in order to traverse the Point Pleasant canal at something close to slack water so the anchor is aboard and we are under way well before 0600.  As we exited the canal we became part of a huge mass of boats heading out the inlet.  It is saturday morning and EVERYBODY that has a boat is headed out to fish this morning.  There is a traffic jam at the RR bridge but it sorted itself out eventually and we were through the inlet and into the Atlantic shortly after 0630.  The fishing boats are so thick that we couldn't just set the autopilot and sit back while it steered us north toward New York.  We had to hand-steer until we were well past Asbury Park (of Bruce Springsteen fame).  

Part of the fishing fleet off Asbury Park, NJ

By 1000 Sandy Hook was abeam and an hour later we entered the harbor at Great Kills, our home for the next few days.  A quick call on VHF ch.9 and the Richmond County Yacht Club instructed us which mooring to pick up.  And just as quick as all that, we were through with New Jersey.  Where is Snookie anyway?!?
39 nm

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Flying Manatee...myth or reality?

Our stay in Solomon's was all work, work, work!

Saturday June 2, 2012
After three weeks and two days in Solomon's, its time to be on the move again. Most of the To-Do list has been completed.  Certainly the ones which were "mission critical".  The others - well, if you ever owned a boat, you know that the list is never complete.
The weather forecast is uncertain with strong winds out of the wrong direction.  Finally, at 1030 we can't stand it any longer.  The forecast doesn't seem to have panned out and we decide to go and give it a try.  If it turns bad we can always turn around and go back.  Plus, there are a couple of bailout spots, if needed, so off we go.
In a half-hour we have rounded Drum Point.  The breeze is out of the west so when we round the Cove Point natural gas terminal we headed to the beach.  Once we got to within about 1/4 mile from the beach, the waves were down to a manageable size and we decided to continue on.  After lunch the wind is up to 31 kts. across the deck, but the seas are manageable so we continued on to Annapolis, rounding Thomas Point Light and entering the Severn River at 1715.  The Spa Creek draw bridge opens on the hour and half hour and we had to wait until 1830.  Ten minutes later we had picked up a mooring in the shelter of Spa Creek, where we would wait for four days while the wind blew itself out.  It gave us the opportunity to have lunch with Dr. Jane and Fuller one day and John and Pam from Compass Rose (KK42) the next.
48 n.m.

Wednesday June 6, 2011
Finally!  A good forecast!  We are up with the chickens and have dropped the mooring pennant at 0545 to catch the 0600 bridge opening.  As we entered the Bay, we knew that the forecast was right - light winds and a fair tide.  Cindy fixed lunch as we flew down the C&D Canal, passing Chesapeake City at 1235.  We have never stopped there and have been threatening to do so, but not on this trip.  We are making great time and shortly after 1400 we are out into the Delaware Bay, passing Reedy Island where we saw Almost Perfect (KK48) anchored.  The surface of the Bay was flat as we passed the entrance to the Cohansee River, our last available anchorage before Cape May.  We had a fair tide and Morning Star was making 9+ knots!  Cindy commented "We are flying!!" At this rate we can go all the way to Cape May before dark.  As we passed Ship John Shoal lighthouse, we started to notice a bit of breeze rippling the surface of the water.  The warning bells should have gone off then and there.  But we were flying down the Bay and we were greedy and we didn't want it to end. did.  By 1800, by the time we passed Miah Maul Shoal, the wind was on the nose and building.  Holy Crap!  When the wind blows against the current it sets up a short, steep wave pattern and we were getting spanked pretty hard by 3 to 4 footers.  The only way its going to get better is for the wind to drop - unlikely - or the current changes.  Well, the current changed with a vengeance.  We traded 9 knots of speed for 4-1/2 knots!  And the darn waves are still smacking us around.  The sun is setting behind us when we finally have the Cape May Canal entrance in sight.  The day's last Cape May ferry entered the ahead of us at 2100, but it took another hour of slow-speed crawling in the pitch black with the radar spinning and the spotlight searching for unlit marks or obstructions.  Finally, at 2200 the anchor bit into the bottom off the Coast Guard station.  We were exhausted!!
113 nautical miles or 130 statute miles - a new record for us!

Entering the Elk River.

Car carrier entering the C&D Canal

Pay attention.  They pass close!

What's that stuff coming out of the stack!?  Nuclear  power plant on Artificial Island.
Notice the smooth, calm water.

Ship John Shoal lighthouse, when Delaware Bay was nice.