The Route South

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