Day 134 West Side Lock 20 Erie Canal NY 22 nm today 2798 nm to date

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The canal cruise ship heading to the lock which is just past the bridge
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Canal boat in the lock, Ramble On backing out

Today was a shit show at the locks. We had hoped to get through 5 locks which would take us to Sylvan Beach at the east end of Lake Oneida and the hope of mile high pie. It seemed totally doable – ha! Our first delay was at lock 18 (20’ lift) the first lock of the day. We had to wait a half an hour before we got into the lock and then probably another 20 minutes before we were out. However, that paled in comparison with the dastardly lock 19. It took us three bloody hours to get through the lock. The lock master said he had several boats in the lock to come down and we’d have to wait. That wait went on forever. We could hear the communication between the lock master and the east bound boats and there seemed to be issues with a boat that had to back out of the lock, another boat near the entrance to the lock was taking his sweet time to move out of the way.

Meanwhile, a very large canal cruise ship pulls up behind us. There was lots of back and forth on the VHF between the cruise ship, Ramble On and the lock master. First, the cruise said it wanted to go first, had priority maybe. Then said it would let us go first since we had been waiting a while. Then, because it was taking forever for the down lock to happen, the cruise ship said it had to go next, it was scheduled to pick up passengers further west. When the lock finally emptied Chris asked if we would fit in behind the cruise ship, and Finnish Line would raft on Ramble On. It was a valiant attempt but when Ramble On got close to the lock entrance they could see they would not be able to reach the rope at the bow end of the boat. A further slow down of the whole process was that the lock master had to open each gate (two at both ends) individually which meant walking around, slowly, for him. In most cases both doors open at the same time.

So Ramble On backed out and we got to wait again. Shortly after, two motor cruisers joined the line up. When we finally got into the lock Finnish Line took the second last line at the front of the lock, Bob wasn’t sure if he had a pipe to hold onto if we went forward. The lock master ambled over and asked us to move forward which we did ok, and then he asked Linda and Chris to move forward, Linda complied only partially, moving up only half the distance he asked – she rightly didn’t want to get too close to us, we really didn’t want the masts to kiss. The only positive thing that happened was the lock master asking if we could get out ok if he opened just one door – YES we could, which meant not waiting for him to walk to the other side and open the other door. THREE HOURS LATER we were finally out of the lock. Sylvan Lake was now a lost cause but we were able to make lock 20 and docked on the wall just west of the lock. We plan for a 7am start and as long as there are no more lock issues tomorrow we should be able to make it across Lake Oneida. The wind conditions for a lake crossing are ok for tomorrow but not so good after that for several days. It’s a shallow lake and crossings, especially when the masts are down, are not a good idea in higher winds.

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Docked for the night west of Lock 20.
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Stuff from the raw water strainer – no wonder the engine heats up.








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