The grand trek south started right on time, Bob told anyone who’d listen that we’d leave the dock at 7:03 am, and we did. Peter, Tom, Jacinthe and Bambi came to wave us off. Jacinthe also got a great picture of us just outside the club as we headed out.
Based on the wind forecast we abandoned the plan to stop for a night at Main Duck island before continuing on to Oswego NY. It was supposed to be light winds and small swells on Wednesday but a lot more wind on Thursday so going all the way to Oswego was the new plan. Once we got on the open lake it turned out the wind prediction was pretty accurate but the swells right on our nose were bigger than we expected. The first three hours on the lake were not fun. I had been thinking I’d start organizing the chaos below since it looked like we’d motor all the way but that was a non-starter. With the pounding into the swells, using the head was as much as I could do below. Bob decided to veer a little off course to reduce the pounding and it sure helped. The swells also started to reduce in size, so the last three hours of the 8.5 hour trek were not bad at all.
The check in process at US customs was interesting. There was a US Customs & Immigration officer sitting in his squad car while we used the “video phone” to call US Customs to request a Cruising Permit for the US. We were then questioned by the officer in the squad car, then had to Fax, yes Fax, a copy of our passports and boat ownership papers to some number, wait again until the officer heard from the fax people and told us we were good to go. It’s common for the officers to do an on board inspection but we suspect it was close to quitting time for this guy so he didn’t inspect our boat. He had inspected a boat from Belleville that got here about an hour before us. Bob got the stuff ready for the mast to come down tomorrow morning. We had dinner at a local sports bar and then an early night to bed, it seemed like a long day but we were glad we’d done the trip in one day, there is supposed to be a lot more wind tomorrow.
This morning the mast came down aided by John from the Belleville boat. Bernie, the guy who took the mast down was cool calm and collected. He said our mast stands were the best he had even seen, and he’s done this for years. So kudos to Peter Cohrs who designed them. Bob wanted the the top of the mast to be at the back but Bernie was hesitant to turn it around as the winds were really picking up – a mistake on our part that we didn’t insist, more on that shortly. We then helped with the Belleville boat.
We left the marina around 12pm and proceeded to the first lock where we lost our lock virginity and our mast light. The front of the mast hit the lock wall and off came the mast light so our first lock experience was not a happy one. Bob called Catalina and they are shipping a new unit to Tristan’s work in Cape Cod and he’ll either personally deliver it or send it to the Marina where the mast is going back up. It would be great to see him if he can get the time off work to meet us.
We tied up at a wall just past the lock, ran a few errands in town and chilled for the afternoon. The forecast is for lots of rain in the morning so we’ll play our departure time by ear.
It poured rain this morning but was pretty clear by 11 so we headed out. We went through 6 locks today, it’s pretty safe to say we do not like locks. Picture yourself against a slimy wall, holding on to slimy ropes while trying to keep a 15,000 lb boat evenly near the wall as the water is swirling up. It is not fun and being newbies at this added to the non-excitement. The front of the mast took another hit today so we now need the whole unit. The lock master at the final lock today let the water in a bit slower which really helped, it was a 10 foot rise, not the highest of the day. We’re guessing the highest one today was around 25 feet.
The ride along the river from lock to lock was very pretty but all I could think was, oh gad, another lock coming up! We’re stopped for the night in Phoenix NY and there is a huge catamaran, from Montreal, behind us on the wall. I’m trying to picture it in the locks.
Good progress today. After some excellent tips from Joan & John about making our life in the locks less miserable, we did very well in the one and only lock we had today. I have to admit it was not a very high one, only a 7 foot rise, but baby steps.
We then travelled about 4 miles of winding river with some amazing cottages/houses, then we went under the bridge of Interstate 81 and into Lake Oneida.
It’s a shallow longish lake that one should not cross in a strong east or west wind, especially with a 48′ mast strapped across your boat. We were lucky today, the winds were light, mostly from the north and we did the crossing in a little over three hours. We had dinner in an old fashioned dîner that is famous for its “mile high pie”. It was a huge place and very busy, Bob figured a lot of the customers were Trump supporters. Lots of locks tomorrow but I’d like to think we’re now coping much better and not getting as slimed.
Beautiful sunny today. We are definitely not lock virgins anymore. We had our last lockup this morning and not a speck of slime on us, except some on our gloves – which is the norm. The next two locks were down, both of them around a 25 foot drop. They are much easier, no turbulence like the up locks. All the remained locks are now down ones.
We were surprised t how little river/canal traffic we met considering it was a beautiful sunny Sunday and we were on the water from 9:15 to 3:15. We did see several small boats out fishing, but other than that, just a group of three kayakers and one woman in a skull – not a lot.
We tied up at the wall near the entrance to lock 19 and we’re enjoying some adult libations on John and Joan’s boat when the el humungo catamaranfrom Montreal went by. The boat chicks in short shorts were all ready for the wall, wearing their rubber gloves and boat hooks in hand – it presented an interesting picture, I wish I’d had the nerve to take a photo. We did all wave to each other:)
We spent the night on the wall wall just outside a lock with plans to leave at 8:30 am the next day. The morning fog had other ideas. We’re still travelling with Joan & John and all agreed that we’d wait till the fog lifted, which it did by about 9:30.
Today was big lock day – lock 17, a 41 foot drop, it was okay as it was a down lock, I guess we don’t have to contemplate doing an up until next spring. It was another sunny day and we saw the St. Lawrence from Kingston heading west on the canal.
We followed Joan and John’s lead and stopped at the little marina in St. Johnstown around 2:30 where we found out that their boat was having transmission problems – bummer ! John contacted the a company that supplies his transmission so they hope to have one sent to the marina and John will install it.
It was foggy again this morning, but appeared to clear up by nine so we said goodbye to Joan & John and headed into the sunshine. It disappeared within about 10 minutes and the fog got quite dense as we motored on, we had about 30 yards visibility. We slowed our speed and I stood at the front of the boat in case some fast moving boat came out of the fog. I’m not sure what I would have done if one did appear, yell “go away”. The fog started to lift after about 15 minutes and it’s been another lovely sunny day. It was a little strange being by ourselves in the locks, we had got quite used to having Joan & John ahead of us in the lock for the past four days. We heard from them that a new transmission is being shipped to them at St. Johnsville, arriving tomorrow. I’m sure our paths will cross again as we both head south.
We did five down locks today and arrived at Amsterdam around 2:25. We’re staying at a dock in Riverlink Park. The Montreal catamaran was docked here and one of the guys helped us dock, meaning I didn’t have to leap off the boat – always a good thing. They left shortly after that but I’m sure we’ll see them again, I really need to try to get a picture of the boat. We’re dining out tonight,
It will be good to do a bit of walking, we have to cross the river to get to where the shops and eateries are.
The previous sentence was written before dinner. The restaurant that’s a 15 second walk from the boat is closed on Mondays & Tuesdays, as is the restaurant on the other side of the river that got a good review on trip advisor. Based on a Google review we found an “Italian” restaurant on this side of the river but on the other side of the railway tracks that run on the north side of the river – it had a promising name, The Basil. We took the walkway over the railway track and found ourselves walking in what looked like a somewhat depressed area. The Basil turned out to a glorified pizzeria that did not serve alcohol, but our pizzas were ok. It was also seriously over air conditioned so poor Bob who had just a short sleeved shirt on was freezing. Even our server was wearing a hoodie, but without the hood on. It was a relief to leave and get warmed up outside.
We decided to believe Mr. Google on an alternate route back, just to do a bit more walking – we should not have trusted him. It took us to an area with a bunch of parked tractor trailers and of course no people in sight. We reached the end of the road at a closed gate in front of the tracks. Rather than walking all the way back we skirted the road that sort of paralleled where we’d walked and dodged traffic, there wasn’t much, to get across close to The Basil. Live and learn.
If you’re reading this on Sept 15, check out Day 6, it was cut off and it’s been fixed.
Another foggy morning but it lifted by 8:30 so we were on our way by 8:45, no surprises like yesterday, the sunny weather continued all day.
This was the day of locks. Locks 11 – 7 were spaced several miles apart as usual but then we were into “the flight” – 5 locks within a distance of two miles. We had to pass two gates before the locks started and the first gate is kept closed unless a boat requests to go through. When Bob called tomate the request, the guy said I’ll be there as soon as I can, he was manning the gate, and locks 6 and 4. He had to drive between the three places as pass throughs were requested. Bob got really good at idling the boat, not nearly as easy as idling a car.
It took us 90 minutes to do locks 6-2, partly waiting for the poor lock keeper bouncing between the gate and the locks, and he, therefore we, waited for a boat that was about 15 minutes behind us, also locking through going east. It turned out to be a boat that also spent the previous night in Amsterdam but left around 9:15 am
Waterford seems to be nice little town and we get to stay on the dock at the Visitors Centre just outside the lock for free – that includes showers, yea! We’re staying here for two nights. We had dinner in town at a place recommended by the Visitors Centre staff, we wanted to erase the memory of The Basil.
The food was very good at McGreives, but the service was interesting. They didn’t have the first wine we ordered so we selected another one which they did have. My starter salad arrived minutes before the main course and as we were finishing our meal, still chewing, cutlery in hand, the “water server” asked if we’d like the rest of our meal in a box or were we still working on it. We did mention this to our server, she said it was the young woman’s second day on the job, she would talk to her. When the bill came it had two bottles of wine on it, the one they didn’t have and the we were served. As I said good food, interesting service.
Today was town history and laundry day. We went for a fairly long walk this morning to try and see the old Champlain canal. It was beside a historical centre so Bob descended the stairs to the canal while I checked to see if the little museum was open. It was a hot day and I was sweating buckets, I just wanted to hang out in the shade under a tree. The museum was mildly interesting, a lot about the canals as they had been very important to the economy of Waterford. Before the Dutch and then the English this was Mohawk land and an important area as it was the meeting of two great rivers, the Hudson and the Mohawk.
One of the laundromat dryers ate four quarters without working and of course there was no contact info anywhere. But I was happy to get the lock slime off my poor hoodie that got slimed in the early locks when we were still clueless about how to control the boat in a lock, especially one that was going up.
We had a good chat with a few of the people in the big catamaran. It was built in Montreal by the owner and they’ve had it in the Thousand Islands for the last five years. I did manage to sort take a picture of it from our deck as it sits behind another boat a few hundred feet down the dock from us. It gives a sense of how wide it is.
We headed out at 8:55 am towards our final lock in NY state. Bob kept calling the lock master with no reply but finally heard back that he was locking through a barge and tug boat going north. We tied up at the brick wall to wait and once the lock doors opened we saw the barge was almost as wide as the lock. We had to back up to let the barge pass!
Once we got in the lock we discovered it didn’t have ropes so eventually as the front of our boat swung way out (Bob had a line round the pipe but the boat was moving back) the lock master came over and helped get a bow line to Bob so he could keep the boat closer to the wall and my main job was to make sire the mast didn’t hit the wall – again. The lock master was very helpful and patient.
Final lock done and we started down the Hudson. The first couple of hours were pretty uninspiring, it was very industrial. We passed under many many bridges and the scenery became more pleasant, lots of very nice big houses. Our final bridge before we turned into the inlet to the marina is called the Rip Van Winkle bridge, yes, really
There were three guys waiting on the dock at Hop-O-Nose, super friendly! There is a nice restaurant a few steps from the marina so we went for a celebratory drink ?. We’re going back there for dinner tonight. Tristan is driving here tomorrow from Cape Cod to deliver the replacement mast light and will help with the mast stepping. I think we’re going to chill here tomorrow and will comtinue down river on Sunday morning.