August 19 – August 22, 2021
Well, ok, we have a boat, not a mule. I can’t get that damn song out of my mind. We headed up the Erie Canal. There had been lots of rain up river and it was drizzly, but all seemed good. Off we go. The first lock was 300 yards in front of us.
The Flight of 5
The lock in front of us is the first lock of the “Waterford Flight of 5” on the Erie Canal. It is 5 locks in a row which raise/lower you from 15.2 feet above sea level on the Hudson River, 184 feet up on the Mohawk River (which is the Erie canal at this point). Each lock is between a 33 and 34 foot rise/drop. This is the largest lock change in the shortest distance in the world.
Jim and I had done locks in France on a different boat, and one ICW lock 3 time. Beyond that, this is all new and for sure on this boat. It seemed to be working fairly well though. Julia is with us so I drive the boat into the lock, get it stopped close to the concrete wall, and Julia and Jim pick up the hanging lines to hold us close to the wall. Then the lock goes up or down, in some cases on the Erie as much as 35 feet. Below are some pics of going in and going through the process. I’m taking these pics while driving, getting into the lock and then lowering or rising. Once we are in, my job is mostly done.
Times, they are a-changin’….
All is going reasonably well; we’ve gotten through 7 locks and are headed to the Amsterdam, NY town dock for the night on the other side of Lock 8. As we approach Lock 8, what water is quite “broilie”. Choppy with a big current running between us and the lock. I don’t have a good picture of this as we are entering, but many of these locks have a big damn with water flowing over it to one side and you then enter a small lock canal into the lock. I had NO idea how we were going to get through the current and chop and into the lock. We’d called the lock several times via radio and phone to no avail. FINALLY, they responded saying we could come through but would have to tie up on the other side of the lock as all the locks past Lock 8. We said “no thanks”, turned around in the “broilie” stuff and headed back down to the casino marina we had earlier decided we did not line. You DO NOT want to get trapped between locks. A few weeks ago, the Erie was closed for 2 weeks due to log jams.
We SHOULD have subscribed the the New York Canal Notices to Mariners that would have told us that Lock 9 – Lock 23 were close and had been since 11:30 am. It is now nearly 4 PM. However, perhaps a Lock Master could have mentioned it…. But, our responsibility.
Tied up at the very strange but safe, cozy marina, trying to figure out what to do. Do we sit and wait it out, pick a new plan. We knew the Erie had been closed for a couple weeks a few weeks back due to log jams. By now, we know Henri is headed north and rain at a minimum is to come. And one of the other boats stopped here said it would be closed for multiple days.
On to Plan C. Lets turn around, get out of these Erie locks before they get closed down and we get trapped by the hurricane, and head north on the Champlain Canal, north towards Canada. Try to outrun the hurricane in our 8 knot boat. It is not moving much faster than us, and it is not clear it will do much more than drop some rain on Lake Champlain, so lets go for it. And, maybe we could still do our mini loop in reverse (remember the mini loop?; Erie Canal, Lake Ontario, some piece of Canada , a piece of the St. Lawrence and down to Lake Champlain.)
So, around we turn. Do the 7 Locks in reverse on the Erie we’ve already done, plus one more and tie up in Mechanicville, NY on their free city dock for the night. We have now in the course of 3 days done 16 locks.
They are easier as we are getting fore comfortable, but also because these are all locks dropping us down now and they are not so turbulent.
The Pretty Parts
We started out on this Erie treck with such high expectations. Remember Sal and her mule? It is/was so cool to be on the Eric Canal.
It was hard work and a bit nerve wracking, but that is what makes it so fun for us.
And remember having to lower the mast, move the dinghy, etc… There were some low bridges.
We got to Mechanicville. Tomorrow I will do my very best to get you up-to-date on where we are now. Remember, there was a hurricane? And we are on another canal now? Just too much going on to get it all down.