Day 5 – 33 Locks through the Canals!
August 25th 2008, 33 Locks through the Canals before we reached the Hudson River.
We left the dock this morning just after 7AM, and headed down the Erie canal towards Waterford NY. We got off to a very good start and arrived at Amsterdam NY by about 11AM. We tied up at the town docks, and strolled into town looking for breakfast. Yes, we found it, Ed enjoyed 3 eggs over easy, sausages, and home fries with a side of two enormous pancakes (once again, too much for one meal but we enjoy eating the leftovers on the boat) A short stroll around town and we were back on the boat headed to our next destination.
At lock 9 we ran into a major problem. This lock is between a range of mountains. We now know that the wind seems to funnel through this area. The lockmasters gave us no warnings. We were not too worried about wind since we were in a river. The wind was actually not blowing that strong as we entered the lock, but just as we were trying to tie up, the wind suddenly gusted up to 20 knots. Roxane was at the bow and I could not get to the stern line quickly enough from the helm, so the stern was blown away from the side of the lock. The boat slowly found its way sideways in the lock. The lock door was closed, but the lock master began to panic and decided to re-open the lock door, this only allowed more wind on the starboard side of the boat. Roxane’s was quick thinking and brave as she jumped off the bow, with line in hand, and pulled the bow in. The stern swung around, just missing the other side of the lock, by 3 feet. The boat is 39 feet long, and the lock is about 42 feet wide. Now we were facing the wrong way in the lock, and resting on only 2 fenders that I had placed on the port side. Unfortunately, the boat suffered some cosmetic damage to the bow. We left the lock reversing out when some tourist asked us, why we entered the lock backwards, I just answered this is the way professionals do it for an added sense of adventure.
Just before this incident, I sent Thomas up to the bow, with a VHF radio, just for fun. He would watch out for logs, and markers and report to us on the radio as we would listen to him in the cockpit. During the whole situation above, Thomas was providing a running commentary about the whole situation over the VHF radio just adding to the stress level. He thought it was very amusing and did not seem to understand our concern.
Today we covered about a dozen locks. During one stretch we dropped 5 locks within 1 mile (about 150 feet), this is the largest lock drop in the world. We arrived in a great little town called Waterford NY, just before the Hudson River. The town of Waterford has a beautiful waterfront and has a nice set-up for boaters. They provide free docking for transients, along with free pump-out, water, electricity, Wi-Fi, showers and bathroom facilities. We walked through the town, and found an amazing gourmet restaurant, and enjoyed a wonderful dinner. We especially needed to relax after such an adventure, a trip that makes the LO300 look like a walk in the park.
In total we’ve traveled through 33 locks to get to the Hudson River. Amazingly, we navigated from PCYC in Toronto to the Hudson River just north of New York City, without refilling our water or gas tank, we didn’t pump-out, and we did not connect to shore-power for 6 days. During this trip through the Erie Canal, we experienced beautiful changes in scenery from rolling farmland to mountains and cute little towns with church steeples and bells that chime on the hour. We feel like we have been through half of Europe with town names like Amsterdam, Rome, Verona and Frankfurt.