Monday, August 08, 2005

Brewerton to Castleton-on-the Hudson

Getting caught up now with the travelogue part of this blog that will take you from Brewerton near the western shore of Lake Oneida to the end of the Erie Canal. We have some separate postings coming dealing specifically with hadling the locks and our take on "fun" on the Erie Canal so stay tuned!

August 3 Brewerton to Rome

The big feature of this hunk was a long grind across Lake Oneida. We left at first light to catch a flat lake and succeeded. Like a lot of motoring in the canal, this is a no brainer as there are buoys to follow every half mile or so. Takes about 4 hours to make it across. On the eastern shore is Sylvan Beach where there is a little amusement park and, of course, the ever present trailers. We stopped here for fuel before moving on to Rome, NY

Rome has a fairly nice tie up wall. There is nothing to see right there but a longish walk into town will show you that there is nothing there either! HA! We did finally find a little restaurant in an old hotel and got out of the heat for a little. Still mid 90’s during the day with zero wind. Back at the boat we made as much shade as we could but is was a hot sweaty night trying to sleep

August 4 Rome to St. Johnsville

Back on it at first light to avoid motoring during some of the hot part of the day. The mornings are actually pleasant but after about 10 or 11 it is impossible to get out of the heat. We had planned to stop and Little Falls but there is no overnight tie-up. We did stop briefly and walk around a little. Our early starts allow this and still make more distance in the afternoon. We found a little café for a snack and walked around a little. Another old river town trying to make a comeback and falling just a little short.

The St Johnsville Marina and Campground office!

St. Johnsville is a wonderful stop though. There is a little marina/campground that is neat and well maintained by Bernie the harbor master. He told us what was in town and added that there was an Italian restaurant a couple of miles out of town that he would take us to and somebody there would bring us back. We took him up on this offer and were glad we did. The food was excellent in a little family owned restaurant. Indeed when we were done, Bobby brought us back. I asked him if he was part of the restaurant family and he said no, I’m just a regular.

We had hoped that while we were dinning the boat would have cooled off. No such luck. There is virtually no wind down the canal and we are even tucked in a little off of that. Another hot night. Why didn’t I buy those little fans like I said I was when outfitting the boat?

Harbor Master, Bernie!


August 5 St. Johnsville to Amsterdam

We slept in a little if you call that sleeping. We needed fuel anyway and Bernie was to open around 8. Gave us time to do some laundry and write a little. Another fairly uneventful motor down the canal with the occasional lock. Seems the distances we are covering take us through about 4 locks a day. Following this travelogue there is a larger essay on Amsterdam itself and another on locking. Nuff said about Amsterdam for now. We stayed the night tied to their wall. We were hot.

August 6: Amsterdam to Crescent, NY
The Crescent Boat Club

We had planned to tie up at the wall in the little town of Crescent which would only leave us a couple of miles to the “Waterford Flight” which is the name given to the last 5 locks which you do end to end with no real distance between them. We wanted to do those when we were fresh. The wall in Crescent was pretty scary and mostly taken up by a giant barge so we back tracked (yes, the captain went backwards!) to a little place called, Crescent Boat Club. What a great find! Our hostess, Noreen, shared lots of info about the last few locks and about navigating on the Hudson with the tides. She had crewed up and down the east coast on a variety of boats. Everyone at the club was very friendly and curious about our trip. The farther east we get, though, the less extraordinary our trip sounds to people as more of our ilk tend to pass through on occasion. We used their gas grills to cook up some steaks whose time had come. Finally it cooled off and we had a pleasant night’s sleep.

August 7 Crescent to Hudson River to Castleton

We are on it at 6:30. First locking isn’t until 7 anyway so no point in going any earlier than that. Not much traffic and each lock is green for us and we go right through. We are pretty sick of locks having done 38 of them since leaving Lake Erie through the Welland. They are not that tough but there is always some trepidation about grabbing your line, fending off, stopping the boat, getting a second line. Having gotten sideways and then completely backwards in one lock on a windy day you tend to keep thinking about that one.

At the end of the Waterford Flight there is a very nice visitor’s center. You can stay up to two nights for free afterwhich it is $10 a night. There are basic showers, pumpout but no diesel. Inside they have a variety of brochures for free and two computers for you to use also free. In talking to some other boaters we learned that the tidal current this far north is not that fierce even if you end up against it and that we should make Castleton easily before the tide begins to flood anyway. ON WARD to Hudson River!

The last lock and the visitor's center

Not long after the visitor center you come to where the Erie Canal meets Hudson River. A big sign points you north to Lake Champlain or west into the Erie Canal. Not us! We're heading south to New York City!

Here’s a fun thing to do…when I meet people in New York, especially if they are in canoes, I ask them if they’d like to trade their land for some beads. They just laugh and laugh.

How you can tell you’ve made it out east

  1. The altitude on the gps reads ZERO! We’re essentially at sea level!
  2. We have Midwestern ‘accents’!

Double click for a big really says 0 feet for altitude!

Oh, you can double click any picture to get a big version too.

The river is nice and wide and once you get south of the industrial south side of Albany becomes quite picturesque. There are some mighty big and pricey homes along the Hudson. I’m thinking this is very old money.

By early afternoon we pulled into the Castleton Boat Club. Not unlike the Crescent Boat Club, this place is full of very friendly and helpful people. We can stay tied to their pier for $30 a night and use their crane for our mast for another $50. We had a couple of Labatts (our new Old Style) and two lunches in their clubhouse bar. A true club, they take turns being in charge of the food. Today’s lunch was a chicken breast, pasta salad, fruit salad, roll and desert for $5.00. Nice…oh and the Labatts are $1.00. This will be a fine place for me to work on the boat while Sue goes back to Chicago for a conference. I have many little projects and lots of cleaning to do. We want to look sharp when we hit the big apple in a few days.

We’ve been 55 days out of Chicago. We’ve traveled over 1000 miles. We’ve stopped in 31 different towns. Yesterday as we were leaving one of the locks someone was taking our picture. We continue to meet interesting people with interesting stories to tell. For example yesterday we met Dan and Judy who have lived on their 33 foot sailboat for the past 10 years. They sailed from San Diego through the Panama Canal and beyond. They offered to help us step our mast since they just did theirs that day and felt they had a helping hand to share. Talking with them was like talking with friends you hadn’t seen in years. They are still excited about journeying and we hope to see them again in New York City. We told them we were shopping for a bigger boat and Dan said, “Don’t do it.” They think more boat is just more problems and they have been comfy and safe for all those miles aboard their 33. Hmmm…food for thought.

Later in the day we also met a couple who have been cruising away from the states for 20 years on their steel sailboat. Now that they’ve come back and have cruised up the east coast they find that it is all “ruined”. Although they didn’t seem all that old, they had the attitude of old people who fall into the ‘all change is bad’ routine. They claimed (I sense a little drunkenly) that there is NO PLACE TO ANCHOR anywhere on the east coast of the USA. You just know this is patently false. They also claim that if you do anchor you are treated very poorly. By whom? Did you really expect 20 years to go by and find things as you left them? Expectations like that can only lead to disappointment. The idea of cruising is that things are exactly as they are and you deal with it. Cruising is solving problems. If your favorite old anchorage has been taken over by a marina…find another! I found their information worthless. Not just because I didn’t like what they were telling me but because I could tell it was clouded by nostalgia and of no use to me. It doesn’t matter to me how anything used to be. What can I do with that info? And as to anchoring…well, I just don’t believe them. I’m sure that Dan and Judy would agree.


Rich Pope said...

Thanks for keeping this blog running! It is fascinating! And, as you know, Scott, I relate to your sense of humor and progressive thoughts on stuff. I look for your postings everyday. And thanks for taking time to do all the picture posting and color touches. It's nice! As I've told you already, your experiences and reporting of them are giving me (and my wife, to a lesser extent), sailing fever. I'm already planning some fall basic sailing lessons in Chicago and some reading on basic terminology and stuff like that. One summer soon, you may see me on a rental boat someplace, trying out the sailing life!


Andrea said...

This is just the coolest thing ever. I tell everyone I know about this blog. I log in every day hoping for new posts. Not to mention the sailing education! It's like reading Tom Clancy, but with a sense of humor. And no bodies. Oh wait, you're heading for New York............