Sunday, May 27, 2012

Everything on your boat is broken -- you just don't know it yet

We're finishing the end of our first week in Brewerton, NY.  the good news is that many of our chores were done early in the week, replaced a fan, upgraded the entertainment electronics. The bad news is that Jim and the mechanics here at Ess Kay Yards spent most of the week running inconclusive diagnostic tests on the generator which suddenly decided to stop producing electricity. Finally, on Friday, the group decision was to replace the entire gen set.  OK, so we have a plan.  The bad news is that it is the Friday before Memorial Day which will mess with the shipping. The part will only take a day to install once it gets here, but it may not get here until Thursday.  Oh well.

In the meantime, we've seen a couple of movies and visited with our friends Don and Ruth Kalen who are spending the summer as resident volunteers at the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge here in central New York. Tomorrow the marina hosts a Memorial Day party for staff and boaters.  So far the delay hasn't affected our schedule overly much. We will still be starting up the Trent Severn Canal by mid-June and getting to the Georgian Bay by early July. If any of that changes, we'll let the guest who will be traveling with us in June and July know.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Crossing the Erie Canal

Well we finally made it past Lock 2 on the Erie Canal!  We got to Waterford, NY on Wednesday and went up the the Lockmaster's office to buy our canal permit.  All of the old Lock 2 Yacht Club Canal Corporation employees were there, including the crew of the two Canal Corporation boats that were trapped with us last year.  This is the week that NY fourth graders study the Canal so the boats were doing educational tours, including carrying the kids through Lock 3 to experience a lock.  It was nice to see everyone.

Wednesday night, just for old times sake I guess, we had a big thunderstorm, with penny-sized hail and so much rain you couldn't see 10 feet from the boat.  But Thursday morning was beautiful and we locked through Lock 2 to the cheers and good wishes of our old friends.  The other boats in the lock must have wondered why we were getting such a great send-off.

Fortunately, the trip through the Canal has been relatively uneventful. There is still a lot of debris in the water.  Yesterday Jim had to use the boat to ease a big log out of the way before we could enter a lock, but mostly you just have to be alert and steer around them when you see them. We saw a bald eagle flying along the river I was so busy watching I forgot to take a picture.  You don't see eagles that often, but they are impressive when you do.

Our strangest experience was the group of Amish folks who came to look at the Canal. As we were locking up in one of the locks, a small RV pulled up, the door opened and Amish folks began to pour out. It looked like a clown car in the circus, every time you though there couldn't be any more room in the vehicle, more people came out.  About 15-18  folks, adults and kids, came over to the lock and stood there staring at us as our boat rose from below the lock walls.  One man was talking to them, explaining the history and use of the Canal I think, but they were all staring at us as if we were some exotic life form, which I guess to them we might have been.

We're leaving from Utica today, headed to Sylvan Beach, site of a Oneida Lake amusement park, But the park won't open until next weekend, so we're counting on finding space at the dock tonight. Tomorrow we head to Brewerton where we will stop for a week to fix things. (Someone once said "everything on your boat is broken, you just don't know it yet." Sad but true.)  More later.  Maybe I'll start remembering to take pictures.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

2012 Cruise Begins

We are about to start the 2012 cruising season.  As you may remember we ended last season with Hurricane Irene in central New York. The hurricane-created flood waters damaged the Erie Canal locks and we weren't able to get the boat back to Brewerton where she was to winter.  Instead we took her 20 miles south of Albany to Coeyman's Landing Marina where she was stored outside for the winter. With outside storage you have the boat shrink-wrapped in heavy duty plastic to repel rain, snow, etc.  The folks at the marina even built a wooden frame under the shrink wrap to give the boat a peaked roof so that snow would slide off, not sit on top.  This was the first time we've stored her outside and we were more than a bit nervous.
Down Time wrapped for the winter
I'm pleased to report that she came through the winter just fine.  Yes, I know that it was a warm winter, but central New York still had a couple of good snowfalls.

We got back to the marina three days ago.  We had called ahead to let them know we were coming and to arrange to have the boat's exterior cleaned and waxed before we got there.  We arrived Friday afternoon and they launched her Saturday morning.

Down Time on her way to being launched
The thing she it sitting in in the picture above is called a boat lift (clever naming don't you think?). It is a two metal frames, connected on top, with large straps attached to each side and a diesel engine.  The operator drives the lift over the boat, then attaches the straps to each other under the boat.  Then  the straps are raised which lifts the boat off the wooden blocks it sat on through the winter. The lift operator then drives the lift with the boat  to a specially designed boat ramp and lowers the boat to the water.  Once the boat begins to float, you pull it away from the ramp so the lift operator can raise the straps back up and drive the lift away.

Once the boat was back in the water, we needed to check the engines, clear the anti-freeze out of all the water systems, have some filters changed on the engines, and do some grocery shopping.  All that is done, we are ready to go.

Tomorrow we head up the Hudson, back to Waterford, NY, scene of last year's entrapment.  Wish us luck.  It has been raining here for two days and there is some thought that the Mohawk River may rise, causing the canal to close.  As Yogi Berra would say "Deja vu all over again."