Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Solomons, MD to Tonawanda, NY (April 29 to June 17)

Our next stop was Bruce and Joan's dock on Gingerville Creek in Annapolis.  It was sad to see the empty dock as we arrived, but at least we knew that Forever 39 had gone to a good home; having become Janet and Jerry's boat At Last.  It's always fun to catch up with Bruce and Joan and especially to see all the finishing touches they had made on their home remodeling.  Bruce is a wonder with mahogany.  They have the nicest closets you'll ever see.
After a few days we were thinking of moving along, but not sure where to go.  Bruce and Joan were about to leave on a road trip - photographing lighthouses - can't give up life on the water completely!  They said we might as well just stay on their dock.  Joe had boat chores to do, so it seemed like a great option.  Unfortunately his main boat chore was to clean and repair the business end of the toilet system.  Yuck!
We finally left and made the big fourteen mile run to Lake Ogleton where Joe's former boss and longtime friend lives.  After a nice dinner and visit with Bob, the next day we started back out into the bay.  I'd been watching a ship just outside Lake Ogleton that seemed to be making odd maneuvers.  As we got close, Joe was steering to go behind the stern of the ship as it started to back up.  After a radio call we realized they were doing man over board drills.  You can't see them in the picture, but they are actually flying three flags: "altering course to port," "man overboard," and, my favorite, "keep clear of me."  Had we had all those little flags memorized, no radio call would have been needed!  I bet Fred (Young America) has them all down cold.
Next stop was the Magothy River to visit our friends Bob and Elaine.  We enjoyed catching up over happy hours and dinners and used the "loaner car" for a few shopping trips.
Then we were finally off again - a big move this time at almost twenty-five miles to Anchorage Marina in Baltimore.  Joe is the current president of the Great Harbour Trawlers Association (a prestigious and highly compensated position) and the marina was to be the site for our annual meeting.  We had six Great Harbours of various designs on the long outside dock and another at the marina next door.
Other boat owners arrived by car and we had a great meeting.  Not that we accomplish a whole lot at these meetings.  Mostly we enjoy getting together; catching up on where everyone's going and what they've done to their boats, and laughing a lot.  And of course there were happy hours on the dock.
Upon leaving Baltimore, we finally felt like we were starting our cruise.  The first day out took us to Chesapeake City on the C & D Canal.  Our first thought was to tie up at the dock, but after the depth finder went to "last," (which is no help at all, other than indicating it is shallow), the bow and stern were stirring up mud and Joe was fighting an odd swirling current, we opted to anchor.  A short while later, Jerry and Janet (at last) arrived. Janet proved she's gotten the hang of docking the boat by getting in nicely.  Although, Jerry the deckhand got soaked as the skies opened for a deluge as they arrived.
Several boats came and anchored near us.  One, we felt, was a little too near us.  After complaining that we weren't swinging right, as if we had control over it, he moved.  A sailboat was sitting right over our anchor and had to run his engine to keep in place as his anchor started dragging when a storm came through.  Never a dull moment!
The next day we stopped in Delaware City for a few days to wait for better weather for going down the Delaware to Cape May.  Finally with a 5:50 am start, we made it down to Cape May where we waited out a weekend and hoped for Monday to be calm enough to go off shore.  The choices here are the NJ ICW which offers narrow, shallow channels, and, on weekends, New Jersey boaters.  A triple threat.  
The weekend was nice so I did some walking around town. As expected, I saw the Victorian homes with all their gingerbread trim, and the beach,
the blocks of shops and restaurants.  But I didn't expect to see a unicorn with a pink and purple mane - and sparkly hooves!

On Monday the predictions for offshore sounded fairly good, so we popped some motion sickness pills (just in case!) and went offshore to Atlantic City.  It was not the most pleasant day to be offshore, but we could hear the radio calls from the boats on the ICW and they didn't sound happy at all.  TowBoatUS and SeaTow must clean up around there.
The following day we were back in the ocean for the run up to Sandy Hook, NJ.  Really neither day offshore was too bad.  We had large swells that Carolyn Ann was able to ride up and down - no crashing waves over the deck.  There were thunderstorms predicted for late afternoon, but we decided to try to make it all the way to Sandy Hook instead of ducking in earlier.  As it turned out it was a good call.  Although the sky looked threatening as we dropped the anchor, the storms missed us in the end.
The following day we took the awe inspiring cruise through NY Harbor.  It actually inspires awe in more ways than you might think.  One way is evident on the chart showing all the AIS targets.  Every triangle on there is a boat, we're the red boat in the middle.  All of them are moving one direction or another.  And some are moving very fast - and making some pretty big wakes.  We heard one sailor complaining to one of the fast ferries about the wake he was hitting him with. The ferry captain was less than sympathetic.
Then there is the Statue of Liberty and Manhattan.  Cruising through there is one of those pinch yourself times - that you are really there in your boat.

We didn't have a good day for photos - seems like that happens a lot there - but I'm always struck by the buildings; the mix of old and new, and big and small, and, of course, the new tower.
And then before you know it, you're out of the city and seeing the NJ Palisades and beautiful Hudson River.  And what a beautiful river it is.  I'm sure we've gushed about this before, but each time we cruise up we're struck again by how beautiful it is.  As we got close to Newburgh we contacted Fred and Linda who happened to be in town, but had a very busy schedule.  Just listening to what they were doing was exhausting.  Our first thought was to skip the visit - we were tired, they were so busy.  But after checking a couple of anchorages that didn't seem to work for us, we decided to go the marina in Newburgh.  Plus, we were embarrassed to say we were tired after hearing their schedule!  So, we had a wonderful lunch together at the River Grill - where they had their first date and their wedding reception.  How could we even have considered passing by???

We left the marina after lunch and found a nice anchorage later in the evening.  And enjoyed the scenery.
The next day it was on to Waterford, NY where the Erie Canal begins.  My cousin Paul picked us up for happy hour at his home and then dinner. Besides Paul's wife Ginny, his brother John and his wife Nancy and son Johnny came.  My Aunt Sally and Uncle Paul even made the trip from NH!  It was great to see them all.  Another plus for boating - it has allowed us to re-connect with friends and relatives.
While in Waterford we did some grocery shopping and waited for an express mail package - which arrived 24 hours late.
Our trip through the Erie Canal was fast.  Our first day took us through nine locks with a total lift of 240 feet.  Joe wanted to go farther, but the locks stop operating at 6 pm now.  The second day we did eight locks with a total lift of about 127 feet.  Some of the locks have a cable or pipe attached to the wall that you can slip a line around and then cleat to the boat.  The line then slides up the cable/pipe and the boat stays basically under control.  Some locks have ropes in addition to the cable/pipe.  In those cases, if the placement works out, we attach line to the cable, then I hold onto a line on the bow and Joe holds one on the stern and all usually goes smoothly.
But Lock 17 - which has a 40' lift - only has hanging ropes to hold onto - no cable or pipe to attach a line around.  We followed Steve, who we'd met in Waterford into the lock.  He was single handing his 32' Nordic Tug, Atla.  As we entered the lock, the wind was blowing from the stern, and we'd been told we had to grab lines on the port side of the boat.  Normally, we try to tie on the starboard side because our dinghy hangs over on the port side.  Steve was also tying on the starboard side because he could reach his engine controls and still control a line on a cable or a hanging rope.  So, this was less than ideal for both of us under the best of circumstances.  It was all Joe and I could do to hold onto the lines and keep Carolyn Ann somewhat under control.  From the bow, I could see Steve struggling to control Atla with a single line and no way to reach his engine controls.  No damage was done, but we were all exhausted afterward.
The following day we only had four locks - and two of those were going down which is much less dramatic.  Then it was about a three hour trip across Lake Oneida.  The wind was at our stern, which meant the waves were pushing us along - much better than the other way around.  Our auto-pilot, however, can't really function under those conditions so Joe had to actively hand steer all the way across.  Another tiring day for him.  We tied up on a wall in Brewerton for the night.
Steve had beaten us there, so Joe recruited him to help lower Carolyn Ann's radar arch.  With it up we can clear about 17', but the western Erie Canal has bridges that have only about 15-1/2' clearance.  With the arch down we're in the 14' range.  We rewarded Steve with dinner, which was some crock-pot chicken chili that had been well stirred as we crossed the lake.
The next two days were more locks and uneventful stops until we got to Pittsford.
Pittsford has improved their waterfront and even held a free concert the evening of our arrival.  The next day was some sort of festival with food trucks, amusements for kids and live music.  Unfortunately, it was a chilly day which I'm sure cut down on attendance, but we walked up and bought lunch from one of the trucks.  We ate at a table with some other folks and Joe started admiring their salads with seared tuna.  When we finished lunch, we walked over to the truck and bought salads with tuna and steak to take back to the boat for dinner.
Then it was on to Spencerport to pick up mail and eat at one of our favorite restaurants.  Grandpa Sam's Italian has this great French sauce.  It's a lemon, wine, garlic, cream sauce.  I had the French Combo - chicken, veal and artichoke - yummy!  We also bought six jars of sauce.  After dinner we listened to the end of the concert that was going on in the gazebo next to the boat.
I mentioned the low clearances on this part of the canal.  We're docked next to one of the many lift bridges.  Besides the low clearance, we sometimes have to wait for the bridge tender to drive from one bridge to another as they can be responsible for lifting more than one.  Our wait times haven't been bad since we're early in the season, but with more traffic moving both directions I imagine it could take some time.
We'd had a little break from locks, but in Lockport we came to a flight of two before stopping for the day.  Both are 25' lifts, but have cables so we weren't expecting a lot of drama.  The excitement came as the first starting filling - with sudsy water!  Lots and lots of suds.  It looked like we were in the wash cycle - which would actually be a good idea as the walls of the locks get  pretty muddy and slimy.
Now we're in South Tonawanda, the end of the Erie Canal.  We'll spend a day or so here, then on to Lake Erie.

Family note:  Samuel is in training to help out his granddad at the helm of Carolyn Ann.

More pictures on picasa

1 comment:

jschieff said...

Enjoying your blog. Brings back memories of a cruise I took with my wife from Detroit to RI via Lake Erie and the Erie Canal on an Albin 35 Command Bridge. The Erie Canal is wonderful, although the locks can get a tad tiresome. Lake Erie can be rough, and ports are space far apart at the Buffalo end.