Friday, June 14, 2013

Adventure On The Erie Canal - Stuck and Can't Get Out

Man, lots to tell.  On the last post, we were waiting out more rain at Amsterdam.  It went down hill from there.  The short version - there has been more and more rain, and the Erie Canal is now in flood mode.  The canal folks met with us three days ago to have some plans in place for whatever turned out to be the final version.  The worst case scenario would be serious flooding, swift currents, lots of debris, and we would have to move into Lock #11 for safety.  Well, that didn't sound so good, but we were prepared.  Sure enough, early the next morning, they were knocking on our boats giving us one hour to get moving into the lock which was only about a mile away.  They closed some of the gates at the dam to reduce the current for us, and we all made it into the lock without incident.  By the way, when I refer to us, there were four boats docked at Amsterdam.  Here are 3 of the 4 crews enjoying dinner the evening before all of the above.  Galen and Becky from WV on the right and Ken and Trudie from Canada on the left. Marty and friends are on the fourth boat, but he had gone home to NYC for a couple of days.  I called him to keep him posted, and he was returning at 2 AM in the morning in case we had to move the boats.  We are fortunate to be in company with such great folks.  Everyone is cooperative, helpful, and fun to be around.  Galen is a retired pilot for USAir and Ken is the same with Air Canada - so that has been a good source of conversation for us also with my Air Traffic Control background.  Marty is in the grocery business and is very interesting as well, especially a couple of clever product inventions he and some other folks are releasing in the fall after about 5 years of R&D, patents, marketing plans, etc..

Here's the water flow over the dam adjacent to the lock - all of the gates were opened.  This was the first stage of water release from above our lock - the reason they wanted us out of the downstream canal and inside the lock.  

It was really raining as we made our short trip to the lock and it continued to pour after we got docked.  By the way, Marty made it in during the night and that's Marty in the yellow rain suit.

The canal folks have been very gracious and helpful.  They have provided us a portable generator, so we don't have to run our boat generators as much.  We have water available as needed, and we are a couple of blocks away from the northern part of Amsterdam.  We all had a great dinner together last night at Russo's Italian Restaurant, Rhonda was able to get some laundry done today, we've had several offers from the locals to provide us transportation as needed, and the Amsterdam Gazette came out and interviewed us for a feature article in their newspaper.  Some locals stopped Rhonda today while she was in town and recognized her from the article.  I'm trying to get an electronic version and if successful will share it with you.

The canal corporation has now removed even more gates from the dam which were below the water levels in the picture above, so now the canal is in total "free-flow."  Consequently, the water level above the lock has now dropped to a much lower level, and we need ladders (provided by the NY Canal authority) to get on and off our boats.  It's crazy.  With the frequent change in water levels, you stay busy just managing things on the boat.

So, here's the latest.  We are safe and secure.  There has been some damage to the locks above and below us.  Folks, entire trees are moving down the river, and I'm not talking dead tree remains but live trees that have been washed out from the banks of the canal. (Galen is waiting to see an old barn with a cow on it flow by!) We have heard that they moved about 50 boats out of Waterford and into Locks 2 through 6 for their safety.  For all practical purposes, the Erie Canal is closed, the Oswego Canal is closed, and the Champlain Canal is closed.  No one is going anywhere for a few days, we've heard maybe for a week.  We have lots more pictures and stories to share but sitting in this concrete hole with a steel structure directly overhead is limiting our WIFI reception tremendously.  Just wanted to get an update out so you are not wondering.  We'll keep you posted. 

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