Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Journey Continues, We're Just Not Moving!

So, we've been in Amsterdam for 9 days now, the last 7 in Lock #11.  The latest update yesterday from the canal folks is that it will probably be another 7 to 10 days.  This post is mixed emotion - glad we're safe and comfortable but a little frustrated that we can't get moving. This picture of Galen probably depicts the frustration as well as any!  It was taken right after one of the many updates that have all said, "Looks like it's going to be a few more days."  Galen's a really good singer - "Sittin' On The Dock Of The Bay (Wastin' time)",  "Stuck In The Middle With You," and "Please Release Me Let Me Go" seem to be some of his favorites.  

This morning's update is anywhere from 3 to 10 more days.  We really would like to hear a better report.

There is lots of damage to the locks, above and below us.  Apparently, we are right in the middle of the section of the canal that always gets the worst of the damage.  Below, workers with chain saws removing debris from the dam.

Lots of misplaced buoys from upstream which will all have to be replaced.

Lots of workers on site to get our lock and dam back together again.

They had to bring in a barge with a back-hoe to remove the debris backed up and hung up on the dam.

And can you believe this?  They will not even let us swim and bathe in the canal???

 We've had lots of pow-wows and planning sessions about our situation, particularly the bathing issue, that's serious business!  

All joking aside, we are really blessed to be with some wonderful folks - everyone is so nice and helpful.

 Ken and Trudy finally had to go to a motel for a couple of days.  The water was so low in the lock that they no longer had a way to get on and off their boat.  That was a problem especially for their dog, Mellow, who really doesn't seem to care as long as she has a toy of some sort in her mouth.  "Trudy, won't you chase me please?"

As Trudy looks on above, Ken was the last one to abandon ship as all good captains should be!  His only exit was to take their dinghy and motor over to one of the other boats that still had access out of the lock.  You'll have to ask Ken why he has a plunger in his hand?????  We also had to remind him that the lock is a No Wake Zone - guess he just wanted to feel like he was "moving," even if just for a few hundred feet.  At our rate the past week or so, a few hundred feet is progress!

We've been up and down in the lock as the water level in the canal has varied with the work in progress on the lock and dam, frequently adjusting lines and utilizing ladders at times to get on and off.  We started out with easy access off of the boat.

This is about halfway down with the ladder on our walk-around deck.  Still not too bad.

Below, the water is down about 16 feet at this point.  We had to use a step ladder to get on the top of our aft deck hardtop from the flybridge, then another 8-foot ladder from there.  One day Rhonda just said it wasn't worth it - she would just stay on the boat. (She finally climbed the ladder.)

We're finally back to full pool and should remain here until we leave.  We do get to eventually leave, right?

After all of the adjusting water levels were over with and stable for the days to come, Marty finally went home to NYC and his business.  That's Marty on the left. We hope to meet his wife, Suzie, if they visit this weekend.  Their last boat was destroyed in Hurricane Sandy.  They purchased a new one and Marty is moving it to NYC on this trip.  Suzie hasn't seen it yet.  Hope she likes it! 

  Is that Galen singing again?  "Gloom, despair, and agony on me.."  BTW, just kidding about Galen - he is a lot of fun and instantly brings about a positive attitude to all of us, regardless of the latest news.  So, let's move from the negative to the positive.

We have a lot to be thankful for.  First and foremost, we are safe and comfortable.  The canal folks have been very accommodating and every day has brought more aids to our comfort.  We started out with having to run extension cords from some of their facilities to help power a few things.  Then we got a small gasoline generator (in the picture above with Marty) that we were able to move around to each of the boats during the day to keep our house battery systems charged without having to run our generators as much.  Then yesterday they brought in a huge diesel generator that could probably power half of NYC if necessary.  It has three 50-AMP power outlets that provide us the same power we would have at any marina.  

There is a great restaurant just across the street - Russo's (Italian).

We have our bikes and a 350-mile trail to ride.  It's on the other side of the river, so we have to ride about 2 miles to get there - but very nice.

We have water run from the canal facilities and the canal authority even paid to have a mobile service come to pump out our holding tanks yesterday.  This shot is taken from across the canal on the bike trail with pump out in progress aboard "Mooring Dove."

In contrast to the level of the canal on the west side of the dam with "Mooring Dove" and the front of "Help Me Rhonda" visible in the lock, here are "Satisfaction" and "Suzie's" in the lock viewed from across the river on the east side of the dam.  Note more of the displaced buoys in the foreground.  

We've had many of the locals walk over and visit, offering assistance if we need it.  We got a gift of peanuts from a peanut farmer.  One of the churches offered to bring us dinner. Thursday night is "Heavenly Ribs and Strawberries" at St. Luke's, so we will eat well tomorrow. There have been numerous offers to drive us wherever we need to go - Rhonda and Becky took Vicki and Joan up on the offer yesterday and made a grocery and supply run to Wal-Mart and got a tour of the local area in the process. A bike ride across the river provided us with cannolis, cupcakes, and pastries. The bakery owner said we can now just call in our order, and she will deliver to the lock. Becky needs to get home to West Virginia this Friday for a previous commitment, and the Amtrack station is only a couple of blocks away - pretty convenient.  Nature provides us with lots to see - Canada Geese and a pretty half-moon view through the steel beams of the dam.

Plenty of time to cook and grill. Grills, bikes, lawn chairs, generators, and a dog - Lock 11 Redneck Yacht Club?  Rhonda has an idea for a burgee - "7 at 11 On The Erie Canal" (7 people at lock 11).

Plenty of sights to see.  This castle was built in 1894 and has been converted into a private residence and Bed and Breakfast. New York State built 100 of these as armories, and 50 are still used by the National Guard.  It's 36,000 (yes thousand) square feet, has a 10,000 square foot gymnasium, a rifle range, billiard room, and 2 guest wings.

Here are more of the original locks and canals upstream from us.

And where else can you see a Volkswagon on top of a smokestack?

Finally, the process of dealing with the flooding waters has been very interesting to watch. They first raised the highest set of gates which are the smallest, then the lower ones which are much larger.  This process is the cause for the water level changes in the lock also, since the height of the water inside of the lock is dependent upon the level of the water above the dam.

After both sets of gates are raised, the support structures are also raised to minimize damage from debris flowing down the river.  Once all of these are raised, the river is in total "free-flow" mode, moving the maximum amount of water as is possible and gives access to all of the structure for necessary repairs.

The gates and supports are lifted by chains connected to two lift stations that are positioned on the downstream side of the dam on rails.  They have to be moved to each individual gate and support to raise/lower them.

The process is reversed when it's time to raise the water levels again.  Here's the last of the lower gates going back in place.  As you can imagine with the amount of water flow in the river, the water in the lock rises quickly as the last few pieces are inserted.

And here's the river back to its normal condition with all of the gates in place - still lots of water flowing over the dam several days later.

This process has to occur at other lock and dam locations above and below us.  Several of those have significant damage and in some cases, there are no spare parts!  They are having to be made by contractors for the New York State government and that process is responsible for most of our delay now.  We could leave our lock, but we cannot get above locks 12-16 at this point.  So, we will continue to make the best of our stay here.  Ken and Trudy are from Canada, and they say a later-summer visit to Canada is best since the mosquitoes and flies will be gone by then.   Ken is going to give us a "boating in Canada" class, including spots to be sure to visit. There you go again, another positive.  I'm starting to think it can't get much better than this!!!!  By the way, we're saving the best for last - The Professional Wrestlers Hall Of Fame is here in Amsterdam - yes, not kidding.  Now if we can just keep New York state from assessing a "transient property tax" on us.........

We'll keep you posted.

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