Monday, June 10, 2013

Erie Canal, Waterford, NY to Amsterdam, NY

We had a good time in Waterford, a very accommodating city for boat traffic with free docks and a great location. All you pay is a one time $10 fee for electric.  When we get that kind of treatment we try and patronize the local businesses and we did a pretty good job this time - big groceries (and 2 smaller trips), prescription filled and other supplies at a pharmacy, supplies at their hardware store, ate at 2 restaurants, a T-shirt from their marina office, and one item from the city museum gift shop.  As you can see below, many others took advantage of the opportunity as well. 

We had a special treat in getting to finally meet in person a long-time boating Facebook and email friend.  It all started in 2010 when we were making our trip from Muskogee, OK to Galveston, TX.  We had our 41' Roughwater at that time and had communicated with "Abreojos," another 41' Roughwater, from California.  Boat owners of similar models do that kind of thing.  Larry and Brenda Golkin had their boat trucked from CA to Rockport, TX to begin the Loop, and we thought our paths would cross as they proceeded along the Gulf eastbound and as we intersected the Gulf and turned westbound for Galveston.  As it turned out, they passed through before we could get there, but we've followed each others' travels since then and communicated a lot.  We stayed in Galveston for 2 years, Abreojos completed the Loop and when they got back to the Gulf in 2011, they went half-way around again to the Chesapeake and finally left their boat in Elizabeth City, NC while they returned to CA.  Larry recently returned to NC to get the boat moving again - the plan is to take her to Lake Superior, truck her to the Columbia River in Oregon and pilot her back to CA.  So, he's on a "power run" now to just cover the miles quickly since they already completed this portion of the loop in 2011. Larry is now on the same leg of the Loop as we are.  He has a friend, Brian, making this stretch with him and Brenda will join him again in Oswego for the jump across Lake Superior to Canada. Hopefully, we will get to meet Brenda in Oswego.  So, after all this time, Larry and Brian pull into the dock two boats behind us!  Me, Larry, and Brian below.

Rhonda and I did some more sightseeing around Waterford and attended church at Grace Baptist in Troy.

You can cross the bridge from Waterford over to Peebles Island and see evidence of what seems to be going on in a lot of these old waterfront industrial towns.  Factories and industry have dried up and in many cases, towns are hurting. We saw some industrial-looking buildings that appeared to have been converted into condos. A bleachery, where they clean and process cloth closed in 1972 (our friends and family reading this will be familiar with this as Lancaster, SC was at one time also a big textile town of Springs Mills).  

A shipyard that was at its strongest during WWI and WWII closed in 1983.

But the island has some nice trails that run along the Mohawk River so we enjoyed our bike ride around the island.  Most of the water of the Mohawk River is routed around the locks at Waterford and creates a nice water flow during heavy rains.

We found many old homes in another section of town called "Millionaire Row."

Some of the architecture and detail is really beautiful, but I think that era of intricate detail is long gone.  

Speaking of "long gone" - what's up with this?  The husband, William, is buried next to her and Sarah should be about 173 by now??

We're not addicted to visiting cemeteries but this one was really pretty and had an unusual headstone that Rhonda wanted to see - it was an open-scroll pulpit with a Bible that a church provided in honor of their pastor.

We headed back toward the city dock and Rhonda wanted some pictures of the old Champlain Canal that branched off of the old Erie Canal just above the city dock.

I do think a lot about about the lives and families of those that came before us, the workers that constructed the canals, and the boaters and barges that traveled them - lots of history along these waterways.  Apparently Rhonda thinks about it more than I do - she doesn't want to miss anything and stops for pictures more than you can imagine.  She likes for me to always lead as we ride our bikes around towns, but I can't tell you how many times I've turned around only to see that she is not there.  I have to circle back frequently to find her.  Here I am waiting again, this time on a bridge while she takes more pictures across the street,  I'm actually very enthusiastic about this - it's just not evident in this picture.  Not sure if I am asleep or maybe praying for her to speed up!

We've seen about 5 more groundhogs since our first sighting at Half Moon Bay so we figured it was about time to move on and begin our trip on the Erie Canal.

When you leave Waterford, you transit 5 locks in succession called "The Waterford Flight."  They each raise or lower boaters about 33 feet.  Here's #4 just around the bend opening the gates for us.

There are lots of bridges over the canal, so far the lowest is 21 feet.  All sailboats have their masts stepped down and many powerboats have to lower an assortment of antennae, radar, or any other equipment above that height.  We're fine at 17 and 1/2 feet.

The canal also utilizes a few emergency guard gates for unusual circumstances that would require shutting down sections of the canal and/or managing water flow.  There are 2 in succession after the Waterford Flight.  The first one was open but the second was closed and had to be raised for us.  

Any structures or equipment associated with the Erie Canal are painted blue and gold.  You've probably already noticed that on the locks.  Here's a working barge in the same colors.

We found more marsh grass and cattails along the way but no sand gnats this time.  Our legs and arms are still healing from all the bites we got in Delaware!

We got a late start on Sunday, and after all of the initial locking through, we decided to call it a day at Lock #7.  Permission to dock on most of the lock walls is included in the canal access fee and some of those have different electricity options that may work for your boat.  Lock #7 had two 120V outlets that would power our refrigerator and a couple of our heavily used outlets.  With those two off of the boat's power usage, the battery bank and inverter power supply will handle everything else for many hours, eliminating the need to run the generator.  We had the lock wall to ourselves except for a workboat on the other side and a few fishermen/visitors.

We walked over and visited with the lockmaster who was doing his maintenance duties in-between boats transiting the lock.  These engines are about 100 years old and have to be rebuilt every 2 years.  We commented on how well-maintained everything is and he said with a lot of pride - "We have quite a piece of history here and work hard to preserve it."

Here's a good shot of all the waterflow over the dam adjacent to the lock.  There's actually a barricade normally visible on top of the dam which gives you an idea of how much water is flowing downstream.

Some of the approaches to the locks as you head upstream are separated from the overflow waters by land masses which makes for a nice easy approach.  Others can be quite turbulent with lots of cross currents.  This is one of the easy ones.

We were amazed that there is no restraining system above the dam to prevent boaters from entering the waters above the dam - just a few warning buoys and that's it.  With the barricade completely under water, the water above the dam blends in with the water below the dam and looks like a continuous horizon - looks like an accident waiting to happen.  Or, maybe we've become too sensitive to possible hazards with the world that we live in always looking to place blame somewhere else.

We got up early this morning and were underway by 7 - two more days of rain are forecast starting at noon today.  The ground is already soaked and it was evident with lots of small waterfalls draining into the canal along the way.

Some of the original aquaduct system.  Check out for more details - pretty interesting.

There is a 350-mile walking/bike trail that runs along the edge of the Erie Canal.  It is available for cross-country skiers in the wintertime - no kidding.

We cruised only 25 miles and 3 locks today but got docked before the rain began.  Amsterdam, NY has a nice waterfront and city dock so we're catching up on laundry today.  We have a W/D stacked unit on the boat to keep our heads above water on the laundry but every now and then it's time to get the big stuff done also.  Looks like it may be a long night tonight also - the train tracks are only a few hundred feet away and at this point the trains come through at high speed with whistles blowing about every 15 minutes or so.  It's a beautiful location but we may need to find a new location tomorrow to wait out the rest of this rain.


1 comment:

ME2NC said...

Wanted you to know that we are enjoying your blog and find it very informative. We are behind you on the loop - still on the Chesapeake. At Zahanizers now and about to head for Oxford tomorrow .

Just thought that you might like to know that your blog posts have been making life easier for us.

Gladys & Steve
MV Misty Moose