Thursday, July 31, 2014

Croton, NY to Norwalk CT

We left Half-moon Bay Marina a little later than usual to let showers pass and to arrive at Hell's Gate at slack tide. The trip down the Hudson River was not ideal due to the less than perfect morning weather and heavy barge traffic in both directions. Thankfully, the Spuyten Duyvil bridge was open and the trip through the Harlem River quick.

Traffic as we entered Hell's Gate made it just that. A flotilla of small sail boats, perhaps 15 or 20 took advantage of the slack tide to make their way south down the East River while two large barges were heading east to Long Island Sound and two headed south all converged at Hell's Gate just as we got there. It was like going up the down staircase during rush hour.

In Long Island Sound the weather cleared as we passed Execution Rock and had a pleasant run to Sheffield Harbor, Norwalk CT.

Our day ended with lobster cobb salad on the deck of the Sunset Grill at Norwalk Cove Marina.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Kingston, NY and Croton-On-Hudson

We left Coeyman's Landing yesterday morning and headed to Roundout Creek in Kingston, NY. This is our fourth time covering this leg of the trip so there is little new and the run was unremarkable.

That said it is always nice to view the scenery along the way. Since we've blogged about this part of our journey in 2012 Mini-Loop I'll leave it at that.

Our night at Roundout Yacht Basin was unusual in that we were the only transients. At this point in the season, this is the low period between the northern migration of Loopers and the southern flow of Snowbirds.  Normally the docks would be alive with regulars and transient, but there were no mid-week over-niters, so we had the entire place to ourselves. It was so quiet. Not a sound, not  a wave slap, not a wake the whole night. A little like being home in East Haddam.

This morning we headed out to Croton-on-Hudson, 42 nm run through, what I consider, the best part of the Hudson River outside of New York City - the Hudson Highlands.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Waterford to Coeyman's Landing

Waterford Harbor docks has an ugly side. The low cost of docking with electric for a one time charge of $10 and a lack of enforcement of the 48 hour rule has attracted homeless and dead-beat boaters. Many boats, some pretty scruffy, have been there for a week or more.

The facilities, bath and showers, are tired at best, that plus their use by non-boaters (fishermen and derelicts) and homeless boaters make them nearly unfit to use. The volunteers try hard but are generally seniors, untrained, and unable to police the docks.

Even with a forecast of thunderstorms we decided we had to move on and make the three hour run to Coeyman's Landing Marina.

We waited for the first storm to pass and hoped to be docked before the next sever thunderstorm arrived. We just made it. Then the heavens opened.

During our run, as we locked through the Troy Lock, perhaps for the last time, we noted that it had been our first in 2012 and now our 227th lock through.

Passing Albany, NY it is always interesting to see the state capital, NY State University buildings and waterfront.

Of course, being back on the Hudson River means sharing it with large barges, tugs and ships. Here is one passing the Coeyman Landing breakwater

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Waterford, NY - Day Two.

Morning thunderstorms finally passed. We have had our share of rain and servere thunderstorms this trip, but for now the sun is trying to break through, at least for a while.

Summer Sundays are the time for the Waterford Farmer's Market, which sets up at the visitor's center across from the boat docks.

There were several vegetable vendors along with baked goods, local honey, maple syrup, flowers and plants and some jewelry. Maryann bought fresh corn-on-the-cob, and other vegetables for our last run down the Hudson.

Waterford Harbor visitor's center is just south of Lock 2, the official first lock of the Erie Canal. It is home of several antique boats and an annual "tug rendezvous".

And, there are several tour boats that will take folks for a trip to experience the locks.

Captain's Supplement:

Waterford, NY like many of the towns we have visited along the Erie Canal are almost museum-like in their faded glory. Old main streets, factories, and residences provide a glimpse into what life was like 50 to 100 years ago.

Now, passed their prime, they lack the resources to modernize and live in a state of either dead or dying.


Saturday, July 26, 2014

Amsterdam to Waterford

We traveled along the Mohawk River from Amsterdam to Waterford, NY., transiting the last nine locks on the Erie Canal. This part of the Erie Canal is beautiful and interesting and not at all "ditch-like" as the river winds it's way to the Hudson River.

Schenectady is the largest of the cities on this part of the river and home to General Electric. Opposite GE we passed this magnificent house peeking above the trees.

I couldn't resist trying to find out what it was. A Google search showed it to be a private residence. 15,118 sq. ft., 5 bedrooms, 8.5 baths on 12.5 acres.

The wall at the Waterford Harbor Visitors Center was very crowded, and while we found a spot, we had to use all 100 ft. of  cable to reach a shore power stanchion. Once settled in ,Maryann proved once again that good food is possible without a gourmet kitchen. Baked potatoes in an electric skillet and steak on the grill. Nice.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Little Falls to Amsterdam, NY

Determined to make it through the Erie before the next set of storms arrives, we went from Brewerton to Little Falls in one day, a distance a little over 60 nautical miles.  Big difference from when we were going west in June.  Then, there were many Loopers and Snowbirds with us.  Going back east, we practically have the canal to ourselves.  Mostly we lock through alone, but occasionally have a boat with us.

Sometimes they are big, like this Canal cruiser that tied on just a little bit too tight to the lock wall and struggled to get loose.

Sometimes they are quite small, as was this fellow following us like a duckling.  We offered him a tow, but he said "I have to paddle."  Turns out he only does a little bit each day, and has taken several years to complete his journey.

We stopped for lunch at Canajoharie, a lovely little town boasting a free municipal dock in a park.  There is a gem of an art museum there, the Arkell Museum, donated by the founder of the Beech-Nut Packing Company.  Canajoharie was the Beech-Nut company town, and the owners had a sense of pride in their company, its products, and the people and town in which they were located. 

After lunch in the Village Diner, we decided to press on to Amsterdam, which puts us a day away from Waterford, NY and the end of the Erie Canal.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Brewerton, NY

We made our third crossing of Lake Ontario uneventfully, landing in Oswego, NY. Here we met Katie and Jessie, two 20 some-things who have been living aboard their 27 foot sailboat for the last 3 years with pooch Reggie.  Now doing the Great Loop, they detoured last year to the Bahamas, and are now dawdling their way back to Michigan.

You can follow their adventures at

Monday, July 21, 2014

Kingston, ON

We've returned to Kingston Ontario for the second time since 2012 to revisit the city and to stage the crossing of Lake Ontario.

We spent a good amount of time walking the center city during our last visit, but knew there was much more to see requiring transportation. We settled on a step-on, step-off trolley tour, which would allow us to circumnavigate the city stopping at those places that interested us, yet still getting to parts of the city to far to walk.

One of the first stops was the Canadian Military College, Canada's equivalent of West Point. While we didn't get off there, it was interesting to see.

The first time we left the trolley was at Fort Henry. This 1800s fortification, built on the highest point in Kingston, was never attacked by the US.  It served it's purpose as a significant deterrent and protected Kingston, the military college and Navy Bay, the heart of military ship building. Today it is mostly a museum. We toured the fort and watch re-enactments of daily life of the soldiers around 1860.

Next we stopped at the "Steam Pump House". Water supply for firefighting was taken from the river. Steam engines, similar to locomotives, pressurized the system. Today a newer system uses electricity, but is fundamentally the same.

Interestingly, Kingston as the first capital of Canada also housed the first penitentiary. And, even today there are several located around the area. Seen here from the water, it has recently been purchased by Queen's University. New dorms?

Queen's University is enormous and has about 25,000 students. The campus is beautiful, a mixture of old and new architecture. Very impressive.

In all, the trolley was the perfect way to see Kingston without a car and a great addition to all we saw wandering the inner city in 2012 (see Mini-loop)

Friday, July 18, 2014

Campbellford to Trenton, ON

We joined Tortuga, a 60 foot Ocean Alexander, in Campbellford, locking through with them for the two day, 12 lock, trip back to Trenton.  They hosted us for drinks and pizza one evening, and I can honestly say I've lived in smaller apartments!

It is a relief to be out of the Trent Severn.  The weather has produced heavy rains two out of every five days and the water levels this year are very high. In some places the amount of wall along the blue line is so small it is dangerous to try to tie up. Here there is only about 8 inches of wall.

We've been told that in order to lower the water levels, all the dams in the system have been opened. The flow in the canal is now at its maximum level to keep from flooding surrounding farm land. As locks are situated next to dams, the currents entering and exiting the locks are fearsome, making navigation exciting if not dangerous.
Now on to Kingston, Ontario.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Hastings and Campbellford ON

We are now retracing our steps as we move down the Trent-Severn Waterway and head toward Kingston, Ontario. We stayed in Hastings on the lower lock wall last night and moved on to Campbellford today.

On our way south on the Otonabee River we passed "Errante" (formerly the "Golden Lily") headed north on the the Great Loop. We were with them in Roundout Creek, NY and again in Waterford, NY. where they went north through Lake Champlain and we the Erie Canal. This is Errante's second trip around the Great Loop.

The Otonabee River, which Maryann likens to a bayou, is a beautiful, narrow waterway dotted with cottage communities and alternating wilderness. 
While there are many nice small cottages along the river there are many more neglected ones.
Camping and small boats are the norm here, serviced by marinas like this one.
Finally, the river empties into Rice Lake.
Arriving at Campbellford, we were joined by six "Looper" boats that we had met previously in various ports on our trip up. They are continuing north on the Great Loop.