Saturday, September 18, 2010

Lock 8 - Past Amsterdam, NY

Distance Traveled:  32.01 nm
Total Distance: 431nm
Days on Erie Canal:  9

This morning I woke to the smell of coffee, which is a pretty good smell even though I don't like the taste of coffee.   The other boats had left except another power boat.  It was chilly - and Phil had the heater on since we had electricity.  We left at 8am and went through the locks we set out to go through.  The first two lockmasters were pretty nice and talked to us most of the time that the water was going down.
Lock Master  13
Lock Master 12

E`ole  and Sunset had gone through the locks before us, which is good as otherwise we would have slowed them down.  I can tell that it's Saturday, as the boat and especially fishing boat traffic has really picked up.  We had a beautiful day somewhere in the low 70's though we did start out at 52F.  Below is a view Phil asked me to come up to take.  I love the one below. 
View we had early this morning.
There is a beautiful stone house that has been renovated and just recently was turned into a museum at Lock 11.  The museum was located in another location and was recently moved to this building.  If we had known, we would have stopped above Lock 11 - toured the museum and then continue on with our trip.  Will have to save for next time.  I made a note in our Skipper Bob book and that's what we get for not getting the latest edition.

We have docked along a wall just before Lock 8 which has a bike path on the hill above us for the night.
View of Changes from the bike path

There is also a port a potty - but after using it one time - have decided the head is better.  Talking about heads - Phil told me this morning that he has ordered a rebuild kit for the toilet - as we have been having bubbles come up and also some liquid.  It's not from the Erie Canal as Phil turned off that valve.  He said that it's to be delivered to Chet Slabinski's home and that I get to rebuild the toilet - has directions I can follow - and I don't think he's kidding.  Doesn't sound like something I'm looking forward to, but at least we have lots of disposable gloves left from the locks and I guess that if I do have to do this that I can't leave all the fix it jobs to him.

Talk about fix-it jobs - after the rain a couple days ago - we had some more water dripping on to the chart table.  Phil took down the overhead panel and he finally found that the main sheet winch was where the leak was.  Today he took off the winch and we-bed it with 5200.  It takes 24 hours to have skin on it and 7 days to cure.  I lot of times we have the farouk up and so couldn't determine where the leak was.  One job done.
Applying 5200
Screwing down the main sheet winch

Today we had some of the bean mixture doctored up with dried green pepper and seasoning over bread.  It was ok - till need some flavor according to Phil and more water.  Well, we have more left to try again!  Maybe some chili powder will do the trick.  We finished eating lunch just before a lock.  For supper I fixed Tuna pot pie (recipe from my Mom) except instead of the pie crust, I made half a recipe of the butter biscuits and put that on top like a lid. Sure do like my nesting Stainless Steel cookware set and would recommend anyone cruising to get a set. Once again, we have half of it left over for another meal, but this time we left it in the pan and put one of the Tupperware type lids on it as I didn't want to biscuit crust to get soggy.  We can have that on Monday.  Tomorrow I'm going to make pork and home made sauerkraut with potatoes before the pork goes bad.  We weighed ourselves this morning.  Phil weighs under 160 pounds and I weigh 128.5 - so I haven't lost any weight.  No need for Mom to worry :).  While we were eating supper in the cockpit, a 4yo boy Jacob, and his mother were walking along the dock area.  They stopped to talk to us with Jacob's mom translating sometimes as Jacob talks fast.  He was wearing a Spiderman shirt and I told him about how my grandson, Henry, is almost 4 and also likes Spiderman.  I guess Spiderman is "IN" with the young set these days.  We talked about where we were traveling to and as J's Mom seemed interested, I gave her a boat card so she can follow the blog.   Talking about boat cards, there has only been 2 other boaters we met that have them.  Some when we passed them out say that they plan to get some.  I hope so! and am glad that we stocked up before we left.

Now that we are old hands at going through lock, I will tell you what our routine is.  As soon as we see some indication that there is a lock ahead, we slow the boat down.  The off watch person comes up to see why the other slowed down.  On go the disposable gloves.  At some point, Phil calls the Lock Master on Channel 13 and lets him (usually a man - met one woman in this job) know that we're coming. Sometimes they answer and sometimes they don't.  If we're lucky, the lock master says that he'll have the gates open for us.  If we're not lucky then we have to wait which usually takes about 20 min while the lock fills with water.  We're looking to see if the green light is on, which means we can move into the lock - or if the red light is on and the gates are closed, which means we have to keep moving around (forward, not moving, reverse, making circles) waiting until the gates open.  Phil always helms the boat.  I get the boat hook which is telescoped out to it's full length. I also make sure that the outer sleeve of my foul weather gear is pulled up some towards my elbow so that the dirty rope doesn't rub on it getting the edge of my sleeve dirty. (I know that Sue Brannan had suggested that I bring an extra set of foul weather gear that could get dirty - good idea - and we thought we did, but we didn't - in Fairport Storage).  Phil guides Changes to the side the lockmaster is on to give them our number assigned to us on a bright pink card - 11229-1.  Sometimes the previous lockmaster has called it ahead for us.  Then Changes is guided to the middle of the lock and we decide which 2 ropes we are going to pick up on the port side- this is determined by how far apart the ropes are and if someone else is in the lock or coming in the lock.  Phil steers Changes to the port wall and since yesterday, I have started picking up the rope for the stern, Phil's rope,  hanging off the lock wall with the boat hook and then laying it over the lifeline at the boarding gate, so that as he slows down and stops the boat, puts the engine in neutral, and then fiddles with pulling up the dinghy, he doesn't also have to rush to get the line (which has entailed getting the boat hook from me so that he can reach it and then return it back to me while I'm trying to keep the bow away from the wall).  Then after I get Phil's line set - I walk quickly forward towards the bow and reach - reach - reach out to get my line.  I hold my lock rope in my left hand and have the boat hook in my right hand usually horizontal, pushing the bow away from the wall.  With the mast sticking out 6'+ over the bow, we don't want it hitting the side of the lock walls as we are going down.  As we are going down, we each hang on to the dirty rope and then are pushing off the wall to keep Changes off the wall.  We prefer to keep her enough off the wall so that the fenders aren't even touching.  If there isn't much of a current - there is this dance of Changes drifting away from the wall - drifting towards the wall- stop the drift and pushing off again to repeat. Once the water is down - the gates start to open.  That's our cue to drop the ropes, for me to push the bow off the lock wall with the boat hook, and Phil to put the engine in gear to slowly drive out of the lock - then we speed up to the fast (sarcasm there) speed of 6 knots, which is Phil's preferred cruising speed.  We take off the gloves and depending on how dirty that particular lock was, either toss the gloves or put them under the boat hook to dry for next time.  We had a 5 lock day for the gloves today.   I was told today to keep it down to 6 knots to save fuel. My preferred cruising speed is up to 6.5 knots so I behaved today.
Lorraine at helm with many layers
Phil at helm with a lock and dam behind him
The Erie Canal on the eastern portion is along the Mohawk River and there is a dam at each lock which can cause strong currents.  Here are some photos of what the dams look like from the up river side and then the down  river side.  Each lock also has signs to let you know how big the drop is for this particular lock and how far to the next Westbound and Eastbound lock. 
Dam on Eastern Erie Canal upriver side
Dam down river side (Lock 13)
Sign posted at each Lock giving information
On our trip today, we saw some parachuters jumping in the sky and landing one after the other.  I think they were after Lock 10  past Amsterdam, NY.  I can't remember how many as I was at the helm, but I think there were 5-6 and all had the same colored parachute.
Parachutist after Lock 10
We also saw Kayakers a couple times, as I said earlier - you can tell it's a Saturday and a warmer fall day as there were many more people on the Canal and also on the bike paths. 

Usually I read the blog aloud to Phil for him to ok and add his 2 cents, but he's in the V-berth sleeping, so it's just me today.  We seem to have a 2 hr difference of when we like to go to bed.  

Tomorrow is our last day on the Erie Canal.  Lock 8 has a 14' drop, the rest are between 27' to 35'  in a  21 miles stretch of the canal before we get to Waterford. What happens then, I don't know yet.  But that's ok!

We had friends call tonight - it was good for Phil to talk to them while I cooked supper.  They asked if I was happy - and I am.  Did I miss work - NO - not yet.  Maybe later, but I could see how it might be hard for me to return.  Time will tell.  Are you counting your dollars Grant???  I hear he has a bet out on me for either to come back soon - he'll loose on that one - or that I won't come back at all. Time will tell what really happens.  But so far I'm really glad that we're doing this and I'm much more relaxed and not as irritable.

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