Monday, April 12, 2010

Oct. 21-April 12 Aquia Harbour to Marathon, FL

It is always nice to visit Aquia Harbour and see old friends, but there is always some work to do around the house. It also gives us a chance to catch up with boat stuff in preparation for departure. This year the weather was cold and raining so we missed both Trawlerfest in Solomons and the Annapolis Boat Show. Can't remember the last time we missed the Annapolis Boat Show.

After finishing up with doctor and dentist appointments we departed for Green Cove Springs in mid October. When we arrived at the Deep Creek Lock in Deep Creek, VA, Puffin and Lo Que SeA where there tied to Elizabeth's Dock with another boat. Since there was no room for us, we rafted off of Puffin. The next night found the 3 of us in Elizabeth City. We spent several days there because of weather and were joined by Bettie and Klaas on Moon Beam. Since Randy and I were in no rush, we departed ways with the other boats and went on to Washington, NC. On previous trips south we had talked about going there and this seemed like a good time. It turned out to be a nice side trip before proceeding on our usual course.

We arrived in Green Cove Springs a few days before Thanksgiving. We rented a car and joined my parents, nephews Justin and Jason and their families at my brother's house in Waynesboro, GA for Thanksgiving. Jeff's girl friend, Linda, fixed a wonderful meal with all the trimmings. Linda and Jeff recently got married. We are lucky to have Linda in the family. Not only is she a wonderful cook, she is also a terrific person.

Our time in Green Cove Springs was quiet this year. A few Great Harbour friends came and went. However, we spent a lot of time visiting family. Not only did I see my parents several times in Ft. Walton Beach, we saw grandson Jerry and daughter Cindy in Hernando, and Rob, Cynthia, Kylie and Riley in Atlanta. We departed Green Cove Springs the end of January heading for Marathon.

We made several stops for generator and shaft seal problems along the way, Ft. Pierce and Ft. Lauderdale. Stopped in Miami for the Miami Boat Show. There were not as many vendors at the show this year, a result of the poor economy, but still more vendors than we had time for. Finally made it to Marathon on March 10. As it turned out, that was too early to arrive because all the mooring balls were taken. We had to wait 4 days before we got a mooring ball. We were lucky that there was room along the wall at the City Marina. However, it was expensive so we were anxious to move to a ball.

Life on a mooring ball has been good. We have gone to Key West, by bus, eaten out a lot and ridden our bikes. We hope to come back next year but will try to make reservations at a marina before we arrive. The weather has been perfect, low humidity and low temperatures (70's and low 80's). Of course now that we are ready to depart, the weather has turned, windy and rain with possibility of thunderstorms. We are not in a hurry so we will wait it out. After all, we are retired. We don't have to rush.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sept. 14-Oct. 21 Atlantic Highlands to Aquia Harbour, VA

We left Atlantic Highlands anchorage very late morning after picking up our mail at the local post office. The ocean was calm and we had a good ride, but because we left Atlantic Highlands so late in the morning, we had to go in the inlet at Mannasquan, NJ. We anchored for the night and traveled the remaider of the way to Atlantic City via the inland waterway. It is a very winding route and some parts are shallow, but we reached Atlantic City without a hitch and anchored for the night. We still had good weather and calm seas so we went out the Atlantic City inlet to Cape May where we again anchored before preceeding on down the Delaware to the C&D Canal. The current was against us all day and by the time to reached the C&D canal we were both tired so we decided to stop at Summit North Marina. We had great meals at their restaurant and we needed a rest so we stayed a second night and again went back to their restaurant.

The remainder of our cruise to Aquia Harbour was uneventful, which is a good thing when you're cruising. We stopped off in the Baltimore area to see friends on Great Harbours Puffin and Lo Que SeA and at Solomons to see Forever 39 crew.

We spent almost 4 weeks in Aquia Harbour at our home dock. Time went quickly. We participated in our yacht club and power squadron functions, took care of our dental and medical needs, took care of some items in and around our house, visited with some friends and provisioned for our trip south.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Sept. 10-14 Poughkeepsie to Atlantic Highlands, NY

We said farewell to cousins Judi and PJ the previous evening after a wonderful meal at the Culinary Institute of America and departed on Thursday. The weather prediction for NY Harbor and the Atlantic coast was for winds and rough seas. We decided to anchor a couple of nights north of NY until the weather improved. Additionally, we had called for mail and that would arrive on Monday at the post office in Atlantic Highlands. So there was no point in rushing. On Sunday, we felt that there would be no problem going through NY Harbor. Two to three foot seas were forecast for Monday. Our plan was to position ourselves so that we could go into Atlantic Highlands Post Office early Monday, get our mail, and head down the coast.

As we approached NY Harbor we heard a Coast Guard announcement that most of NY Harbor was closed to boat traffic because of sail boat races. We were having a hard time figuring out exactly what part of the Harbor was closed. Since no one was stopping us, we continued cruising through the Harbor. We finally figured out what was going on. There was not a race going on. It was a parade of Dutch tall ships celebrating the 400th anniversary of the discovery of the Hudson River.

We got to the anchorage at Atlantic Highlands in the afternoon. We lowered the dinghy so we would be ready to go into the post office early in the morning. As planned, we got up early, got into the dinghy and headed for the post office. Ollie was happy for the opportunity to get off the boat. We figured the post office would open at either 8 am or 8:30 am. It didn't open until 9 am. We got our mail, without a hitch, and headed back to the boat. Ollie did some fast walking that morning.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Sept. 6-9 Waterford to Poughkeepsie, NY

From Waterford we took our time getting to Poughkeepsie since it was Labor Day Weekend. We try to avoid cruising on holidays. Usually all the crazies are out. We spent 2 nights anchored out before arriving in Poughkeepsie on Wednesday. Stayed at the Poughkeepsie Yacht Club again. Cousins Judi and PJ made dinner reservations for Wednesday night at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA). The CIA has several restaurants on campus. We decided on the Italian restaurant. There was an extensive menu and also set price meals that included an appetizer, entree, dessert, and beverage. We all went for the set price meals. Fewer decisions to make. We also ordered wine. All the chefs, waiters and busboys are students at the institute. Our waiter was close to graduating from the institute. It was a lovely evening. We really enjoyed Judi and PJ. Next time we are up that way we would like to try the French restaurant.

Sept 2-5 Lock 8 to Waterford, NY

A dog being walked in Waterford.
We went through Locks 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, and arrived back in Waterford. On our previous trip through Waterford, dockage was free for 48 hrs and then $10 per day. Well, apparently there had been some problems since we left. Now we heard that boats were being fined $100 for staying past the 48 hr. limit. We had already arranged for our cousin Rebecca and her family to meet us in Waterford on Saturday, 4 days away. They would be driving from Boston, about a 3 hr. trip for them. We were a little nervous about exceeding the 48 hr. limit, but no one approached us about overstaying the limit.

While waiting for Saturday for Rebecca, Mark and little Nathaniel to arrive, Randy had to find a dentist since he was having pain from a back tooth. He was lucky. The visitor's center recommended a dentist who Randy thought was one of the best dentists he had ever been to. Randy needs a root canal. That will wait until we get back to Aquia Harbour. The pain has been taken care of for now.
We had a wonderful visit with Rebecca and her family. We had lunch on the boat and then walked up to the lock so that they could see what locking through is like, but no boats were locking through. They got the idea though. Nathaniel had a good time holding Ollie's lease. They are the right size for each other.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Fairport East Bound to Lock 8, NY

Our original plan had been to cruise on to Pittsford before reversing course. However, upon leaving the dock at Fairport, we neglected to lower our mast thinking that the lift bridge just ahead of us would raise high enough for the mast to clear. Well, it didn't. Our first clue was the terrible sound the mast made striking the bridge and then the crash when the mast fell onto our dinghy, which we carry on the upper deck. We broke off the anchor light, search light, navigation light, VHF and GPS antennas. Luckily, we did no damage to the bridge. The Fairport lift bridge is listed in the Guinness Book of Records for several reasons: one end of the bridge is higher than the other, it is built on a slant and no two angles on the entire bridge are the same.

The damage put a damper on this part of the trip. We felt like we had to get things repaired as soon as possible. So we headed back east with a goal to have the repair work completed at Winter Harbor Marina.

On the way, we stopped overnight in Palmyra. We had previously passed up their nice waterfront dock several times always with the thought of stopping next time we passed. We were glad we finally made the stop. It is at a park, nice and clean, free and has water and electric. A boater's dream. We walked into town to Mark's Pizza and brought a pizza back to the boat for dinner. Very good!

Again we stopped at Baldwinsville for the night and then on to Winter Harbor the next day. We arrived early and they were able to haul us since we also planned to get the bottom painted and have some gelcoat/fiberglass work taken care of in addition to having the mast fixtures replaced/repaired. Parts had to be ordered so we were at Winter Harbor about a week.

We crossed Oneida Lake and pulled into Sylvan Beach, a busy resort area, with a beach, nice restaurants, shops, and its own amusement park. This was another free dock, but no electric or water at this stop. We stayed a few nights and went on to Illion. Illion charges for dockage, $1.00/ft., but we had heard that it was a nice stop and that the Remington Firearms factory tour and museum were worthwhile visits. Remington has been in Illion since the early 1800's. It employs about 900 people and runs 3 shifts a day 5 days/week. No wonder there are so many guns on the street.

General Herkimer, who fought during the Revolutionary War and has a town named after him, had a home along the canal. It is now a State Historic Site with a small dock overlooking the grounds and home, picnic table and grill. Tours of the home and site are Wednesday through Sunday. Unfortunately, we arrived on a Monday. It was a nice stop. We will have to stop again for the tour. Very quiet except for the occasional passing train and excellent scenery.

The following night we docked at the terminal wall at Lock 8. We will go through the lock in the morning. We learned to dock above the lock on the west side since the water falls along the canal cause a lot of turbulence below the lock. We had tried docking on the east side of Lock 8 on the trip up. It didn't work.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Waterford to Fairport

We had delayed departure from Waterford because of heavy rains. But it was finally time to leave. We proceeded through locks 2-6 without a hitch. I dreaded this part of the trip, but dealing with the locks went smoothly. The first 5 locks are in the first 2 miles. In addition to locks, the canal also has guard gates. These help control the flow of water. We stopped for a time at Guard Gate 2 to evaluate the current resulting from the heavy rains we had. It did not seem too bad so we went on through locks 7 and 8. There was a lot of current and debris at lock 8 so we decided to stop for the night. As it turned out, we stayed at the terminal wall at Lock 8 for several days with several other boats. Although the locks were officially open, the lock master at Lock 9 did not recommend passage though his lock until some of the debris could be cleared from the lock. Additionally, the current was quite swift.

In 2007, when we did this trip, I didn't know what to expect at the locks, i.e., how much turbulence there would be in the lock and how to handle our boat against the lock walls. We are now seasoned canal travelers.

The locks will have either ropes hanging down the sides or cables or pipes that are secured at the bottom. Most have ropes and some have a combination of ropes and pipes. For us, the ropes seem to be the easiest. We pull into a lock. At midship, I use my boat hook to grab a rope and walk to the stern (rear) of the boat with it. In the meantime, Randy moves the bow (front) of the boat closer to the wall, stops the boat and with his boat hook grabs another rope and walks to the bow with the rope. By then the lock doors are closed and water either fills the lock to raise us up or water is let out of the lock to lower us.

On this trip we are trying visit some of the sites and towns we missed last time we were on the canal. Most of the docks in towns are free or charge a nominal free if they have water and electric available. When we stopped in the town of Canajoharie previously, it was a Sunday and the town was pretty well shut down. Couldn't even find a restaurant open. Canajoharie is the home of the Beech-Nut Company started by local residents, the Arkells. We visited the Arkell Museum and Gallery located at the Public Libray. Not only did we enjoy the art work which included several Winslow Homer pieces, but we also enjoyed viewing the pictorial history of the Beech Nut Company in Canajoharie.

After Canajoharie, we stopped at the free dock in Herkimer. We shared the dock with two tour boats. I picked up their brochure and was surprised to see a picture of Odyssey, another Great Harbour, like ours, as a example of the types of boats that cruise the canal. This time around we did not walk into the city but instead just visited the very nice gift shop dockside.

Rome, NY, was our next stop. We had also stopped there in 2007. We did not revisit Fort Stanwix, instead took a cab to the "Erie Canal Village." We spent the entire day there. It had a poor canal museum, but a wonderful cheese museum (NY cheese). We also took a ride on a horse pulled packet boat. By chance, while seeking out a Bank of America ATM, we came across the Capitol Theater, an old movie theater that was having a three day filmfest. We were there for the last afternoon of the fest. They showed several silent movies along with live organ music.

We made an overnight stop at Winter Harbour Marina ($0.90/ft. including electric) in Brewerton, our first marina stop since Poughkeepsie. Had a chance to wash clothes and re-provision using their marina car. We made arrangements to return to get the bottom of the boat painted. We had it done there 2 years ago. It was then on to Baldwinsville, Lyons and Fairport. Dockage in Fairport is between 2 bridges, the charge is $9/day and that also includes electric and water. Ollie is enjoying this trip since he is able to walk on grass at least twice a day. We have been through 29 locks and it is now time to turn around.