The Erie and Oswego Canal:2009

Fulton to Oswego:

Today is July 4th and Daisy’s Birthday. Happy 12th Birthday Daisy!

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We are very happy to find out that there is a Farmer’s Market here in Fulton this morning. Before departing the town dock, we walk up the hill to Canal Park where we find the market. There are only about four vendors out on this July 4th, but we manage to load up with some great stuff.

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We come back to the boat with an arm load of bags filled with homemade bread, fresh cherries, a homemade custard pie and cookies, fresh vegetables and some homemade rolls for dinner tonight. We should eat well!

The weather is not all that great today. It is really windy, cloudy, and cold. We are glad that we only have 11 miles to travel. No sooner are we untied from the concrete wall than we are entering lock 3. Things start going downhill really fast. We quickly discover that our headsets are not working. Jeff can hear me but I can’t hear a word he is saying. The batteries must be dead but there is no time to change them as we are entering the locks. The wind and current inside this lock are making it very difficult for us to get secured to the lock wall. Jeff tries everything but the wind is keeping our stern out. After several attempts and lots of shouting, we manage to get IT secure. Whew!! It was not pretty but we are here. Luckily no other boats were in the lock with us. The lock master gives us a round of applause. The next lock, Lock 5, is no better. In addition to the wind, this lock has lots of cross current at the entrance. Jeff fights the current to keep IT heading in the right direction into the lock and not over the falls to our right. Once inside the lock, we again have a very difficult time getting IT against the wall. At first we though there must have been a strange current inside the last lock. We are now finding out that it is the wind. We have a west wind which should blow our starboard side up against the lock wall. What seems to be happening is that the wind is bouncing off the lock wall on our starboard side and is pushing us away from the wall. These 20 knot winds are ricocheting off the lock walls.

Just before Lock 6, we see a free dock at the town of Mineto. We decide to stop and see if the wind dies down.

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While here, we walk into the small town and check out some of the shops. We find a nice little store which makes homemade soap. They have just about every variety you could want, even chocolate soap.

It doesn’t look like the winds are going to die down today. We only have 3 miles and two more locks before reaching Oswego. We decide to bite the bullet and give it one more try. By the last lock we have kind of figured out the winds and manage that lock without too much difficulty. We tie up to the long concrete wall between Lock 7 and Lock 8 and call it a day.

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Just north of Lock 8 is the breakwater for Lake Ontario. We can see the waves crashing over the breakwater. The seas must be 8 foot out in the lake today. No one will be crossing to Canada today.

We enjoy our stay in Oswego while waiting for a weather window to make the 50 mile crossing of Lake Ontario to Kingston, Canada. Two other loopers, Miss Ruby and Whiskers, are here also. Don and Linda on Whiskers have appropriately named their boat. They have a Siamese cat, Mr. Kitty, onboard. They are traveling in a 24 foot catamaran. This just shows that you can certainly do the loop in any type of boat. Although in small quarters, they are having a great time and enjoying the loop.

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We also enjoyed one evening with Wes and Jeanie aboard Miss Ruby. They gave us a tour of their wonderful Down east trawler which was hand built by both Wes and his son. They have certainly done a fantastic job.

The town of Oswego celebrates July 4th on July 5th. During the afternoon there is a wonderfully parade down Main Street. The whole town turns out for this event. This evening there is a concert in the local park and then fireworks at 9:30 PM.

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It looks like we will have a weather window to cross Lake Ontario tomorrow. Once in Canada we will have limited email access. We will try to update the log when wifi is available. Please bear with us and keep checking back.

Total Miles Traveled Fulton to Oswego: 11 – Locks: 4
Total Miles Traveled Year to Date: 2034 – Total Locks: 31

Brewerton to Fulton:

We say goodbye this morning to Lynn and Bob on Legrace. They are heading farther west on the Erie Canal. We have enjoyed spending the last week traveling together and will miss their company. They have given us a wealth of information for the remainder of our Great Loop trip as well as some great information for cruising in Europe. Lynn and Bob, it was wonderful meeting you and thanks so much for all the useful tips.

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We have a very late start from Brewerton today. Our antenna tip has not yet arrived but after many phone calls, we are promised that it will be on the UPS truck this morning. It was promised to be here by 10:30 AM but finally shows up at 1:30 PM. The July 4th holiday has the shipping schedule messed up. We are just grateful that it did show up today.

We push away from the docks at 2:00 PM and continue west along the Erie Canal. Two miles from Winter Harbor Marina, is lock 23 which is our last lock on the Erie Canal. We are only lowered 7 feet in this lock. As we exit this lock, we see a local tour boat heading into the lock.

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The next section of the canal is lined with homes along the river. This part of the waterway is the most populated that we have seen.

At mile 160 on the Erie Canal we reach the junction known as Three Rivers.

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Here the Erie Canal meets the Oswego River, which is “canalized” by its seven locks, and flows 24 miles north to Oswego and Lake Ontario. Oswego gets its name from the Native American word “Osh-we-geh” which means “pouring out place”. The name refers to the point where the river waters pour into Lake Ontario. We take a right at the Three Rivers junction and are now traveling on the Oswego Canal. This canal is one of the few rivers in the United States that flows north (most rivers flow south, east or west). Like the Erie Canal, the Oswego Canal was originally only 4 feet deep and had 18 locks. The canal was actually a ditch dug alongside the Oswego River which carried barge traffic pulled by mules or horses. Over the years, the canal was widened and deepened. Today the Oswego Canal has a controlled depth of 14 feet and a height of 20 feet. It is 24 miles long and has 7 locks. The locks are numbered 1-8 but there is no lock 4.

Within three miles of entering the Oswego Canal we reach lock 1 at Phoenix. Just before the lock there is a nice park with free dockage. There are several boats here today so we decide to continue on.

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From the Three Rivers junction to Oswego, we will be lowered from 363 feet above sea level to 245 feet above sea level. Lock one only lowers us 10 feet. Here we find the first female lockmaster that we have encountered on the trip. Just outside of lock 1 is a bascule lift bridge which must be raised by the lockmaster before we can exit the lock. We stay tied to the lock wall until the bridge is raised.

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We travel another 10 miles on the Oswego before reaching lock 2 at Fulton. This lock is open and waiting on us. We call the lockmaster just to make sure it is O.K. to enter. He tells us “my doors are open just waiting to see what I catch”. Looks like he is catching a big fat trawler today. This lock lowers us another 18 feet.

We decide to call it a day and tie up to the long concrete wall between lock 2 and Lock 3. These two locks are only a half mile apart. The town of Fulton is just up the hill. We find a Kentucky Fried Chicken and call it a day.

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Total Miles Traveled Brewerton to Fulton: 21 – Locks: 3
Total Miles Traveled Year to Date: 2023 – Total Locks: 27

Sylvan Beach to Brewerton:

Today we are crossing Lake Oneida. This is the largest body of water on the Erie Canal.

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Supposedly this area offers some of the finest fishing around. We must cross the 20 miles of open shallow water and it can be rough when the winds kick up. We depart early this morning while the lake is calm.

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The other three looper boats leave just before us. We see lots of locals out fishing in the lake. Half way across the lake, our odometer reaches 10,000 miles. Wow, that seems like a lot of water under the keel. We have certainly seen many amazing places in the U.S. After an easy crossing, we are soon to Winter Harbor Marina in Brewerton. Legrace and Blue Moon stop here also.

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Our two Amazon parrots, Nate and Homer, are the primary reason that we are stopping in Brewerton.

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Before they can leave the U.S., they must visit a U. S. Fish and Wildlife office to have their CITIES, pet passport, stamped. Because they are considered an endangered species, they must be inspected by the Fish and Wildlife Office before leaving the U.S., again on arrival in Canada, again before leaving Canada, and finally upon their return to the U.S. All of this and they will never step foot or wing off the boat. The closest Fish and Wildlife office is in Buffalo, NY so we are renting a car and driving the three hours to Buffalo with the birds. The dogs are not a problem at all. We only need to show Canada that they have current rabies shots. In addition to all the trouble, this process is not cheep. The passports for each bird cost $150.00. We have to pay the Fish and Wildlife Office $210.00 just to inspect the birds and stamp their passport so they can leave. It seems a little strange that we have to pay just to take our birds out of the country. Supervisory Inspector Muehlbauer is actually very helpful. In reality he should have charged us $210 for each bird but combines the permit for each bird into one so that we only pay this once. Technically they should also be inspected the day that they are leaving the country. This is almost impossible as there is no Fish and Wildlife office in Oswego, our departure point. The weather will also dictate when we get to cross Lake Ontario. After explaining all of this to Inspector Muehlbauer, he agreed to stamp the birds’ passports ahead of time. Our next challenge will be explaining all this to the Canadian Customs. After a quick look at each bird, their passports are stamped and they are good to go. We learn from Inspector Muehlbauer that when we return to the U.S. we again must have them inspected by a Fish and Wildlife Office for another $210 fee. The problem again will be that there is no Fish and Wildlife Office in the upper part of Michigan where we will be entering the U.S. The closest office is 500 miles away. We decide to worry about that when the time comes. Right now we will just concentrate on our next hurdle, getting them into Canada. They sure don’t make it easy.

While in Buffalo, we took a quick detour to see one of the great wonders of the world, Niagara Falls. Several miles before the National Park, we can see the mist rising into the air from the falls. The calm Buffalo River quickly changes into one full of rage with very swift rapids. The falls are very impressive and today many tourists are gathering to view this spectacle. After a quick look at the falls, we are on our way back to Brewerton.

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We take advantage of the low diesel prices here at the marina, $2.29 per Gallon, and fill IT’s tanks. Fuel will not be so cheep once we enter Canada. This should last us until we get back to the U.S.

Total Miles Traveled Sylvan Beach to Brewerton: 22– Locks: 0
Total Miles Traveled Year to Date: 2002 Total Locks: 24

Rome to Sylvan Beach:

We have a short day of only 14 miles and two locks to today’s destination of Sylvan Beach. It is drizzling rain and more rain is forecast later today so we decided to get an early start. Lynn on Legrace waves goodbye as we pull away from the docks. We should see them later today in Sylvan Beach.

Just a few miles up the canal, we pass the Erie Canal Village. This is the site of where construction began on the Erie Canal on July 4th, 1817. The canal is straight as an arrow as far as the eye can see. We again have the place to ourselves. It really surprises us that not more boaters are using this great waterway. It is truly a forgotten gem. Our weather radar shows that we have some lightning and heavy rain just in front of us so we decide to hold up for about 30 minutes to let this weather pass before entering lock 21. Legrace catches up to us and we go through the next two locks together. Lock 21 is the first lock in which we start dropping.

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The flow of water is now towards the west and Lake Oneida. When going down in a lock, we get a much smoother ride than going up. There is less turbulence than when filling the locks, kind of like draining a bathtub. We barely touch the concrete walls. The only danger is if our line were to get caught on something our boat would be left hanging in mid air. In both lock 21 and 22, we are lowered 25 feet. It is a little intimidating as we approach the front of these locks. It almost appears that we are suspended in mid air. Both of these locks have the nasty ropes to hang onto.

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I make double sure that they are free and clear and can not get hung up on anything. We have an easy ride.

Just past lock 22, the Erie Canal crosses the height of land (summit level) that separates the Mohawk River basin (flowing east) from the Wood Creek Basin (flowing west). Before the canal was constructed, this was a famous portage route where boats hauling goods east to west had to be carried across the divide.

We soon see our destination for tonight, Sylvan Beach. Here we find a 1000 foot long concrete wall with metal rings anchored into the concrete for tying off the boat. After an easy tie-up, we help Legrace dock just behind us. Fellow loopers, Blue Moon and Whiskers dock just behind us also.

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Sylvan Beach is a summer resort area with four miles of sandy beaches along Lake Oneida. There is an amusement park here with several rides including a roller coaster.

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The rain continues all afternoon and into the evening. So we really don’t get to see much of the town.

Total Miles Traveled Rome to Sylvan Beach: 14 – Locks :2
Total Miles Traveled Year to Date: 1880 – Locks: 24

Little Falls to Rome:

We are underway this morning at 8:30 AM. There is a light fog hanging over the Mohawk River Valley. The four miles to Lock 18 is very beautiful as the narrow river winds its way around the heavily forested river banks.

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We are the only boat on the water. We have a brief wait at lock 18 while the lockmaster turns the lock around for us (lowers the water). This lock has a cable which we can attach our line to for the gentle 20 foot rise. All of the locks have been very different in regard to turbulence inside the lock. I think a lot of it has to do with the lockmaster’s skill. This lock gives us the smoothest ride of the trip so far. Our fenders barely touch the concrete wall.

We see several different types of canal work boats along this section of the Erie. One is a huge dredge.

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They are all very colorfully painted in the Erie Canal bright blue paint with yellow trim.

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Just before Herkimer, another steel guard gate is in front of us. These solid steel gates are hung from steel towers which rest on heavy concrete foundations.

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They are placed at intervals of about ten miles on the land line sections of canals. They are used to close certain portions of the canal for repair work or to prevent damage in case of a break in the canal embankment. We see Legrace moored alongside the Herkimer wall. We toot the horn but no one seems to be home.

We bypass our first stop of the evening at Utica and decide to continue on to Rome. We have a beautiful cruise down the narrow canal and are soon tied to the river park at Rome, NY. Here we find a nice floating dock along a concrete bulkhead. There is no power but it is free dockage so we are happy.

Our main reason for stopping at Rome is to eat at the Savoy Restaurant. This Italian restaurant was highly recommended by a fellow looper. After a four block walk into town, we find the sold green building along the main street with a banner out front stating this is their 100th Anniversary. We have a huge Italian dinner and bring home enough for another meal.

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We decide to stay a second day in Rome. We spend the morning in search of the bike path. The path is not completed in this section and it is a little challenging to find. After riding about five miles outside of town on some busy roads, we are able to pick up the canal path. This part of the bike path follows the Old Erie Canal. The old canal is much narrower than the one used today. Once on the trail, we have a lovely ride paralleling this closed waterway.

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We again have a challenge of finding our way back to our dock as the path abruptly ends in the woods. After following a dirt path, we reach a dead end at the railroad tracks. Knowing we are very close to the boat, we ride a muddy path beside the railroad track in search of a connecting road. There is only maybe a space of about one foot between us and the old railroad cars on one side and a swamp on the other side. After about 10 minutes of this stuff, I was very happy to see a road up ahead. With 30 miles on the odometer, we arrive back at the boat to see Legrace tied up in front of IT.

Bob and Lynn join us for dinner tonight at the Savoy. We have another great meal with great company. We enjoy hearing about their boating adventures and they give us some great advice for the next portion of the loop. Their boat, Legrace, was purchased in Holland where they cruised for three years before having her shipped back to the US. They certainly have us thinking about future cruising plans.

Total Miles Traveled Little Falls to Rome: 34 – Locks: 3
Total Miles Traveled Year to Date: 1866 – Total Locks: 22
Total Miles Bicycled: 30

Canajoharie to Little Falls:

After spending two days in Canajoharie, we are anxious to move on. Before leaving, we first visit the Canajoharie farmers market. The market turns out to be very small with only three vendors but we do get some fresh strawberries, homemade cookies, and homemade peanut butter.

We have a late start of 11:00 AM today. Gold Loopers, Bob and Lynn on Legrace are traveling with us.

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We can see our first lock of the day, Lock 14, from the town docks. It is only about ¼ mile from here. Things go smoothly and we are soon lifted the 8 feet before continuing west on the Erie Canal. Locks 15 and 16 go smoothly as well.

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The Mohawk River continues to narrow as we make our way westward. As in previous days, we pass under many low bridges (20 ft.) and also several very low steel guard gates which help with flooding. We cringe as we go under these low bridges and gates. From our vantage point, it seems almost impossible for IT to possibly fit under these low structures.

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Just before lock 17, we pass the Herkimer State Historic Site. The 18th century Georgian home of General Nicholas Herkimer can be seen from the water.

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Herkimer became a hero during the Battle of Oriskany in 1777. Despite a bullet wound to his leg, and although greatly outnumbered, he and his command held the field. Following the battle, Herkimer was carried home where he died 10 days later.

Lock 17 at Little Falls will be our most challenging lock. This lock has the highest lift of any in the NY Canal System, 40 ½ feet.

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Instead of hinged doors, this lock has a guillotine type door which raises and lowers. There is only one other lock of this type in North America, on the Ottawa. We later learn that this lock uses 5 million gallons of water for each passage. The lock was constructed between 1908-1916. The counterweight used to raise and lower the guillotine door weighs 90 tons.

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We seem so small as we enter this lock with its towering walls of 61 feet. In each of the previous locks, boaters can tie to either side of the lock. This lock requires all boaters to tie only on the port side. This presents an added challenge to us. We do not have a walkway around the boat on that side. We must also use those slimy ropes for our lift. The force of the water pushes us hard against the lift wall. We have all of our fenders out. The force squashes them until they almost pop. After what seems eternity, we finally reach the top and are happy to have this lock behind us.

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Just past the lock is our stop for the evening, Little Falls. We say goodbye to Legrace. They are continuing on to the next marina. Hopefully we will catch up with them somewhere down the road. As in other towns, Little Falls has built a nice new docking facility right along the river bank. There is a small park here also.

We quickly get the bikes down to explore the town. Little Falls is located in a narrow gap of the Mohawk Valley. We are able to pick up the bike path here at the marina.

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In town, we find an old warehouse which has been renovated and now houses many antique stores. The bike path takes us by lock 17. We enjoy talking with the lockmaster and learning a little more about this lock.

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Our next stop is the Herkimer Home site which we passed earlier on the water.

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Storms are approaching so we cut our bike trip short and head back to the boat.

Total Miles Traveled Canajoharie to Little Falls: 19 – Locks: 4
Total Miles Traveled Year to Date: 1832 – Total Locks: 19
Total Miles Biked: 10

Amsterdam to Canajoharie:

Trains, Trains, and More Trains.

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What we though was a nice quiet town dock turned out to be busier than Grand Central Station. A train track runs right next to the Amsterdam Park and trains woke us up many times during the night. It was a long evening.

We pull away from the docks this morning at 7:00 AM. Lock 11 is just ahead. The lockmaster sees us approaching and has the lock ready when we arrive. This is another lock with only those slimy ropes to hang onto.

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Luckily we only have a 14 foot rise. The lockmaster is very friendly and gives us a packet of information on the canal. We are sorry we did not stop here for the night. Boaters can tie up on the lock wall for free and there is a nice state park here also.

After locking through lock 12, we have our first casualty of the trip. There is a low bridge as we exit this lock and it decides to eat our VHF antenna. We had the antennas lowered all day for the bridges but had to put the one back up in order to lower our wind generator for an extra low bridge. To make a long story short, this antenna never got put back down. As we were exiting lock 12, we heard this gut wrenching sound of clanging metal. We knew immediately what had happened. The top four feet of our antenna was broke. Ouch!! We will make sure that mistake does not happen again. Luckily, this antenna comes in two parts and only the fiberglass was damaged, not the wiring inside. Winter Harbor Marina, where we will be stopping in about a week has ordered this part for us. It should be there when we arrive.

Our stop for the day is Canajoharie. This town has also just put in a nice park along the waterfront with free dockage and power to boaters. Fellow loopers, LeGrace and Sea La Vie are already at the docks. We take the last remaining spot. It was a short day of only 22 miles and 3 locks.

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We spend the afternoon exploring the town. Canajoharie is an Indian word meaning “pot that washes itself”. The name refers to a gorge just outside of town, where the water circulates back upon itself. The Beech-Nut factory is located just across the road from our docks and is the economic engine for the town.

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The Canajoharie Library and Art Gallery was highly recommended by fellow boaters. Here we find a nice exhibit on the history and founding family, the Arkells, of the Beech-Nut factory. Although small, the art gallery has a wonderful collection of paintings from such famous artist as Gilbert Stewart and Winslow Homer. We have an enjoyable 20 mile bike ride along the Erie Canal Bike Path this afternoon. This trail follows an old railroad bed.

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As we are eating dinner this evening, two horse and buggies pull up into the park.

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Four Amish couples get out and tie the horses up to a tree while they enjoy a nice dinner along the river banks. After their picnic they get back in the buggies and trot down the busy road back home.

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The park remains quiet for the remainder of the evening.

We had planned on only staying one night here but the weather has different plans for us. There are scattered storms forecast for today. Going through the locks in rain is not much fun so we decide to stay another day. Bob and Lynn on Legrace decide to stay also. During the day we are joined by two more loopers, Moon Beam and Blue Moon. We had last seen them at Waterford.

The rain clears out in the afternoon so we decide to hike the Canajoharie Gorge. We enjoy the long hike outside of town, all uphill, to Wintergreen Park where we pick up the scenic two mile trail to the 45’ high Canajoharie Falls. We enjoy the scenic rural beauty of the Mohawk Valley with its’ rolling countryside.

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On our way back into town we stop at the pothole or “pot that washes itself” which was named by the Indians as “Canajoharie”.

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After our five mile hike, we decide to stop for pizza at the local pizzeria, Tonys. It was a good choice as this is some of the best pizza we have had since being in NY. The Amish couples return in their horse and buggies again this evening to enjoy some fishing on the Mohawk River.

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Total Miles Amsterdam to Canajoharie: 22- Locks: 3
Total Miles Traveled Year to Date: 1813 – Total Locks: 15
Miles Bicycled: 20

Waterford to Amsterdam:

LOCKS, LOCKS, and More LOCKS. Those are the words for today.

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We are officially starting our travel on the New York Canal System. This system of canals is comprised of four waterways- the Erie, the Champlain, the Oswego and the Cayuga-Seneca canals. For our trip, we will be traveling on both the Erie and Oswego Canals. Construction on the original Erie Canal began in 1817 and was completed in 1825. There are 35 locks to navigate in the 342 miles from Troy to Buffalo. We will exit the Erie Canal into the Oswego Canal after only 160 miles and 22 locks. One can complete the Great Loop by traveling the entire Erie Canal into Lake Erie, bypassing Lake Ontario. In order to travel on the western part of the Erie you must be able to get under some bridges which are 15 feet. We could possibly get IT that low by lowering our radar arch, but we have decided to take the more scenic Trent Severn Route.

Just feet from the Waterford docks are our first set of locks for the day.

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These next five locks are known as “The Waterford Flight”. This is the highest set of lift locks in the world. The total lift is 169 feet in less than two miles, which is twice as much as the total lift of the Panama Canal. We carefully enter the first lock and soon have our line around the cable. We are all alone today as the lock lifts us the 34 feet. This lock dumps 2.5 million gallons of water with each cycle. We are no sooner out of lock two when we see the doors opening for lock 3 just ahead. This rapid succession of locks continues until out of lock 6. Each lock is ready and waiting with doors open as we exit the previous lock.

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It takes about 2 hours to complete all five locks. After these five locks, we pass under two guard gates which can be lowered to contain water flow.

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We have a quick breather of five miles until our next lock.

Before the day is out we lock through nine different locks. We are being lifted in all of these locks but the height lifted is different for each lock. There are three basic types of locks on the Erie. One type has pipes running down both sides. These are the easiest type of lock. We attach a rope amidships and run it around the pipe and back to the boat.

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My job is to stand by the line so that it could be released in case of emergency. The line slides up and down the pipe as IT rises or falls. The second type is similar to the ones with pipes but has a steel cable attached to the top and bottom. The third and worst type is the ones with ropes hanging down from the top. In this case, I grab one of the ropes amidships and hold on to it while we go up or down.

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These ropes are wet, dirty, and slimy. Some locks have both ropes and cables. Our last three locks of the day have only the ropes. It takes all my strength to hold IT snugly against the lock wall along with help from Jeff using the bow thrusters. Some of the locks are more turbulent than others but we manage all nine locks without any harm to IT. I think that this is a personal record on number of locks completed in one day. In addition to the nine locks today, we also passed under 24 bridges and railroad bridges. Many of these only have 20 feet of clearance. Without unbolting our hinged arch, we need 19 feet of clearance when we lover our radio antennas and wind generator. Some of these bridges look really low as we approach. As an added precaution, we made a cheater stick which is now secured in our bow flag pole holder. It is a PVC pipe which we cut to the same height as our highest point. If this stick clears the bridges, we should be O.K.

For the most part, travel on the Erie is very enjoyable.

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We saw only two other boats all day, one of which was a cute little canal boat.

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These canal boats are rented to families wanting to vacation by cruising on the canal. The Mohawk River is very rural and relaxing. Much of the river banks are heavily forested with little development.

We decide to stop for the evening at the town of Amsterdam. It is 6:00 PM and we have only managed to travel 37 miles the entire day. Here we find a brand new river front park with floating docks and power right on the Mohawk River. Many of these towns along the Erie have been given federal grant money to redevelop their waterfront for boaters. During our travels on the Erie, we continue to find these waterfront parks with docks available to boaters. We are the only ones using these nice docks tonight. It was a long day.

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Total Miles Traveled Waterford to Amsterdam: 37 – Locks: 9
Total Miles Traveled Year to Date: 1791 – Total Locks: 12

Troy to Waterford:

We are not in a hurry this morning for our short trip up the Hudson River to Waterford. It is only about three miles north of here. We push away from the docks around 9:00 AM in a light drizzle rain. It has rained almost every day for the last two weeks that we have been in NY and today looks like more rain.

The Troy Federal Lock is just ahead. We radio the lock master on channel 13 as we pull away from the docks. He tells us that the lock chamber is ready and we can pull on in.

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This is the first of 22 locks that we will do on the Erie Canal. There are actually 35 locks on the Erie but we will be leaving the Erie partway through and connect to the Oswego Canal. Lock 1 is the only lock on the Erie that is operated by the Corp of Engineers. All of the others are operated by the NY Canal System. This lock is free but for the remaining locks we must purchase a canal pass.

We slowly enter the lock and can’t help but notice the huge volume of water gushing over the spillway from all of the rain that we have had.

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Today we have the lock all to ourselves. We are raised only 14 feet and are quickly on our way to Waterford. We soon see our turn for the Erie Canal and Waterford.

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Had we continued up the Hudson, we would have soon been on the Champlain Canal. We will save that trip for another year.

The town docks are full of other boats. Jerry from “Sea La Vie” is at the docks to meet us and directs us to a vacant spot. We feel fortunate to find enough space for IT. These docks are free for two nights to visiting boaters and are very popular. Reservations are not taken in advance so we were not sure that we would be able to stop here. There are a gazillion people on the docks watching as Jeff maneuvers IT into the tiny spot. Several other boaters come to help with our lines. The local farmers market is being held along the docks today. That explains all the people.

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We enjoy the town of Waterford so much that we end up staying three nights.

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Dockage for the third night is only $10.00 and that includes free water and electricity.

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The volunteer staff that runs the welcome center is fantastic. There are four other loopers on the docks also. In town we find a great local breakfast diner, Ron and Pauls. For $1.75 you get two eggs, toast, and coffee. This seems to be the morning hang out for all the locals.

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We enjoy several morning runs along the Old Champlain Canal with the dogs. The Mohawk Hudson Bicycle path also runs along Waterford. We bike this path almost to Albany before turning around and riding west along the Erie Canal. The next day we find another great bike route which follows the Champlain Canal north. We are able to ride this route past the first four locks on the Champlain Canal. The scenery is fantastic and we can’t wait to return some year and travel up this waterway.

While in Waterford, we walk up to lock two which is just feet in front of our docks. We get a chance to see how these locks operate and are also are able to buy our 10 day pass for traveling on the NY Canal System.

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All boats traveling on this system must buy a 2 day ($20.00), 10 day ($50.00), or seasonal pass ($100.00). Tomorrow we begin our trip up the Erie Canal.

Total Miles Traveled Troy to Waterford: 3.5 – Locks: 1
Total Miles Traveled Year to Date: 1754 – Total Locks: 3
Total Miles Bicycled: 70

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