July 5 to 24, 2017. Utica to Oswego and back to New Jersey

There and Back Again

On July 6th the lock above us on the Erie Canal finally reopened and we were able to leave Utica and head for Oswego.  The waters of the canal still looked like extra thick mushroom soup, and we had to keep a careful watch for floating logs, some of them whole trees that were partially submerged.  We passed dredgers working on silted up areas, and other barges with workmen still gathering and cutting up debris.

Oneida Lake has a reputation for building up waves when the wind is from the west, and we wanted no further delays so we ran wide open (that means pushing the engines to just below their top speed, which gives us about 18 knots, as opposed to our normal travelling speed of 7 knots) and cut the journey time in half.  Brewerton is on the northern shore of the lake and was our next stop.  There is an attractive town dock, but we wanted to stop at one particular marina that Dick is planning to leave the boat with at the end of next season.  They have heated indoor storage, so you don’t need to go through the rigmarole of winterizing.  They also have excellent fuel prices, so we made a point of filling up!

North of Brewerton we passed a number of very nice cottages and full-time homes on the side of the canal before arriving at Three Rivers, the junction of the Erie and the Oswego Canals.  The Oswego Canal was completed 3 years after the Erie Canal opened, and allows boats to travel directly north into Lake Ontario.  8 locks later we arrived in Oswego.  Interestingly, the last two locks are right in the centre of town, and as you walk over the bridges you can see how the canal and the river have been kept separate.

Oswego is another old town that was once wealthy and has now lost much of its industry.  In addition to being an important freshwater port it was also a railway hub.  There were grain elevators and mills, the Kingsford starch factory, and textile mills.  Today there is still a cement depot in the harbour, but most of the mills and factories are gone.  We tied up at the Oswego marina, and prepared to leave the next morning for Kingston, Ontario.

There is a historic fort at Oswego that we did not explore on this visit, but there is also a marine museum, where we saw one of the tugs that was built for Operation Overlord in WWII.  It was used to tow barges of ammunition and supplies in convoys across the English Channel to the Normandy beaches in 1944.  After the war, she continued to work as a harbour tug for more than 40 years.  We also went for a harbour ride on a solar powered wooden boat.  This was an interesting experience, the boat was quite dreadful, all plywood, and extremely basic.  The captain and his wife are very enthusiastic about their various projects, this one being their second solar powered boat, and a third is currently being built in a shed at Kingston (NY) harbor.  We had seen the project when we stayed at the museum on our outbound journey.  Dick was fascinated by the technology, whereas I was amazed at the complete lack of any safety briefing or life jackets on board when they are taking out members of the public.  The liability issues are staggering.  However, it is certainly a good cause.  The boats are built by middle school students, closely supervised of course.  It is often the first time any of these young people have ever picked up a hammer and nails.

Our original plans were to explore the Thousand Islands as far as Cornwall, and then work our way west towards Hamilton, eventually circumnavigating Lake Ontario before heading south towards home.  Alas, the many weather delays changed these plans, but we were still expecting to cross Lake Ontario to Kingston and have time to visit Trenton, and friends and family further west.  For once the weather was in our favour, and at 8am Dick turned on the chartplotter to plan the route to Kingston.  At one mile outside Oswego Harbor, all the chart detail stopped.  It wasn’t quite “Here Be Dragons” but close! When we bought the boat, everything had been equipped to such a high spec that it never occurred to Dick that the previous owner would not have bought the complete North America charts.  With no paper charts for Canada either, we were not going to proceed, so Dick got busy and placed the order for the updated and complete charts, paying extra for “overnight” delivery.  Nothing on the Navionics website suggested that they only process orders Mon-Fri (and this was a Saturday).  Dick waited in vain on Sunday for the new charts.  Then we gave it some more thought and realized that even if we did get another weather window we would risk getting stopped more times while travelling around Lake Ontario, and with a deadline for being back in Hilton Head we decided that Oswego would be our turnaround this year.  Dick rented a car and visited his Mum while I stayed to keep an eye on the boat and Mr Tucker.

The evening before, we had one of the best get-togethers of the trip.  We had enjoyed docktails with a group of Loopers earlier on the Erie Canal.  The rest of that group got stuck in Ilion, two locks south of where we were in Utica, but once the canal reopened we all met again in Oswego.  We gathered at a local restaurant and enjoyed a very pleasant evening of chat and consultation.  One of the group is solo on a sailboat, he is Australian and has been planning to do the loop for nearly 15 years.  He had spent time in Long Island Sound, and is now making his way around the loop with the rest of the pack.  It was a great evening.  The next morning, I stood on the stern of our docked boat and waved goodbye to all our new friends as they headed out across Lake Ontario and onwards.

Dick enjoyed visiting his Mom, and made a detour on the way back to shop at Wegmans, once our favourite supermarket when we lived in NY State.  Then we waited some more for the not-even-close to overnight delivery of those pesky charts.  They finally arrived at noon on Wednesday, and we decided we were quite tired of Oswego and ready to move on immediately!

On our return journey we are planning a combination of repeat visits to places we enjoyed, and new stops just to make things different.  One new stop was Amsterdam on the Erie Canal.  Another once wealthy town, but they have made major efforts to make it an attractive destination for boaters.  There is a beautiful park on the river, with a bandshell and concerts weekly through the summer.  You can tie up on the wall right in the park.  Downtown has nicely restored buildings, but there is the usual sad problem that they are unable to attract a good mix of shopping and residential, so many of the shops are empty and those few that are open are a strange mix of tattoo parlours and wedding shops.  East of Amsterdam we stayed overnight at the Schenectady Yacht Club, probably the prettiest location on the Erie Canal as the canal/river cuts through a gorge.  After locking down through the final 6 lock flight we stopped again at Waterford.  This is another village that has made efforts to attract boaters to the waterfront and the historic downtown. By this time, I was quite glad to get out of the Erie Canal and back into the Hudson River, with only one last lock to transit.

As we approached the lock above Albany, we watched replicas of the Nina and the Pinta travelling upstream on their way to Oswego and parts west.  They looked quite strange with all their masts and rigging stepped and piled up on the decks.  The authenticity stops at propulsion… they both have efficient modern motors to supplement their sails.

Our air conditioning pump was unreliable, so we stopped for an extra couple of nights at Shady Harbour in New Baltimore on the Hudson.  The mechanic was able to get a replacement quickly.  We certainly did not want to be travelling south into even greater heat and humidity without working air conditioning! That said, the other day this area had higher temperatures than Hilton Head, and the humidity was over 90%. I used the time to scrub the fenders with soapy water to get off most of the crud from the Erie Canal, and then Dick gave the boat a good wash as well.

I like the Hudson River.  There is so much history and it is both beautiful and interesting with all the commercial traffic.  One morning the river was completely covered in fog, and a big tanker passed, blowing its whistle every few minutes to warn oncoming traffic.  We later read about the requirement for all cargo vessels to take on board a Hudson River pilot.  He climbs up the side of the moving vessel in New York Harbour, and takes the ship up to Hyde Park, where another pilot takes over so they are always fully rested.  Most of these ships have foreign crews, and many have never been through New York or on the Hudson before.  The pilot must know how to navigate every kind of vessel, and these ships are huge!  They run right through the winter, sometimes travelling in convoys because of ice.

We stopped again in Kingston, having enjoyed the Marine Museum and waterfront so much earlier.  This time we tried the other restaurant we had noticed, and had the best meal so far on the trip.  I had lobster ravioli that I will dream about for some time!

Our transit of New York Harbor was uneventful, if lumpy.  This time most of the ferries and all of the NYFD vessels that had created such huge wakes on our outbound journey were not there, but there were a lot of sailboats enjoying the brisk winds.  They all have the right of way when they are under sail, so we had to keep a sharp lookout and try to anticipate where they might be going.  There was also very confusing chatter on the radios, with crackle, jargon, and add strong New York accents into the mix and it was impossible to work out what was going on and what we should be looking out for.  After we had passed under the Verrazano Narrows bridge and were heading west along Staten Island I looked back and could see what we missed.  There was a huge autocarrier that came out just behind us, followed by another big tanker.  Timing is everything, it would have been nasty to try to get out of their way in the busy harbour!

We are now in Great Kills, New Jersey, again waiting for a weather window.  It is incredible how weather dependent we are.  We knew intellectually that we would experience delays, but actually living it has been a big surprise to both of us.  It is not rain we worry about, it is winds and currents, as well as fog and thunderstorms.  The winds and currents must both be in our favour before we can set off.  We already know how unpleasant (and scary) it gets if we are caught in unexpected conditions.  Even when everything is “perfect” it can be very bouncy at certain times such as when we came through New York Harbor with the tide behind us, the wind in front of us, and the East River outlet on our beam!  We arrived here on Saturday and don’t expect the conditions to be acceptable until at least Thursday.  Of course, you have to keep checking, the forecasts change continually.  I have three different weather apps on my phone, and Dick has at least two others, and we look at all of them two or three times a day.

So, what is a typical day on our boat?  Well, of course it depends on whether we are staying in port or planning to get underway.  I tend to get up pretty early, usually between 5:30 and 6:00.  I make a pot of coffee and wash up any dishes from the previous day.  We both like our quiet mornings, sitting in the cockpit with coffee and watching the world wake up.  Dick gets out his laptop and catches up with news and weather, and we both read the daily digest of the Great Loop forum.  If we are heading out we try to go sometime between 8 and 9am, but this might also be dependent on the tide.  If the tide is against us we will take longer and use more fuel to arrive at our destination, so some days it is better to wait until it has turned.  When the time comes the engines are started, various lines and fenders reorganized, Tucker gets his harness put on, and the gate at the top of the steps is put up.  Once we are underway we can close up the cockpit and take away the gate so Tucker can come up and enjoy the wind and be with his people.  Unfortunately, if it is a day on a canal with locks, Tucker has to stay below because we need to be able to step in and out through the doors.  It takes two of us to hold the boat in position in a lock.  I bring the boat in, and Dick catches the lock-side ropes or wraps a line around the pipe that goes down the side of the lock.  Then I can shut off the engines and get out and hold the stern rope to keep us in place.  When the lock doors open I start the engines and drive the boat out.

Most of the time Dick does the driving.  The seat is too far back for me to really see well, so I have to stand to drive, which gets tiring very quickly.  I also prefer Dick to take the helm in tricky winds or currents.  He is calmer than I am, not to mention if somebody is going to bump hard into the dock because of winds or currents I would much rather it was him!  Instead I stand at the rail and throw the lines to the waiting dockhand, or make my best rope-toss over a cleat if there is no help available. We have headsets that are appropriately called “marriage-savers” by other cruisers in the know.  It means we can talk to each other through the various manoeuvers calmly instead of having to shout or make easily misunderstood gestures.

Days spent in port begin the same way, but after breakfast there are usually necessary chores to be done.  I am lucky to have a washer-dryer on the boat, but it uses a lot of water and power, so we have to have access to dockside services.  Dick vacuums thoroughly once a week, and every other week there is a proper cleaning to be done, just as at home.  Sheets get changed, bathrooms are cleaned, the kitchen gets a deep clean, and the rooms are dusted and the wood polished. Dick also gives the outside of the boat a good wash.

We usually alternate dinners out with cooking on board.  Mostly the restaurants that are walking distance from the boat are not exactly fine dining, but we have had some very good burgers and steaks.  I try to plan ahead for about 7 or 8 meals to be cooked on board.  When we are in a port Dick gets his bicycle off the front rail and heads out with saddle bags and a shopping list.  We have enjoyed most of the meals that have been chosen from a fairly extensive collection of on-board cookbooks left by the previous owner, plus my own cookbook.  Last night I made chicken breasts in a wine sauce with cheese and bread stuffing topping.  Other successful meals have included cooking a whole chicken in the pressure cooker, various beef or pork stews, plus we have the grill and Dick will do pork or lamb chops as well as steaks.  We have tried pizza on the grill, so far not very successful, but we will keep trying!

Our next couple of weeks are likely to be spent mostly in port waiting for weather.  We will first have the trip “outside” down the coast to Atlantic City and Cape May.  Then there will need to be suitable wind and wave conditions on Delaware Bay, followed by the several days of good weather we need to transit the Chesapeake.  South of Norfolk we must again cross Albemarle Sound and the (dreaded) Neuse River.  After that we are at last back in the ICW and can expect mostly smooth traveling through North and South Carolina to get home.

clearing debris
Clearing debris
Brewerton
Brewerton
in the lock
In the lock
Oswego canal
Oswego Canal
Oswego gathering 1
Loopers gather in Oswego
solar boat
Solar powered boat
WWII tug
World War II tug
Oswego tavern
A tavern in Oswego
wash the boat
Wash the boat
Tucker
Tucker
downtown Amsterdam
Downtown Amsterdam
Nine Lives in Amsterdam
Nine Lives in Amsterdam
Schenectady
Schenectady
Schenectady Yacht Club
Schenectady
docks at Waterford
The docks at Waterford
downtown Waterford
Downtown Waterford
Maid of the Meadows
Maid of the Meadows
tanker in fog on the Hudson
Tanker in morning fog on the Hudson River
Captain and crew
The captain and crew
Louise and Tucker
Louise and Tucker
lobster ravioli
Lobster Ravioli

Cleveland to Brewerton

September 5 to 16

Our second day in Cleveland was spend exploring the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.  We both enjoyed the experience, although we were most interested in the songs and artists of our own generation.  I expect some people could spend days there, looking at memorabilia.  I found the clothes fascinating, it was hard to believe the performers were so small.  There were dresses belonging to Diana Ross and the Supremes, and they were tiny! The clothes worn by the giants of rock and roll, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Who, and many more recent rockers, show that these men had to be well under 6 feet tall, and extremely thin by today’s standards. There was an excellent film with clips of Elvis Presley, and we also loved a 30 minute film of Dick Clark and American Bandstand.  In the evening we walked a little further into town for an outstanding meal at Blue Point Grille.

From Cleveland it was a long day, 100 miles, to Erie, Pennsylvania.  This year we made a conscious effort to reduce the distances we travelled each day, so a normal day has been 30 to 40 miles.  The weather was glorious, although hot, with a bright blue sky and a good forecast for wind and waves. With no rain in the forecast we replaced the side doors with the screens, which involves two large stiff zippers each side and one on top.  Just after lunch the clouds started to build up and the sky got dark.  We were caught in an afternoon thunderstorm with accompanying squall out on the water.  The rain lashed the boat from the side (of course it was the side I sit on) and the cushions, carpet, and my chair with me in it, got absolutely soaked.  Eventually I managed to undo the top zipper and secure my door at the top, but with the strong wind the only way it could even partly reduce the amount of rain coming in was for me to stand with my back to it and hold on.  Drenched doesn’t even begin to describe the experience.  Dick, from his dry seat at the helm, was highly amused.  The rain, low visibility, and choppy water were not the only matters for concern.  We had heard a securite announcement from a tow that he was headed into port with 3 loaded barges.  We could see his position on the chartplotter, but he didn’t seem to be moving, and we were headed directly for him.  Dick went well out into the lake to make sure we gave him plenty of room.  We were able to see through gaps in the rain as we passed that he was indeed stopped, repositioning the tow from the front of the barge train (pulling) to the rear (pushing it into port).  In due course the rain stopped, the waves settled down, and the sky was blue again.  The carpet took a while to dry though, and it was surprising how very dirty that rain was.

Erie is the fourth largest city in Pennsylvania, and its only major port on the Great Lakes.  As heavy industry and shipping have declined, health care, plastics, tourism, and service industries have taken their place.  The harbour was interesting, divided into several parts, with the one we were visiting requiring passage under an elevated walkway that connects the Sheraton Hotel with the Bayfront Convention Center.  Unfortunately, the harbour itself is still something of a work in progress, but in a few years it could be very pleasant.  There is a large maritime museum and library, and a 187 foot Bicentennial Tower along the waterfront.

Our next stop was Buffalo and a grateful goodbye to “big water” for this year.  We stayed at the marina that is closest to downtown, and once again were pleasantly surprised by the waterfront parks and development of what was once a very unattractive industrial port.  The marina is situated on a spit of land that also includes a waterfront park with attractive gardens, a lookout tower, and two restaurants.  From the marina it was easy access to an extensive network of cycle paths.  We rode our bikes through what looked to be a very interesting naval museum, the Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park.  There are a number of decommissioned ships, including a submarine, a cruiser, and a destroyer.  Further along the Buffalo River is the oldest active fireboat in the world.  The Edward M Cotter was built in 1900 and rebuilt in 1953.  In addition to being a fireboat, she is used as an icebreaker on the Buffalo River in winter. She has a colourful history, including being burnt out in 1928 while fighting a fire on a barge carrying 5,000 barrels of crude oil.  Rebuilt, she continued in service, and crossed Lake Erie in 1960 to help put out a fire in grain elevators in Port Colborne, Canada.  We only saw her at dock, but I gather she is a regular sight in Buffalo Harbor.

After a two night stop in Buffalo it was time to make our way into the Western Erie Canal. We had planned our usual 9am start, but we were delayed somewhat at the pump out dock by a very slow pump.  As it happened, that delay didn’t matter, because of limited service at the lock on the Black Rock Channel.  This three and a half mile channel parallels the Niagara River, and allows boats to avoid the strong current and rough waters of the river.  It was built as part of the Erie Canal, but somehow it is no longer part of the Canal and the lock is a Federally operated lock.  It is in need of refurbishing, so the operators have decided to limit openings, and while two different phone numbers are provided to call to get the schedule, neither of the lines are manned.  On arrival at the lock we found a sign that told us the first opening would be 11am, so we had to tie up and wait for over an hour.  As is his wont when there is any expected delay, Dick set off along the lock wall to investigate.  On his return, he met the lock keeper arriving for work, a surly individual who was not at all impressed with Dick’s friendly smile and told him in no uncertain terms that he was forbidden to be on the dock and to get back on that boat and stay there!

After exiting the Black Rock Channel, we were into the Niagara River, which was unpleasantly choppy until we turned into Tonawanda River.  Not the most attractive waterway we have been on, and even after making the turn into the Erie Canal proper, it was somewhat unprepossessing until we had passed through the double lock at Lockport.  The stretch between Lockport and Rochester is very pleasant, with small towns that are making the most of their waterfront and the opportunities for tourism.  There are many lift bridges, all freshly painted in soft green with contrasting bright yellow trim.  Most of the towns have free docking at the town walls, and many have installed power pedestals and shower facilities.  One of the lock keepers told Dick that she is employed full time, all year round.  During the winter when the canal is closed, they take apart and refurbish all the lock and bridge mechanisms.  She said her winters are spent “up to the elbows in grease!”  At each lock we were asked how far we planned to go that day, and the keepers called the next lock to tell them to expect us.

In Middleport we were joined for the evening by Wade Aiken, a talented photographer I met when we lived in Olean some years ago.  It was nice to catch up and hear about his extensive world travels and his photography.  The next day we travelled to Spencerport where we were met by another friend from the Olean Camera Club.  Barbara was not able to stop for a meal, but we had time for a chat and a cup of tea and hope for a longer visit, perhaps next year when we are in the Finger Lakes.

A frequent sight on the Erie Canal is English-inspired canal boats that appear to be a popular vacation.  The boats are a little wider than UK narrowboats, and generally shorter at a maximum of 43 feet, but they are driven by a traditional tiller at the stern, and they all look very clean and in good condition.  You can rent them from Midlakes Navigation, and they offer 3, 4, and 7 day rentals. We do not wish to be disloyal to Nine Lives, but we were intrigued by the possibilities!

Rochester is another city with an attractive downtown.  We turned off the Canal into the Genesee River, navigable almost to the city center.  We tied up at a good dock in Corn Hill Landing, a revitalized historic neighbourhood. The waterfront complex of rental apartments includes several restaurants, one of them is a very pleasant wine bar.  We walked over and each ordered a flight, sparkling for Dick, and rose for me.  To accompany we had a meat and cheese board, with fresh French bread, local honey, and grainy mustard.  It was a delightful way to spend an hour in the afternoon, particularly as we were planning an “eating up” evening of leftovers on the boat!

The next day Dick rode his bike through downtown to Lake Ontario.  He reports that Rochester is a very clean city with lots of parks and waterfront paths.  It is strange that a canal has never been cut to bypass the waterfalls in the river and allow access between the Erie Canal and Lake Ontario.  Apparently, it has been proposed many times, but so far nobody has found the money.

In the afternoon we took a rental car to Ithaca, and after a very nice meal in a French restaurant we went to a concert by Joan Baez.  What a remarkable woman she is.  She played straight through without an intermission (or a chair), and returned to sing three more songs for an encore.  It was a mix of old favourites and new material from her latest album.  Although she can no long sustain the high notes, at 77 years old, she is still an amazing performer, and we were very glad we were able to take the time to see her on what is expected to be her last tour. The theatre is also of historic and architectural interest.  The building, originally constructed in 1915, began as a garage and Studebaker showroom.  In 1926 it was transformed into a cinema and vaudeville palace.  The extravagant combination of Moorish and Gothic architecture is striking. After struggling for many years as a movie theatre that closed in the 1980’s, the building was condemned in 1997 and slated for demolition.  It was saved by strong community support and fundraising from both municipal and private donors, and has been operating as a concert theatre since 2001.

Returning to the boat at midnight, we planned a slightly later than usual departure, but my Rochester experience was not yet complete.  At just past 4am I became aware of footsteps and a slight rocking of the boat, as well as conversation from outside.  I got up and shouted at Dick to wake up.  No response.  Shouted again as I opened the hatch and went up to the cockpit to find the absolute cliché of a black man in a hoodie sitting on the boat.  I shouted at him “GET OFF”, and somewhat to my surprise, he did, with profuse apologies and compliments on the boat.  He told me it was such a beautiful boat he just wanted to try to get a picture of himself sitting on it.  His girlfriend on the dock also apologised and paid compliments.  As this was happening, Dick finally woke up, just long enough to understand what had happened, to hear the apologies, and know that his intervention was not required.  Then back to sleep he went, while I lay awake for hours getting over the shock!  Thinking about the incident, I come away with a few thoughts.  Given how well spoken and truly apologetic the man and his companion were, we are assuming they were simply walking to or from work, saw the boat and thought it was unoccupied and that they would not disturb anyone if they took a picture.  It would have been very easy to over-react.  By coincidence I have been reading in the AGLCA forum about several boats being boarded while tied up on the Illinois River.  The boaters reported that they used wasp spray and other unspecified deterrents to get rid of the intruders.  I know that many boaters (legally) carry firearms.  In our case, while it was, for me, a disturbing experience, the trespassers were quite innocent, and over-reacting could have been disastrous.  One thing we did agree on, in future we will make a point of connecting the lifelines and rail as well as bringing in the boarding ladder if we are using it.  Just to make it a little less easy to get on board.

After Rochester we stopped at Newark, with a well maintained town wall, excellent shower facilities, and a nice little canal museum.  From there the Canal became less scenic, and the towns not quite as pretty.  There followed long stretches with no towns or signs of habitation.  The next night we tied up below a lock, truly in the middle of nowhere (Tripadvisor reported the nearest restaurant was 4.5 miles away).  It was an incredibly peaceful stop, almost like anchoring.  We also noticed a somewhat different attitude on the part of the lock keepers (with the exception of the one we tied up at.)  They seemed to be less likely to be paying attention to their radio when we called for a lock-through, requiring several calls before we could see any activity at the lock, and often no response on the radio at all.  No longer interested in how far we would be travelling, and certainly not willing to call the next lock to let them know we were coming.  The attitude seemed to fit with the general condition of the houses we saw along the canal in this stretch.  Tumbledown shacks, yards full of junk, and lots of derelict docks.

Shortly before Baldwinsville we began to see an improvement.  New homes and tidy cottages with well kept grounds and well maintained docks lined the Seneca River (the Canal becomes the river for much of this stretch).  Baldwinsville is a very pleasant town of about 8,000.  It is built on both sides of the canal, and includes an island between the canal lock and the dam.  On the island is a large park with an amphitheatre, and we understand that concerts are held regularly through the summer months.  The town wall has power and water, at $5 a night on the honour system.  Here we met a couple of Loopers who have been spending summers on their boat for the past 8 years.  They completed the loop in 2010-2011, and since then, they have been twice to Maine, spent two summers on Lake Michigan, and this summer they went to the north side of Lake Superior.  Now me, I think of the Canadian side of Lake Superior as rocks, pine trees, and mosquitoes big enough to carry off your boat!  However, Jill told me they loved it, anchoring most nights for nearly a month.  The Lake was far more peaceful and the weather predictions more reliable than Lake Michigan, and as for mosquitoes, when they were there it was far too cold!  It was certainly interesting chatting with them.

From Baldwinsville it was a short morning’s run to Brewerton, at the north end of Oneida Lake.  At Winter Harbor, an aptly named marina where we will leave Nine Lives until next June, we found several other Looper boats in various stages of getting ready for winter storage.  Nine Lives will be hauled out and stored in a huge heated and humidity controlled storage shed.  While considerably more expensive than non-heated storage, there are a great many advantages, including being able to leave the water tanks full, most of the pantry food on board, and the security of knowing that damp will not be an issue. Since this is also a working boat yard, a quite long list of maintenance and repair items will be dealt with before launch next spring.  Today is being spent packing up the clothes we will be taking home, doing a lot of cleaning, and generally getting Nine Lives ready for a long winter’s nap.  We expect to leave tomorrow late morning, driving to Hagerstown, PA, and then get home early evening on Tuesday.

Look for the next instalment of the Nine Lives blog some time in June 2019.

Rock n Roll
Rock n Roll – the main entrance plaza of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.
Surf and turf Cleveland
Surf and turf in Cleveland – one of the best I have ever eaten, delicious tender lobster tail with drawn butter, and a perfectly grilled steak in a simple presentation with mashed potatoes and fresh asparagus at the Blue Point Grille.
keeping out the rain
Keeping out the rain – we will blame the photographer (Dick) for the blurry photo of me, valiantly holding back the rain as it lashes the boat when we pass through a squall. It’s probably blurred because he was laughing!
Erie PA
Erie PA – the harbour with a view of the Sheraton Hotel and the walkway to the Convention Center.
Erie PA 2
Erie PA 2 – a shipyard with a vessel under construction. At the left you can see the large rust red bow (or stern), while on the right are blue plastic covered sections of the midship. We don’t know whether this is a Lake freighter being constructed, or a large barge tug.
Buffalo
Buffalo – extravagant flowerbeds in the gardens at the marina on the edge of Buffalo’s Inner Harbor.
Buffalo 2
Buffalo 2 – another picture of the marina garden, with the attractive architecture of downtown in the distance.
Buffalo 3
Buffalo 3 – the Edward M Cotter, a historic fireboat, still in service, and also used in winter as an ice breaker in the Buffalo River.
Buffalo 4
a detail of the stern area of the Edward M Cotter.
Buffalo 5
Buffalo 5 – General Mills is still a grain milling presence on the Buffalo waterfront. The high rise manufacturing facility is of unusual architectural interest. It is also the place where familiar brands such as Cheerios, Gold Medal Flour, Bisquick, and Wheaties are made.
Into the Canal 2
Into the Canal – a somewhat unprepossessing entrance to the Erie Canal between Buffalo and Niagara. The Canal turns to the right of the image.
Erie Canal bridge
Erie Canal bridge – one of the many lift bridges on the Canal. The car parked beside the tower belongs to the bridge keeper. Typically, one keeper will be responsible for 2 or more bridges, and must shuttle between them when boats need to pass.
Erie Canal boat
Erie Canal boat – one of the English narrowboat style boats that are available to rent and cruise the canal.
Albion 2
Albion – the main street of the pretty village is glimpsed through the lift bridge. You can also get a sense of the bridge mechanism. The whole span slides up to raise the bridge over the canal. Pedestrians can climb the stairs and cross when the bridge is lifted, but cars must wait.
Albion 4
Albion – the sign for the village as we leave. We were particularly interested in this because we have a friend, Stuart Albion, and had no idea there was a whole town named after him!
Short ribs Spencerport
Short ribs in Spencerport – Dick’s favourite dish, served with mushroom ravioli. Sadly, it was not as tasty as he had hoped. As he put it, “it tastes the way it does when I make it at home, and I know I don’t do it very well!”
Spencerport
Spencerport – sunrise at Spencerport, where we were docked with two of the English style canal boats.
Rochester
Rochester – we docked beside an apartment and restaurant complex on the Genesee River in historic Corn Hill, with a view of downtown.
Wine bar Rochester
Wine Bar in Rochester – they specialize in flights, currently very fashionable. Dick tried champagne and sparking wine, while I enjoyed tasting three different roses. A delicious meat and cheese board accompanied the wines.
Ithaca concert hall
Ithaca concert hall – the historic State Theater was saved from demolition after it was condemned.
Pittsford
Pittsford – we passed through this pretty village. Creative use has been made of the former grain elevators, they have been turned into luxury flats.
Pittsford 2
Pittsford 2 – another view as we leave the village.
Newark
Newark – sunrise over the pedestrian bridge at Newark, NY. The building at the left of the bridge houses a visitor center and excellent shower facilities for boaters.
Erie Canal lock 25
Erie Canal lock 25 – the quiet wall above the lock where we docked for the night.
Erie Canal lock 25 2
Erie Canal lock 25 – still water and reflections of the trees lining the Canal.
painting a bridge
Painting a bridge – this was interesting to see, they set up a tent to completely wrap the bridge so that the paint does not contaminate the water. As we passed under the bridge we could hear the high pressure paint sprayers at work in the covered section.
Baldwinsville
Baldwinsville – a pleasant seating area in the waterfront park.
Baldwinsville 2
Baldwinsville – the canal and town wall leading to the guard gate and lock. To the left of the image is the park and amphitheatre where weekly concerts are held in summer.
Erie Canal 15
Erie Canal – our last morning on the Canal and on this year’s voyage. The leaves are beginning to turn, and it is time for us to return home.
Winter Harbor
Winter Harbor – the aptly named boatyard where Nine Lives will sleep for the winter. You can just see one of the huge red and blue sheds in the background of the picture.