16 June 2011

Day8: The Erie Canal

Sorry about the lack of updates.  New Yorkers don't believe in wifi.  And I haven't figured out how to post from my cell phone yet.  We will see who takes longer to embrace technology.

For those moving north up the Atlantic coast with the Great Lakes in mind, there is a tempting short cut that saves the long voyage up around the Nova Scotia and in the St. Lawrence.  At New York, take the Hudson River up past Troy, NY and then head west under L. Ontario.

The kicker???  Low fixed bridge heights.  For our route we were staring at 20' bridges. 

Ocean Yachts specs state my hardtop is 15' 6" above the water line.  The radar and satellite antenna put me at about 17' or so.  The VHF antennae are not a problem, they fold forward.  The outriggers???  How low do they go?  And the water levels?  Are they down to normal or are they still high?

Those strange looking poles that stick out the back of the boat are for salt water fishing.  Truthfully, I will likely get very little use out of them.  But, right now, they are 39' of concern.  And that concern, very quickly became a surprise.  I had read and studied the various bridge heights on the Erie Canal system.  What I had failed to acknowledge was the Hudson River had it's own low bridges.  And, so the fun began, drifting around in the middle of the Hudson River, dropping VHF antennae and feverishly lowering the outriggers.  Then, inching ever so slowly, we crawled towards our first test.

I believe that first bridge had a 24' clearance.  Even at their fully lowered position, it is obvious that the outriggers sit higher than anything on top of the flybridge.  But, how much higher?  Are we going to be able to reach L. Ontario without getting the tools out?

Plenty of room!!!

Neither Captain Chris nor myself had ever travelled the Erie Canal system.  I have done a few locks on the Trent - Severn and Chris has been through the Panama Canal.  How much different could it be?

So, we winged it.  My plan was to pick up a Canal guide at the first lock.  Well, the first lock isn't part of the Erie Canal, it is on the Hudson River.  What do we do?  Fake it.  No harm, no foul.

Fifteen locks later we call it a day.  A place called Fort Plain, NY.

Life is slow moving on the Canal.  Locks drain faster than they fill.  So, typically we found the locks full for the higher elevation.  Which meant at every lock, we waited for the lockmaster to drain the lock before we could enter.

94nm travelled today, but a third of them where cruising up the Hudson.  We are doing the best we can, but it is less than half the distance we would cover on an easy day on the Atlantic.

Home seems further away today.

Today's route:

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