Here We Sit…..

(Day 27) – Weather, weather, weather – rain, wind, fog, more rain, near gale-force wind – so here we sit for our third day in Chambly, Quebec – a nice place with lousy weather (at least for the past three days). The first day was somewhat welcome – we caught up on boat chores, re-provisioned our food supply, did laundry, went for a long walk, etc.  The weather was actually marginal and turned out better than predicted, so we could have gone – but when the weather is marginal, our default is safety first – we stay put.  Yesterday we were mostly confined to the boat due to monsoon rains and big winds. We cooked all three meals on board (yes, cooked) – pancakes for breakfast, hot soup and tuna-melt for lunch, left-over chicken & spaghetti with wine for dinner (OK, left-overs from a restaurant meal heated in the microwave – for us, that qualifies as cooking). Watched two movies on board – one streamed from Netflix (“Emperor”, quite good), one from a box of DVD’s my Dad made for us (“The  Great Gatsby”, also good).  Today we spent a few hours touring Fort Chambly (which was closed Monday & Tuesday), then went for a long bike ride in the afternoon, as the rain finally stopped.

Fascinating history here. During the first 150 years of French settlement (starting with Samuel de Champlain in 1608), France wanted to get as many settlers there as possible. So about 1000 “Filles du Roi” were sent over along with soldiers, fur traders, farmers, and prisoners. A literal translation (so I’m told) is “Daughter of the King” – young females sent to become wives of male settlers to increase the population, because reproduction was cheaper than sending more people.  Most of the women came from orphanages or were vey poor.  They were expected to marry within about 2 weeks of arrival.  The French government provided financial incentive to marry quickly and paid bonuses based on the number of children they produced.

To backtrack a bit – remember the severely bent boat hook and our search for just the right caption?  Here are the suggestions we received:

“No, it’s not bent, it’s a refraction from the water”;     “Now what, Jesus”;    “Not for the Man-toilet”;    “Jim did it”  (don’t vote for this one);    “That’s why we carry three boat hooks”;     Don’t keep me guessing, how’s the fishing?”.  Feel free to either vote for your favorite or add any other candidates.

You may also remember my social faux paw (mistake) by referring to my sister Kate’s 15-20 year “boyfriend” as her “friend”, since “boyfriend” somehow seemed out of place.  Our good friend and ski-buddy Deb Mennett sent the following message with the link below to a wonderful short essay on the same subject:

Hi Jim,

Your photos and journals are exciting to read. I really understood the fine line in introducing the person your sister shares her life with so since you asked for ideas, here is mine when faced with a similar dilemma.

Before Jay and I got married ( a month ago)( we had been together for ten years) it was often awkward introducing him as a -friend- boyfriend-significant other-partner……So, I started introducing him as “my knight in shining armor”. It’s just a thought for a way of introducing your sisters boyfriend. Here is what the Huffington post has to say….

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ann-brenoff/what-to-call-significant-other_b_2432359.html#slide=472807

I suggested “knight in shining armor” to my sister, but she then questioned: “What is he going to call me – Damsel in distress?”   Back to the drawing board.

 

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Mystery Bolts….

O CANADA!  We’re now in Chambly, Quebec, about halfway to the St. Lawrence Seaway.  We left on Saturday after having laid over for two rainy days in Burlington – what a great city!  We were never bored – did boat chores, explored the city, provisioned, went to a movie each afternoon, ate ice cream each day (a requirement). Saturday morning was foggy, so we waited for the fog to lift (or so we thought) – a half hour later, we were in pea-soup fog with zero visibility in all directions:

 

The fog closing in on us in Lake Champlain

The fog closing in on us in Lake Champlain

 

The view from the helm in all directions in zero-visibility fog

The view from the helm in all directions in zero-visibility fog

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We made good use of our radar which allowed us to see other boats and the outline of land on the screen. After an hour or so of slow running toward Rouses Point, the fog gradually lifted.  Rouses Point is the northern-most village on the west side of Lake Champlain, mostly known for the Rouses Point Bridge which links Vermont and NY – the nearest bridge crossing Lake Champlain to the south is at Chimney Point, nearly 100 miles away.  Similar to Whitehall, the town grew up around the water transport of goods when the Chambly Canal opened up a water route to Canada and the St. Lawrence River in 1843.  By 1870, over 1800 canal boats were plying the canal, hauling lumber, farm products, and other raw materials.  Today, Rouses Point is a sleepy border town, with many residents driving to Plattsburgh a half hour south for employment since Pfizer shed 3,000 jobs and all but closed a local plant in 2009.  Some images of Rouses Point:

The Rouses Point Bridge linking Vermont and NY - we entered Quebec shortly after passing beneath the bridge

The Rouses Point Bridge linking Vermont and NY – we entered Quebec shortly after passing beneath the bridge

The French influence can be seen in some of the architecture in Rouses Point

The French influence can be seen in some of the architecture in Rouses Point

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We typically eat breakfast & lunch aboard, but sometimes eat dinner out.  In small towns, we look for a local diner or pub (tavern) where we can experience some local flavor. This is a the "Squirrel's Next" where we ate in Rouses Point

We typically eat breakfast & lunch aboard, but sometimes eat dinner out. In small towns, we look for a local diner or pub (tavern) where we can experience some local flavor. This is a the “Squirrel’s Next” where we ate in Rouses Point

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I stated in a previous posting, Lake Champlain and it’s adjoining rivers were militarily crucial to defending territory during the American Revolution and the War of 1812, with a number of strategically placed forts in addition to the most famous fort at Ticonderoga. Here are two more:

The fort at Rouses Point on the NY side, just north of the bridge

The fort at Rouses Point on the NY side, just north of the bridge

The fort in Chambly, Quebec in the Richelieu River

The fort in Chambly, Quebec in the Richelieu River

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Running north from Lake Champlain, we entered the Richelieu River.  Contrary to popular conception, Lake Champlain does not drain south to the Hudson River but drains north via the Richelieu River to the St. Lawrence. The first 18 miles heading north is a beautiful and navigable river. We encountered our first French village – Saint-Jean-de-Richelieu – at the first lock (known as Lock 9), which marks the beginning of the incredible 10 mile Chambly Canal, which has a total of 9 locks. After the first lock, one enters a narrow canal with 7 bridges but no locks in the first 9 miles. All the bridges are low and must be opened.  The speed limit is 6 mph and passage through the canal is timed and controlled from when you pass through Lock 9. The bridge attendant then drives from bridge to bridge to open each bridge as you arrive. The bridges are old, quaint, and unique – here are pictures of two of them:

One of 7 very low drawbridges along the Chambly Canal - this was my favorite

One of 7 very low drawbridges along the Chambly Canal – this was my favorite

One of several very low swing bridges on the Chambly Canal

One of several very low swing bridges on the Chambly Canal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some pictures along the Chambly Canal:

Saint-Jean-de-Richelieu, our first French village at Lock 9!

Saint-Jean-de-Richelieu, our first French village at Lock 9!

The Joint Adventure tied to the dock awaiting our turn for passage through Lock 9 then through the 7 bridges and 8 other locks at the north end of the canal

The Joint Adventure tied to the dock awaiting our turn for passage through Lock 9 then through the 7 bridges and 8 other locks at the north end of the canal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In many places, the narrow canal parallels the Richelieu River, bypassing rapids.  A bike path runs along the canal the entire length, and had hundreds of people were walking or biking along the path on the beautiful Sunday afternoon when we transited the Canal

In many places, the narrow canal parallels the Richelieu River, bypassing rapids. A bike path runs along the canal the entire length, and had hundreds of people were walking or biking along the path on the beautiful Sunday afternoon when we transited the Canal

We passed farmland and small villages along the Canal - at times we were 15 feet above the surrounding landscape, looking down on farmland or the roofs of houses

We passed farmland and small villages along the Canal – at times we were 15 feet above the surrounding landscape, looking down on farmland or the roofs of houses

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The locks are all original from the 1843 opening of the canal.  Locks 1-8 are all bunched together in a 1 mile section at the north end of the Canal in Chambly. The chambers are very small and narrow – the doors that hold the water back are constructed of wood and are hand operated with cranks by two attendants who move with you from lock to lock in a golf cart:

 

A lock attendant operating a hand crank to open the door

A lock attendant operating a hand crank to open the door

 

A lock attendant at each end opening the door to let us out of the lock.  You can see the next lock in the series of locks 1-8 in the background

A lock attendant at each end opening the door to let us out of the lock. You can see the next lock in the series of locks 1-8 in the background

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The ancient gear mechanisms still operate the locks since 1843

The ancient gear mechanisms still operate the locks since 1843

We often drew a crowd to watch us lock through - partly, I think, because it's a funny-looking boat!

We often drew a crowd to watch us lock through – partly, I think, because it’s a funny-looking boat!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So – where does the “Mystery Bolt” come into play?  With two lay-days in Burlington, we did some routine cleaning.  While cleaning the bilge, I found a bolt laying on the floor under the engine. No one likes to find a bolt laying on the floor under the engine. After some investigation and noticing that the bolt looked like it had been there awhile, we convinced ourselves that it must have been dropped and abandoned by someone long ago. Off we went the next day up Lake Champlain to Rouses Point. After every day of running, I routinely check all engine fluids, shine my flashlight in the bilge, and look over the engine.  Immediately upon opening the hatch in Rouses Point, the first thing I see is another bolt under the engine! Just sitting there! YIKES! Now it has our attention! After an hour of contorting myself in every way possible, I finally found where the bolt came from, apparently worked loose over time by engine vibration – it was one of 4 bolts that hold the engine support bracket holding up the engine. YIKES! After re-installing the bolt, I decided to check the other bracket – sure enough, a bolt missing – the other mystery bolt! I re-installed that one as well. Sure glad we do routine checks! Job well done. As a routine matter, let’s start up the engine. Turn the key – nothing happens.  Impossible!  I did nothing that would affect the starting or operation of the engine.  Turn the key again. Nothing. Turn the key a hundred times.  Nothing! Nothing! Nothing!  I must have bumped a wire or knocked something loose while contorting myself in the engine compartment. Start at the battery – follow every wire. Nothing! Impossible!  Then Tom notices a red knob near the cabin floor, 5 feet from the engine compartment.  Check it out.  It’s the battery switch for the engine – in the Off position.  I must have inadvertently kicked it while rolling around on the floor reaching under the engine. Turn it to on.  Turn the key. Engine roars to life.

Welcome to boating!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This will be the end of the post

 

 

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A Tale of Two Cities….

 

A major milestone!  Burlington, Vermont!  Two days of magnificent weather – sunny, warm, little or no wind. Fabulous scenery!  The weather has since turned rainy, so we decided to stay for a couple of days at the Burlington City Docks, in the downtown waterfront.

We were greeted in Schuylerville with water levels that were a foot and a half higher that when we left the boat and a current that had increased significantly – the river generally runs at about 7,000 cfs and was now running at double that.  After an exciting maneuver to get us off the dock where we were pinned perpendicular to the current, off we went. A low bridge forced us to lower the radar tower and bimini while underway (with just Tom and me aboard), but the run through the Champlain Canal and 7 of the final 8 locks was wonderful.  We again encountered a fair amount of dredging activity removing PCB’s from the riverbed. The more we learn about the controversy, the more intriguing the story.  Apparently the dredging was supposed to be accomplished by sucking up the sediment from the bottom with a huge vacuum cleaner-like device, but instead they are using dredges to scoop out the sediment.  Most local people feel this was a “bait and switch” tactic to sell the project, as dredging causes much more disturbance than a vacuum cleaner would.  After the dredges go through, they then replace the removed soil with clean “topsoil”, then divers go down and replant seagrass, a few blades at a time.  Most local people feel the project is a boondoggle that was steamrolled through by politicians who wanted to “do something” and create jobs, by contractors who saw dollar signs, and by environmental groups who likewise stood to gain funding dollars.

One of the many dredges, barges, tugs, and other equipment that we didged on our way up the Hudson

One of the many dredges, barges, tugs, and other equipment that we didged on our way up the Hudson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Going through the locks requires some technique, using fenders, dock lines, boat hooks, and muscle power when the water rushes into the larger locks.  A boat hook in the wrong place can end up looking like the one below (which didn’t start out looking like that).  We couldn’t think of just the right caption for the picture, so we decided to ask for suggestions – I’ll print the best caption in the next update –

We need just the right caption....

We need just the right caption….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A tale of two cities….

We tied up to a City-provided sea wall in Whitehall, NY on Tuesday night – it had a power station and was free. Whitehall is strategically located at the southern tip of Lake Champlain, which is the northern terminus of the Champlain Canal.  The Canal was completed in 1823, and created a water route for timber, iron ore, agricultural products, and other goods to be shipped by barge to New York, Buffalo, and beyond.  Whitehall quickly became a small but bustling town, where goods were offloaded from sailing vessels which came down the lake onto canal barges, which were towed through the canal by mules or horses.  Later, sailing barges were built which sailed in the Hudson River and on Lake Champlain, but with masts that were hinged and lowered for transit through the canal.  Sawmills and other support industries grew.  However, as with most canal systems, the rise of railroads and later trucking made shipping on all but the largest canals (St. Lawrence, Panama, Suez, and the like) obsolete.  Whitehall, like so many other canal towns, declined.  Today, it suffers from a lack of jobs and a decline in population.  Tourism helps in the summer, but it serves mostly transients passing through. The town heritage of the town has created beautiful, historic buildings along Main Street which fronts the canal, but unfortunately most of the storefronts are empty.  Some have fake displays so they look occupied, but many are not.  It’s a sad tale, but the architecture, the natural beauty of the area, and the strategic location combine to create great potential for the future if the local people can figure out how to bring in people and jobs.  Some pictures of Whitehall:

 

Wonderful old buildings which line Main Street in Whitehall

Wonderful old buildings which line Main Street in Whitehall

More buildings along Main Street

More buildings along Main Street

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An old restaurant/dockage in Whitehall that has seen better days

An old restaurant/dockage in Whitehall that has seen better days

Skene Manor in Whitehall - built in 1874 by NY Spreme Court judge Joseph Potter, it is high on a hill overlooking Whitehall and provides tours

Skene Manor in Whitehall – built in 1874 by NY Spreme Court judge Joseph Potter, it is high on a hill overlooking Whitehall and provides tours

Unexpected events while boating - coincidentally, the Whitehall Fire Dept had a training excersize at the waterfront the evening  we were docked - we had front row seats!

Unexpected events while boating – coincidentally, the Whitehall Fire Dept had a training excersize at the waterfront the evening we were docked – we had front row seats!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Finch & Chubb Restaurant & Inn offers great meals and docking. They were closed Tuesday night, but the Owner, LeAnne Ingalls, was kind enough to open just for us and cook us dinner!

The Finch & Chubb Restaurant & Inn offers great meals and docking. They were closed Tuesday night, but the Owner, LeAnne Ingalls, was kind enough to open just for us and cook us dinner!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lock 12 in Whitehall, which separates the Champlain Canal from Lake Champlain

Lock 12 in Whitehall, which separates the Champlain Canal from Lake Champlain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Incidentally, there is a vacant marina across the river from Finch and Chubbs that is for sale, reportedly for around $250,00 – replacement cost is likely 4 times that, not counting the land.  A real opportunity if you want to own a marina in Whitehall!

We transited Lock 12 into Lake Champlain early Wednesday morning – a sunny, cloudless, windless day. The lake is steeped in history, as it was a strategic military route during both the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812.  General Perry, Benedict Arnold, Fort Ticonderoga, Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys all played pivitol roles in the history of the lake and our country.  For us, however, it was a playground of natural beauty. Some pictures:

The Chimney Point Bridge - two years ago, a group of us spent a week encircling Lake Champlain on  bicycles, camping along the way. We crossed this bridge on our way back from NY into Vt

The Chimney Point Bridge – two years ago, a group of us spent a week encircling Lake Champlain on bicycles, camping along the way. We crossed this bridge on our way back from NY into Vt

 

A view from the boat while transiting Lake Champlain

A view from the boat while transiting Lake Champlain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The second City in our Tale of Two Cities – Burlington, Vermont.  A city that has its act together.  A college town, active, vibrant, beautiful.  It overlooks the lake and takes full advantage of the waterfront.  The city owns and runs the City Docks, with a restaurant, dockage, bike trail.  It runs a continuous trolley between the waterfront, the heart of downtown, and UVM.  Twenty years ago, they closed the main street through town for 8 blocks to create a pedestrian mall, which has been wildly successful and is a gathering place with restaurants, pubs, outdoor seating, shops, street performers, etc., much like the Fanuil Hall Marketplace in Boston. Some pictures:

Burlington bldg

 

A view down Church Street, the pedestrian mall in the heart of the City

A view down Church Street, the pedestrian mall in the heart of the City

 

Tom eating ice cream (my favorite activity) in the pedestrian mall

Tom eating ice cream (my favorite activity) in the pedestrian mall

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The City Docks and restaurant overlooking Lake Champlain

The City Docks and restaurant overlooking Lake Champlain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Burlington view

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One more image – the “man-sized toilet” that we installed (also dubbed the “big-boy toilet”) generated a lot of interest.  You’ll be happy to know that, when we unpacked it, there was an inspection notice included in the packing. It was a quality-control checklist/inspection report where all of the critical assembly details were listed and, fortunately, checked off.  Even more comforting was the inspector who did the checking – the following picture is the signature that was identified at the bottom of the checklist as the person who carried out the inspection (sorry – I can’t figure out how to turn the picture right-side up):

toilet inspection

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TIME OUT….

We’re back on the boat in Schuylerville, ready to leave early Tuesday morning, headed up the Champlain Canal then into Lake Champlain and Burlington, Vt.  We left the boat in Schuylerville for  planned respite from our voyage – a 4 day weekend to attend my daughter’s graduation from Law School – YAYY!!.  However, I couldn’t resist a side trip driving from Schuylerville to Boston – a stop for a day of Spring skiing at Killington with my son Danny and four of his ski buddies that he met at Big Sky, Montana. It was a beautiful Spring day.  Killington was one day away from closing, so only one run was open, and it had a 30 foot long bare spot that you had to traverse in the middle of the slope. Following are some pictures of our day of Spring skiing:

The last trail open in continental US, except MT. Hood, Oregon

The last trail open in continental US, except MT. Hood, Oregon

Anticipation....

Anticipation….

My son Danny in his Spring ski gear - another Child Left Behind (just kidding, Dan)

My son Danny in his Spring ski gear – another Child Left Behind (just kidding, Dan)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Would you associate yourself with this group?

Would you associate yourself with this group?

Danny in his glory

Danny in his glory

skiing - at bar

Most people take their skis off and walk across the bare spot - not this group...

Most people take their skis off and walk across the bare spot – not this group…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My daughter Chrissie’s graduation was awesome – a rare occasion for Trish and I when we were able to get all four kids in one spot, along with Jessie’s boyfriend Ian, Jenny’s boyfriend Chris, my Dad, my sister Kate, and her longtime “friend” Michael (see below for my struggle with this nomenclature).  A picture of the graduate and of three generations of Koningisor men:

A proud smile from the graduate - not as proud as her Dad and Mom, however

A proud smile from the graduate – not as proud as her Dad and Mom, however

Three generations of Koningisor men

Three generations of Koningisor men

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I learned from several people of a social faux pas (I think that means mistake) that I unwittingly committed on my last post – I referred to my sister Kate’s boyfriend of 15 or 20 years (Michael) as her “friend”.  I actually thought about what word to use at the time – “boyfriend”  – “partner” – “other half” – each seemed either dated or somehow awkward, so I chose “friend”.  Both took it in stride, but I learned that my choice was a weak description for a far more meaningful relationship.  Anyone have any suggestions? In any case, while attending a reception at my daughter’s graduation, we each had to put on a nametag.  This picture is of Michael, along with a picture of his nametag:

Michael

Michael

Michael's nametag

Michael’s nametag

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Patience is a virtue….pictures

A dredge on the Hudson River removing sediment laced with PCB's

A dredge on the Hudson River removing sediment laced with PCB’s

Entering lock 2 on the Champlain Canal

Entering lock 2 on the Champlain Canal

Spectacular views motoring up the Hudson River

Spectacular views motoring up the Hudson River

Spectacular views motoring up the Hudson River

Spectacular views motoring up the Hudson River

Indian Point Nuclear power plant on the banks of the Hudson

Indian Point Nuclear power plant on the banks of the Hudson

poughkeepsie from bridge

Docked for the night at Mariner's Restaurant in Poughkeepsie while a tanker passes by

Docked for the night at Mariner’s Restaurant in Poughkeepsie while a tanker passes by

Old RR bridge in Poughkeepsie converted to the longest pedestrian bridge in the world

Old RR bridge in Poughkeepsie converted to the longest pedestrian bridge in the world

The Palisades along the Jersey side of the Hudson

The Palisades along the Jersey side of the Hudson

West Point as seen from the Hudson River was an inspirational sight

West Point as seen from the Hudson River was an inspirational sight

 

 

Tankers and large commercial ships were frequent obstacles and spectacles as we motored up the Hudson

Tankers and large commercial ships were frequent obstacles and spectacles as we motored up the Hudson

Our new "man-sized" toilet

Our new “man-sized” toilet

Approaching New York from Long Island Sound - an awesome sight!

Approaching New York from Long Island Sound – an awesome sight!

NY skyline 2

Skyline from New York Harbor

Skyline from New York Harbor

The new World Trade Center 0 an awesome sight from the harbor

The new World Trade Center 0 an awesome sight from the harbor

Tucked in at Schuylerville, NY for 5 days while I go to my daughter's graduation!

Tucked in at Schuylerville, NY for 5 days while I go to my daughter’s graduation!

 

 

 

 

 

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My Dad fending off in the Troy Lock on the Hudson River

My Dad fending off in the Troy Lock on the Hudson River

My Dad earning his keep - installing a table extension on the bridge

My Dad earning his keep – installing a table extension on the bridge

The Brooklyn Bridge, an engineering feat when built around 1880 - one of the man-made wonders of the world

The Brooklyn Bridge, an engineering feat when built around 1880 – one of the man-made wonders of the world

Dave standing on the rail as we approach a low bridge to make sure we can fit!

Dave standing on the rail as we approach a low bridge to make sure we can fit!

 

 

The famous split - north toward Lake Chaplain and Montreal or west toward Oswego and Buffalo

The famous split – north toward Lake Chaplain and Montreal or west toward Oswego and Buffalo

Dave Luciano hard at work on a layover day

Dave Luciano hard at work on a layover day

Driving from Ma to NY, this is the I 90 bridge over the Hudson

Driving from Ma to NY, this is the I 90 bridge over the Hudson

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Patience is a virue….

New York Harbor!  What an exciting, inspirational trip to enter New York Harbor from Long Island!  Under the Throgs Neck Bridge, past LaGuardia Airport, up the East River and Hell’s Gate (aptly named), under bridge after bridge including the historic Brooklyn Bridge, around the Battery, and into the Hudson River!  The Statue of Liberty on the left, and the Financial District, the new World Trade Center, and Manhatten on the right!  A number of pictures are posted on a separate post that I’ll send out momentarily.

Speaking of the Brooklyn Bridge, it was completed around 1880 and was considered at the time to be one of the 7 man-made wonders of the world. The foundations for the two piers were built by sinking a huge upside down wooden box with no bottom into the river, then pumping it full of compressed air to push out the water and create an empty chamber.  An airlock (like on a submarine) allowed men to go in and out of the chamber and for excavated material to be brought out.  Men with shovels literally dug down beneath the box, causing the box to sink deeper and deeper to get to bedrock. The deeper it got, the more air pressure was needed to keep the water out.  Soon some of the workers who emerged from the box after digging all day started to become afflicted with a strange, inexplicable disease. We now know it was the bends, but in 1880 they had no idea what was happening.  Many men died, but the work continued.  The Chief Engineer, Washington Roebling, became disabled from the bends after emerging from the chamber.  He was no longer able to visit the site, but ran the project from his home with his wife as his eyes and ears and messenger.  There is evidence that, towards the end, she was making many of the design decisions herself.  If you’re interested, “The Great Bridge” by David McCullough is an excellent book about the politics, the financing, and the construction of the bridge.

Back to our trip – so we left City Island around 7:00 AM last Sunday and arrived at Liberty Landing in NJ across from the World Trade Center at 9:30, after an exciting run of 23 miles, dodging ferrys, tugs, and low-flying helicopters. After fueling up and taking on my sister Kate and her friend Michael as passengers for the morning, we headed north on the Hudson and arrived in Poughkeepsie, NY late in the afternoon.  The Hudson is a beautiful, historic, interesting place – sights along the way include the Palisades, West Point, incredible bridges (including the George Washington Bridge, made world famous by Chris Christie, the Tappan Zee, and the I-90 bridge), Indian Point Nuclear Power plant, several light-houses, an abandoned castle, and much more.  There is also a surprising number of large tankers plying the river between Albany and New York.  There are a number of pictures of some of these sights on the next post.  Upon arrival in Poughkeepsie, we found free docking in front of a restaurant, adjacent to an enormous railroad bridge that had been converted to a pedestrian crossing.  Dave and I hiked about a mile to get up to the bridge – there we learned from interactive signage that it is the longest raised pedestrian crossing in the world!  There are pictures in the next post. However, by the time we arrived back at the boat, the restaurant had closed its kitchen.  Thankfully, the bar was still open, so after a couple of beers we were ready to tackle the cooking of our own dinner on board.

Monday morning we continued up the river, arriving in Albany, NY by early afternoon.  Monday evening, our good friend and colleague Kathleen Sheehan, who lives part-time in Mechanicsville, about 25 miles to the north, drove down with her Mom and took us to a marvelous dinner in Waterford.  Not only that, she brought us a care package of goodies which did not last long with this crew around.  A most delightful evening!

Back to our arrival earlier in the afternoon – unfortunately (this is the part where patience comes in), our hydraulic steering problem again reared its ugly head.  We found a mechanic (Ron), called the manufacturer of the steering system (again), and put our heads together – the consensus was that it must be a defective steering piston.  We ordered the parts to be delivered overnight, and Ron put some other work off and set time aside to install them on WEDNESDAY. In the meantime, our nearly-new cutting-edge Garmin GPS/chartplotter had stopped functioning on our way to Albany (patience….).  After contacting the factory and trying several fixes, they concluded something had gone haywire with the hardware.  After some “discussions”, Garmin agreed to overnight (at their expense) a replacement machine under warranty, and we mailed back ours to them. It was scheduled to arrive on WEDNESDAY. Problems always come in threes, right?  The third appeared on Tuesday morning. The head (toilet) clogged and, try as I might, I could not unclog it without taking it completely out.  The toilet is euphemistically called a “compact” toilet – I won’t go into any details, but I decided if we’re going to go through the ordeal of removing and reinstalling the toilet, we were going to replace it with a new “man-sized” toilet (I can’t wait to hear the comments about that….).  So we ordered one to be delivered overnight, to arrive on WEDNESDAY.  A big day shaping up indeed!  The toilet arrived first, and Dave and I tackled the project – we called ourselves The Toilet Boys.  Success!  You can see a picture of our newly-installed man-sized toilet in the next post. The GPS/chartplotter arrived next. Success!  Problem two resolved. Only the !#^&*!#! steering problem remained.  Ron arrived in the afternoon and after some trials and tribulations, finished at 9:00 PM.  Only time will tell if problem three is resolved….

We left Albany early Thursday morning, heading north on the Hudson and into the Champlain Canal. Due to low bridge heights on the Canal, we tied to the wall in Waterford and lowered the radar tower.  We transited five locks and arrived in Schuylerville, NY by mid afternoon.  Along the way, we encountered a massive dredging operation and learned upon arrival in Schuylerville that it is a superfund clean-up operation being paid for by General Electric to remove PCB’s from the sediment in the riverbed.  It is supposed to be the largest environmental clean-up operation in the world, and GE has spent over $1 billion so far.  However, it is quite controversial – many people believe that there is more harm in stirring up the contamination to try to remove it than to leave it in place.  In talking with some of the local people in Schuylerville, it appears that the vast majority of local residents are not in favor of the project.  However, on it goes. There are some pictures of the dredging and of us locking through on the next post.  By the way, a really great and readable book that tells the story of the clean-up of the Hudson River is “Riverkeepers” by Robert Kennedy, Jr., who is an environmental lawyer who sued many cities, towns, and companies starting in the early 70’s to force them to stop polluting the river,

So the boat is tucked in in Schuylerville for the next 4 days while I travel to attend my daughter’s graduation – a treat indeed! We plan to return next Monday night and resume our travels on Tuesday with a new crew – Tom and his son Ted join me for the next month – a treat indeed!

Incidentally, due to “technical difficulties” between me and the website, I’ve put the pictures that would normally accompany this post on a separate post that I’ll send out momentarily. The order and placement of the pictures is somewhat random as determined by the website until I can figure out how to do it my way –

Think sun!

 

 

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Best Laid Plans….

Here we are in New York City!  City Island, actually – a run of about 23 nautical miles from the western tip of Long Island Sound will bring us to Manhattan, through the notorious East River and Hell’s Gate.  We planned to make that run early this morning on a slack tide, but we woke up this morning encased in pea soup fog.  With a weather report of winds building to 25 knots and thunderstorms likely as the day went on, we decided to wait until tomorrow morning.

Our trip to this point has not gone exactly as planned.   And as an added bonus, our “excitement” for the day on Monday was shared by the Coast Guard with all vessels within radio range of their Cape Cod transmissions.  It only took us until Day 2!

Shortly after leaving Sandwich last Saturday morning early at slack tide to transit the Cape Cod Canal, we developed a problem with the hydraulic steering system. We had had a problem last season, but we had it serviced this Spring and got a clean bill of health.  However….welcome to boating.  The Coast Guard conducts continuous surveillance by camera over the entire canal, so we had drifted for no more than 5 minutes trying to assess the problem when the Coast Guard came over the radio.  “Power catamaran west of the Sagamore Bridge, do you have a problem?”  I explained our steering problem and that we were headed back to the Sandwich Marina a mile away and that I could steer the boat by using the thrust of the two engines.  He seemed satisfied.  Five minutes later, he was back on the radio, advising us that a tug and a barge were approaching us from the west – “Do we need assistance?” he asked. No, we have the barge in sight and are maneuvering to the side of the canal to let him pass.  He seemed satisfied.  The barge passed.  Five minutes later, my friend was on the radio called again (I felt we were fast becoming friends with all these conversations).  He needed some information, apparently for his paperwork.  Name of the vessel?  Length?  Number of passengers?  Their age? Your location?  (wait a minute – you’ve been watching me on your camera…you know my location).  Weather? (wait a minute – you’re 3 miles from me, watching me on camera – you know the weather).  Sea state? (wait a minute – I’m in the canal, on camera – you can see that it’s perfectly calm).  And so it went, until the conversation ended.  He seemed satisfied.  Five minutes later, my friend called back.  “We’re sending a Coast Guard boat to render assistance”.  Minutes later, a 40′ Coast Guard boat with lights flashing is speeding towards us.  Next we hear over the radio:  “Alert to all boats near the Cape Cod Canal:  there is a disabled power catamaran in the Cape Cod Canal – all vessels are advised to keep a sharp lookout and proceed with caution”.  We were famous.  I think it was a slow morning at the Coast Guard that day.

Anyway, we maneuvered safely back to the Sandwich Marina with our Coast Guard escort, lights flashing.  We found Frank & Frank Avilla, hydraulic systems experts who came on Monday and, we thought, found and fixed the problem (a fitting had started to leak).  Early Tuesday morning, we transited the Canal on a favorable tide into a calm Buzzards Bay, targeting Milford, Ct. 75 miles away.  About a half hour from Point Judith, RI, the wind and waves kicked up on our nose, so we decided to duck into Point Judith instead.  Upon checking over the steering system when we were tied up, it still wasn’t right – back to the drawing board.  After another lay day, Frank & Frank returned on Wednesday and finally found the smoking gun. Thursday was a day of light winds on our stern and calm seas, so we left Point Judith early in the fog.  After some early rain and thinning fog, we made a day of it and made it all the way to City Island, and here we are.

We had a crew change today – unfortunately, Jake had to leave, but Dave Luciano, my college roommate, long time friend, and business partner has joined us. Weather permitting, tomorrow we go through New York Harbor, then head north on the Hudson River!

Below are some pictures from our first week of excitement.  The placement is a bit haphazard, as I haven’t yet mastered how to place them orderly with this $!&*#@!*^#! website – but I’m working on it!

Jim K

 

 

Approaching the Sagamore Bridge on the Cape Cod Canal early on calm morning

Approaching the Sagamore Bridge on the Cape Cod Canal early on calm morning

Avoiding the barge and its tug with little steering control

Avoiding the barge and its tug with little steering control

Our very own Coast Guard Escort

Our very own Coast Guard Escort

A testament to Yankee ingenuity - how to fix the ice machine when it won't drain properly

A testament to Yankee ingenuity – how to fix the ice machine when it won’t drain properly

I couldn't resist a second picture

I couldn’t resist a second picture

Leaving the Cape Cod Canal after the Railroad Bridge early on a calm morning a couple days later

Leaving the Cape Cod Canal after the Railroad Bridge early on a calm morning a couple days later

My Dad earning his keep....

My Dad earning his keep….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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