Leg one... Long Island to Utica:
June 14, 2002...
Yes, we have finally and completely moved out of the old estate
and aboard Kibon last night and... hooray... at 10:16 a.m. departed the dock at
Narrasketuck YC, Amityville. The trek has begun! Steve and Margaret Koller join
us for this first leg.
A cold rain and a following sea made an uncomfortable
one-and-a-half hour ocean run from Jones Inlet to the Verrazano Bridge. Steve
used his sailing expertise to surf our way through the four to six foot rollers.
Kibon performed beautifully, slowing to 13 kts uphill then accelerating to 18 on
the downside. Kay and Margaret sat on the salon floor holding everything
together during the rockin' and rollin'. For each of us, used to placid Great
South Bay, the Atlantic, even this relatively calm Atlantic, was an exhilarating
beginning for our adventure.
The rain let up for a while as we passed through New York Harbor.
was almost like a sign of respect. We threw a kiss to Miss Liberty and a bow of
sadness to the empty hole in lower Manhattan. The rain came back in torrents as
we cleared the George Washington Bridge, but the GPS and auto pilot were
performing perfectly. We enjoyed a late lunch on the fly bridge as Kibon clicked off
waypoints... a far cry from those years of dead-reckoning back from Fire Island
in the fog.
We made Haverstraw, our first planned stopover, by
3:30 pm setting an average speed for this first leg of 14 knots, and pulled into
Haverstraw Marina for the night. What a place! A little pricey at $2.00 per
foot, but well worth the stop. There must be close to eight
hundred boats docked here. We're from Long Island's Great South Bay which itself
is a huge marina, only all spread out for
miles. Here at Haverstraw the boats are all in one giant lump. I think we'll see more of this
as we go on.
Saturday, June 15:
The leg from Haverstraw to Rondout was mostly
uneventful except for two yacht club races we passed through. Both had over a
hundred sailboats competing... a far cry from the usual Great South Bay turnout.
We met a lead boat at the first group who asked us over the VHF to honor the
boats ahead... which we did, slowing to five knots while passing though the
fleet. We honored the second too without being asked... that's what we all do
on Great South Bay, right?
West Point was impressive .,.. it goes on and on. The great mansions along the
river were high and haughty in the low mist hugging the hills on each side... We
kept saying what a great sight this must be in the fall when the leaves are all
golden. However, in the gray mist today, everything was like an Impressionist's
monotone; breathtaking in its grandeur, yes, but still a monotone.
Rondout Bay at Kingston is a narrow, well marked channel leading circuitously
into a lovely tree lined mountain valley that contains hundreds of small (and large)
private boats, several large dine & dance boats and a superb museum devoted
to river boating past and present. We met our daughter and son-in-law Cynthia
and Don Kohl, with their daughters (Kaylynn, Sarah and Grace) who spent the
afternoon with us.
A super market trip produced an outstanding salmon
which, grilled to perfection and consumed along with a choice Long Island wine
topped off the evening.
If only it would stop raining!!!
Sunday, June 16: Still raining so we had a late breakfast then took on fuel:
finally got going by noon. Ran into a tremendous thunderstorm on the river
around 1:30 and navigated solely by radar for about thirty minutes. How about a
toast to Mr. Furuno?
The crew was getting more and more nervous
as we passed through Albany around three thirty... our first lock was just
ahead at Troy. But nervousness was unwarranted according to Kay who said
"Piece of Cake!" Here she is doing her foredeck thing. We were
in PFD's and probably looking like a group of rank amateurs, but we got
through the first challenge without a scrape.
4:30 pm: arrived at Waterford, NY, where the Erie Canal begins. Waterford
has built a Visitors Center for the boaters entering the canal that should be a
model for all communities who welcome transients whether by land or by sea. The
center, staffed by volunteers, provides dock, electricity, showers and heads at
no charge. This kind of welcome easily leads one to wander the town in search of
the many antique and snack shops... just what the Chamber of Commerce is about.
It looks like we are running a little ahead of our Float Plan. Didn't we say
it was very tentative?
Monday, June 17: Erie Canal.
We were ready to leave Waterford at 9am, but were delayed until 10 by
"trouble further up" at Lock 4. Don't know just what the trouble was,
but plenty of radio chatter kept everyone updated. We entered the first lock of
the Waterford Flight (five quick locks in a row) along with 3 big cruisers
and 2 sailboats... our "big" new boat looked like the smallest of the
Off and on rain showers during the ascent made the Flight memorable... slippery
walls added to slippery decks were a challenge.
Running a bit ahead of schedule, we passed by Schenectady Yacht Club and
continued following "Aphrodite" a gorgeous 50-footer who turned in to
Arrowhead Marina in Glenville, NY. Looked pretty good, so we turned in too. A
delightful place with a very friendly mom and daughter running the docks and
store; and at 75-cents per foot, a far cry from some places down river. We
concur with many who have gone before us... the farther one gets from NYC, the
more reasonable the rates become.
Wednesday, June 19: Marcy, NY., just west of Utica at Erie canal Lock 20.
We've been booking right along, folks. We stayed Tuesday night at a delightful
village marina at St. Johnsville, NY. Bernie, the dockmaster couldn't have been
more friendly and helpful. We loaded up on water and diesel in the morning and
listened to some rumors about the canal being closed just west of Brewerton...
something about high water and rapids. The skipper of Mahana, a 38'
cruiser from Deerfield Beach, FL., called the canal people who hadn't heard of a
problem. If there is a problem, we'll just have to wait until it is solved, as
we have to get through the Brewerton bottleneck by hook or by crook or it's no
go for the rest of the cruise. The crew is experiencing pangs of nervousness,
but the skipper says: "Forge on!" Well, we're forging.
(Sidebar: Steve commented, "There must be three
days left on our trip, I'm only on my third set of underwear." Margaret and
Pearce, in unison, said "I stopped wearing underwear three days ago."
So much for the laundry plan. Kay voted to eliminate this whole conversation).
Lock 18 at Little Falls, at 40.5 feet, is the
highest lift (low water to high water) in the NY canal system. Driving
into it is impressive. The down river sill is about 22 feet overhead as we
pass into the "tank"; and the tank is like a dead-end canyon in
a John Ford western.
This was one of the many high points of the trip,
something we have been looking forward to since our son Alan married a Little
Falls girl and we first saw the lock from above. Well, we have to report that
after 17 locks, we're a bit jaded. Little Falls was truly "another a piece
On the other side of the lock we docked for a stroll
through the village antique shops and craft displays. Little Falls has built
what many villages along the canal should duplicate... a reason for passing
boaters to stop and shop. Ahoy, Chambers of Commerce, take heed!
We called co-in-laws Art & Gloria Ciocciola in
Little Falls to see if we could arrange a lunch, but they were just leaving for
Syracuse to attend grandson Eric's graduation from kindergarten. We'll be there
in a few days to bring our congratulations in person, too.
The weather has finally turned around... we've dried out with
beautiful warm sunshine for three days in a row. Margaret is thrilled about the
"many, many miles of uninhabited, trees and trees and trees...
couldn't see the forest, but so what... never seen so much unspoiled wilderness
for so long... what a treat!!!"
We've arrived in Utica where Steve and Margaret get off... "What a
shame", says the skipper, "I just get them trained and they jump
ship." But, seriously, folks, they were the greatest... what a way to
start a venture like this, with a couple of very good friends who also
know how to manage a boat. Thanks guys!