Utica to Ontario, Second Leg:
June 20, 2002: A taxi took Steve & Margaret away
to the airport and suddenly we were two. It'll be that way for the next seventy
or so miles. The next two locks were another piece of cake... probably because
they were downhill. Yes, we've gone over the highest point on this part of the
Erie Canal and are sliding down to Lake Ontario.
Kay is driving the boat now, along with the help of
"Hal" our autopilot and doing very well. By the end of this trip she
will be a doctor of boathandling as well as TR.
Tonight we are at Skinner's Harbor Marina in Sylvan
Beach at the east end of Oneida Lake... why do all the lake names hereabouts
start with the letter "O"? There's Oneida, and Ontario, and Onondaga,
etc. Just a thought.
We finally got the word on "the trouble up
ahead"... the lock that is closed for repairs is number 24 which is west of
Syracuse. So there will be no problem getting into Onondaga and Syracuse
tomorrow night to meet Alan, Corinne and the grandchildren on Saturday. And pick
up our guests for the next leg, my sister and brother-in-law, Marge & Gene
Stringham, on Sunday.
So much for that "Float Plan" which seems to
be getting more and more tenuous as we progress.
We arrived here at Sylvan Beach early enough to go to
town where Kay planned to restock the larder. Mike from Skinner's saw us
setting off with the rolling shopping basket and offered us a ride, which Pearce
immediately accepted. We found some of the groceries which we needed,
loaded the cart, and started back to the boat. The sun was hot, there
wasn't a shady side of the street, and we began to melt. Kay decided to
cut through a street for a short cut, but we still were wiped by the time we got
back to the boat. Recommendation? Don't go shopping in Sylvan Beach
unless you are parked on the municipal pier, closer to civilization.
If you ever get to Sylvan Beach, NY., you must
have dinner at The Spaghetti Factory across the bridge in Verona. If you
are on a boat, Gail picks you up at the dock then returns you bloatedly a few hours
later. Despite its name, The Spaghetti Factory ain't just spaghetti. See you there
next loop around.
June 21, 2002: We crossed Lake Oneida this
morning. The fishermen were out marking the shoals as we passed through
the well marked channel across the middle of the lake. Pearce set the
course for "Hal" to follow, and Kay checked his progress. We successfully
found the west side of the lake. There were no interfering thunderstorms,
and Kay decided that the crossing was successful. The trip to Three Rivers
was uneventful, and we turned left down the Seneca River. The entrance
into Lake Onondaga was very eventful. There are three bridges after you
leave the River/Canal. The first one was fine, but as we passed the place
where Syracuse University stores the rowing shells, we looked ahead and decided
that passage under the next bridges was doubtful. Two bicyclers on the
bridge looked down, three boaters on the water looked up, and Pearce decided to
make an adjustment in our overhead height. He pulled himself up through
the hatch in the hardtop, stood on the very top, and lowered the anchor
light. The radar dome is solid and unmovable. With all our observers
calling out encouragement and Kay watching through the hatch, Pearce eased the
boat forward, accounting for the current and watching the lights that hang down
from the bridges (and would wipe out the radar). Success! Now on to
the next bridge. It was a bit higher, but there were electric cables
drooping down in the middle. Over to the side we went and under the
bridge. Those boaters showed that local knowledge is very valuable.
We tied up at the Onondaga Lane Marina and are looking forward to children and
Saturday, June 22, 2003: Eric and Ryan are good
boat kids... here they are checking out the engine room.
We took on more crew today; the boys and their mom & dad, Alan &
Corinne and Pearce's sister & brother-in-law, Marge & Gene from
With all these new hands aboard, we had to try out a
few locks; so we went under those low bridges again (not as nervously as before
since we knew Kibon would fit) and cruised west through the lock at
Baldwinsville, NY. What a nice little town! There is a Budweiser plant alongside
the canal where a rock concert was being set up for an evening performance. The
band was tuning up as we walked around town. We finished off the day with an
excellent steak dinner at Alan & Corinne's home in Manlius.
We keep meeting people who say we must
make Kingston, Ontario our first stopover in Canada. So here's another change to
the float plan... Kingston it is!
Sunday, June 24, 2003: With the change, which will add some extra days, we
reluctantly had to leave Syracuse and the grandchildren earlier than expected.
After some hurried shopping we headed north toward Oswego with Marge & Gene.
There are seven locks between Syracuse and Oswego, but after only two, our new
crew were old hands. This section of the canal along the Seneca River is dotted
with many lovely homes set back among lawns and trees and where the
5-mile-per-hour-no-wake signs abound so this leg was a bit slower than usual.
Nightfall found us at The Oswego Marina... the first we've found that had
telephone and TV hookups on the dock. Of course, Pearce had to try them out.
And, of course, they didn't work. We're sure the problem must be on the dock,
not Kibon. Right?
The weather reports sound good for a crossing, so, tomorrow, Lake Ontario.
Monday, June 24: We passed Oswego Harbor
Lighthouse a little after ten in the morning ready to tackle Lake Ontario
and ran into a wall of waves dead on the prow. Kay said, "This is why
no one else is out here," and ordered an immediate retreat. The rest
of the morning was spent touring Fort Oswego. At two-o'clock, fortified
with a great BLT lunch, we attacked the lake again.
After about thirty miles or so the wind and sea calmed
down and the lake became almost glassy. Pearce decided to unwind the anchor line
and chain which had so badly fouled the windlass a few weeks ago. He secured the
anchor and dropped the chain and 200 feet of line into the 500 foot depth. What
a mistake! Silverton should ask Simpson-Lawrence a few questions about this one. The
Spirit 1000 windlass couldn't even retrieve the line and chain. Wonder what it
could do with an anchor attached? Eight times the unit groaned and popped its
circuit breaker. Each time Pearce had to crawl into the engine compartment to
reset. He finally babied the chain aboard and saying he wanted this thing fixed
NOW, called Staten Island Boat Sales. (Sure, they said they'd go anywhere on a
service call, but the middle of Lake Ontario???). Fortunately, SIBS had closed
for the day and missed the call.
"Hal's" navigation was right on the money and, with the scenery
getting more breathtaking with every mile logged, we arrived at Kingston,
Ontario by 7:00 pm, cleared customs, had another paradise supper, watched the
second half of "Dr Zhivago" and crawled into bed by 11:00. We'll call
Steve Karp tomorrow... for now, welcome to Canada.
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