Saturday, Brewerton, NY

October 3rd, 2009 john

Day: 350  Miles: 23   Total Miles: 3284  Locks: 41

Today was the day of days.  The crew woke up at their leisure, had breakfast and by 9:00 we were all ready to depart on the last leg of this years journey.  We pushed off the docks at Sylvan Beach and immediately went out into Oneida Lake.  This is a beautiful lake with vistas on both the north and south side.  We had to travel the full length of it, 20 miles. We went right down the middle following a set of markets that were set about a mile apart, which made it a little challenging to see them. However, the day turned out beautiful, our first bright sunny day in over a week and the temps almost made it to 70.  We were overjoyed.  Even Peggy came out from under her “layers”.

At the west end we reentered the Erie Canal and went under three bridges and entered the marina where we are going to store the boat for the winter. 

Here is where today’s story lies.  We had made a reservation for winter storage at a marina called Ess-Kay Marina, here in Brewerton NY.  The boat would be pulled out of the water, all systems winterized, and the boat would be stored indoors, but not heated.   When I started making a list of all of the things that had to be winterized, we started really getting nervous.  For example, the list starts with heads, sinks, holding tanks, fresh water tanks, bow wash, cockpit wash, engine wash, hot water tank, the washing machine, the refrigerator, the water maker, the engines, the generator, etc, etc, etc.  This list was getting pretty big and scary.  And then we would have to reverse it all in the spring and hope we did not miss anything.  And then there were supplies on board.  Which ones would winter and which ones would freeze, or mildew.  You get the picture.

Prior to reserving a spot at Ess-Kay I had called anther marina, Winter Harbor Marina, just down the river also in Brewerton.  It offered indoor “heated” storage, the only heated storage in the area.  It was more expensive but what a different in boat prep not to mention peace of mind.  Anyway, they were already full when I called them in August, so I was put on the waiting list.  Would you believe as I motored from the lake today starting back into the channel, I received a call from Winter Harbor.  They had a cancellation and in fact we were at the top of their list of 52 boats on the waiting list.  We were in luck.  We were within three miles of our destination when they called.  Talk about timing.  Thank you Lord.  Who says I am not a believer.

So straight to Winter Harbor we went, and are now tied up at their dock and starting to clean the boat for the winter.  I called Ess-Kay and needless to say they were not very happy, so I will loose a large deposit.  But again for piece of mind, I am very happy with our decision.  Now all we have to do is to clean up the boat and take off those items that we really want to bring home with us.  What a difference.

Monday morning we have arranged for a rent a car and Peggy and Barbara and I will drive back to NJ and drop Peggy at home.   Then on Tuesday, we will drive both the rental car and our car back to Brewerton and finish off loading the boat into our car. (It is substantially cheaper not to have a one way rental.)  Then Barbara and I will start our long way home via New Hampshire, stopping to see a couple of friends along the way.

This is a very sad moment for me.  Not only am I putting the Emery El to bed and leaving her in the hands of others. (Very traumatic!); but I will be ending this blog for this year.  I never would have believed it but the sharing of this blog has become a integral part of my life and this trip.  When I think of all the friends that I have been able to stay in contact with and have received emails from, it is overwhelming.  I have done more communication this year then at any time in my life.  That in itself makes the expense, the traumas, and the enjoyment of the trip worth wile.  We have traveled 350 days together and each of them belongs to you.  Thank you for listening. 

As to my knee! I have cheated you a bit by not mentioning it.  It is not doing well.  I have an appointment back in Memphis to see what if anything can be done.  But don’t fret.  As my dad would have said, “Come hell or high water” I will be back and the trip will continue.  Just pray that I can convince my only Mate to come back with me.  She has been great on the trip.  (I think she’s hooked.)

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Friday, Sylvan Beach, NY

October 2nd, 2009 john

Day: 349  Miles: 14   Total Miles: 3261  Locks: 41

The weather still is not great but we have to move on.  The charts show a weather front moving in but we wanted to move the short distance to Sylvan Beach before the front crossed and then we would be ready to make the run at Oneida Lake.

We moved to Sylvan Beach and another free dock.  Looking out the pilothouse window you can see Oneida Lake maybe 500 yards in front of us.  As we came through the last of two locks we passed, the lock master said that today looked like a good day to cross the lake.   I looked at my Garmin XM weather and just did not agree.  It will take us approximately three hours to cross the lake and by that time we would be racing a weather front with rain and wind.  We will sit here today and wait for a better weather day tomorrow.

The two down locks were a great ride.  When the locks are lowering you, there is very little current in the lock as the “plugs” are pulled.  The boat stays still and down you go; a very gentle experience. 

Oneida Lake is three miles wide but twenty miles long.  It is pretty shallow and when a west wind picks up, it can get real nasty out there.  Hopefully tomorrow the winds will be light and not out of the west and we will make the 20 mile run.

We sure are enjoying that generator.  We have run it a lot this week, but prior to the Erie Canal, I bet we did not have 6 hours on it.  With the last few days in the forties we have run it extensively for heat not to mention the recharging of our three battery banks.  But to remain safe we turn it off at night and crawl under the comfy covers.

Barbara has cooked several real good meals.  We are trying to unload the freezer, so we are eating well. 

Crossing the Erie Canal has been a very pleasant experience. We have seen a lot of little towns, 22 locks, and some very friendly people.  What has been impressive is that there is always a beautiful little park with cut grass, flowers and picnic tables at each of the little free docks as well as at each of the locks.  If the locks are close to a town, you will often find a lunch crowd walking down to the locks and sitting at a table for their lunch.

As we sit here at the edge of Sylvan Beach all is quiet, because of the time of year.  But there is a street full of little shops, and eateries as well as a little amusement park.  Unfortunately it is all closed for the winter.  I bet this could be a hopping place in the summer.

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Thursday, Rome, NY

October 1st, 2009 john

Day: 347  Miles: 00   Total Miles: 3247  Locks: 39

We woke up this morning to more rain.  It was no surprise.  I then got busy doing computer work and we ended up staying on the boat the entire day.  It is just too nasty and cold to go sight-seeing.  What a shame, for there were sites to be seen.

Another long generator day! That is one thing about the free docks.  They may be free but if you have to run your generator for heat then it’s not really free.

Another small fact!  As we sit here in Rome NY we sit at the highest river elevation on the East Erie Canal.  All 20 locks that we have gone through since the Hudson have lifted us to a final elevation of 434 feet.  We have two more locks tomorrow but they we start us down, 16 feet each to the level of Oneida Lake.

This is why Rome was the location of a famous Revolutionary War Fort Stanwix and the site of an America victory over the British.  Before the Erie Canal was built, Rome was the portage point between the Mohawk River and Wood Creek, a tributary of Oneida Lake heading west.

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