Thursday, June 12, 2008

Coeymans, NY, to Burlington, VT

Thursday, June 12 - I woke up this morning thinking about the day ahead: 20 miles to Waterford...38 to Ft. Edwards...and in between there would be 7 locks to pass through. Sounded too long. Wayne agreed, so we modified our plan. We'd get to Waterford and see if we could get on the free town dock (electricity and water also free). If not, we'd start up the Champlain Canal and go as far as Mechanicsville, NY, to either stay on the free dock or anchor out. We got a 2-day pass for the canal, knowing that if we started up the canal today and went to Mechanicsville we'd need to finish up the canal on Friday. The whole canal from Waterford to Whitehall, NY, is only 60 miles long, but you have to go through 11 locks. They estimate 30 minutes for each lock.

It was a beautiful day, and cool when we left Coeymans. This is a view from the river with the little park on the left, town in the center and Coeymans Landing Marina off on the right...just out of the picture.

On the way up from Coeymans to Waterford we passed Albany and I loved these buildings on the skyline...

We had on jackets until we got up to the Troy Lock. We didn't make the first lock through because there were 3 sailboats, a barge, and a commercial ferry ahead of us. Thirty minutes after we'd arrived at the lock we were allowed through. Now to see if we could get a spot at the Waterford dock...

We spotted the dock at around 1PM. At first glance it looked full. Then we saw an opening...We got up to it, had help tying up from a fellow Looper...then noticed it was a "no docking" zone meant for pump outs only. But...if we moved one of the boats up ahead we could fit in. Wayne and Larry from Lauren Grace moved the boat and we then slipped into the vacated space. Ta-da!! Houdini and Wayne! We're the second boat from the bottom, and that vacant space you see down below the boats is the pump out area.

Waterford is so nice! We walked over to the supermarket and they allow boaters to take the grocery carts back to the dock. We'd provisioned a lot in Coeymans...but still needed some things so we took advantage of the offer. We're learning never to pass up a grocery store!!

There are several Looper boats here. We'll stay a couple of nights and take out on Saturday for the Champlain Canal.

Friday, June 13 - A beautiful day in Waterford! We had breakfast at Don and Paul's then biked down the Old Champlain Canal path to a hardware store. We found Stewart's, a regional convenience store with ice cream parlor and lunched on a couple of cones. We admired some of the older homes there, too.

Back at the boat the gang (there must have been around 15 boats either tied up to the town dock or on the wall just before the dock) had come up with a party plan for that evening... we'd all get together at 5 and share heavy hors d'ourves for a Friday the 13th celebration. Cruisers=food, fun, 'freshments!

We talked with Van and Diane of Passport who are from Tennessee and were going through the same flip-flop on doing the Champlain route as we had. We talked to them about our "itinerary" for the route and the number of days we'd planned (loosely). As we left the next morning they were still mulling it over. We'll hope to see them, one place or another, as we make our way on up to Canada.

Saturday, June 14 - It looked like a Chinese fire drill as we left the Waterford dock that morning. The boat in front of us moved to the pump out station, we left for the Champlain Canal and the boat that had docked at the pump out station came up and took our place.

We were a bit anxious this day. The lowest bridge on the whole trip was coming up on the Champlain Canal. We had to be able to fit under a 17' railroad bridge...and the top of Segue's radar dome is the highest point now with 16.5' air draft. Six inches. Whew! Wayne had already taken down the davit for the dinghy, so we'd done about all we could. This isn't that bridge...but one of the other "short" ones we encountered on the Champlain Canal. (We were too panicky to take a picture on the first one!)

Before we knew it we were to the first lock. These locks are different from those in Tennessee/Alabama. For one thing, they're a lot smaller. I think the highest one yesterday was 18.5 ft. And the way you tie up is different. With these, we ended up grabbing onto lines that were hanging down, one of us on the stern and one on the bow, and holding on while the lock filled. Our gear for the locks: headsets, life jackets, gloves...and fenders out!

We went through 6 locks of the 11 on the Champlain Canal that day. The Champlain Canal is part of the NY Canal system. All of the locks were neatly tended with flowers, green lawns and picnic tables...and we found all of the lock tenders to be extremely friendly and helpful.

At one lock we saw a true "infinity pool!" Do not go near the edge!

There are several places along the canal where boats can tie up overnight for free. Most of the locks have a wall to tie onto, but often no water or electricity. We had decided to go to the town of Fort Edward which is near Lock 7. As we turned off in front of the lock to make our way up the little creek the lock attendant hailed us on channel 16 to offer advice on our approach. The channel is in need of dredging so he cautioned us to hang close to the town wall.

The water was slim, but we made it. And we were the only boat on the wall! It was a warm Saturday afternoon and many of the town's kids were out at the end of the waterfront park jumping into the river for a swim.

The skies looked threatening so we took a quick walk up through town, bought some ice, and walked back to the boat. I harnessed up Lucy for her evening stroll. We were walking around in the park area when a man with a dog and little girl stopped to give me a word of caution. His dog had been attacked at this park the night before by a pit bull! Needless to say, we were very cautious when we took Lucy out the next morning.

(The picture above was taken BEFORE I got the word on the pit bull. Lucy is off her leash. Wouldn't want it to look like we were putting her out there as bait. :-)

Sunday, June 15 - We were going to finish the Champlain Canal today and get up to an anchorage just above the Fort Ticonderoga. At least that was the original plan. The day turned out to be a beautiful day...with great visibility. We knew the rains were coming in on the next day and decided...once we'd made it to the bottom of the lake where it began to widen out and we could see the mountains on the New York side...we decided to go on a little further and take in the views.

We ended up at Button Bay that evening. It was the first time we'd anchored on a rocky bottom, but the anchor bit in and held just fine. (In fact, we still have a little rock wedged into the anchor from Button Bay!) Getting Lucy to shore was another matter. We took her to the small Button Island, but the rocks were so slick there that it took us forever to get out and "on with it."

Monday, June 16 - A windy day that we planned to spend at anchor. Trouble was, the wind was coming from the south and making too many waves for us at Button Bay. We pulled up anchor and motored over to Arnold Bay, within sight...and with a nice body of land to our south to block the winds. We spent a lazy day at anchor. Read and napped, mostly.

We've been amazed how few boats there are on the Champlain! Sunday as we were coming up from the canal we saw a good number of fishing boats, but not many cruising boats. Have the fuel prices made an impact? Could be.

Tuesday, June 17 - Everyone who talked about Lake Champlain said we must go to a little town called Vergennes on Otter Creek. It's touted as the oldest town in Vermont and is built around waterfalls. Tuesday we were headed for Vergennes.

But first! We needed a pump out! You see, on Lake Champlain you are required to use a holding tank for sewer waste. Normally we use a system on the boat called Purisan that treats the waste each time we flush and renders it clean for pumping overboard. On Lake Champlain you are required to take out a piece of the pipe that would even allow you to send waste (treated or untreated) overboard. So...before we went to Vergennes we stopped at Point Bay Marina for a pump out and to take on fuel. (Another "rule of the road" is to top off the fuel whenever you see a decent price. The definition of "decent" is changing daily as we move north...)

As we passed by the Otter Creek that day we saw a distinct demarcation where the Lake Champlain waters met the runoff from Otter Creek (chocolate colored water.)

Vergennes has docks with 15 amp power and water available. We tied up to the north side of the docking area as it was closer to the downtown area (misnomer here, since "downtown" was definitely UP HILL!) Vergennes is built around a waterfall and the image that afternoon with approaching rain was beautiful.

We got tied up in time to have a wonderful lunch at the Three Squares Cafe, then took a walk around town. Wayne ended up going off to explore the area around the waterfalls while I explored some of the local shops. In particular, I found the Dog Tired Studio. Sean Callahan is the artist and his work is watercolor...mostly dogs and other animals, but he's branching out into some more abstract pieces. He was with a client when I dropped in the first time so I came back by later to tell him how much I liked his work. We talked about techniques, paints, etc., and he asked if I was available to join a painting group on Wednesday evening for a couple of hours. Was I ever!! I accepted with pleasure and took off to figure out what I would take to paint!

Wednesday, June 18 - Breakfast at Three Squares had looked so good we decided to go back Wednesday morning and partake. We split an order of breakfast burrito and an order of challah french toast with fruit and Vermont maple syrup. We didn't want to eat again until 4:30 PM! Man, was it good!

Later that afternoon we hiked back up the hill to spend some time at the Vergennes library. Gorgeous, old building with a "real" card catalog. But no Wall St. Journal. Guess it's too expensive. Anyway, we read and took advantage of a stronger signal on our Internet connection to catch up with emails.

Five thirty came and I was headed out again for the Dog Tired Studio. I had a few things picked out to work on and took my supplies in our little fold up cart. Sean asked to see some of my work and I showed him the cards I've made over the past couple of years from paintings. He was very encouraging, as were the three women who came to the gathering a little later. They were working on some great pieces. We talked about papers and paints. Sean really likes Daniel Smith paints and gave me some sample "squirts" onto my palette of a couple of his favorites. It was such a nice experience! I've decided I should try to locate painting groups whenever I have a few days someplace.

Thursday, June 19 - Time to leave Vergennes and go up closer to Burlington to anchor for tonight. We only had about 25 miles to go, so we were anchored out in Shelburne Bay in time for lunch. On the way up we glanced at the depth finder. 345 ft. may be a record for us!

Friday, June 20 - It was raining this morning. We both suited up in our rain gear and decided to just get the dinghy on the boat and take Lucy to shore when we docked at the Burlington Community Boathouse. Lucy has gotten used to our erratic schedule and just went back to the bedroom for a nap when she realized it "wasn't time yet." The Boathouse is conveniently located right in downtown Burlington. We were tied up by 10:30 AM. Shortly after, our friends Louis and Diane Wade on Bella Luna came in...followed by two other Looper boats.

The Wades went with us to lunch at the Vermont Pub up the street and we caught up on things. That evening four couples went to the Single Pebble chinese restaurant and enjoyed a wonderful meal, sampling various dishes.

Saturday, June 21 - We rented a car with the Wades for this weekend so we could gather in supplies. We hit the Walmart, grocery store, West Marine and Staples in the morning. Then we did laundry in the afternoon. We were worn out by the end of the day!!!

Sunday , June 22 - Worked around on life chores during the morning...then to Costco with the Wades for a few hours that afternoon. I took the car back and walked home through the town. I stopped at the public library and picked up a couple of books from their book sale rack. Only library I've ever seen that had garden tools for check out! I asked the desk assistant about it and she said it was a very popular service since the tools are expensive and often only used a few times during the gardening year. Very unique!

Speaking of are some signs I hadn't seen before.

We'll be in Burlington (by the way: Love it! Love it!) until Monday morning when we head on up to Rouses Point and our last stop in the U.S. for a while. Tuesday we'll enter Canada! Just a note here: We won't be answering our phones while up there...but if you'd leave a message we'll call you using a calling card. Also, we'll be relying on wifi connections for the internet so blog updates and email replys may be a bit slow(er). We'll try to keep in touch!

1 comment:

Linda and Alan said...

Hi Guys,
We are in the "Simplicity" and wondered where you were. We saw you in Montreal coming out from Old Town and we were heading into the Lachine Canal. We are currently in Clayton, Ny and will be heading for Treanton. Hope we can catch up again and talk. GOOD LUCK to you Linda and ALan