The Amazing Grace

Let Your Dreams Set Sail

Western Half of the Erie Canal

         The next day we found out more of the story.  The Hydraulic Dredge #1 sunk on June 13.  Since it sunk in the middle of the canal there was room for boats to get by.  But when they were able to float it and started to move it, it sunk again (sideways) blocking the channel completely.  They then contacted a professional salvage company for advice.  The next plan was to drain that section of the canal. You might wonder how they can do this.

Canal Security Gates

With these security gates they can close and off parts of the canal and in this case, drain it.  The news was that the canal would be closed until the 15.

        Baldwinsville was a great place to get stuck.  Right next to where we were parked was a Welcome Center and we met a couple who winter in Texas. They were a wealth of information so we got out the bikes and toured all over the city.  The next day was a stay in the boat rainy day.  Cindy got a chance to catch up on her soap operas and we got to know other boaters stuck in the same predicament of a closed canal.  One was Nessie, our ole Chicago friend from Marathon, Fl., Liberty Park, and the nuclear power plant. He has a special place in our heart because he played the bagpipes every night and almost every time he plays Amazing Grace for us. 

        Friday we got up to nothing electrically working on the starboard side of the boat.  Since we couldn’t locate the exact problem, we decided to pull a new wire from the electrical panel on the port side all the way around the front and back down the starboard side.  That solved the electrical problem but since we had everything out and opened we convinced ourselves to pull the one inch cable we needed to run the anchor winch we had installed before we left and had been running on they trolling motor battery.  With much difficulty, pulling, twisting, squirming, and bending, we got it pulled from the cockpit to the bow. One more think checked off the to do list. 

        We were lucky to be in B’ville for the one week- end a year they celebrate the River Days Festival.  Friday night we enjoyed the music from the amplitheater right across the water and fireworks at dark. 

        Saturday we got up to the good news that the canal was open.  They had closed the hole with sand bags and floated the dredge.  Off we went to provisions before the cold front from Michigan hit us with thunderstorms the rest of the afternoon.  We enjoyed one more night of music as we got ready to leave Sun. morning.  Ten minutes after the music quit the thunderstorms started again.  Ugh! Is their any weather but rain in NY?

On the water again… ♫♪ What a glorious day we had to go 50 miles.  It was sunny and the first 80° day in NY this year.  We pulled in to find three of the boats we had just hung with and another friend we had met from Florida who were doing the Erie Canal during their two week vacation. 

This is one of the kinds of boats you can rent to see the Erie Canal.   We got lucky again and were able to celebrate the Peppermint Days in Lyons.  We splurged on festival foods:   Butterflied potatoes (coil sliced and deep fried) and a cheese steak.  Since the storm had cancelled their fireworks the night before we got to see fireworks right from our cockpit.  They were marvellous.  They had at least 15 show stoppers during the 20 minute presentation.  We thought we were at Disney.  The best part was when everyone started to return to their cars to drive home, we were already there.

        The next morning as we pulled out right in front of two other boats we had been stuck and locked through the next three locks with them. 

After the first lock today we got to the edge of the world (according to our GPS)and here the charts say “Here abide monsters”, just like in the time of Christopher Columbus.  The western end of the canal is not charted and the guidebooks even say to get road maps to follow for the next 100 miles.  So our GPS shows us out in the middle of land.  After a moment of shock, it is really wasn’t as bad as it sounds, it is like a ditch or more like what the canal used to be when the mules pulling the barges. 

        Beside lock 28 there is a dry dock.  As we lifted up, we were finally able to see the mean ole’ culprit that closed the canal. (above right and below) At least they were able to keep the windows clean.  Today was a day of locks and we still made another 40 mile day.  Yahoo, there are only two locks left. 

         Close to a lift bridge, we tied up near a boat (“Spirit of Dorothy B.”) (below) that is also heading to Detroit area.   When looking at a map it looks like a long straight part of the canal and you think that you will be able to make great time.  The only thing it doesn’t show is the all the lift bridges.  There are about a dozen of them that are usually manned by a bridge master that operates two bridges and one even has to travel between three bridges.  It is one of the prettiest parts of the canal.  There are jogging, biking, and walking paths for about the next 100 miles on the roads where the mules used to walk.  It is where we saw the most people and even an organized organization of bicycles doing the canal path.

         Above left is an old aqueduct and above right is where Cindy got to drive over the only place in the canal where you drive over the road.    Here’s a farm at the bend of the canal and we had to include a big apple for all my teacher friends.

             We had come to the end of the Erie Canal. We were both amazed by travelling through the Erie Canal.  This piece of history took both of us back in time and we can’t believe that so much of it was relatively free.  The cities are going out of their way to offer free areas to tie up so you can visit their cities.  An added benefit is all the practice we got made us better at docking and undocking the boat.

        Thursday, July 16 we went from being a motor boat to being a sailboat again.  Yay!  Together we spent the rest of the day tightening stays, plugging in cables, and getting everything back to being a sailboat. (above) We both noticed immediately the change in the boat’s movement with the masts back on.  We were both apprehensive about taking down our masts to be able to do the canal and it was definitely worth it.  The weather has not let us down as it continues to be cool and rainy every day. 

        Since we were lucky enough to be here, we celebrated seventeen years on July 17 at Niagara Falls.  We went all out and rented a car and stayed the night in a hotel. 

It was a great place to celebrate a special anniversary. 

        We learned that the first person to go over the falls in a Barrel and survive was a school teacher from Michigan named Mrs. Taylor.  And that only 9 out of 16 attempts have been successful.  This includes one boy (in 1961) who accidentally went over the falls with nothing but a bathing suit and a life jacket.

        Tomorrow, weather permitting; we will start across Lake Erie.  It is only 241 miles across the lake but about 300 if we follow the coast.  Since the wind is usually from the west we will have to work our way almost straight upwind, they say to plan on 10 days to get across it.  Soon I will be enjoying my home state of Michigan, the major reason for this trip. 

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