Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Off to Rome

We're pushing off the dock today after spending yesterday at the gigantic New York State Fair. We rented a car, checked out the fair in sweltering heat and then went out for dinner and some retail therapy at Target.

It cooled down a bit last night after Scott installed one more fan but we definitely need more.

We're heading across Oneida Lake this morning to enter the eastern portion of the canal at Sylvan Beach. Then we are planning for Rome where there is a national historic site, Fort Stanwix, a revolutionary village and fort.

I downloaded some lesson plans for the kids last night so school is starting a bit early for them. Elizabeth is happy to do it, Aidan not so much but he likes history.

We met a lovely couple last night on a trawler, Sheila and Tom. They live in Montague Harbour, Galiano Island, B.C. This is exactly where we anchored two years ago on our trip out West. On top of that, friends are joining them who are good friends of Heather and Murray Rand, our launch team.

Sounds like we might be travelling with them often down the coast.

It's been great to get off the boat for a day and see the area. Now we're focused on getting to the Hudson.

Don't know if we'll get wifi for a couple of days. Kind of a downer for Elizabeth who is updating her own blog plus she just bought a Webkinz hamster who brings with her all kinds of hilarious games. We also bought a cribbage board so she'll survive.

Besides, she'll have homework.

Hopefully we can update in a couple of days.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Hoses and fridges and blowers oh my

So, as it turns out this trip down the Erie Canal is turning out to be a bit of a shakedown cruise for us as we work out bugs on the boat.

Two days ago, I noticed there was a bit of water in the bilge and a bit of water collecting on the floorboards around the galley. It was clean, I figured it was a bit of rainwater. Then that night I heard the sound of water running after washing dinner dishes and water collecting again around the galley sole.

This time we opened up the bilge cover and there was water nearly up to the floorboards. We tore everything out of the cupboard under the galley sink and discovered that the drain hose (one of the few not replaced this summer) was leaking water rather quickly. We turned on the bilge pump and disconnected the hose. Now it's matter of replacing that. At least we hope that's all it is.

The hose leading from the head to the macerator unit also appears to be leaking slightly. Enough said.

On top of that, our blower on our engine seems to be giving up the ghost.

Our refrigerator unit is not staying cold enough. It's an Adler Barber unit. It may just need a bit of freon but we are looking at other refrigerator units for the boat - something we didn't think we'd need to replace - we think the Frigoboat air cooled unit looks like a good option. But pricey - about $2000 when all is said and done and that's going to take a big bite out of our budget.

Yesterday was otherwise a great day - got lots of provisions at Tops Supermarket in Baldwinsville - a one-mile hike for Scott, Aidan and I and then a nice lady, Odette, gave us a ride back.

We're at Winter Harbour Marina and they have loaner cars (yay) so I ran up and did three loads of laundry while the kids and Scott tidied the boat. Then we all showered.

It's quite pretty here on the shores of Oneida Lake. We're about 10 miles from Syracuse, NY. This is a border between the western and eastern portions of the Erie Canal. Today or tomorrow (depending on boat repairs) we're heading to Rome, at Lock 21 which sounds quite nice, with lots to see. We're getting a bit squirrly from sitting on the boat day after day and need to stretch our legs.

We'll stock up on some spare parts here (impressive store here) and figure that out.


Friday, August 27, 2010

Cruising the canal

Tomorrow we plan on a big day on the canal, running about 50 miles or about 8 hours.

The same the day after until we get to Brewerton where there are marina facilities and services we need such as loading up on propane, diesel, pump out and parts for the engine such as a new blower, a new mast light (long story) and other parts (including spares for the head!).

We may not have wifi for a couple of days.

Until then.....

Our first guard gate on the Erie Canal

Some pics of passing through the locks. We dropped 25 feet.

Beautiful Erie - The canal

We've decided this is way prettier and interesting than expected. The canal is perfectly suited to boaters, usually power boaters mind you, but each little historic village along the way has free or low-fee docks. Tonight we decided to stay in Fairport, NY as it is just one lovely stop we couldn't leave. It also has free wifi, great washroom facilities and lots of shops and restaurants. Not much in the way of big grocery store, but we're still eating through the food Lisa put onboard.

Here are a few pics of Messenger getting her mast down, eating at Faso's restaurant, and passing under the Peace Bridge.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Shuffling around Buffalo

We got into Rich Marina after checking with customs at the Erie Basin Marina. Buffalo harbour is quite nice, with the Niagara River running in front of the Black Rock Canal.

We walked over to West Marine to look for a few items, namely a sending unit for our fuel gauge which just gave up the ghost after Scott tried to fix it. We went to MacDonald's (for Reg and Aidan) and then Faso's, a local Italian restaurant, for dinner then crashed after showers into bed.

The next day, Tuesday, we spent about four hours with the crew at the marina taking out mast down, securing it to the boat and made one last run to West Marine. There we splurged on a new main sheet (rope that adjusts the main sail) and some hardware for some odd jobs.

We got back, and Messenger now looks rather odd with her proud 55-foot mast strapped to the cabin on a series of boards Scott had built.

We were in increasingly desperate need for fuel so we were told Wardell's Marina at the Erie Canal entrance sold diesel. We passed under the Peace Bridge (what an engineering marvel from below) and headed for the canal. We took photos but have misplaced the camera for a bit - we'll post later.

We were in the narrow channel coming up to Wardell's and the jerk who works there wouldn't sell us any diesel because we didn't get our mast taken down there.

Frustrating and rude. But happily, he was the rarity.

We made our way about 18 miles up the canal to Lockport, the first of two locks (called staircase locks) that we would need to traverse of 35 before we enter the Hudson River.

The incredibly kind and helpful lockmaster helped us secure our boat to the wall and the kids were amazed at how quickly we dropped 25 feet. Then we did it again. It was so cool.

Lockport is beautiful. But what makes Lockport special for us is Sister Jeannette and Sister Kathleen.

We were struggling to find a source for diesel fuel as we knew that there are not many places on the canal to get it. The lockmaster said it would be hard as well, and suggested we walk to the Mobil gas station.

We docked in a strong current just past the lift bridge at a free terminal dock. It was growing late and clouds were gathering above. We cleaned up a bit and started to walk down the dock and there were two ladies sitting at the canal fishing.

We started talking to them, particularly the kids, about our adventures. Sister Jeannette asked me where we were going carrying yellow jugs. I told her we needed to get diesel. 'You can't walk there' she exclaimed. 'I have to take you'. We protested (weakly) and she started to tell us that she and Sister Kathleen were with an International Order, St. Mary of Mams (spelling?) of Belgium. That angel took Scott and I up to the gas station with five large jugs while the kids fished with Sister Kathleen.

We filled up the jugs with diesel and Scott declared he couldn't have carried two jugs let alone five the two miles up the hill back to the boat.

Sister Jeannette said that sometimes God brings people together for a reason. I think she's right. We gave them a tour of our rather messy boat and shared some stories. This cheered us enormously.

It poured rain outside but it didn't matter.

Today we had a fabulous day, stopping in Medina as Reg was in seriou

Reg has phone withdrawal because he didn't pack his charger. Our cruising guide said Medina had a Radio Shack. Turns out it shut down two years ago. But Medina had a fantastic little farmers market right next to the terminal dock. (Lisa docked the boat!!!) and a great bookstore. We topped up the water tanks and used the rather impressive boater washroom facilities, grabbed a pizza and headed out again.

We drove another 23 miles to Brockport where we finally got Wifi!!! Now I can update this blog, Elizabeth can update hers and we can do some banking, etc.

This stop has incredible facilities for boaters: borrow a bike, washroom, laundromat, borrow a wagon, great shopping nearby, a visitors' centre with DVD and TV, comfy sitting area, computers, Wifi, and someone to welcome you. Not free, but at $8 a steal.

A spectacularly beautiful day on the canal to make it perfect.

Tomorrow we might stay here for an extra day to stock up on groceries. Scott has to sort out problems with the alternator belt and maybe repair the sending unit on the fuel gauge.

More later with pics

The adventure begins!!!

I really did mean to post long before this but the last two weeks were a whirlwind of emotion and boat issues and packing and packing and packing. Not to mention trying to wrap up my duties as program coordinator of the PDYC Sailing School!

So we did leave Monday. We probably shouldn't have. it was blowing like stink but it was supposed to be out of the northwest which would carry us nicely along the coast to Buffalo. It started piping up to about 20 to 24 knots (1.1 miles to each nautical mile) and shifted perfectly to dead on our nose.

On top of that, of course Lake Erie likes to do a dance of confused big seas and so we lugged our way loaded down with cans of soup, way too many clothes and books not to mention about 400 pounds of water and tons of fuel, radar strapped to the back and dinghy and life raft strapped to the bow along with our pre-cut pieces of wood to make our cradle for our mast once it was destepped in Buffalo.

Naturally, the wind shifted to the east dead on our nose. Now we were bashing our poor heavy boat into the waves, burying the bow in a way I've never seen.

Thank God for Janice Eammons' handy hammock work. Our wooden cradle was worked loose and if not for her hammock, it would have jettisoned overboard. Scott ran up to the bow wearing a life jacket (of course Molly) and had to secure it. He was in water up to his shoulders.

Cold water.

He came down below, stripped down and got dressed.

Last year was the first year I'd ever been seasick but now that i've got the hang of it, turns out I'm pretty good at hurling. So Elizabeth and I were rather ill at the back.

Scott and I decided to head to Port Maitland and tuck in for the night and let the lake lie down. We did so, and found a lovely anchorage just inside the quiet port.

We tried to dry out everything that had gotten sodden with our pounding. We are very very thankful for the dodger, awning and bimini Ken and Linda Foote so carefully made for us.

Aidan decided that our first day would likely be our worst. So far, it's true.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The disaster - the chaos before the launch

Scott is getting geared up for diving into the engine room.