Thursday, September 30, 2010

Still in Baltimore....

This was taken in front of the USS Constellation, the last sailing vessel commissioned by the navy and it served as an anti-slaving ship during the Civil War.

We're still at the Inner Harbour Marina in Baltimore due to concerns about the weather forecast. Tropical Storm Nicole is throwing the entire east coast into a bit of disarray. The harbour here has flooded up to several restaurants and it just keeps on raining. It's also calling for increasing winds into tomorrow morning then tapering off. That plus a tornado warning has us chickening out and staying at a marina instead of anchoring. We're up about four feet at our (floating) dock. The city docks across the tiny anchorage are underwater tonight. If it stops raining so hard we'll take photos.

We've got the shamwows working again on this stubborn mast leak. Scott took a tube of silicone all around the mast again yesterday in advance of the storm and that has slowed the leaks but a few still remain. We're stuffing shamwows around the mast to catch a few drips. Aidan's port hole has also suddenly started to leak a wee bit - it was like a hose was trained on the window for about two hours tonight so I guess that's not much of a surprise.

Scott is working through a list of items to fix and we're starting to draw up a shopping list for Annapolis. Top of that list is a new refrigerator unit. The attempt to fix it in Georgetown hasn't held. Last night Scott and I went for a short walk outside the marina by a very high end condo complex and we rounded a dumpster by the parking garage. Scott's eyes lit up. There was pink insulation inside!!!! We very subtley (OK, hard to do on a major highway) positioned ourselves next to the dumpster and Scott dove in picking up fabulous pieces of insulation to put around the fridge. We happened to have our new dolly with us as we had intended to get groceries last night but decided we were too tired. We tied the big pink on to the dolly and nearly skipped back to the boat. The kids of course were horrified but to us, it was like Santa had dropped by. With the new refrigerator unit plus the insulation, we can keep our food nice and cold.

We have decided to anchor tomorrow night if the weather holds as it is supposed to and leave Baltimore Saturday morning.

We have loved this city - there is so much to see and do.

We met up with the Tellups at the wonderful Walters Art Museum in an area of historic Baltimore. (

The museum was impressive - particularly the ancient Greek and Roman pieces of art and the collection of 19th century statuary and fine art. Of course, Aidan and Mike Tellup enjoyed the armour the most. What set this museum apart was the placement of the various collections in lovely rooms which were in themselves an architectural study (check out Elizabeth's blog for photos).

Today we caught up on schoolwork, visited the pool and gym at the hotel and then Scott and I walked to a nearby Whole Foods to pick up some groceries for dinner and other provisions.

The kids and I will definitely head out to the science centre next door to us here tomorrow for a field trip - we'll likely focus on the life cycle of the Chesapeake Bay blue crab for a biodiversity study for Elizabeth and a data management unit for Aidan for their science curriculums.

Then it will be off to an anchorage and then likely to the Magothy River for a couple of nights of anchoring and then to Annapolis, a sailor's mecca.

I'm hoping to wrap up one freelance piece for The Hamilton Spectator and start in on another. I've also got some books to review and some research I'm trying to do into travelling. I'm interested in discovering why some people feel compelled to travel for long periods, not vacation.

I just finished Gavin Young's Slow Boats to China, a book recommended to me by my colleague Rob Howard at the Spec. It's out of print now and I picked it up for $1 on Amazon. Young, a British journalist, chronicles his experiences trying to travel from Europe to Canton in the twilight days of passenger vessel travel. It is funny and a bit poignant. He does get there, but there are many slow boats and many trials along the way.

Something like this journey.

Next is Blue Highways.

I also plan to start taking notes of our trip in a non-public pen and ink journal - amazing how much simpler these things are then worrying about Internet connections, wireless sticks and keyboards.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Baltimore at last

We made it to Baltimore Sunday night. It's now Monday night and I realize I haven't entered a blog for a while. Elizabeth is so much more on top of this than I am (

It's been a bit of a tough go. We love the Chesapeake for its many nearby anchorages and inlets and it's sheer beauty. People are friendly and we've made great friends here.
But it's also incredibly shallow and so many new anchorages and places to go also means a sharpening of navigational skills and nerves.

After Georgetown we motored the two or three miles to Worton Creek and spent a night in a quiet anchorage at the mouth of the creek. We walked the little beach, upsetting a heron and the next morning decided we'd head down to meet up with Folie a Deux, the cat with a family of five we met earlier in Georgetown. The weather was incredibly hot - in the upper 90s and the pool was closed at the marina. Still, we decided to take a slip, visit with the Ramsays and try to deal with our new alternator which seemed to die. Scott and Aidan replaced it with our original old one (tech lesson for Aidan) and the yard at the marina has sent it off to be rebuilt. Tracey Ramsey (the other mom) borrowed a car from one of the guys at the marina (it's their home marina) and we headed to Chestertown to do major grocery shop and liquor run. It was heaven to have a car. Unfortunately I overbought and found trying to shove everything in my fridge (also dying) plus doing up two loads of laundry in 90 plus weather a bit exhausting. Tracey and Tim had a brilliant idea to have the kids hang out at the catamaran which had air conditioning while the four of us headed up to a nice restaurant where it was all you can eat oysters. I'm not totally fussy on them but three out of four had a great time eating raw (yikes) and other assorted oysters.

The next day we decided to run to Middle River - a large river just north of Baltimore. Given the forecast for crappy weather this week we thought it would be good to get into Baltimore where we could shop and visit museums etc. when it was rainy. We found Middle River to be incredibly shallow (9 feet at the mouth) but decided to keep forging to a supposedly deep anchorage of 6.5 feet (we draw 6.2 before the big shopping trip). We skimmed bottom and finally tossed out our anchor at the mouth of Frog Mortar Creek.

Scott and I took a dinghy ride up Frog Mortar Creek after he and Elizabeth had gone exploring. It was sweltering and when we all saw the pool at the Chesapeake Yacht Center we kind of lost it. There was also a Walmart, shopping and restaurants at the marina gate. The marina staff swore there was lots of water to the dock they found for us, plus water in the slip. It was on a rising tide so we started to head down the creek, of course plunking on the bottom a few times and Scott had to back in between a set of poles (that was our dock).

We breathed a sigh of relief and swore we'd leave just before high high tide at 10 a.m. the next morning. We had a lovely time in the fantastic pool and hot tub, nice cheap dinner at a local diner, picked up some stuff we needed at Wal-Mart and headed back to the boat.

Unfortunately there was no tide the next morning. The wind picked up out of the northeast and to our dismay the water was dropping, not rising. The fellow next to us mentioned that sometimes, in strong winds on the bay out of the north, the water is sucked out of the whole river. We threw off the lines as the forecast was worsening for that day and the next week and we didn't want to get stuck, literally, in this creek.

Scott pulled us out by hand for the first bit and then he gunned the engine. We dredged the channel until we got to a bend in the river. Then we hit. Hard. Aground.
So we called Tow Boat US - thank goodness we had purchased a membership before we left - and two and a half hours and six inches of a now dropping tide later we got pulled out of the entire river. The water at the mouth had dropped to seven or eight feet - lower than datum and we took turns having a fit of nerves. We made it to the channel to Baltimore and motored a good part of the way, dodging crab pots as we went. Then we unfurled the genny and motorsailed up the Patapsco River to the heart of Baltimore. Another 25 miles further south.

We were awed by the harbour here in Baltimore. It's amazing. Military ships, ocean freighters, schooners, you name it, it's here. The waterfront is lovely.

We had wanted to anchore in the inner harbour, smack next to the submarine the USS Torsk, the national aquarium and so on and after four or five failed attempts (OK, so I lost it more than once) to set the darn anchor, we kind of caught near the tallship the USS Constellation. It's a tiny anchorage. There was one tiny sailboat anchored in the middle and we kept on picking up bags of garbage which was totally gross as well as once pulling up two cement blocks. It was growing dark, our nerves were shot and we hadn't had dinner yet. Finally, the Rocna seemed to kind of hold and I got dinner going.

Then it started to rain. Then it poured. Then it teemed. Two days before Scott had splurged on some mast boot tape to stop a persistant leak around the mast. He had worked away in the heat, wrapping it and plugging up the leak. Or so he thought.

It was a bit of a last straw. We grabbed some shamwows, stuffed them around and fell asleep kind of.

Today the forecast warned of strong winds, thunderstorms and heavy rain. We called the Inner Harbour Marina about dockage. We broke the bank by coming here, but glad we did. For $2 a foot we have portable pump out at every dock (excellent), lovely location next to the science center, good security, and all of the incredible waterfront and best of all use of the pool, sauna etc. at a hotel a walk away.

This plus a visit to the Constellation, the Torsk and a lovely Barnes and Noble bookstore greatly improved our moods.

It's been a bit of a long haul. The kids, Scott and I are starting to weary a bit of travelling and need a break. We're missing Reg - each time we talk to him, we miss him more. This seems like a good place for a rest. We'll likely stay in Baltimore until Thursday or Friday, including one more night at this marina.

I'm trying to sort out this homeschooling thing as we all have taken turns panicking over meeting curriculum objectives and getting through material. I need to plan a bit more so tonight have spent an hour and a half thinking through science as we are visiting the science center tomorrow and I can work in a unit there for each. Lisa Tellup - one of the moms I've met has been incredibly helpful and supportive. What's awesome is that she is coming to Baltimore by car with her family to visit the aquarium with us. We are so excited.

We think this city has one of the best developed waterfronts by far and it's full of chain stores, eclectic neighbourhoods, great spots to visit and we can't do it all in a week. We'll definitely be back.

It's funny, this experience is such a mix of incredible work and reward. Something like this shifts perspectives, intensifies relationships and forces you to grow in ways you didn't know were possible.

We are still a work in progress in getting the hang of this new lifestyle.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Exploring the bay

We had a great time in Havre de Grace and ended up heading up the Sassafras River for some poking about. It was lovely and we took a mooring at Georgetown Yacht Basin where we ordered parts and had the finicky fridge looked at by a technician. He added freon but since then it hasn't seemed to have totally fixed the problems with half the freezer going solid into a block of ice and running all the time. Scott was thrilled to get the water pump for the engine and fixed the blower and the pump. We met another cruising family, on Folie a Deux. The marina was lovely and had kayaks, paddleboats and a pool for guests. The kids took the kayaks up the river with the two moms acting as a chase boat. We spent some time in the pool. We were there for three nights as they had a buy two nights, get the third free. We anchored last night with Folie a Deux at Still Pond but a blow came through with sheet lightening putting an end to our twilight party.

Today we might be heading to Worton Creek as our new alternator seems not be charging all of a sudden. This could be a big problem if we can't start the engine. We'll have to see what transpires.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Friday, September 17, 2010Chillin in Chesapeake

We are thrilled to be in the lovely little port of Havre de Grace at the northern and fairly freshwater area of Chesapeake Bay. We took a bit of a quick tour of the village and we discovered a fantastic book shop and one great store.

Scott spent this morning working on the head (ugh) while we did school work and Lisa sorted out communications issues.

We've now transferred our Rogers account over to a prepaid account, thus cutting off our Canadian cell phone and gone with a very inexpensive pay as you go Net 10 U.S. phone. We've also got a Verizon wireless stick that is also pay as you go.

This is a lovely port at the top of the Chesapeake, which is mostly freshwater due to the Susquehanna River that empties into the bay. Chesapeake Bay is actually a drowned river - flooding about a million years ago turned this from a freshwater delta to a saltwater bay.

There is a bass tournament on one end and crab fishing at the other.

We are on a mooring at Tidewater Marina and can't wait to explore this lovely spot for the next few days, catch up on school and boatwork.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

We're salty now

This family of Lake Erie sailors are now also blue water sailors. We left New York City Harbour at the 79th Street Basin in Manhattan at about 6 a.m.

Lisa's Dad Terry Grace came aboard in New York to help the crew make our long passage to Cape May or Delaware. We rode the current down the Hudson - dodging ferries, stopped in to get fuel (and a much needed pumpout and some water) and made our way to the channel that led under the famed Varrazano Narrows bridge. It was quite a sight - all of these big ocean freighters passing us on our way to Sandy Hook. We motored so as to get out of their way. We soon rounded Sandy Hook and set our course for a couple of miles offshore.

The problem for Messenger with this passage is that with her 6' draft, we can't stop anywhere except perhaps Atlantic City - about 90 miles from Sandy Hook - until we get to Cape May. Then in Cape May, we would likely have to anchor and then come back out to round the Cape to head up Delaware Bay to make another 56 miles up to the Delaware River and the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal. We couldn't continue through Cape May due to our 55' mast and a fixed bridge with only 57 feet clearance. Too close!

We carried on although to our dismay the wind piped up to 18 knots and was dead on our nose when it was supposed to be out of the west. We kept on motoring hoping it would shift. The seas built and we started slamming into the waves.

It did calm down at night but not until about 10 p.m. We made a simple dinner of chicken in the oven and rice. Dad was on galley duty and while making dinner he was checking out the charts when a weather alert sounded on our radio (a new feature on this new radio of ours which is quite handy)and it warned of severe thunderstorms with 60 mile winds, hail and rain, not to mention lightning. At the same time, NOAA warned of hurricanes and tropical storms building in the Caribbean. Dad said his stomach lurched when he heard that. But it was clear where we were - the storms were northeast of our position and the hurricanes were way south. Still, it was enough to put him off his dinner which we all happily wolfed down.

Dad, Scott and I took turns at watches with Scott in charge of navigation. We had purchased a GPS chart plotter in NY at a small West Marine store downtown but we are very impressed with this little thing. It was about $439 and also has tides and currents as well as all U.S. and Bahamas charts. We can also buy Canadian charts later when we go home. It sits right in front of the wheel (OK, so we just clamped it for the trip) but it helped the helmsman enormously, particularly in the Delaware.

All night we took on the waves with the mighty Perkins diesel.

We reached Cape May at about 6 a.m. but Scott and Dad decided that given the forecast, the helpful tidal current and the clear skies, we'd keep going toward the C&D canal up Delaware Bay.

We kept motoring as the wind nicely shifted with us remaining on our nose. We started to turn up the the bay and the waves and wind built all day. Then it got nasty. Waves built to five and six feet with only three feet max between them, breaking occasionally over the bow. On top of that, just outside the narrow channel up the bay which is very busy with freighters and tugs and barges is a series of oyster fishing grounds which pose hazards.

We caught sight of another sailboat motorsailing with the main. Dad and Lisa worked to get the mainsail up and then Scott came up after another failed attempt at sleep. The main helped enormously powering through the worst of the waves. The trip started to seem as if it would never end. We were getting a bit punchy and weary with lack of sleep, hygiene and covered in saltwater. Dad kept out spirits up though, just by being Dad. For example, at one point, a giant wave broke over the bow, knocking the jerry cans around and nearly sweeping our life raft overboard. Dad turned to us and said with a thrill, "Gee, this is like something you see in the movies!" I kind of hoped he wasn't talking about The Perfect Storm.

Of course, even though we were motorsailng, hadn't really slept in 36 hours and smelled bad, the fact that another sailboat was in our vicinity was a declaration of war to Dad and Scott. They turned off the motor, unfurled the genny and we heeled over and Messenger had a bone in her teeth and taught that Morris Yacht a thing or two. We screamed up the Delaware River at about 8 knots.

The fun only lasted about half an hour though. Then it was iron genny back on and we made our way up to Delaware City. Scott had put a roast beef in the oven and when we finally got into the municipal marina here we were grateful for that and the trimmings. The boat was a mess, everything was coated in saltwater but we were in safely after our first ocean passage.

Dad made plans to get a taxi to the airport in Philadelphia early Wednesday morning.

We were all sad to see him go - it was so nice to have him share our crazy adventure with us.

Hopefully he and mom can join us for a slightly more relaxing visit soon.

We spent a day in Delaware City washing clothes - we had a small leak in the anchor locker that became a big problem when we were imitating a submarine for a day or two. Scott patched that up, Lisa scrubbed the boat from one end to the next and the kids caught up on a bit of homework.

Scott also took off the blower on the engine which went during the trip and once again postponed fixing the beast that is our head.

We treated ourselves to dinner out at Kathy's Crab House and got a lesson on how to eat crabs Delware style. Aidan, a positive landlubber when it comes to food, was not impressed with the way we attacked our platter of seafood and escaped the restaurant after his hamburger.

We're planning on heading down the C&D canal tomorrow, perhaps getting to Havre de Grace to anchor in Chesapeake Bay.

It feels so good to get this far.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

We're in New York !!!!!

You're never too old to be a toysrus kid apparently. This is the indoor ferris wheel in ToyRUS in Times Square.

We finally made it to the Big Apple - actually we pulled in on Thursday night - kind of a scary thing. It was blowing about 20 knots up the river and there was a three knot current down the river and we couldn't find a mooring ball at the 79th Street Boat Basin. After battling the elements, we finally hung on to a white (seasonal) mooring ball here at the marina and called over to the office. They had told us that at low tide we couldn't enter the basin and they only had one option - docking inside the basin as all the balls were taken. We hung on until 7 p.m. and then finally took the plunge and let go and headed to the basin where one of the really great staff members here deftly helped us dock in incredibly difficult conditions. We were so glad to be there.

The floating docks were heaving due to the wake and conditions, making it like a walk in the funhouse to get up to the office to register and use the washrooms, etc.

Lisa's cousin Sarah was in NY for work this week, so we connected with her and she took a taxi down to the basin where we shared dinner, shivering on the deck of the restaurant. Then we had tea and conversation on the boat. It was fabulous to see her.

On Friday, after tiring of being bashed up against the dock, we left at high tide and grabbed a mooring ball. We had already got showers and did a load of laundry. Then we took the dinghy in and walked about 10 blocks to the American Museum of Natural History. It was amazing but almost overwhelming. Then we went to West Marine - a dinky store in Manhattan and rather disappointing and then to Macy's - not dinky and not disappointing. Dad arrived a bit earlier than we expected and we were so happy to see him. We went out for dinner at a great little spot - Sarabeth's in the Upper West Side, just a few blocks from here.

We all crashed and got up Saturday and after a great trip provisioning at Fairway with dad and Elizabeth, we left after lunch to go to Rockefeller Centre, Times Square, Macy's (again), Lincoln Square (with Lululemon in the square) and Borders and lots of spots in between. We also managed to pick up this wireless device from Verizon which we're using now to update the blog. We decided to take the plunge and ensure we have wireless through the U.S. at least for the kids schoolwork, weather, email, banking, etc. We can also call family and Reg on skype this way.

We're on a prepaid option which is great, once you buy the device.

Today we're just trying to do a few boat jobs and make plans to jump out tomorrow from NY to Cape May. We'd like to ride the current down to Sandy Hook, about 30 miles from here but with the current it shouldn't take more than about 3 or so hours. We also met a guy here who runs a great website, that has loads of local info.

We might do a bit more sightseeing today - at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, if we can figure out how to get diesel, etc. We might just go pick that up at Liberty Marina on the way out tomorrow morning.

We're also thinking of picking up a Garmin chartplotter from West Marine today and installing that.

There are continuing problems with the head but on the bright side, dad's nose doesn't work too good and we've got access to a washroom here.

Now the fridge is working OK as well. Besides, we've had lots of retail therapy in the last couple of days.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Made it to Marlboro

We've had a great run today - all the way from Castleton-on-the-Hudson to Marlboro, just south of Kingston, NY (where the British came up and burned it down back in the American Revolution).

Great old lighthouses all the way and we got a heck of a boost from the morning tide - we were flying along at about 7 to 8 knots (about 13 to 15 km/h) and made about 70 nautical miles. Gusty though, enough to nearly blow the inflated dinghy off the bow. Yikes.

We're hoping to run to NYC at the 79th Street Boat Basin tomorrow - about another 55 miles.

There was a red tide alert in NYC harbour earlier this week - need to check this is lifted. Red tide brings a dangerous algae in from the sea - causes a great deal of harm to animals. It should be swept back out soon, we hope.

The kids are plowing into homeschool work, and we're ready for a trip to the American Museum of Natural History to do some social studies/history projects. Lisa is trying to awaken her French conjugation skills and it's coming, but slowly. Aidan has to be more patient with his teacher!

We're also hoping (at least Elizabeth and Lisa) to check out Macy's, and a few other bookstores and museums.

Lisa's dad is planning to fly in with a list of items we left behind - and help us on our first offshore passage from NY to Cape May.

We're excited to see him and of course, still missing Reggie very much. Reg is settling into school and football but it's not easy for anyone.

We've had a chance to talk to some friends and family in the last few days - thanks to a cheap cell phone company in the States, Net10, which allows you to make calls anytime anywhere - $30 includes the phone and 400 minutes. I called today to top up and for an extra $35 I got another 200 minutes and another couple of months.

I also got my Rogers phone bill and we've decided to give it the boot. It's ridiculously expensive and there are much cheaper options here.

We're really looking forward to getting south because that means we'll see him soon.

Hopefully we'll be able to upload some pics of the gorgeous lighthouses and this beautiful body of water.


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Hanging out on the Hudson

A lot of folks think that sailing away means sailing away from work.

I mentioned this to our community sailing crew last night and we all laughed. Really, sailing means constantly fixing your boat in exotic places. Every one of us in this mini flotilla has a system of tracking work on the boat. Some spend three hours each day in the morning, some all day off and on, some at night. We are still working on our system but today we tried to establish a routine.

Kids do school from about 8 or 8:30 to noon, then break and do their chores.

Scott does various jobs. I do cooking, cleaning, teaching and banking and help Scott out in the morning. That's the deal for days we aren't travelling.

Otherwise, it's breakfast by 7 or 7:30 or on the water later if we need an early morning start to catch a tidal boost. Lisa drives while Scott does some route planning. Lisa checks his work and we go back and forth all day with that routine.

We usually put off cleaning up the galley until just before we arrive somewhere or just after, depends on the day.

It's so great to get our mast back up. Messenger is starting to look like herself.

There were three of us yesterday who put our masts up: My Tumbleweed from Windsor with a singlehander on board, Paul, then us on Messenger and then Klaus and Barbara on Klabara from Toronto. Brian and Kathy Marsh stopped in to see how we were doing - new friends with whom we share mutual friends Murray and Heather Rand (on Windswept). Brian and Kathy have been sailing since 1997 and now have their Alberg 37 in Guatemala. They are great people who provided so much help yesterday. They're travelling with our other new friends on a trawler but Brian and Kathy are the pit crew in their camper.

We all put up a our masts at a do-it-yourself place at Castleton Boat Club. Nice spot on the Hudson and very accommodating hosts.

We plan to move again tomorrow once we're all straightened away.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Waterford, NY

Finally had a few minutes to upload some pics. These are from our last day travesing the 360-mile Erie Canal. Lisa is at the spectacular Lock 7, sunset over the Hudson in Waterford, NY.

We have enjoyed our stay in Waterford but are a bit anxious to get away. We've topped up water, fuel, groceries and Scott just walked a mile or so to the hardware store to get some parts for a variety of jobs on the boat. We've actually been quite busy.

One emerging priority is to re-vent the holding tank. The odour coming from the locker is distressingly bad - even worse than when we had a small leak last year around the sensor. We've torn the boat apart and realized that the vent hose runs the whole length of the boat, making it difficult to vent properly, it seems.

Scott is temporarily re-routing the venting hose to emerge out of our V-berth hatch to see if that helps. If it does, then the problem is solved. It's been nasty.

Unfortunately, we got our first stab at the vent on the transom (the back of the boat) wrongly identified and someone (maybe me) hosed some water to see if we could clear it out. It was the diesel engine vent, so Scott had to spend some time draining out the fuel with water in it. Sigh. He is also trying to fix a small leak around the water pump on the engine.

We have however enjoyed the big Farmer's Market here this morning and had fun walking around the downtown last night to see how many similar buildings there are to Waterford, Ontario.

Not sure, but think we might try to drive to Castleton-on-the-Hudson - it has a boat club where you can step the mast yourself for $60. There is a small flotilla of Canadian sailboats here and we all have the same idea and have agreed to help each other out. Some of the boats have made this trip before, one boat, Grand Cru, from Quebec City have done this twice already. Everyone is very helpful and supportive, making this stop even more memorable.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Messenger Travels: Blue day

Messenger Travels: Blue day

Blue day

Last night we had a wonderful surprise when our friends from PDYC Art and Linda Alyea dropped by in their camper truck to pay us a supportive visit. They had been in the Finger Lakes region and searched for us in Waterford, NY. At first they didn't see us tucked under the bridge as we are. They gave us a quick call, giving us a 20-minute heads up they were going to be here. Good thing because the boat and crew were dirty and stinky.

We all frantically scrubbed up and soon Art had me speeding toward the nearest laundry to do a big load and then on to a fantastic grocery store. Back at the boat Scott and Linda whipped up dinner which we all shared in the cockpit together. Then Art and Linda said they would drive Reg to a nearby Amtrak train station Saturday. It was two days earlier than we had planned to send him home but Reg wanted to get back for the first day of school. It was also logistically simple.

Mom and dad are around to pick him up tonight in Niagara Falls, Ontario so we packed him quickly this morning and Art drove the three of us to the station in Albany. It was a tough thing to say goodbye, but we'll see him soon enough.

Still, the boat seems a bit empty without him here. It's hard to stay upbeat. We're going for a walk to shake off the blues.

We're taking a layover day - Art also got us topped up in diesel and propane (for the stove and bbq) so that's a big relief. We were sorry to see them leave but thrilled to have them stop by. We are blessed with many good friends.

After all, we're on the Hudson River! We're ready to start heading for the Big Apple.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Feeling hot hot hot

The weather this week has been sweltering, apparently all over the region. This has raised the debate on the boat from the kids about why it is that we removed our HVAC unit with its brilliant air conditioning. The thing is we needed the space for a large water tank.

Still, when we walk a mile into town to do groceries or sight-see and then a mile back and are soaking with perspiration, I understand the need to question that decision.

Yesterday we made a hike into downtown Rome where we had breakfast and then we made a visit to Fort Stanwix, a rebuilt American Revolution era fort. It is a national historic site and is remarkable. There is an interpretive centre (air conditioned) and the rebuilt fort.

The feds built the fort in the early 70s in order to celebrate the siege bicentennial. They actually tore out a chunk of the downtown and dug down to rebuild it according to archeologists.

We started down the canal to make a six-hour run to Little Falls (about 38 miles) and it was so hot we just sat on the boat driving and sweated. Some of us took naps. We started seeing the Adirondack Mountains outside Utica. We got to Lock 18 and the lockmaster said that due to heavy flooding Little Falls had lost its floating docks and it was full. We despaired, desperate for showers and a nice place to stop.

We pulled into Little Falls though and saw Twin Spirits, Tom and Sheila's trawler (a couple we had met in Brewerton) and they waved us over to raft next to them. Then we had a great night of music and singing with them and all of their friends and family who had gathered. The night cooled and we hit the hay.

This morning Scott and I hiked into the village to pick up a few groceries and it is really lovely, stunning architecture, lots of antique shops. This with a waterfall and the mountains rising up around it. It's promising to be hot again and there is a hurricane that is causing problems in South Carolina.

It's unknown what it will do on the east coast, but we're running for Amsterdam today, another six hour trip to get us to mile 36 (counting down to Waterford, NY at mile 0). If we get stormed in there for a day or two it should be OK.

By the way, to get a different take on our trip, check out Elizabeth-Anne's blog at