Monday, July 23, 2018

Little Triangle Loop, WEEK #4, 14-20 July, 2018

     We get up on Saturday morning and dress in our walking shoes so we can go to the Cheese Festival in Little Falls, NY. The couple on "MIRACLE" behind us get gone before us. We do get a ride from the marina personnel to the Little Falls Farmers Market, which is one block from the middle of the Cheese Festival. There are tents in the middle of Main Street for maybe 5 blocks.
There are all kinds of cheeses: goat, sheep, and cow for tasting and buying. The brochure we saw stated that there would be 72 vendors, and there probably are. We buy two kinds of cheeses and some local honey. We get hot dogs for lunch from a street vendor. And we go to the farmers market which apparently goes on every Saturday in Little Falls. We buy some fresh produce to carry back to SummerTime. We also go to the local Price Chopper grocery store and buy some needed items. On our way back to SummerTime there is a small local meat market that we stop at. We buy some meats there for the coming week. We hike back across the bridge to the City Docks. I realize on this walk over the bridge that the canal is above the Mohawk River, the town, train tracks, and a major highway. In the evening we go back to dinner in town with the couple off "MIRACLE" at the Copper Moose. We find out that Tab writes articles for boating magazines among other writing and photographic journalism activities. Tab provides a lot of useful info on place we are yet to get to in our travels.
      On Sunday morning we get up and walk back into town to The Baptist Church. The marina is short handed and can not provide a driver to get us to the church. It is an old church, and the sanctuary is laid out opposite of most churches. The pews go across the long dimension of the building instead of the short dimension. I am trying to analyze this to see if you can get more people in a  given area that way.  After church we get back on SummerTime and prepare to leave Little Falls. I am hoping that we can get at least to Utica. At lock 18 we have to wait for two east bound boats to get to the lock. The second one is a tour boat, which partially explains why we have to wait. Commercial vessels get first priority. The other reason is the chamber was already full from the last operation. They would have had to empty the lock to lower it to our level for us to enter which is a waste of the water. It has been dry in central NY for several weeks, and the Canal System is working at saving water. The tour boat only goes a short ways, turns around, and comes back into the lock. Another vessel calls on channel 13, the NY lock and bridge channel and asks for a lock through also. When this boat comes in, we see that it is a "Looper" boat also. After the lock, I let the other two boats pass by so that Barbara can go down and fix lunch. This section of the canal has a 10mph speed limit, so we will all get to the next lock at the same time. It is only "GOOD LIFE" the other looper boat and us at Lock #19. The tour boat operates from a dock about 5 miles before Utica and fell out of line several miles before lock #19. At lock 19, there is a malfunction. After the gates are shut, the automatic valves do not function to let water into the lock to raise the boats. The lock operator eventually opens a valve by hand. We are in this lock over 45 minutes when a normal lock time on these small locks is about 15 minutes.
We chat with the couple on "GOOD LIFE" while waiting. They were hoping to get to Rome which is beyond lock #20. The operator tells them they will not have time to make the lock as we exit. I try to call the marina at Utica. I just get a voice recording saying they are closed on Sunday. When we get to the marina, it is a dock run by a local restaurant. The restaurant is closed. We pull up behind "SCOOCHI", a smaller day cruiser that had been on the docks at Little Falls. We know from previous chats with this couple that they are going into The Finger Lakes after taking their little cruiser off the trailer at Waterford. We learned on our trip through here 5 years ago that a lot of people just cruise between festivals on the NY State Canals System. "GOOD LIFE" pulls up to the higher wall by the restaurant. The restaurant looks nice so we are a little disappointed that they are not open.
      We get up on Monday morning and prepare to leave Utica. I start making phone calls to Brewerton marinas to see if there is a marina there that can change the oil and filter on the Perkins, and haul and clean the running gear of SummerTime. I only get voice mails. It is only a short ways to lock #20. We pass through Rome and try to see the stores that were supposed to be within walking distance of the docks. The thruway is between the canal and any docking, and I do not see how we could have easily gotten to them. I am glad we did our provision re-stocking in Little Falls. Lock #21 is the last lock on this segment that is raising us. I am talking to one of the marinas that called back when we hear a "thud". Barbara asks what is that, and I can only say we must have hit something. I have been intently watching the waters ahead of us as there was a lot of limbs and other stuff floating in the canal after lock #19 on Sunday. I now look behind to see if I missed something, but see nothing. Lock #22 is just before Oneida Lake.
It lowers us 25' down to the Lake Oneida level. We get to Sylvan Beach, a resort community on Lake Oneida, and the Lake is smooth in front of us.
The sky is clear. A far cry from 5 years ago when we crossed the lake in the remnants of hurricane Andrea. It was not too rough in 2013, but the rains exposed every leak in the decks and cabin that were not found in a hull survey on a sunny day. We get across the lake, 24 miles, and enter the canal again at Brewerton. We call our chosen marina on our radio and get our slip assignment. On Tuesday morning Winter Harbor Marina will pull SummerTime and do the requested work.
      Barbara and I are eating breakfast on Tuesday morning when the marina calls us wanting to come and do the oil change. We have to ask them to wait a few minutes. They apparently start work earlier, at 7am, than the other two marinas I had contacted. After the oil change, the boat is moved to the travel lift well. They lift SummerTime clear of the well, and move her to the wash down pad. I now can see the result of the "thud" we heard before lock #21. One of our prop blades has a 90deg bend in in it. Like what happened on the Tenn-Tom water way while doing the loop. this bend is bigger, and fortunately still out at the tip. After a short consultation, Winter Harbor personnel pull the prop to send to the prop shop. They say it will be back for installation on noon Thursday. This kills our plans for crossing Lake Ontario on Thursday when the weather (winds) is to be the nicest for crossing.
       On Wednesday we employ the Marina to replace the hoses from the engine to the hot water heater. They send Joe over after lunch, and we get both hoses removed, and new ones pulled in behind the batteries and the nest of wires there going to the rest of the boat. It was a problem found when the manicooler was re-installed, and on my list of things to do. After that job is finished, Barbara and I borrow one of Winter Harbor's courtesy cars and run errands. On Thursday, I am working in the bilge when one of the dock boys comes down wanting to know if they can move SummerTime. It is not even 11, and our prop is back. We borrow the courtesy car and go our for a quick lunch while the prop is installed. When we get back the prop is on, and we wait for the marina personnel to come back from lunch. They put SummerTime in the water, and I back her down to the fuel dock area. We fill the water tank, get showers ashore, and then fuel SummerTime. Running easy on the canal our fuel burn has been 72 gallons for 32hr, and we have covered 144miles. Most of this was at 10mph.  It also includes a lot of time idling in locks, maybe 4-5hr. We pull away from Winter Harbor at a few minutes before 3 headed for the Oswego Canal. At Lock #23, our last lock on the Erie Canal, the lockmaster asks us where we are headed. We tell him Phoenix, and Oswego Lock #1. He tells us that the Oswego locks are open until 10pm. We start looking at the Canal guide and discussing options for Friday. We figure if we can get halfway down the Oswego Canal, we can make it across Lake Ontario on Friday before the weather turns nasty.
At lock 2 the lockmaster tells us that lock #5 will not be open when we get there. Just locks 1,2, &3 stay open until 10. He is pitching for us to stay in Fulton, but we elect to move on to Lock #5 at Menneto. There is no lock #4 on the Oswego Canal. We get to the free city dock about 7:25 and tie up. There are power pedastals, but the breakers trip when we plug in. We go down to the Stewart Shop store and get Pizza (Barbara) and Dawgs (me) for dinner. And since it is a Stewarts, we know that they will have ice cream for us. We spend a peaceful night on the boat without power.
       We try to get moving early to guarantee success in crossing Lake Ontario. We call the lock for an opening from the dock, and head straight away to lock #5. It is an easy pass through, and now an hour to lock #6. We have 4 to do today to get down to Lake Ontario level in Oswego. At Lock #6 we have to wait for an upbound, or southbound boat. The chamber is down, and the lockmaster wants to wait until the lower level boat is in before raising the water to our level. Once through Lock #6, locks 7 & 8 come quickly as it is less than a mile from 6 to 8.
After 8, I idle slowly across the Oswego harbor as Barbara goes through the cabin and checks the decks to make sure everything is secure for an open, and possibly rough, water crossing. When she comes up on the flybridge, we head across Lake Ontario on a heading of 17 degrees to pass just west of Galloo Island. NOAA has stated in the marine forecast that the winds will be out of the SE at 10 knots with 1 ft. swells. For the first hour, sheltered by the southern shore, it is pretty much as forecast. As we get into more open waters, the wind speed increases, and the wave size along with it. There is also swells of about 2ft., with a longer period rolling in from the east. The two different swell directions make steering a constant and tiring position. After 2 hours we can easily see Galloo Island.
 We pass it to the west, and the island provides protection from the swells. After we turn to hit the head waters of the St. Lawrence River/Seaway, Barbara goes down to make lunch. It is a little after 12:30, and our progress across the Lake had been much better than I had hoped for. A clean bottom and running gear helps in this. It is not long before we see Tibbetts Point Light.
 A little after that, we arrive inside the breakwall of Cape Vincent. We had called to arrange  a slip at Anchor Marina. No one is there, nor does the alternate person answer their phone. We go to the NY Department of Environmental Conservation's Fisheries dock where they allow complimentary docking when space is available. We ease in along side the dock between a sailboat and the mainland wall. We spend the afternoon resting. In the evening we go across the street to the Coal Dock Restaurant. It is one of the nicest places we have eat at this trip. The ambiance is the best. After dinner we go back to SummerTime and retire.


  1. A propellor with a 90 degree bend in it sounds like a challenge to me. Do you dry dock the boat until the repairs are completed? GOOD LUCK.

  2. So you've made it just past the St Lawrence Seaway at the New York locks entrance?