Friday, August 31, 2018

Little Triangle Loop, Week #8, 11-17Aug018, LAKE CHAMPLAIN & CANAL

      Burlington is the largest city in Vermont. It is also very beautiful, sitting between the Green Mountains and Lake Champlain, with the taller Adirondacks of New York across the Lake to look at. I eat a bowl of cereal on Saturday morning, and strike out to hopefully get a haircut. I also take checks to the mail drop box to pay bills our daughter had scanned to us. Sometimes we are lucky, and there is a post office near the waterfront. Other times we have the marina take the envelopes from us in their outgoing mail. Today it is a drop box we spotted last evening on the way back from City Market. Back at SummerTime I get Barbara to get her shoes on. Burlington has a Saturday farmers market we are going to go to. We miss the bus, so we walk the .4 miles up the hill to the City square. This is the biggest of the different farmers markets we have been at.
 It also has the most attendance of local farmers with local produce of any place we have seen. Besides the local produce, there is fresh baked bread, honey, jellies, milk, cheese, fresh meat, herbs, flower bouquets, and distilled spirits. The last surprises me, as I would have expected that booze could not be sold out in the open city square. That is one of the good parts about this country, every county, city, or village and each state is different. We get an "All Day" sandwich from one of the farm vendors for lunch. It is a whole fried egg, a big sausage patty (this is a pork farmer), onion sauce, cheese spread, on a special baked bun. I get two lemonades from a different vendor to chase the sandwiches with. We sit in front of the wading pool and watch the little children play in it while their moms watch. We buy some produce and head back to SummerTime to get ready to meet our friends here as planned months ago. We are going on the Green Mountain Dinner Train this evening.
      Tim and Sue show up at SummerTime about 4:30, and after a few minutes of greetings and salutations, we walk over to the Rail Depot. We are seated at a table in a dining car almost as soon as we get there for our approximate 34 mi.  trip to Middlebury, VT. The day is sunny, and though riding backwards, I am still enjoying the views of the lake and mountains out the window. Our orders are taken, and our meal served as advertised while we ride along admiring the scenery.
It does not seem like a long time, and we are at Middlebury on a siding. The engine changes ends on the line of cars, and pulls us back downhill to Burlington. It is a delightful trip with excellent food and great company of old friends. Even though it has been 3 hours since leaving the station, it seems like just a few minutes. We say goodbye until Sunday when we will meet again.
      Barbara bakes biscuits again this Sunday, and we have eggs and bacon with them. We are now eating the Strawberry-Rhubarb jam we bought at the Cheese Festival in Little Falls. I am also eating the honey we bought there with butter and biscuits. We get ready and timing is such that we catch the shuttle bus up the hill to go to church. We only have to walk about an half block from the bus stop to the First Baptist Church. After church we walk back to SummerTime. We have only been on board a few minutes when Tim and Sue call on their way to pick us up to go to the Shelburne Museum. This is a museum of 39 buildings on 45 acres. It is a vast collection of "Americana" collected by Electra Havemeyer Webb. One of the first buildings we visited had a collection of sleighs and carriages. I had never seem so many sleighs, mostly horse drawn, in one place.
The carriage collection was nearly as impressive. Another building had a collection of hand made quilts, hats, and even "Samplers" that Mrs. Webb had collected. One of the last buildings we visited on the way out was a collection of Vermont made firearms, mostly long guns. In fact a number of them were specialized target rifles. There was also a collection of stuffed trophy animals in an Adirondack Hunting Lodge relocated to the grounds as an exhibit.

 Some of these trophies Mrs. Webb had shot herself, at least one being a Kodiak Brown Bear. Some of the buildings were moved to the museum grounds from other areas as they were significant items in the development of America. Perhaps the biggest item on display, was the 220' steamship "TICONDEROGA" which was moved from the Lake up to its resting place on the museum grounds.

The inside is as it would have been when hauling passengers from its initial launch in 1906. And there was a Merry-go-round that rides could still be had on. It was an impressive place. We did not see it all. Just highlights that each of us thought would be interesting. Afterwards we went back to Burlington, and had dinner at a Pizza Pub on Church Street. And of course we had an ice cream at Ben and Jerry's flagship store on Church Street. Their factory is only about 30 miles from Burlington.

     Monday saw Barbara and I prepare SummerTime for the trip down Lake Champlain. Burlington is almost at the halfway point on the long skinny lake. It was another mild weather day as we traveled south. We were surrounded by mountains on both sides of the lake. We also crossed deeper water down through these parts, some places showing well over 300' on SummerTime's chart plotter/depth gauge. About halfway towards the south end of the lake we passed by the "Basin". Floating in its was a replica of Benedict Arnold's gun boat.
We detoured off our straight route, and motored into the "Basin" to get a good photo and look at the gunboat. When we got a little farther south, to the point where the lake really narrows, we pass by Crown Point. There are British and French forts here from colonial times. There is also a large monument to Champlain himself.
 From this point on, the Lake is narrow, more like a wide river than a lake. About 48 miles after leaving Burlington, we come to Fort Ticonderoga. The south side is listed to be a good anchorage as long as there are not strong winds from the south. The winds today are light and from an easterly direction.
We anchor under the guns of the Fort's south side.I set up both GPS/chartplotters as anchor alarms. Set up like this, the units will wake you if the boat moves more than a pre-determined distance. There are rain showers forecast for early morning, and a wind shift when the rain comes. It is not too hot, and we cook a simple meal in the microwave so we do not use the generator. We both retire early. The rain comes in the early morning, and the winds shift. The lower helm GPS wakes me with a "beeping" to let me know the boat has moved more than the distance input for the alarm. This distance is based on anchor rode put out and the depth of the water among a few other things. I look at the plot on the screen, and we have moved, but are still in deep water, and no closer to a shore line. We moved closer to the lake channel. I take a spotlight and try to verify our new position to see if we are truly in a safe location. In the rain, I am not able to see shore that well, but lights from the houses in the distance are still close to where they should be.  I go back to bed and the rain hitting on the fiberglass roof over my head puts me back to sleep.
      We awake, and I make a cup of instant coffee using the microwave. In fact there is enough energy in the batteries after a night on the anchor to heat 3 cups of water. I am a little amazed as the microwave is a big energy user, and running off batteries through the inverter it takes a lot of amps out of the batteries. There were a lot of weeds in the shallow water behind where we anchored last evening. When we go to pull anchor, I am sure the rode is going to be wrapped in them since we did swing during the night. We did not have many weeds, but we did snag someone's lost fishing lure and about 20' of monofilament line. And there is mud on the anchor and chain part of the rode. A good sign as it means the bottom was soft enough to let the anchor set, and hard enough to keep it from pulling out. Barbara gets us moving down the lake as I rinse the mud off the anchor and chain using buckets of water. Once moving, she calls Whitehall Marina and gets us docking space for the evening. About halfway to Whitehall, or 2 hours in, while still riding on the border of NY and Vermont, we see three strange pieces of equipment in the lake ahead of us. As we get closer we see that they are maneuvering in weed beds in the shallows to the side of the lake. As we pass by, we see that what looks like a tractor at a distance, is actually a barge with a sickle type cutter head that can be lowered under the water to cut the weeds. There is a conveyor chain to take the cut weeds to a hopper area at the aft end of the barge. And to make it look more like a tractor, there are paddle wheels stuck out each side providing propulsion.
One of the units down the lake for about a mile, and watch as it turns up into what looks to be a dumping area for the cut weeds. Another thing has occurred on our trip this morning. AMTRAK is again running along the banks beside us as we travel south.
And there is the occasional freight train. We get to Whitehall shortly after lunch. Whitehall touts itself "as the birthplace of the US Navy". There is a small museum here, and after lunch we head up to the museum.
It has a pretty good section on the role the town's sawmills played in the construction of a fleet of boats for the colonists to challenge the British on Lake Champlain. This fleet, including Arnold's gunboat, fought the British fleet by Valcour Island. While the US fleet was defeated, it significantly slowed the advance of the previously unchallenged British fleet. There are models and artifacts documenting this part of our history. The best artifact is in a shed along the canal to the south of the museum. This shed covers the remains of the hull of the "TICONDEROGA" raised from the depths of Lake Champlain in 1959.
This ship helped protect the new nation from the British fleet on Lake Champlain during the War of 1812. The museum is housed in the terminal station for the last and northern most lock on the Champlain canal. The State of NY gave the building to the town for its bicentennial celebration as long as it ran a museum. The towns people brought all kinds of things out of their basements for museum displays. There were old typewriters, sewing machines (non Singer), furniture, kitchen appliances, and mostly you name it. As we left the museum, we walked along the lock wall where we met the owners of  "Ping", a former looper boat from Oxford, MD. There are thunderstorms in the area again, and after a few minutes of chatting, we head back to SummerTime. We freshen up and go up the ramp from the docks to the main Marina Building. The restaurant located in there is supposed to have very good food. We are not disappointed, as the red sauce on my spaghetti is as good as any I have ever tasted. Barbara's shrimp in an Alfredo sauce was also great according to her. It rained hard while we were eating, and quit long enough for us to get to SummerTime without getting wet.
       On Wednesday morning we dress and head back into the small town area to eat breakfast at "Historic Grounds". We meet and sit with Margy and Jim from Ping there. We talk about cruising and the amazing breakfast we are having. I have two blueberry pancakes the size of a dinner plate. They are excellent. Barbara ordered one scrambled egg, and it is the size of a 3 egg omelet at most other places. The owner asks us about our meals and we tell him that they are excellent. We have eaten at two restaurants in this small town and were blown away by the quantity, quality, and taste of the food. We head back to SummerTime and ready to leave. We have to lower her mast (3 pins and it lifts off its base and lays to the side) as there are some bridges along this route that are 17', a little shorter than our mast height of 18'. The Canadian couple on the boat beside us help us get away. They are headed all the way to New York City form LaChene, suburb of Montreal we learn. They are awaiting a part to repair their boat. We back out, and I call the operator at Lock #12 for an opening and lift. In 10 minutes, we are on our way up 35'. We head out at only 8mph as this is a dug or constructed canal and has a speed limit of 10mph. Most of the ride is through farm country or forests.
There is almost no industry that we can see along here. We do pass what appears to be one loading area for a quarry with a barge at it. As we approach Lock #8, we are hailed by a tug leaving it. The "Edna A" is pushing a barge north, and asks us to hold in a cove so she can pass in the middle. There is no cove, just a slight widening that I ease over in.
I maneuver as close to the edge as I dare, to about a 5' depth 20' from the shore, and we pass by the "Edna A" with plenty of room to spare. We enter Lock #8, and we are now being lowered to a new elevation. We proceed on to Lock #7, and at Fort Edward, we are lowered to the level of the Hudson River coming out of the Adirondacks to the west. At the end of the lock walls, we make a 180 degree turn back along side the lock and travel about 2 miles to the town dock. There is a protected area to tie-up with free power available. As Barbara prepares dinner, I walk to the nearby convenience store and buy milk, bread, and a couple other grocery items for the boat. After dinner, we walk the other direction to a "Stewarts Shop" where we get an ice cream cone each. I am beginning to like this little chain of  "Stewart Shops" convenience stores in Central New York. We walk back to SummerTime in the dark, except for the park we are tied up in, which is lit pretty good.
       We have a lot of locks to do today, so we try to get going early. We get away from the Fort Edward town dock at 8:16. About an half mile from the town dock, an eagle flies from the edge of the river out in front of us.
 It is only about 300yd from the nearest back yard. I am not sure it is  the closest we have been to one, but it is the closest we have seen one to residences. It is a nice, surprising sight first thing in the morning. I barely have time to grab one of the two cameras we keep on the fly bridge when traveling. And there is the camera on my phone also. We continue on, and in a few minutes we are going back south along the outside of lock #7. Now that this is a river route, and not just a man made canal, NY raises the speed limit. We go back to cruising at 1800rpm, which is about 8.9mph in still wind and current conditions. We get to lock #6 fairly quickly, the lock is open and waiting on us so we go straight in. Locks 5 & 4 are pretty much the same. The scenery along the river is farmland and private residences. We do pass one island in the river that has an airfield on it. The other side of the island is a section of the river used for seaplanes. The wind is up when we get to Lock #3. It is in a direction that is moving us around in the lock. Barbara's 11,000 pounds of boat on the end of a short rope is working both of us as I sometimes have to loose my end so she can pull her end of the boat in. It is a good thing there are no other boats in this lock with us. Somewhere between locks #2 & #3 the Perkins passes the 3000hr mark. It had about 1665 hours showing when we bought Summertime in April of 2013. We also pass by Saratoga Battlefield, now a National Park.
The cleared hills, some narrow roads, and two cannons perched up on a hill are the clues to us this a Historic Park. At lock #1, we are requested to hold short of the lock. There is a tug with barge in the lock they are raising up to go north. After the tug comes out, we motor into the lock. We are followed by about a 40ft houseboat headed south like us.
They followed us down river to Troy Lock, or The Federal Lock, as it is known by some. It is the only lock on the Hudson and Erie Systems that is not operated by the State of NY. We have to wait here to get locked down also. While waiting I call Shady Harbor Marina in New Baltimore, about 25 miles south of Troy Lock, to reserve a slip. We know we can not stay at Waterford as there is a big dragon boat race being staged from the Waterford docks this weekend. Shady Harbor confirms they can have a slip for us, and Troy Lock opens the gates for us to enter. When we exit Troy Lock, I let the house boat named: "Watta Life" by. They have concerns about speed enforcements in a construction zone by the Troy town docks. They are re-building the town docks, and I do see one barge worker motioning a north bound boat to slow down. "Watta Life" pulls over to the Yacht Club in Albany to fuel. A lot of boats stop at the Albany Yacht Club as they have the cheapest fuel in the area. We pass by them and speed up on our way south. We got to Shady Harbor about 5pm. They assigned us a slip on one of their piers we had not been at before. The Canadians from White Hall show up in their express cruiser about 5:30, and they are put in the slip next to us. They got their new electrical parts installed late Wednesday, and have come from White Hall in one day. I am amazed as it means that they have done 12 locks in one day, while traveling about 88 miles. Barbara and I shower aboard, and go up to the restaurant: Boathouse Grille to eat. They have a very good and varied menu. And their chefs are excellent in their craft.
      On Friday we borrow the courtesy car from the marina and go do grocery shopping. It is the first full grocery store we have been in since Vallleyfield, Quebec. And it is the first time we have had a car where we could really load up to haul stuff since Winter Harbor in Brewerton, NY on 18 July.             When we passed Waterford on Thursday, we closed the sides on our triangle. We are now back on a return trip to our starting point in Virginia. We hurried up the Hudson both of our previous trips. We have no schedule as of this date, so we are going to take time and see some of the sights on the Hudson on our way back down it.


  1. Hello Rodney and Barbara...lots and lots of pictures and history you are capturing. Amazing work you've undertaken.

    But few if any pictures of you two.

    How about a picture or two - now and then - of you in a of a creamery (or slumming at a a Dairy Queen) or a lock filling up or you two at Church each Sunday or shopping for provisions in the harbor you recently moored in?