Monday, June 11, 2007

Musing on Cruising

Apologies for our blog’s silence over the last few days; we’re fine, and thanks for your concern!

We have been in Waterford NY for the past few days. Cruisers of all types rave about Watertown and we can see why: they really make boaters feel at home. Watertown is where the Erie Canal and the Champlain Canal diverge (continue upstream on the Hudson River): you can enter either once you are above the Troy lock.

Link to Mapquest with our location marked

There's a town dock with initially free dockage and then very reasonable rates; a well-staffed visitors’ center with cheerful volunteers; the towns of Waterford and Troy are easy walking distance with shopping facilities adequate to replenish ship’s stores; and there are lots of other boaters, which makes for interesting conversations and exchange of local knowledge. The grocery stores even let cruisers bring shopping carts (we do like to replenish!!) back to the town dock, and the stores' staff comes to retrieve them later.

This picture of the dock is looking towards Lock #2, the start of the "Waterford Flight" which is composed of 5 lift locks, raising boats a total of 169 feet to the level of the Mohawk River. This is the beginning of the Erie Canal. You can see the first lock gate just under the bridge trestle.

The second picture shows our boat, below the bridge to Peebles Island.

Perhaps our biggest score in Waterford is meeting a sailing couple, Jerry and Karen, who know two other sailing couples that we have previously met in widely disparate locations! We met one couple in 2003 while taking shelter in the Dismal Swamp Canal during (yes, during) Hurricane Isabel, and the second couple this spring in North Carolina, and here we are meeting friends-in-common in mid-state New York. It really is a small world. We had a great time talking about the various places we have all been and events in our lives, and we hope to meet other people as congenial as Jerry and Karen.

We’ve had a great few days here; we’ve been waiting for a part for the engine, sightseeing, and recharging our energy. This blog entry is to tell you about some of the differences between our land-based life and what it’s like to cruise full-time. Friends who are cruisers will find nothing revealing, however, our many friends who are not boaters or boaters who have not cruised beyond weekends or chartering may find this interesting!

The next couple of photos show some scenes of Waterford.

While preparing to start this year-long adventure, slogging through all the brawn-requiring tasks and figuring out the administrative details, someone said: “Don’t worry, you are about to go on vacation.” I (Kathie) thought of this yesterday as I washed the outside of the boat (takes hours), and also today as I cleaned and reorganized the contents inside the boat prior to the Erie Canal, Lake Ontario, and Canada.

Doug in the meantime spent yesterday searching for a shop to rebuild our alternator and today making fender-boards (see photo) for use in the locks of the canal systems that we will traverse on this trip (something like 612 locks throughout the Great Loop, over the next year).

An enormous change is arranging how to get specialty items and specialty tasks accomplished without a car, in an unfamiliar location. A friend who has cruised for over a decade warned us about this, and encouraged us to “get everything you’ll possibly need loaded on board or done before you leave” because of transportation issues. Doug ran into this head on, with an exorbitant taxi ride to the repair shop (we were trying to make their deadline so that the alternator could be rebuilt quickly), and tomorrow will make a long bus ride with transfers to travel the 20 miles to pick up our alternator. At home we wouldn’t think twice about this. Here, it’s a very big deal.

We cannot find a rechargeable battery for a solar fan and another for the camera, and finally located a sediment filter for when we refill the water tanks; this last item is really important. We were far below the maximum capacity of water to be filtered and suddenly the filter turned brown (not very appealing): filter needs replacement, now! It took 3 stops before we found a simple filter element that is easily available at a large department store-style hardware store- but not close by in this location.

This is not to complain about where we are or what we are doing- it’s great! Life is at a different pace. We have ridden bikes along the old Champlain Canal route and through both Waterford and Troy; we went to the Peebles Island visitors’ center which tells about history and preservation in New York, and the Waterford Town Museum. We’ve spent time talking with fellow travelers and local people. Hank's enjoyed shore-side walks and meeting new people and dogs; there was even a cat on the boat next to us, an endless source of interest. Plus we have taken advantage of the reasonably priced restaurants and welcoming attitude of businesspeople here.

We are definitely adjusted to being on the boat, and have many of the comforts of home and great scenery (adjacent photo shows the view from our pilothouse). The transient nature of the lifestyle, such as seeing new-found friends leave before we do or vice versa, or figuring out where we will stay nearly every day and trying to predict where we can obtain needed supplies, is a bit different but manageable. The surprise, well maybe not a real surprise, having heard this from many cruisers, is how busy we are, all the time! We’ve been counting on some time for reading for pleasure, as well as about the places we are visiting, and other “down time” activities, but it’s been hectic. I’ve just finished one book while Doug’s managed two in the last month. We’ll see how things settle out.

Earlier today I remarked, as we were rearranging supplies and looking at what we could have left home (and thinking about a few things we wish we’d brought, like more water filters): “this is like a dress rehearsal for our later cruising,” and Doug said: “what do you mean, we ARE cruising.” And so it is, after all these years of planning.

We hope that you are well and happy! Kathie and Doug

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


"Repairing boats in interesting locations"

Alternators and raw water pumps seem to be weak links in our experience.

Wayne B