Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Unlocking Champlain Canal

On Thursday morning the sun streamed through the stateroom windows. I keep meaning to get curtains. The 5 AM sun is bright, and when ever we’re at a dock we have zero privacy when we change in the stateroom. I rubbed my eyes and looked at the clock. It was 8 AM, and our new crew would arrive at noon.

I had laundry to do and a boat to clean. Todd had sugary snacks to buy, as well as more provisions for meals while underway. I began to strip the sheets out from under a sleeping Todd. That’s OK, he needed to wake up anyway.

I hauled our dirty laundry up the dock and asked the crowd of people where the nearest Laundromat was. A man we had struck up a conversation with the day before had offered me a ride, but I declined. It’s not that I don’t want to accept a ride from a stranger. He seemed like a perfectly nice man. My thing is not having the time to be somebody’s passenger. What if he said to me “Oh, I need to run an errand on the way”? Then I’d be at the mercy of this dude, and I didn’t have that kind of time.

I avoided the dude with the car and walked to the Laundromat, just a block or so away, and headed back to the boat. I had cleaning to do, legs to shave, and the more I looked around the more I wanted to accomplish in the next 4 hours.

By 12:30 our new crew arrived, just as I was finishing the chores. Todd had taken a taxi to the supermarket, and he hadn’t arrived yet. The crew was made up of Maggie (age 15), Krystian (age 14) and Hali (age 9.) My sister in law, Melissa, drove from Connecticut to drop them off for the remainder of our first week, and the entire second week as well.

Not long after Melissa left, and the groceries were all stowed, we untied the dock lines and headed north for Troy, NY to enter the NY canal system through the federal lock.

We entered the lock expecting to tie up to the wall inside with a line on the bow and a line on the stern. The lock doors closed behind us and we frantically tried to tie both lines to the pipes on the walls until the lock master called out “Just tie with a midship line.” We slung our midship line around the pipe and waited.

Soon the water filled the lock from below, and Sabine rose to the top of the wall. We marveled at how seams in the concrete wall disappeared below the water and soon we could see over the top of the wall and further north up the canal. Maggie released the line when the door opened, and Todd steered Sabine back to the center of the lock and eventually through the doors.

We high fived at our entry into the canal system and headed for Waterford, NY. We’d heard about a free place to dock for the night, when we saw the canals fork in front of us. A sign on the shore pointed left for the Erie Canal and to the right for the Champlain Canal. We tied to a wall just below the sign and headed to shore for dinner and the inevitable ice cream.

The amenities at Waterford, provided to boaters for free, were very accommodating. There were bathrooms and showers at the visitor center. But the maps of the canal system on the signs were the most interesting. We traced our fingers along the length of the Champlain Canal and counted 11 more locks until we were officially in the lake.

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