Thursday, June 5, 2014

Thursday, May 29, 2014 Last Day of our Trip/First Day at Grand River Yacht Club

The winds howled out of the east all night and had us pinned against Geneva Marina's transient dock.  We were both so exhausted with the 95 miles we traveled yesterday, it didn't make a bit of difference! 

We weren't in any hurry to leave Geneva Marina because we only have 3 hours to get to our new home port of Grand River Yacht Club.  Our morning was spent visiting with marina friends: Hal, Carol, George, Matt, Chuckie, Fran and Ann, the new manager.     Lee and Carol even drove up from their new home, Ashtabula Yacht Club.  We finally motored out of Geneva at around 1:45 to a bright sun and winds that had just settled…still in our favor out of the NE.  I called Sue B so she and Jack  will be at the dock waiting to assist us.  It will feel really good to be home after 9 months and 2 days!  Our last trip turned out to be a beautiful afternoon on  Lake Erie….yes!    Surprise!!  Upon entering the east entrance to Fairport Harbor, we were greeted by the USCG.  They approached us and wanted to do an inspection.  I laughed!  Chuck laughed! We both couldn't believe it!!  I told the young Coasties that they were welcome to come aboard.   I also told them that we've been out on our boat for 9 months and 2 days and traveled over 4900 miles and they were the first to board us!!  What a ‘welcome home’ on our last day of our trip and our first day to our new home…Grand River Yacht Club!!   Chuck maintained our speed, the USCG motored up along side, and 2 Coasties climbed aboard....and we passed the inspection!

After the delay due to the Coast Guard, we finally were able to motor up Grand River.  Jack and Sue were waiting and directed us to a dock at GRYC.  We weren't able to get into our new dock, 12S, because the aft post wasn't placed in the middle of the well between docks 12 S and 13 N and we couldn't squeeze into our new slip.   Oh well, hopefully our dock will be available soon.
happy to be home!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Wednesday, May 28,2014 On to Geneva

not many boats in yet at DYC
It looks like a 'go' today.  We quietly slipped away from Dunkirk Yacht Club because no on was around except 2 fishing boats.  At 6:30 am the sun was up with very little breeze. The forecast was calling for 8 kts with gusts of 11 and out of the NNE to NE.  That's perfect for our trip to Erie, or if we're making good time,  Ashtabula or even Geneva Marina.  You better believe, we're going to push it as far as we can today!!

Leaving Dunkirk, NY

What a great day on Lake Erie...why can't it last?  Three hours into our morning, Erie threw another curve ball  at us....fog.    This fog bank rolled in and surrounded us with only 100 feet of visibility.  Ok, I better check the updated forecast but this time for Erie, PA.  They are showing patches of morning fog.  My idea of a 'patch' and the weatherman's idea must not be the same!!!  The thick fog lasted for 3 hours.   There is still fog off the entrance of Erie so we decided to keep going....the Cleveland area is supposedly sunny! So we're con
fog bank
Finally, the sun came out strong around 12:30 and we can see the shore!  Yeah!    However, the further west we go, the waves seem to be getting bigger and bigger and of course the winds are strengthening. Since the winds and waves are coming at our stern, we are making great time.  By the time we neared Conneaut...yeah we made it to OHIO...the water was white capping and some of the waves were pushing 5-6 footers. Surfing off the crest of these waves had HHII motoring over 10 kts.  Chuck and I also had memories of another year coming back from Erie with similar waves... we broke our rudder then, and had to be towed into Conneaut by the USCG.  We quickly erased that from our minds!!

Around 3:30 Roger G. called and wanted to know if we were headed for Geneva Marina.  If so, what was our ETA.   He and Carol wanted to to be at the dock to 'Welcome' us home and help us 7:10 pm we should be motoring into our old home port.   Chuck and I both knew our ride getting into  the channel would be WILD.  As soon as we turn to port 90 degrees, the waves would be pounding the entire port side of our boat...not to mention rolling us to starboard.  We wanted to expose our port side to the waves for as little time as possible.  Right before our approach, I stowed all loose items that were sitting in the cockpit down below.  Here we go.............The waves were 'rocking our world' until we passed the mouth of  Geneva's channel.  Wow, what a ride!!

True to their word, Roger and Carol were at the end of our old dock waving and shouting 'welcome'. It felt so good to see friendly faces waiting to grab our lines even though we knew the winds would push us into the dock.   We were a bit surprised when Roger told us he just clocked 27 kt winds in the marina but thought the winds were probably more in the 30's on the lake.  Yikes!  We didn't feel a thing because our stern panels were down and we were going with the wind.   After securing our lines and more greetings, Roger and Carol took us out to eat at the Old Mill Winery where we continued to catch up on places and events over the last 9 months.  They both were very interested in the people,places, and experiences because they did the same trip the previous season!!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Tuesday, May 27,2014 Still at Dunkirk Yacht Club

The weather prediction is pretty much a repeat of yesterday...but with rain added to the mix.  We decided we didn't need to be out in that mess.  So, we're postponing  moving until tomorrow.    Chuck and I both took advantage of being at the dock.  He scrubbed the deck and cockpit while I started gathering things together into bags to make it easier to unload the boat in a few days.  When we got antsy, we went for a walk around what there is of Dunkirk.

In the late afternoon, we had a visit from Pat.  He brought an article and a picture out of the Buffalo News about yesterday's regatta.  The picture showed the Ferry Street bridge in its raised position.  Part of the caption read...'There was a delay in the rowing regatta, however, as the West Ferry Street lift bridge was raised to let the tall-masted sailboat at the right pass beneath it/'.  That would be Happy Hours II.  The cameraman could have shown more of our boat in the picture!  Ha Ha.  

The weather is looking good for tomorrow.  At least the winds will be blowing out of the NE!

Monday, May 26, 2014 Yeah! We are in Lake Erie!!

Happy Memorial Day!

Wardell told us he'd open his fuel pumps at 9 am this morning.  That's late for us to get started but it at least gave us a chance to get the mail sail on.  The Dutchman lines are sloppy but the wind picked up and we were happy they are secure in their pouches.  We can adjust them at a later date when the winds are more favorable.

Chuck and I are both ready to get this show on the road.  By 9 am, we were motoring south in the Tonawanda  Channel toward the Black Rock Lock and Canal.  Many of the day markers seem to be missing.  I guess the Coasties haven't had time to place the less significant cans in the water yet.    It feels really great to know that we are out of the Erie Canal.  Don't get me wrong.  I love the canal, but the fact we were stuck there for 9 days was frustrating to say the close to home but yet so far away!!  It's a gorgeous day but the winds are brisk with our side panels up.  So, down they come.

Before we know it we are the only boat locking through the Black Rock Lock.   Once the water has risen to the proper level, the south gates open and the swing bridge just on the other side, is opening also.  Perfect! One more lift bridge and we will be finished with locks and lifts!!  The Ferry Street Bascule bridge is about 1 mile away.  In the fall, we both remembered that this is the bridge tender who wouldn't respond to our calls. When we approached the bridge, the tender was ready for us but so was the sculling regatta...not again! One boat of officials came over with their bull horn, again, and shouted to us to move to the side for their race...yeah right.  The bridge is being raised for us and cars are waiting for us to pass through so the bridge can be lowered.  When we motored under the bridge, 6 parallel sculling boats with 6 teenage girls in each, were just sitting there looking at us and probably thinking, oh shit!!  They were waiting for the start of the race.  We were waiting for the start of the race. Someone needs to do something!!  The winds are blowing 15-20 kts and it's not easy to hover in place under the lift bridge.  One of the adults wanted us to follow the racing I said before, yeah right.  Finally, the officials scratched the start so the scull boats could move our of our way.  We passed through the bridge and made it to the end of the canal where all the spectators were camped out on the hill at the finish line. Here we come!  I so wanted to get on the bow of the boat, raise my arms in the air, and shout that we won the race!!  For some reason, I didn't think that would be a crowd pleaser.  LOL   I still can't understand how these rowing clubs can shut down a state or federal waterway for their exhibitions.

Once out of the Black Rock Canal and into the Inner Harbor of Buffalo, we weren't sure if we could continue or have to stay at the RCR Marina.  Our plans were to popped out into the lake and check the water conditions.  It looks great with less than 1 foot waves.  Our first 10 miles motoring to Dunkirk Yacht Club, still in NY, were perfect.  Then all of a sudden we had 5-6 footers on our nose.  They came out of no where!  Welcome to Lake Erie!  We took a beating for the rest of the afternoon, just pounding into the waves.  It took us forever to go 30 miles and we pulled into Dunkirk Yacht Club at 6:30.  What a long, tiring, day. Of course I couldn't get  hold of anyone from the club after many attempts on the cell as well as the VHF radio.  We just decided we'd find a dock, tie up, and talk to a member in the morning.   As we were approaching the same dock that we stayed at in the fall, Pat from the club walked out to catch our lines.  It felt so good to get off the boat and stretch our legs!!

This club is so friendly to transient boaters.  They made us feel so welcome both in the fall and now.  Yacht club members get their first night free and then it's $1 per foot for any other nights.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Sunday, May 25, 2014 Our Last Day on the Erie Canal

It's hard to believe that we are nearing the end of our journey on the Erie Canal.  Only 39 miles to go until we get to Tonawanda, NY, which is the west end of the canal.  What a beautiful day for our last stretch of the canal.  We were up and away from the wall at Middleport at 7 am to make it to the Gasport Lift Bridge by 8 am.  From there, we'll go through the two Lockport lift bridges and then the last two continuous locks of the canal at Lockport, #34 and #35.  It will be a leisurely cruise after the locks, that's for sure!

Our plans are to tie up at the south wall at Tonawanda for tonight.  We figured that when we called Wardell about stepping our mast, he'd put us off until Tuesday....after all it is Memorial Day weekend.  Instead, he told Chuck to come on over and he would lift our mast today.  Wow, what luck!  It didn't take long for Happy Hours II to look like a sailboat again.   It looks like we'll be heading for Lake Erie in the morning!

Saturday, May 24, 2014 What a Crazy Morning!

waiting for 7 am at Fairport
What  a crazy morning!  We got up and through the Fairport Lift Bridge by 7 am.  We were so ready to move on and to knock off some miles today!   We soon weren't so sure that we were suppose to move or stay?

When we approached Pittsford, a 16’ fishing boat motored toward us.  The gal in the bow of the  boat shouted over to us through her bull horn and wanted us to stop because they were having a regatta.  A regatta on the river??  That explained all the orange and yellow floats  lined up in a row on the water.   I responded, “you know that’s easier said than done” when the current in the canal is making it difficult for us to navigate.  We kept on going.  Their regatta wasn't a sailboat race but a timed race for their single-oar scull boats.  Rowing is a popular sport in the Pittsford and Fairport  area.  We finally motored out of this congested area,  dodging scullers and floats alike, and on to our first lock of the day, #32.

Onward to the first of the two locks we’ll lock through before the guard gate and the crossing of the Genessee River.  However, when we got into lock 32, the lock tender asked Chuck on the VHF if he realized he could go only as far as lock 33.  The guard gate is closed and we won’t be able to go any further.  This can’t be!  The mariners alert sent out yesterday informed all boaters that the canal would be open today across the Genessee and the remainder of the canal system to the west end.  What a bummer!  If we would have known this change in the canal’s plans, we would have just stayed at Fairport. 

bridge up
bridge down

What should we do…turn around and go back to Fairport, or continue through lock 33 and tie up on the wall directly above the lock.   We decided to continue and stay above lock 33 and wait it out …but surprise…when we got to lock 33, that lock tender just got the word that they opened the gates.  Yahoo!!  However, the lock tender warned us that the current on the Genessee River is still very swift…6+  kts…and to keep our eyes open for large floating debris.  Aye, Aye, Captain!  We didn't get far from the lock 33 when the lock tender hailed us wanting our cell phone number for Mike,  the floating plant superintendent.  Mike soon called and gave us directions on crossing the north bound current.  He also said his tugboat was still in the canal and if we got into trouble, his tug would come to our assistance.    Boy this all sounds pretty serious!  Once we nosed out into the river, we were able to ‘crab walk’ across the 500 feet of cross lateral current…and there goes a huge log floating north directly in front of us!  We’re across and back in the canal.  Now we feel we are finally making progress.  This part of the canal has been open for quite a few day.  

MIddleport lift bridge behind
at Middletport
The rest of our trip today is going to be a piece of cake.  No locks and only 12 more lift bridges…not to forget the many fixed bridges.   Our goal  this morning was to make it to Middleport, NY and after 62 miles, we did it.  It definitely was time to call it a day.  That leaves us with only 39 miles to Tonawanda, NY tomorrow and the end of the Erie Canal.  

Friday, May 23, 2014

Friday, May 23, 2014 Good News This Morning!

We got word this morning from the NY Canal System that the Gennessee River crossing on the Erie Canal will be open tomorrow...only 95.5 miles to Wardell's Boat Yard at Tonawanda, NY.  Yippee!!  This is where we hope to have our mast stepped. 

Some other news that we got yesterday...the canal started their summer hours yesterday.  Instead of being open from 7-5, they now are operating from 8-6.  A few of the locks and bridges now have extended hours from 7-10, but not all of them.  Hopefully this works to our advantage!!