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 least...so 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 boats...as 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!!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Thursday, May 22, 2014 Playing the Waiting Game Again...

Bob Stopper sent this site to me last night.  It's an article he wrote last September about a sailboat that sunk on the Erie Canal, near Lyons last September. Who would have thought this could happen on the Erie Canal!! (This didn't create a link, so copy and paste it to read.)


Well, we're still in Fairport and playing the waiting game again.  We decided to stay here today instead of moving on to PIttsford, NY.  The canal alert openings that came  through around noon, are on the east end of the canal.  As for the Gennesse River, they are still saying 2 more days....
So, we decided to do what everyone else does in a canal town, walk the canal path.   What a nice path Fairport has to the east and the west.  They have just black topped it, put light posts along the trail, and today the workers are busy landscaping.   The birds are tweeting and flying around and we even came upon a female mallard with her babies.  They must be so use to humans because they let me get very close to let.  All the while, daddy watched from the canal.  There are so many people out and about of all ages!

The rest of the day is to stick close to the boat.  Chuck has taken on the role of the 'Fairport Greeter'!  LOL I'm down in the boat, and I keep hearing  'hello', 'hi', 'hi there', 'hello', 'hello', 'hello'.  Hey maybe if he gets tired of retirement when we get home, he can become a Wal-Mart greeter.....

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Wednesday, May 21, 2014 We Got the Word This Morning!

Finally!  We got an alert saying lock 29 & 30 are open as of this morning!  About the same time, the canal superintendent came to our boat to give us the okay also.  That means we can move west about 21 miles to Fairport, NY.  any distance is welcome at this point.  We walked to Sav-a-Lot for a few items and were quickly back to the boat to prepare to leave.  Bob Stopper stopped by just before we were ready to leave and suggested we stop at Fairport  instead of Pittsford.  He also encouraged us to eat at Donnelly's.  These people are so nice...

It seemed a bit strange to be moving on the water and we were very cautious about passing under the first 15 foot bridges.  Walkers and bicyclists on the canal path seemed to be excited to see a boat on the canal...it's been 6 days.  They are waving and shouting out to get our attention...cool!  As we approached lock 29, Chuck hailed the lock tender and he said he'd have the gates open.  Everything was going along smoothly, I got up on the bow of the boat because we were getting close to the lock, when we came to a  screeching halt!  Hold on.....Oh no, this definitely  wasn't expected.  Chuck backed us off the sand, silt, or mud...it was a soft bump!  He tried to motor through at 5 different locations and all had the same results!!  A creek flows into the canal from the south and apparently had deposited the mud and formed a shoal after last weeks rains.  So....Chuck had one more spot to try....next to the north bank.   Surely it's deep enough for us there.  We hit again and this time, we couldn't back off.  We're stuck!  Do you think there is TowBoat US on the Erie Canal?  Our only recourse is to try to plow through this shoal.  Yeah, it worked!  There for a moment, we both thought we were going to have to turn around and tie up back at Newark!  :(

It was easy locking through both 29 & 30 today because the winds were light.
 Four hours later, we pulled over and tied up to the north bank bulkhead in Fairport.  Before our final stop for the day, we took advantage of the free pumpout on the south bank, just after the Turk Bridge.  The rest of the afternoon was spent walking the streets to become familiar with this canal town.  We found a great ice cream shop close to our boat, the shower facility on the south side of the canal and various stores.  We ate dinner at Donnelly's...outside...very close to our boat. The food was even better than we were promised.  On the negative side, the train tracks...3 of them...are very close to the canal.  We listened to them whistled all night long!!  Rita, you would appreciate the trains....

Chuck walking to the lift bridge.

small fire stataion

main drag in Fairport
I've got a mule and her name is Sal....
...fifteen miles on the Erie Canal!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014 Things are Looking Up!

I want to wish a Happy Birthday to our wonderful daughter-in-law, Tiffany!

Not much is happening at Newark today...until the supervisor of our section of the Erie Canal stopped to talk to us this afternoon. He told us that he was going to approve the opening of the canal for tomorrow from lock 28A through lock 30. Yes!! That means we can move tomorrow but only as far as Fairfield or Pittsford. Everything looks good in this part of the canal but they were still moving daymarkers back where they belong. The super said that they are still waiting for the waters on the Genessee River to subside. At least this a great start

look at how much wall we have-facing locks
We also had a visit form Bob Stopper. This was a pleasant surprise! He is a greeter from the town of Lyons and drove the 5 miles to chat and get our email. The short time we spent at Lyons last Wednesday night, Bob took a picture of Happy Hours II tied up to the town's bulkhead. When he came to welcome us, we must have been out walking around Lyons. So, he hunted us down to tell us that we made a smart decision when we moved from the bottom of the 2 dams up to Newark before the storm hit the area. He was going to send pictures to prove it! Such a great guy.  The next 5 pictures were taken by Bob showing the flooding below the dams at Lyons!

We were tied up along this wall the day before!  Look at the power pedestals!! Lock 27 in the background.

We needed to get away from the boat, so at 8:30 we walked to Parker's Bar and Grill to watch LeBron play the Pacers!

Monday, May 19, 2014 Still Tied Up at Newark,NY

Parts of the Erie Canal are opening a little at a time...sections from lock to lock.  Hopefully our stay won't be as long as they first anticipated!  On a positive note, the people have been wonderful and we're reatding an awful lot of books!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Sunday, May 18, 2014 Day 8 Closure on our Section of the Erie Canal will be 7-10 Days!!

We had this early morning notification from the NY Canal System:  Closure in the Erie Canal from Lock 24 to lock 30 in Macedon for 7-10 days!!  And that's if we don't get any more rain.  Yikes, that's  our section.
We are safely tied up between locks 28B and 29.  My  questions:  is it 7-10 more days or since we've been stuck here for 3, only 4-7 days?

After that bit of news, we needed to walk to Dunkin' Donuts and eat some sweet, sugary donuts!  That will definitely make me feel better.  Boy are they busy...people were mainly buying their flavored coffee and by-passing the donuts...not us!!   From there we walked east, crossed the bridge that spanned lock 28B, along the canal, and back to our boat.  I guess we'll be here for a while and just have to enjoy the down time on the Erie Canal!
remains of lock 59 near lock 28B
lock 28B- walls are rough
#59 lock tenders house mover to lock 28B

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Saturday, May 17, 2014 Day 7 and Still in Newark, NY

We woke up hoping the NY Canal System would have an alert on my phone saying the canal is reopened...no such luck!  We are so disappointed and anxious to get moving. So, I guess we'll just have to make the most of our time in Newark, NY.

Chuck went for a walk and ended up at lock 28B.  He spoke to the lock tender. The tender had heard that the canal is 2 feet above norm because of  Thursday night's rain.  Boulders had fallen into the water somewhere, a hazard to boats,  and supposedly the level of the water was above the bulkhead in Fairport...a town west of us. We just have to wait until the water level drops and pray it doesn't rain again until we get out of the Erie Canal.

Once Chuck came back from his walk to the lock, we both went for a walk to find the Burger King and a hardware store.  We walked along the canal path which is on the north side.  It led to a bridge.  When we crossed over the canal, we ended up on the west side of town where we found plazas and eateries.  The bridge looked to originally be for vehicles but has since been blocked off for walkers or bikes...a definite short cut.. and very scenic.  Gee whiz, we know we've been too long in one place when we know where everything is located in the town!
replica of a covered bridge beside HHII
viiew across the canal from HHII

Friday, May 16, 2014

Friday, May 16, 2014 Day 6 The Rains Came and the Canal is Closed

Yes the rains came at 7 pm last night and didn't stop until 10:30 am this morning!  In fact, the rain quit sooner than what was originally forecasted.  We thought we were going to have heavy rains all day...it misted and the skies are gloomy but that's it.  We actually thought we might leave Newark today because even though they predicted rain, the winds were to be light.  So what's a little bit of rain?  Our cockpit is enclosed.  We would just get wet when going through a lock!  That's not going to happen!! My phone beeped this morning signaling a message.  It actually was an alert from the NY Canal System at 9:19 am. They were announcing the closure of sections of the canal:  Cayuga-Seneca section, Oswego section, and the Erie section from E23-E30(locks) NOW!  Erie section E7-E22 at 3 pm.   Well, our next lock is E29 so we're not going anywhere!!
Happy Hours II is so lonesome for other boats!

Today is only good for walking!
Staying put is for the best because my Weather Channel has two alert banners that have been scrolling across my phone all day.  Alert #1 is for a flood warning until 4:15 and Alert #2 is for a flood watch until 8 pm and then moved to 5:15.  Now when I looked, the second alert has been discontinued!   Yeah, that makes me feel better about being tied up here on the Erie Canal.  The canal warned about flooding, swift currents, and more debris than normal.  Hopefully the canal will reopen tomorrow!!  We are getting so anxious to get home since we're so close!!  

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Thursday, May 15, 2014 Day 5 Moved 5 Miles to Newark

We knew we needed fuel before we ventured too much farther.  Now that we're on the west side of the Erie Canal, diesel becomes scarce and hard to find on the water. We went for a morning walk across the canal to check the gas stations for diesel.  Of the 4 stations, only one carries diesel and of course it's the furthest away from our boat!

We decided , even though it was really gusty, that we would move 5 miles and 3 locks to Newark.  By moving , we'll be above the 2 dams and hopefully in a more secure spot if we do get flooding.  Plus, there is a gas station not far from the bulkhead where we can carry our cans to get as much diesel as we might need.  Newark is a great stop.  It has a long wall on both the north and south bank, free pump out, free electric & water, free front load washer & dryers, free wifi, great restroom & shower facilities and more things to do.  So, we decided as soon as Chuck poured all 10 gallons of our canned fuel into the boat, we'd take off.  Just as he was finishing, here comes sv/Meridian...the lock was open for them.  We thought we'd lock through at the same time but we couldn't get away from the wall.  The currents from the dams have us snug against the bulkhead.  Chuck switched out our bow line with a longer one so I could easily release it when necessary.  He also replaced the stern with a different line. We notified the lock tender about our situation and he closed the gates because Drew and Chad were having a difficult time holding their ropes because of the strong gusts.   We'll be ready once the guys are locked through and the gates are reopened.  As soon as the gates at lock 27 open, Chuck and I were ready.  It wasn't long before we were motoring into the lock, ready to grab our ropes and hold on.  It really wasn't bad because the tender immediately closed the gates once our mast cleared to  help block the wind.  Now we only have lock 28A and 28B to lock through. 

This is how bad the winds were today!  Motoring into 28A, we were heading to grab the ropes on the starboard side (north wall) when the winds swirled into the deep lock and pushed HHII over to the port side (south wall).  Wow....there is so little space to try to maneuver in these locks.  It worked out but this is the main reason why we really wanted to stay put today!  This is not a good day to attempt the locks!!  Finally we in and out of 28A and on to lock 28B.   While entering 28B, I talked to the lock tender.  He said that the guys on Meridian said that B was easier than A to lock through....they must have had problems too!  Good thing we weren't locking together today!  Once out of the last lock for the day, we could see the Newark Terminal.  We motored over and tied up to the pump out dock.  It's free but you must use one of their tokens.  Chuck said this was the best machine he's used on the entire trip!  When we were finished, we motored over and tied up to the wall instead of the floating docks.  

This is a lovely town.  Karen, who helps man the 'boat house' in the Chamber of Commerce Building is very friendly and helpful.  She had 2 carts that we borrowed to walk a few blocks to the ArrowMart gas station.  We made 2 trips over and back for diesel fuel.  The tanks are now full and our 2 on-deck cans are also full.  This will take us the last 111 miles to the west end at Tonawonda, NY.  
Boat house/little white building
I took advantage of the free front load washer and dryer to do our laundry while Chuck took advantage of the water to hose down HHII with fresh water.  The temps are very nice and this little park is busy with locals taking advantage of the day.  Everybody wants to be outside.  As the afternoon progresses, the grey clouds are starting to move into the area.   After checking the radar, I can see that we're in for a lot of storms and rain tonight.  Since it's not raining yet, we decided to walk over to NaNa's for a bite to eat.  On our way back to our boat, the rains came.  It never stopped all night....rain, rain, rain!