Orillia, Ontario to Midland, Ontario and the Big Chute

This will be a short post tonight, but I never like to miss an opportunity when we have the Internet at our service!

We left Orillia yesterday after deciding to sit out Sunday’s rainstorm. It all worked out for the best, though, because there was a bakery nearby as well as a grocery store.   When I stopped at the office to pay for an extra night, the man who runs the town marina told me that I should not miss Mariposa, a bakery/deli/gift shop/candy store in town. He also mentioned that, if I went to the grocery store, I should just walk back with the cart and bring it right to the boat with my provisions. This was too good to be true for me! While John worked in the engine room, I headed out to make sure we had plenty of supplies when we entered the Georgian Bay. There, it is very remote and towns are far apart. It seemed like a good idea to be sure we were well supplied before we started that adventure. After finishing my shopping and putting everything away, we enjoyed a nice night at Orillia. We will definitely go back there on the way back down the canal.


The first palm tree I’ve seen since April!


Families were out enjoying the beautiful weather yesterday.


Many of the homeowners named their property.


Proving again that it doesn’t take a lot tp enjoy life!

Leaving Orillia brought us through some beautiful cruising grounds. Homes lined the shores of the narrow waterways and the lakes. Some were large, some were small, but they were all beautifully kept summer homes.



These boats are moving across the highway.


Waiting for the boats to head down.

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Down the hill and back into the water.

We had a lock to pass through and another lake and some narrow channels  to cross but after a few hours we found the Big Chute. Although it is called a lock, it really is an over ground marine railway system that moves boats over a change in height of about 60 feet. This lock actually lifts the boats out of the water, takes them over a highway, and then takes them back down a hill and places them back in the water. It was a little scary to think about them lifting AfterMath’s almost 30 tons out of the water, so we docked her and went to check out what would happen before we went through. It turns out that this 100-year old system is safe and efficient. It is also the easiest lock we have gone through on the whole trip.


Making our way into Big Chure.  The lockmasters call boats in the order they want them to load.

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Getting the slings just right.


The boat in front of us.

Over the road.


At the top


Going down.


The hill we descended.

To enter Big Chute, a boat is simply driven into a roped off area that contains a large palette like platform. The crew’s only preparation is to bring in the fenders. Once in the platform, lockmasters ask the owners how long their boats are and how much they draw (how much water is needed before they hit bottom).   They also ask if the boat has stabilizers and if the props are above or below the keel. Owners are welcome to have input on where slings should be positioned, but the lockmasters know boats well and are very comfortable with placements. From this point, the boat has slings placed around it to keep it from moving, and an underwater platform starts to move forward. As it is going uphill, before long the boat is raised out of the water and begins to rest on it’s keel. Soon all of the boats are out of the water and crossing a highway, then up the hill a little more, and soon back down a hill until the platform is back underwater. At this point, the boat owners start the engine and drive away. It’s an amazing and ingenious way to move boats.

Once we went through the Big Chute, we decided to stay at the bottom of the lock. It was a peaceful night and we were the only ones there.

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More beautiful scenery along the way


Closing the valves on the lock takes hand cranking.


Done with locks for a few weeks!!

This morning we made our way to the last lock on the Trent-Severn Waterway. For the next few weeks we will be lock free! We traveled to Midland, which is on the eastern edge of the Georgian Bay and we were very happy to have arrived here, as it was one of our big goals of this trip. Before moving into the Bay, John wanted to stop and get the oil changed on AfterMath as we were approaching 200 engine hours and he wanted to be sure everything was ship-shape before entering this remote area. The oil will be changed tomorrow and we will head out as soon as possible after that job is done. It is Canada Day here tomorrow, July 1, so if we end up spending another night, we will hope to see some of the celebrations. If we are done early, however, we will make our way into the bay. It is time to make some new memories!

And here is where we are tonight.


Campbellford to Hastings to Lovesick to Orillia

Note:  Any of the pictures below can be viewed more closely and more clearly by clicking on them to enlarge and improve resolution.  

Exploring towns, making our way through waterways barely wide enough for one boat, meeting friends in unexpected places and sharing the stories of the day, relaxing on rainy days, sitting in the sun, enjoying the scenery, taking walks, trying to catch a fish, and keeping in touch with family and friends by phone and text; all of these are ways we spend our days. However, we also clean the boat, do the dishes, cook meals, do laundry, spend lots of hours at the helm, keep up on maintenance and make repairs; the boat is our home and tasks need to be accomplished just like in a house. It would be hard to deny, though, that we are enjoying a wonderful life.

We ended up spending Father’s Day in Campbellford. There, we decided to go out to breakfast and, although you would think we would have had our fill of being on the water, we chose a restaurant that had seating along the very same river where AfterMath was docked. All of the kids called to talk to John and it was a nice leisurely day for both of us. IMG_2734 IMG_2739 IMG_2742 A friend we met along the way. IMG_7495 Proof positive that anyone can live the dream.  This gentleman seemed to be making his way along the canal on this tiny boat.  We saw him a few days along the way, but then we passed him.  We wish him a great trip. IMG_7500 Early Monday morning, we headed out again and made our way to a tiny little town named Hastings. Although there wasn’t a lot to do in town, I found a bait and tackle store and asked for fishing help. The gentleman who owned the store set me up with a tackle box and some basic lures and equipment. He was very obliging when I told him that I didn’t want any live bait on the boat! I walked back happy as could be that I now owned more than the two lures on the reels that came with AfterMath and the three lures I picked out at WalMart. I still haven’t caught a fish, but maybe that will change soon.

The next day was very windy and we had a good-sized lake to cross, so we decided to sit it out in Hastings another day. John worked on his never-ending list of projects and I took Kirby for a walk and read a book.

IMG_7525 IMG_7531 IMG_7534 Here you can see a tour boat being lowered through Peterborough lift lock.  As one pan rises, the other drops. IMG_7541 Motoring from Lock 20 to Lock 21, the Peterborough Lift Lock IMG_7547 An annoucement is made by the lockmasters telling boats they are clear to enter the pan.

IMG_7549 IMG_7552 John is standing next to the forward tie up.  I also tied up the stern, but then was free to wander around the boat to take pictures. IMG_7556 The front of the pan is closed and we start to rise. IMG_7562 IMG_7565 IMG_7566 Views on the way up IMG_7571 And now we have reached the top, 65 feet higher than we were just minutes ago.

On Wednesday, we left very early and started out for Peterborough. I had been looking forward to that town because of the unusual lock there. Built about 100 years ago, it is a hydraulic lock that is made up of two huge pans that lift boats 65 feet. To lock through there, the boat is simply driven into whichever pan is down, tied up to the rail and the crew is able to relax and take in the view. The lockmasters fill the pan that is in the up position with an extra foot of water and, similar to a balance scale, the heavier pan drops and the lighter one rises. When the pan reaches the top of the lock, the front is dropped and the boat is free to exit. Because this is such an interesting lock, a visitor center is nearby and an announcement is made to the public to let them know that operations are about to begin. Then people line up at the fences and in the park to watch and to take pictures of the action. I wanted to get a good look at this construction before we went through it, so we stopped at Lock 20, which is one prior to the lift lock, and took both dogs for a walk to see it work. I was glad we could experience it both from outside and inside, as it really was quite a thrill.

We considered staying the night at Lock 20, but decided to move on a little farther. As we have a lot we want to accomplish in the next few weeks, we thought it might be a good idea to get a little more distance behind us before stopping. We made it to Lock 24 where we were surprised to meet up, once again, with our friends Bill and Barbara. Bill always has dog treats in his pocket, although he doesn’t have a dog, and when Kirby and Jake heard his voice they started prancing around and drooling. It was a happy reunion for everyone.

The following pictures are in the inappropriately named, Hell’s Gate.  It is so beautiful! IMG_7580 IMG_7582 IMG_7591 IMG_7605 IMG_7612 IMG_7625 IMG_7629 IMG_7646 IMG_7652 IMG_7667 These last two pictures are from our dock in Lovesick at sunset.

After an enjoyable night we rose early and made our way through the canal. Thursday’s scenery was the prettiest yet. We maneuvered through what is known as Hell’s Gate, but this area bears no resemblance at all to the Hell’s Gate in New York City. Here the marked canal narrows and weaves its way through gorgeous scenery. Tiny islands dot the area and some are big enough for only one little tree to grow. Many of the islands have a single house on them. It’s a beautiful spot and, although the weather was drizzly and gray, it was a sight I will long remember. Our destination for the night was a small lake named Lovesick. There is a lock between two islands on this lake and it is very remote; the only way to the area is by boat. It is beautiful and peaceful, and we were the only ones at the dock. I was hoping to take some star trail pictures as there is no light pollution from any nearby city, but, as luck would have it, there were just enough clouds in the sky to make my endeavor impossible. IMG_7678 AfterMath at dock in Lovesick before we left in the morning. IMG_2753 IMG_2756 IMG_2772 This osprey nest looked to me like one in a Dr. Suess book! IMG_2774IMG_2782 A glorious sky above us IMG_2783 Cute little cottages  IMG_7682 IMG_7684 This area had beautiful homes along the waterway.

Friday, we started out at 9:00 when the lock at Lovesick opened. The day was glorious and the sky was spectacular. I am often amazed when I look out and see a pale baby blue sky at the horizon that darkens to an almost navy blue sky above, especially when it is dotted by tiny, puffy white clouds. I wish I could own something in every shade above me. Because Kelly and Craig and kids will be with us on this part of the Trent-Severn Canal on our return, we skipped the cute little towns along the way. Catching a glimpse of them, though, makes us anxious for our return. We know the grandchildren are going to love playing in the parks and going for ice cream when they are on AfterMath. Passing the towns by now allows us to fast track our way to the Georgian Bay and the North Channel, both places we are anxious to reach and to spend time. IMG_7695 We had a beautiful sunset at dock in Rosedale.

Last night we stopped at Lock 35, which is in Rosedale. Rosedale is on a lake and is the highest point on the Trent-Severn. Interestingly, it is the highest point in the world that can be reached by boat from the sea. This lake is 160 miles from the beginning of the canal in Trenton and is 598 feet higher. From this lock on, until we get to the Georgian Bay, we will be descending. IMG_2794 The narrow canal  IMG_7703 IMG_7705 These ledges of rock were less than 5 feet from AfterMath on both sides/ IMG_7700 IMG_7719 At the top of Kirkfield Lock IMG_7729 IMG_7738

Down at the bottom – 47 feet lower. IMG_2814 A geometry teacher’s dream.  The math I could have taught using that bridge!! IMG_2829 On the other side of the bridge.  Do you see the fish they just reeled in? IMG_2832 IMG_2835 A friendly reminder to watch your wake. IMG_2845 Locks are opened and closed for any sized watercraft.  This couple was paddling the canal. IMG_2842 Now that we start at the top of locks, we can get a better view of the lockmasters opening the gates with a hand crank.  In this area they are not v-shaped, but look like a wheel to which a handle is attached.

Yesterday, Saturday, we again set out early. Our adventure started by sending us through a very narrow canal where at one point we literally could have reached out and touched pine trees on both sides of our boat. If you have ever been on the Soarin’ ride in Epcot, you can imagine the smells and the sensation I felt while sitting on the seat on the bow. It was a bit surreal. To add to the excitement, because of the very clean, clear water in this area, we could see the granite that was cut to form the waterway less than 5 feet from our boat on both sides in places. John chose not to look anywhere but the depth sounder and the canal itself, staying in the middle at all times. We had no idea what we would do if a boat came in the opposite direction.

All of a sudden we came upon the Kirkfield Lock, which is another pan lock like the one in Peterborough. This one, however, dropped us 47 feet rather than raised us, so the view was spectacular from the bow of AfterMath. The ride continued today on narrow waterways, with some lakes in between. We did run into a boat coming the opposite direction on occasion, and sometimes it was quite a challenge! Finally we came to Lake Simcoe, a lake that is large and shallow, and stirs up quite a chop in the wind, which was increasing this afternoon. It turned out to be fine, though, and we made our way across the lake to arrive in Orillia.

The town appears to be a great one for a stay. We went out for dinner last night to a wonderful restaurant recommened to us by a marina owner.  The food was amazing and we enjoyed treating ourselves by not cooking on the boat/ This is the first time we have had WiFi for a week so we will catch up on news, emails, and, of course, this blog before heading out again.  We still haven’t decided if we will leave today or tomorrow.  It is a rainy day and it feels nice to relax a while, cozy on AfterMath.

Here are the maps of where we are today.

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Trenton to Campbellford

Trenton was a wonderful stop for us as we were able to walk around town, pick up a few provisions and let Kirby have some time in the park right in front of our boat. (Jake, unfortunately, wasn’t able to get off the boat as there was no gradual way for him to exit and he weighs way too much for us to lift on and off.) It was interesting to shop in a grocery store in Trenton. I saw a sign that said, “Lobsters $3.09”. I thought $3.09 a pound? We are eating lobster tonight. But instead, they were really $15.99 a pound. Ahhhh…..That metric system!! I ordered ½ pound of roast beef at the deli counter and they asked me how many kilograms. Oh my! I should have learned that all in Nichols School in Stratford, CT when I was a little kid! Trenton had a farmer’s market close by though, where I shopped before we left on Wednesday morning. There I bought some fruit and vegetables as well as the most delicious loaf of bread we have ever tasted! Potato, rosemary and garlic – trust me – it was amazing! IMG_7352 IMG_7343 Once back at the boat, we headed out to make the first lock on the Trent-Severn Waterway, about a mile from the entrance in Trenton. When you enter the first lock you must purchase a pass for the Canadian system. This is not an inexpensive permit! To get a season pass along with a mooring permit that allows you to dock at any of the waterway walls along the way cost us almost $900, which is based on the length of your boat. Of course, Canadian money is not the same as ours and $1 Canadian is equal to $ .81 US. Still, the permits cost us about $720 in American money! This is in comparison to the approximately $200 for the New York Canal system. IMG_7358 From the top of Lock 1 on the Trent-Severn Waterway IMG_7366 Here you can see why we have to go through locks.  The lock is on the right, but the power plant uses the energy produced from the falls on the left.

Here the locks are slightly different from those on the Erie Canal. Hanging from the top and anchored to the bottom about every twelve feet are thick cables that are covered in rubber. John steers close to the wall and I head back to the stern. I grab a cable on the stern, while John grabs the cable near the bow. We have lines ready on our boat, to wrap around the cable and then we simply tie the line off or hold on while the water enters or exits the lock. It all seems very easy, but that could be because we are very used to locking now.


Hand cranking the locks IMG_7385 And they slowly open

The most interesting part of the locks on the Trent-Severn is that almost all of them are hand-cranked by the lockmaster. He or she has a v-shaped crank that sits at the end of each wall. To open or close the lock, the person walks in a circle pushing the handles on the v. To me, it is reminiscent of seeing the old equipment that used mules or horses to make a machine work. One lockmaster told me there are two gears to choose from to make the doors open or close. If the easier gear is chosen, it takes twelve trips around the circle, and if the harder one is picked, it takes six trips. IMG_7387 At every lock is a house.  They are all so pretty!

We decided to have a short day on Wednesday so we only went seven and one-half miles, but there were six locks in that amount of time. After arriving at our destination, Frankford, at about two o’clock and tying up at the wall along the canal, we were met by Bill and Barbara on High Spirits who had anchored elsewhere the night before. Evening cocktails were shared at a lovely park adjoining the canal and a Canadian boater who was a retired policeman joined us. We all enjoyed hearing some of his stories about his career! IMG_7407 IMG_7411 Beautiful ride along the waterway canal IMG_7424 IMG_7426 IMG_7428A tiny plant that clings to the canal wall in a crack.  Sometimes underwater, sometimes not.


Friendly lockmasters

IMG_2668 IMG_2674 IMG_2686 IMG_2704 IMG_2707 Scenes along the way. IMG_7447 In the flight of Lock 11 and 12.  Lock 11 raises you to Lock 12 with no motoring in between. IMG_7449 High Spirits in Lock 12 IMG_7457 IMG_2715 IMG_7460IMG_7464IMG_7471 IMG_7475IMG_7478IMG_7479 IMG_7483IMG_7491 IMG_7489 Yesterday morning, Bill and Barbara and we departed Frankford. We traversed seven locks and arrived in Campbellford around 2:30. Campbellford is a nice little city that is right on the canal and that welcomes boaters with open arms. We hadn’t even finished tying up when a local storeowner showed up to give us some of her lettuce fresh from her garden. As always, she wanted to talk and hear about our adventures and tell us about her life. Right in the middle of the town is a dock separate from the waterway system. From here you can walk to restaurants, parks, a chocolate factory, another farmer’s market, and stores, and Wi-Fi is provided. Of course I found the farmer’s market and bought some lamb from a lamb farmer and some hand-made sausage from a hog farm, along with scones for breakfast tomorrow from a local baker. I also found the chocolate factory outlet and bought a large bag of chocolate bars for $3.00.

We have had a couple of traumas onboard this week. One day, after a few people mentioned that Kirby’s claws seemed long, I decided to try my luck at trimming them. All went well for the first 3 feet, but on the last one, he started to bleed profusely. I hardly clipped anything, but there was no stopping the bleeding. We wrapped the paw and waited till morning and all was well. Then, a day later, we saw blood all over on the boat. We checked Kirby, but he was ok., so we moved on to Jake. Somehow, Jake managed to pull a whole claw right out of his foot. We bandaged that one, and I texted Kelly who told me he would be ok, but I should probably trim his claws. I told her how clipping Kirby’s had been a trauma! Anyway, Jake still seems a little lame on that foot, but he is all right and hopefully we will be able to hold off until we have two veterinarians onboard to help us if we trim Jake’s claws and they start to bleed.

Paying for two nights in Campbellford allows boaters to stay for a third free, but we will check the weather and decide if we should stay or move on. There are so many more places to see! Then again it’s Father’s Day tomorrow and we can stay here and take a nice 3.5 mile walk to a suspension bridge. I’ll let you know!!

For those of you keeping track of us, here is our location tonight.

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Oswego, NY to Trenton, Ontario and Learning to Slow Down

Learning to slow down is difficult for us; we have both always been ambitious and industrious. Even our vacations have always been ones where we were constantly on the go. We have never spent a whole vacation at a resort, or, I don’t believe, even in one state. Here we are, with time to be wherever we want, and time to relax if we want, but we still both feel the need to be doing something or going somewhere. John always has a list of work projects to be attended to, and I tend to want to move on even if there is time to stay put. But slow down we must. In this new life of ours, it is impossible to take a walk without meeting someone new who is either interested in what we are doing, or is doing the same thing. Helping or being helped to tie up at a dock starts long and relaxed conversations with other boaters or people on shore. The dogs are icebreakers, although there really is no ice to break. Everyone wants to pet them and give them treats. A walk through the park with a dog on a leash turns into little walking and much petting and talking. These last few days have been productive, but at a slower pace. We are learning.


High Spirits floating in air.


The ripples from our wakes.




All I could think was that this water was as smooth as silk.

Sunday morning we left Oswego along with another couple we met, Bill and Barbara, in their boat, High Spirits and went through the last lock before we crossed Lake Ontario. As always when we cross a large body of water, I wondered if it would be rough and if I would feel any seasickness. That worry was completely unnecessary. The lake was like glass and the only movement that showed on it at all was silk-like and developed from our wake and that of our new friends. It was a surreal experience as it was difficult to see a horizon. The sky and the lake blended into one seamless backdrop and pictures of High Spirits seemed to show her floating in air with just a wake behind her.

About half way across the lake we entered Canadian waters. I pulled in my non-productive fishing-pole as my New York license was no longer acceptable. I’m sure those salmon I wanted to catch breathed a sigh of relief that I had to take a break from luring them.

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Views from our anchorage including sunrise this morning.

We anchored in Prinyer’s Cove along with Bill and Barbara and we stayed there until this morning. John had mentioned to Bill that he wasn’t comfortable with the dinghy crane and the difficulties were preventing us from using it. In true cruising camaraderie spirit, Bill showed up in his dinghy with work clothes and a grease gun in hand and the two men got to work. After a couple of hours the dinghy was in the water we were in business. Now lifting it on and off the boat is a quick and easy process and we are so happy to have its use at our fingertips.

I finally tried the washer/dryer. It’s funny to load the clothes and know that they will be clean and dry when they come out of just one machine. It actually worked great, but I think I had the times set too long and the complete cycle took a few hours. The problem with that was that we had to run the generator the whole time the machine was running, so we have decided to only do laundry when we are plugged into electricity at a marina from this point on.


Their first dinghy ride.

With the dinghy now easily accessible, we took the dogs for their first ride yesterday. They seemed to love being on the little boat and we were pleased with how well it worked and ran with the four of us in it.


Peaceful homes and farms lined the banks on our trip today.

This morning we left the cove, motored for six hours and arrived at Trenton, Ontario. We are right at the entrance of the Trent-Severn Waterway, which will be one of the highlights of our trip. From here on, we will go slowly and take the time we need to see the sights and take in the beauty.

One very exciting development has happened. Kelly, Craig and the grandchildren have firmed up a date to join us. They will be driving from Florida and will be with us from July 20th to the 27th. This means we will get the fun of having them all on the boat for a week and will even have Kelly here for her birthday. We are so excited to know they are coming!!!

We are at Fraser Park Marina today in Trenton and, obviously, have wifi.  By the way, data is very expensive with Verizon while we are here, so we are only posting on days when we have Internet connections available through marinas.  We will try to keep this blog updated as often as possible though, because we enjoy it as much as many of you do!

Here is where we are today.  Once again, one is an overview and one is detailed.



Sylvan Beach on Lake Oneida to Oswego

We left Sylvan Beach on Friday morning and traveled to the other side of Oneida Lake. It was just a couple of hours to a little marina called Ess-Kay where we completely filled AfterMath with fuel for the first time. Ess-Kay Marina had a well-stocked ship’s store so we were able to find the electronic Canadian charts we needed. We also purchased a quarantine flag that we must fly as we enter Canadian waters before we check in with the government. Ess-Kay offered us the use of a courtesy car so I picked up a few provisions that we were low on while I had this welcome convenience.



Along the Oswego Canal


Turbulent waters near Lock 5

Yesterday, Saturday, we started out early. We went through Lock 23, still on the Erie Canal, and then came upon an area called Three Rivers Junction. There you choose to go towards Buffalo or to Oswego. We took the Oswego route, which put us on the Oswego Canal. Here the locks are numbered 1 through 8, except there is no number 4. While Lock 4 was in the original plan of the canal, it was decided later that it wasn’t needed but 3 and 5 had already been built. All of the locks on the Oswego Canal lowered us and we dropped a total of 119 feet yesterday. Some of the locks on this canal have very turbulent water at their top or at their base. We found the bottom of Lock 3 to be a surprise as it had a very strong current. Number 5 is the one known for its current, but probably because we knew about it ahead of time, it seemed less than the one at 3.

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These images show the view from our dock just before Lock 8.  You can see how the canal waters are calm, but the river that flows next to the canal is very fast flowing.  Lock 8 lowers boats to the bottom of the river where both meet Lake Ontario.

We continued to the end of the canal, and we were surprised that immediately after reaching Lock 8 you are on Lake Ontario in Oswego. Crossing Lake Ontario is a day’s trip for us so, after we descended through 8 and saw the limited docking places there, we decided to return through it again and stay on the nice wall, just before the lock itself.

This morning we are getting ready to head across Lake Ontario. It is calm on the lake so the eight-hour trip should be easy. We leave New York and enter Canada today, which is why I am quickly writing this entry and getting ready to post it. One of my jobs for this morning is to call Verizon and get cell phone service and a data package that will be available in Canada. It seems that data is very expensive once you leave the states and, although we will use free Internet service whenever we can, my posting time will be more limited than it has been previously.

The lines are now off, we are heading out and I will throw out a fishing line today to see if we can catch anything on our way across the first Great Lake on which I have ever boated! Our next post will be from our first international stop. Canada, here we come!

Lock 12 to Sylvan Beach on Oneida Lake

Boating through the Erie Canal gives me time to think, time to listen, and time to watch. The scenery changes yet as you move along, but in many places it has stayed the same for almost 200 years. In the beginning of our trip, I spent a lot of time checking my phone and computer for news updates and Facebook posts. Now, during the day, I find myself putting the Internet aside. I have much better things to do. I marvel at the lines of stone that remain from an earlier version of the canal. I listen to the birds in the trees and realize that most of the time; I hear only them and our engine, which quietly pushes us along. Today I saw a great blue heron on a bank. It was the first one I’ve seen since we left Florida in March. I also saw a bright orange bird that I believe was a Baltimore oriole fly into a tree. It seemed as though that couldn’t be real, but it was. All along the canal, which is mostly separate from the Mohawk River in this area, there are barges dredging. Little tiny tugboats move them along. The barges have great digging buckets that would give my two oldest grandsons so much joy. “Mighty Machines”, they would say! We are almost done on the Erie, but we will travel down it again in the fall. I am quite sure it will be different and the same, and it will be wonderful once again. IMG_2539 IMG_2547 IMG_2559 We stayed by Lock 12 all day on Tuesday. The weather predicted severe thunderstorms so we decided to stay put. John was happy to cross some items off of his “to-do” list, and I did a little photography and some reading. The day started out with some beautiful calm water and puffy clouds that provided me with some perfect reflections. I pulled out the wide-angle lens and contentedly shot away. IMG_7177 Notice the train on the right side of the image.   IMG_7185 IMG_7186 IMG_7193 IMG_7187 The dockmasters are all so friendly! IMG_7200 IMG_7201 Floating logs are NOT a welcome sight! IMG_7210 Sunset at Herkimer Yesterday, we decided we would start early and do a good run. We covered six locks over the course of the day. There was quite a bit of debris on the canal near the locks and in some of them, too. The branches you see floating in the picture above are huge – often full trees in size. Much of John’s time at the helm was spent dodging those logs. Lock number 17 was a 45-foot lift, required a port tie, and is the largest of its kind in the world. We stopped after Lock 18, which brought us to a little village called Herkimer. There was a municipal dock there that had a waterfront restaurant, so we decided to have dinner out last night. We really haven’t eaten out since we left Stratford, so it was a nice change. IMG_2583 IMG_2589 IMG_2592 IMG_2596 The progression of opening a lock that will raise us to the next level.  IMG_2613 IMG_2614 IMG_2622 IMG_2635 IMG_7217 Boats waiting their turn to enter the lock going the opposite direction from us. IMG_7226 IMG_7236 IMG_7242 IMG_7251 Sights along the way. This morning, we again set out early. I would probably say that today’s scenery was my favorite on the Erie. The canal is lined with trees and flowers and sits up higher than the ground around it. At some points it seemed that the banks were almost non-existent and it surprised me that the water stayed where it belonged. There were a lot of people fishing along the way. At one point we saw a parking lot with a couple of buggies in it. I thought they were for decoration, but soon we saw a rowboat with Amish fishermen in it. Later we saw a canoe as well. Knowing the Amish don’t like to have their faces in photos, I tried to take a picture of the canoe as the man was faced away from me, but he turned just when I snapped the shutter. He waved and did not seem offended, so I guess all is well. We went through Locks 19 and 20 and we were at the highest point of the canal. Since leaving the first lock at Troy, NY, we had gone 108 miles and risen 420 feet. Soon we arrived at Locks 21 and 22, which were the first locks that lowered us rather than raised us. The total drop was 45 feet for the two combined. We both felt that the locks that lower us were easier than those that raised us, so going back along the canal in the fall will really be a breeze. duck collage While traveling along I saw two very young ducks scurrying to get out of our way. I called to John who slowed the boat to a crawl to give them time. We lost sight of one of them but the other little guy just kept going as fast as he could right in front of us. He paddled and flapped his wings so hard and finally managed to get out of the water enough to veer off. It was so sad but so cute at the same time. I had the feeling that this was the duckling’s first flight. We hope the other one made it safely to shore! IMG_7270 IMG_7272 IMG_7282 IMG_7286 IMG_7287 We arrived in Sylvan Beach on Oneida Lake this afternoon. The town has a little amusement park that is not currently open. It seems to me that there isn’t much that is sadder looking than an unused amusement park! There is a classic car show here tonight, though, so we had a nice walk around the waterside park looking at the cars as they set up. Tomorrow we will head across the lake and fill up our tanks. We haven’t done that before and fuel is much less expensive here than it is in Canada. Soon we will be crossing out of the US and into our first international travel on AfterMath! Let the adventure continue!! To keep you updated as to where we are now, here is an overview and a close up. IMG_1048 IMG_1047

Waterford, NY to Lock 12 on the Erie Canal

IMG_7065 From the top of Lock 2.  Note AfterMath – second boat from the left. IMG_7071 IMG_7100IMG_7113 A view of Waterford IMG_7078 Lock 2, from where it is entered in Waterford IMG_7086 IMG_7089 IMG_7120 From the top of the lock IMG_7125 Mules, of course, were important to the Erie Canal as they were the first means of propulsion. IMG_7129 IMG_7128 At the farmers’ market IMG_7127 A view across the river from Waterford. What a gorgeous day yesterday was! We got up early and, while John reviewed the plans for the day, I set out on a walk with a camera in hand. Waterford is the town at the first lock of the Erie Canal, which, surprisingly, is numbered “2” – there is no number “1”. Each lock on the canal has an observation area and I wanted to get up to this one to take a few photos from a perspective I would not have while inside the lock itself. John met me at the top of Lock 2 and we walked back to the dock where the first farmers’ market of the season was taking place. We stopped for coffee and a muffin and sat outside at one of the tables along the sea wall to enjoy our breakfast. Soon John headed back to the boat to ready it for the day, while I shopped at the farmers’ market for fresh vegetables and a couple of new herb plants for my window. At 9:30, Jack arrived for his day on the canal with us. IMG_7132 Jack has a line on the stern IMG_7135 And John, with his helper on the bow.  Kirby hung out with Jack the whole time.   IMG_7141 IMG_7143 Still deep in the lock. IMG_7153 IMG_7155 Nearing the top.  Note the Appalacian Mountains behind Jack. IMG_2511 IMG_7157 Short staffed of personnel yesterday, we had to wait until 11:00 for Lock 2 to open. By that time there were four other boats ready to go through with us. Each lock is a little different in size, but would easily fit six boats or so. We were prepared for a starboard tie again, as were most of the others. Two boats had prepared both of their sides, and it worked out well that three of us stayed to the right of the lock while the other two stayed to the left. So far, all of the locks have had the same system in the Erie Canal. To use each lock, John has to steer us close to the wall where weighted lines hang that are attached to the top of the lock wall. Boat hooks are used to grab two lines: one person is at the bow and one is at the stern, each holding a line. Because there were three of us, I had bow duty, Jack had stern, and John used a line wrapped around one of the metal cables that hung between our two lines when he could. Once all boats are in the lock, the doors close and the water starts to rise until the next level is reached. The first five locks (numbers 2 through 6) are in very quick succession and each lockmaster has been notified that boats are on their way by the previous operator, so there is no waiting between locks. Over one and a half miles, we were raised about 167 feet. In comparison, the Panama Canal only raises boats 85 feet in total. The time spent inside the lock is very busy. There was one lock where we could only use two lines because there was no metal cable, so I was able to snap a few pictures, but generally, there was no time for photography inside the lock! After Lock 6, it is eleven miles until Lock 7 and then eleven more to Lock 8, so we were able to have a quick lunch and Jack and I sat outside to enjoy the scenery from the bow. The sun was warm and the breeze was cool, so it was a perfect day to sit there and look at the unspoiled coast along the river. The Erie Canal has been rebuilt a couple of times since the original and now a good part of if runs in the Mohawk River. It is beautiful here with little waterfalls, flowers and an occasional house along the way, but not much else. We tied up at the wall along the canal right after we passed through Lock 8. There, Jean met us and we all had a nice dinner together. We all felt like it was a successful first day on the Erie. IMG_2527 IMG_2525 Trees marked with buoy numbers. IMG_2519 On the right is the barge and tug boat that came through Lock 11 with us – but not before John had to maneuver around them in a feat of amazing driving skills.  The lockmaster apologized for making him do it and the tug boat driver told him that he was very sorry about not going first.  John was amazing.  I would have told the lockmaster what a bad idea it was! IMG_7160 IMG_7162 Along the canal – a cloudy day, but still beautiful. IMG_7170 IMG_7172 Lock 12  IMG_7164 Our dock tonight

This morning John and I headed out on our own and passed through Locks 9, 10, 11 and 12. We left a little later than the other boats who had tied up along the same wall as we did last night, so we were all alone in every lock except for one where a barge and tug boat joined us. With just the two of us, John was in charge of the bow and I had the stern. This way, if the boat began to pull a little too far forward for me to be comfortable, John could reach in and hit reverse for a few seconds. Sometimes the lines are shorter than we would wish and, if the boat moves forward, I am truly “at the end of my rope”, as Jack mentioned yesterday when he was in the same predicament. We have now risen 260 feet since we left Waterford. We stopped just after Lock 12 for the night, as we knew that some thunderstorms were predicted and we both had some work we wanted to get done.

Tomorrow we will head out early and continue our adventure!

Here is our Google Maps position now. IMG_1038

Catskill, NY to the Entrance to the Erie Canal – and Fun with the Family

The Erie Canal brings thoughts of mules pulling barges, songs about low bridges, and men digging a ditch that would change America forever. It is a piece of history that is about to come alive for us starting tomorrow and we are eagerly looking forward to the experience.


Jean, Abby, Georgia, and Tim





Jessie and Cheryl

We spent two nights in Catskill, NY. There we caught up on some cleaning, let the dogs have some time off the boat, and then were excited to have Jack and Jean and Cheryl, Tim and their girls, Jessie, Becky, Abby and Georgia come visit us on AfterMath. Jack and Jean brought a cooler full of drinks and treated us all to pizza, which we ate under the tent on the lawn. The girls entertained Kirby and Jake, fed the ducks at the marina, and Abby even spotted an otter in the water. We always treasure time with the family and last night was truly wonderful.




Entering Albany

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This morning was very windy so we got a little bit of a late start leaving Catskill. Finally, at about 11:00 we decided it was time to go. The ride up the Hudson was peaceful from inside the pilothouse. I ventured out to the bow for a little while, but it was just too cool and windy for me to enjoy it, so I spent most of my time inside with John. After a few hours, we spotted Albany in the distance, and then, before long, we came upon Troy, NY.


Troy, NY


We got the green light to enter the lock


Driving out of the lock at Troy

Troy was a little more interesting for two reasons: a lock and a low bridge. The lock here is the first lock that we have had to traverse in AfterMath. From my experience, every lock is different and, true to form, I have never had to use a lock quite like this one before. John and I prepared the boat for tying up on the starboard (right) side, as that is what we had read most locks in the system preferred. After waiting 15 minutes for the green light to enter the lock, the lockmaster told us we should be ready to use a port (left) side tie. Quickly we changed everything over and entered the lock. For the Troy lock, the method is that you pull up very close to the wall where metal pipes are embedded in cutouts. You wrap a line around the metal pipe and hold on. Water starts to rise as soon as you are ready and before you know it, you have risen 15 feet. While that sounds easy, it is a bit of a trick to take a 48-foot boat and get it very close to the wall without hitting anything. John did an amazing job and the lockmaster kept commenting on how well he did maneuvering AfterMath. Apparently a lot of craziness goes on there, but we were the only boat locking through so we didn’t see any of the excitement that sometimes happens.

After completing our first lock of the trip, we continued to a bridge that had John a little concerned. While we had been careful to plan our trip knowing AfterMath’s height of just under 20 feet, we saw that the bridge very shortly after the lock had a clearance of 20 feet according to our software. Thankfully, the information we had was not quite correct and the bridge had clearance of about 24 feet so we were just fine.


Time to decide which way to go!

A short trip from the bridge brought us to the entrance to the Erie Canal. Boats are allowed to tie up to the wall next to the visitors’ center here. We are just a few feet from the first lock of the canal and we are joined by others getting ready to set out on the same trip. Tomorrow, in only one and a half miles, we will go through five locks that will raise us about 165 feet. By the time we have gone 30 miles or so at the end of the day, we will have passed through 7 or 8 locks. We actually will go through 22 locks before we leave the Erie Canal and enter the Oswego Canal, where there are many more. We are excited to have my brother, Jack, joining us tomorrow for the trip. He has wanted to ride on the Erie Canal since he was a very young boy and we are happy he will be getting the chance to do it with us.

And you’ll always know your neighbor

And you’ll always know your pal

If you’ve ever navigated on the Erie Canal

From the song “Fifteen Years on the Erie Canal”

For those of you who are wondering exactly where we are, here is a Google Map from our dock today.  We are at the blue dot.


NYC to Catskill, NY – and a Family Greeting Along the Way

Now we really feel that our trip has begun! We have entered water we have never traversed before. It is peaceful and beautiful and filled with new discoveries and sights as well as some familiar places and some of our loving family. What could be better? IMG_2197 Our view of the Statue of Liberty from our anchorage. IMG_6924 Leaving the anchorage IMG_2237 Ellis Island

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The New World Trade Center and the Empire State Building IMG_6937 IMG_2266 IMG_6952 We left our perfect little anchorage yesterday morning and started our journey up the Hudson River. The night before was beautiful. We could see the Statue of Liberty, the Verrazano Narrows Bridge and the new World Trade Tower lit up from our boat. I will always be amazed at that anchorage and I know how lucky we were to be there. As we pulled away we again passed the statue and then headed out past Ellis Island and then onto the Hudson. Although there were lots of barges and water taxis, we had no trouble at all navigating through that busy area. I sat on the bow with cameras in hand while John did all the driving.   I marveled at the new World Trade Tower, the Empire State Building and the skyline in general from our boat. IMG_2315 IMG_2337 IMG_2341 IMG_2355 So many trains!  They remind me of my little grandsons that love trains so much. IMG_2356 IMG_6970 IMG_6963 IMG_2363

West Point Military Academy


Another view of West Point

IMG_2380 IMG_2385 Cold Spring Harbor IMG_2402 It seemed like no time at all until we were past the busy city and into the beautiful Palisades with its rock cliffs that fall straight into the Hudson. The sun finally came out and the day was gorgeous. We passed under the Tappan Zee Bridge and before long we were in the volcanic hills of the Catskills. This is water we had never boated on and it was breathtakingly beautiful. It is really undeveloped with just little villages along the way. We bought some fuel in Haverstraw, NY, which was just south of West Point, and we continued past Cold Spring Harbor and up to Hyde Park where we docked for the night at a tiny little marina where the people couldn’t have been friendlier if they tried. IMG_2428 IMG_2429 IMG_2436 IMG_2443 Cheryl and friend waving to greet us. cropped-aftermath-030-2.jpg Photo courtesy of Cheryl O’Dell IMG_2451

Saugerties Light House – a bed and breakfast

After a good night’s sleep, we started out early this morning towards our destination of Catskill, NY.   While we were riding my niece, Cheryl, texted and asked me to let her know when we were near the Kingston Bridge because she wanted to go to a park nearby and wave at us as we passed. Soon my brother, Jack, called and said he and Jean would be out there to greet us too. We, of course, loved the idea. What a thrill it was to see them waving enthusiastically from shore! Even better, Cheryl brought out her camera to take pictures of us as we went by and Jack videoed us as well. IMG_2470 The greeting committee at Catskill Marina.  There are 13 of those babies! IMG_7009 The view from the bow of our boat while we are docked.  Gorgeous.

It was a beautiful ride up to this well protected and very scenic marina. Once here we were able to stretch our legs and take the dogs on a walk to town. The marina has a beautiful shady yard along with a picnic area covered by a tent, a swimming pool, and a fire pit. It is too chilly here for the pool, but it’s nice to have a place for the dogs to roll around in the grass and for us to sit on chairs on the lawn. We look forward to tomorrow afternoon when Jack, Jean, and Cheryl and Tim and the girls come to see AfterMath for the first time. We will leave early Saturday and make our way further north. We should be entering the Erie Canal soon! We are on our way.

Manhasset Bay to NYC

Today was a day to which I had really been looking forward. A day that was delayed because of thunderstorms in the area. But today came and it was all I could have wanted despite the rain and clouds. Nothing could have dampened my spirits on this part of the trip.

IMG_2029A storm rolling in to Manhasset Bay

On Sunday, John checked the weather and told me that he thought we should sit tight in Manhasset Bay because there were going to be heavy storms in New York City that afternoon and he didn’t want to have to anchor during that weather. I don’t like to second guess his weather predictions because he has had a lot more training in them than I have, but I will admit that sitting in the sun Sunday morning made me wonder if he was being overly cautious. Just as he expected, however, those storms started hitting the city and we were happy he had made the decision to stay on our safe mooring. Some storms did come by us later, but we were really on the edge of the system so there was nothing to worry about.

Yesterday, Monday, wasn’t any better weather-wise, so we caught up on some tasks and I did a lot of reading. It was relaxing and actually kind of nice. For those of you wondering, the dogs have both become perfectly comfortable using their mat outside for a bathroom, so we never even had to leave the boat for those two days.

This morning we decided it would be safe to move on. Going into New York City can be tricky by boat because you have to go through an area called Hell’s Gate. The current there is very strong and, if you go against the tide, a slow boat would have a hard time making any headway. If you ride the tide in, though, you can go a lot faster than hull speed. The difficulty is that there is often a lot of traffic in this area and, even though you time it to go with the tide, a slower boat like ours can be difficult to control. Therefore, we waited until 11:00 AM to cast off the mooring and started our day.

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Throgs Neck and Whitestone Bridges.  See the city in the background?



Rikers Island Prison


The floating prison.


Entering Hell’s Gate



Hell’s Gate Bridge

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The United Nations


The Brooklyn Bridge through a rainy window.


South Street Seaport


Staten Island Ferry Terminal



I was in my glory for this part of the trip. Going out of the bay we passed those gorgeous houses that always line the shores. I also love lighthouses and there was such an adorable little lighthouse sitting in the middle of the water. Soon we came upon the Throgs Neck and the Whitestone Bridges. Through them, you could catch a glimpse of the New York skyline in the distance. As we proceeded up the East River we got closer and closer to New York City. We started seeing familiar and famous sights and we both really enjoyed the ride.






One landmark that everyone who passes through New York by boat looks forward to is the Statue of Liberty. Catching that first glimpse of her is such a thrill. As you approach her you pass by Governors Island and see Ellis Island to the side. Of course I was busy with my camera as we neared the little island on which she stands. It was rainy so I shot out the door, but I made sure I didn’t miss the experience. Now we are anchored in a wonderful little anchorage behind the Statue. It is calm and there are only a couple of other boats here. It’s hard to believe this little, quiet spot is so near one of the most famous landmarks in the world. Although Lady Liberty’s bottom half is behind trees, we can see the rest of her from our boat. I’m amazed and content. It was a perfect day.