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.
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.
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.