From the top of Lock 2. Note AfterMath – second boat from the left. A view of Waterford Lock 2, from where it is entered in Waterford From the top of the lock Mules, of course, were important to the Erie Canal as they were the first means of propulsion. At the farmers’ market 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. Jack has a line on the stern And John, with his helper on the bow. Kirby hung out with Jack the whole time. Still deep in the lock. Nearing the top. Note the Appalacian Mountains behind Jack. 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. Trees marked with buoy numbers. 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! Along the canal – a cloudy day, but still beautiful. Lock 12 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!