Leaving Catskill – September 26

IMG_9952

Sunset at Catskill Marina from our boat.

IMG_0082

I had to laugh when this gentleman went by.  I’m not sure if he got the idea of sailing!  (And, yes, there was a breeze.)

IMG_1285

What the predictions have been looking like.  One day it was actually 10 foot seas!

This is just a quick post to keep you updated as to where we are.  We have been in Catskill, NY for a little over a week now, but we are leaving this morning.  As I mentioned in our last entry, the weather off the coast of New Jersey has been rough and will remain so until at least Tuesday.  Wednesday is looking pretty good, with seas of only 3 – 4 feet and it seems  we have waited it out.  While we were here, John got lots of big projects done, so he felt our time was definitely not wasted.  I was able to get the dogs off for walks each day and keep up on laundry, and other tasks.  Jack and Jean were especially helpful as they came here on Monday and took me to the store for a major grocery shopping event.  It was wonderful to be able to shop and have a car to transport all of our goods.  They also bought us lunch and we were able to get in a nice visit with them that day.

Today we leave and head south again.  Jeff is planning to meet us for the New Jersey off shore leg and we are so excited that he will be along.  Besides enjoying his company, Jeff has a lot of knowledge and experience and will be a great help if the seas kick up and become nasty again.

We have enjoyed Catskill with its friendly little marina, pretty grounds, and WiFi that worked so well, but it is time to move on.  We will write again soon to let you know how the waves were!

Little Falls – Canajoharie – Scotia – Waterford – Catskill, NY and Finishing the Locks – September 14 – 19

It’s hard to believe all we have done in the past four months. AfterMath truly feels like home and our life on board doesn’t feel the least bit strange anymore. We handle the boat easily now; John pilots her competently and I find that many times, when someone offers to help us dock, I would really rather toss my own line around a cleat, but I accept because they are trying to be helpful. We love our traveling days and our days when we decide to stay put. Our lives on the water have settled into comfortable rhythms that suit us well.

IMG_9812

Passing all kinds of tugboats along the way.

IMG_9815

Beautiful scenery along the way.

IMG_9817

IMG_9823

Urger, the tugboat.

IMG_9828 IMG_9830

Urger’s engine.

We left Utica and traveled to Little Falls, NY Monday the 14th. At the small marina there, we docked in front of a beautiful tugboat called “Urger”. When John was a young child, he wanted to be a tugboat captain and he still loves looking at them to this day. As it turns out, Urger is the flagship boat owned by the New York Canal Corporation. Built in 1901, it is one of the oldest working vessels in the country that is still afloat. Originally a fishing boat, it was sold to New York in the 1920’s. The engine was originally steam, but it was replaced with an Atlas Diesel in the 1940’s. That engine still powers the boat today. She was used as a tugboat into the early 1980’s and was put back to service in the 90’s as a teaching boat. Now Urger travels to cities along the canals to festivals and to schools. Fourth grade children at many schools tour the tug and learn about the Erie Canal. Urger is beautifully maintained and we enjoyed getting a good look at this historic vessel.

IMG_9845

This lock is unusual in that one end is a guillotine door that drops down and lifts up.

IMG_8803

You have to love the originality of this bench.

IMG_8810

A little tug!

IMG_9848

The park at our dock in Canajoharie.

IMG_9852

Around town in Canajoharie – note Peruzzi’s Meat Market.

IMG_9855

IMG_9858 IMG_9860

How about those lamps?

IMG_9861 IMG_9863 IMG_9866 IMG_9868

IMG_9881

On Tuesday we set out for a twenty-mile trip to a little village of Canajoharie. John remembered passing by this town when he traveled for work and always wanted to get there by boat, so we made sure to stop on our way east on the Erie Canal. Docked at a little waterfront park, we were able to walk to the center of town in just a few minutes. We had been told of a little meat market in town that had wonderful homemade sausages, so we decided to pick some up to add to our freezer. We arrived at Peruzzi’s Meat Market and were surprised to see that, not only did they carry great meats and sausages as well as other groceries, but they also sold furniture in their store! We had a great time deciding what to buy and pretty much bought one of every type sausage there was along with whatever else Mr. Peruzzi suggested. We had a great meal that night and I went back in the morning to buy even more. Until everything froze solid, my freezer had the strong aroma of well-seasoned sausage!

Canajoharie has a population of about 2700. According to Mr. Peruzzi, the town really came to being as a hunting town. People came to hunt and many industries made furs and leather products. As hunting became more regulated, it lost most of those businesses, but in the late 1800’s Beech Nut Baby Food was founded. Until 2011 when it relocated, Beech Nut was the largest employer in the town. I walked around Church St, the main street in town, Wednesday morning and took some pictures, and I promised Mr. Peruzzi that, when we got as far away from his store as we could get, I would post a picture on his Facebook page with a sign saying how many miles we were from this nice little meat market with incredible sausages.

IMG_9891

Jack

IMG_9889 IMG_9897

Reflections

IMG_8814

Wednesday morning also brought us the fun of having my brother, Jack, join us again for a day on the Erie. Jack has been fascinated with the canal since he was in sixth grade and was happy for another day as we traveled along. Jean dropped him off in the morning and we had a beautiful ride. The water was truly glass-like and as always, I just couldn’t resist photographing some of the perfectly symmetrical reflections. Canajoharie was near Lock 14 on the canal and we told Jean we would meet her at Lock 8, which is in Scotia, NY. After a day of sunshine and warmth, Jean arrived and we had a dinner of, you guessed it, sausage, salad, and the angel hair pasta that Peruzzi’s highly recommended. It was so nice to spend the time with Jack and Jean and we were happy Jack got some more time on the canal.

IMG_9905

Leaving Waterford and the Erie Canal

IMG_9906-2

Entering Troy Lock

IMG_9913

I’m not sure why, but this is one of the dogs that guard this lock.

IMG_9923 IMG_9918

In the lock

IMG_9931

The 220th lock!

IMG_9914-2

Troy, NY

Our last day on the Erie Canal happened on Thursday when we traveled from Lock 8 to Waterford. It felt strange to think we were finished with the canals in New York and Canada and to be back on the Hudson River. Yesterday, Friday, we went through the last lock in the North East, Troy NY’s lock.   In total, we traversed 220 locks since June when we started the canal systems of New York and Canada. I found it bittersweet, but John said he was happy to be done with locks!

IMG_9924-2

Passing through Albany, NY

IMG_9930-2 IMG_9922-2

IMG_9950

IMG_9919-2

IMG_9936-2-Edit

A lighthouse on the Hudson in the sparkling sunshine.

IMG_9942-2

Olana State Historical Site – This was the home of Frederic Church, a landscape artist

We traveled back to Catskill, NY, where we stopped at the beginning of our trip. Our niece, Cheryl, and her family came to visit us and brought us a great pizza dinner, which we were able to enjoy outside at the marina’s picnic area. We loved having family around, as always, and thank them for coming to visit us.

IMG_9800

It’s hard to picture, but this is a 20 foot bridge that our 19 foot, 7 inch boat had to pass under.

Catskill Marina was where we originally lowered our mast, took down the radar and GPS antennas, and did anything else we could to get our boat down to 19 feet 7 inches high, a height interestingly called “air draft”. This was so important to be able to fit under all those 20 foot bridges we had to pass under on our way west and north. Today, though, the mast and antennas have been raised again, the bimini for the dinghy is back up, and John is upstairs right now getting everything back where it belongs for the next couple of years. Our air draft after he finishes will be 32 feet.

IMG_9960

Some of Catskill’s cats.

IMG_9957

IMG_9952

A walk around Catskill, NY.  

IMG_9953 IMG_9954 IMG_9956 IMG_9971 IMG_9974 IMG_9975 IMG_9976 IMG_9979

IMG_0023

IMG_9980 IMG_9982 IMG_9994

IMG_0007

When we were here those months ago, I enjoyed walking around town and seeing all of the beautifully decorated cats that were near the businesses on Main St. I never got to photograph them at the time, so I was excited to have an opportunity to do so on this return trip. However, I saw online that today is the Cat Auction. I hadn’t realized that the cats are all on the street for the summer, but then auctioned off each September for a good cause. Of course I hurried to town to see if I could find them before they were gone for good and, luckily found a few in the store where the auction would be taking place this afternoon. While it wasn’t quite the same as seeing them on Main St., I was happy to get a couple of shots of a few of these statues. I also took some time to photograph other sights along Main St, including a little garden park with beautiful flowers and some friendly bees.

Soon we will be back in New York City and getting ready to pass New Jersey on the Atlantic, but we are carefully watching the weather that has predictions of some strong winds and high seas. Because hurricane Sandy damaged the Intracoastal Waterway in New Jersey, we will have to go offshore to head south before we can re-enter the protected path. We will wait out the waves and go when we feel comfortable and safe. We will keep you updated as to what is happening in the next blog post!

For now, here is where we are today:

IMG_1271 IMG_1270

Oswego, Phoenix, Brewerton, Sylvan Beach and Utica – September 8 – 14

IMG_9684I always wonder what those buildings used to hold.
IMG_9688

The park in Phoenix, N.Y.

IMG_9713

IMG_9689 IMG_9690 IMG_9692 IMG_9708 IMG_9714 IMG_9716

IMG_9719

Little businesses in Phoenix

IMG_9721 IMG_9722

We left Oswego on September 8th and made our way to Phoenix, N.Y. Phoenix is a little town that we passed by on our way west on the Erie and I really wanted to stop there going back. On the weekends, in this town, a group of young teens called the Bridge House Brats gather at the dock. They get boaters food from restaurants, escort them to stores and carry packages, and generally do anything they can for tips. They also work on keeping up the park’s grounds. Although we were not there on the weekend, evidence of these young entrepreneurs is everywhere. The whole area is very eclectic. Duck houses abound, flowers are planted cheerfully around the grounds, there are tables and chairs along the docks and picnic tables on shore, flags of every sort are flying and the whole little park is colorful and charming. We took a walk through the tiny town with a population of about 2800 in the evening and found everything closed up and looking a bit depressed. In the morning, though, all the little cafes and restaurants were open and things seemed much brighter. I found a produce stand with fresh fruits and vegetables and bought, among other things, some wonderfully delicious peaches that seemed to be just picked.

Our next stop, on September 10th – 11th, was Brewerton, N.Y. At lock 23 on the Erie Canal, Brewerton is known for having the least expensive fuel in the area. While we still really had plenty to get us as far as Norfolk, VA according to John’s calculations, he wanted to put in a few hundred gallons to allow for any side trips we decide to make. Norfolk apparently has very inexpensive fuel, so that will be our next big fill up destination.

IMG_1264

We stayed at a wonderful marina in Brewerton where the people were very friendly and helpful. They offered us a courtesy car, which I used to get a few things while I had the opportunity. While driving to town I passed the fire department on the 11th and saw their very simple and tasteful display of remembrance of that terrible event 14 years ago.

IMG_9731 IMG_9737 IMG_9740 IMG_9751 IMG_9753 IMG_9760 IMG_9764 IMG_9770 IMG_9788

We left Brewerton the afternoon of the 11th and motored to Sylvan Beach. We arrived around 5:00 and while enjoying happy hour we noticed a lot of fire engines heading to town.   A quick check online showed us that there would be a memorial at 7:00 PM. Of course, New York is especially sensitive to the happenings of 9/11 and Sylvan Beach was no exception. We walked to the town green in time for the ceremony and we were really touched by what we saw there. Firemen from all over the area came with their trucks, the observance was beautiful, and we left feeling very touched by all of the sentiments expressed during the event.

IMG_8773 IMG_8774 IMG_8778 IMG_8783 IMG_8791 IMG_8793

We stayed in Sylvan Beach an extra night as the weather was predicted to be rainy. Although it was never too bad, we enjoyed our time relaxing, reading, and working on projects. Late Sunday morning we left and headed to Utica, N.Y. We stayed at Lock 20 along the Erie Canal and along the way we noticed that there are signs of autumn in the air. When we were traveling west last spring, the leaves had just come out and were bright green. Now we are starting to see the change. It is time to move south for those of us who are Floridians at heart. We need to beat fall and live in our never-ending summer!

Clayton – Cape Vincent – Henderson Harbor – Oswego, and getting to see Ned and Anne. September 1 – September 7

Our anchorage was enveloped in a heavy fog when we awoke on Tuesday, September 1. It was predicted to lift by 10:00, which we were happy to hear, because the day was to be another fun day of meeting up with our long time good friends, Ned and Anne. We hadn’t seen them since we left Florida back in March, but before that we spent a lot of time together when they were in St. Petersburg. They live part of the time there and the other part of the year in Connecticut and they were the first to set up a date to visit us on AfterMath when she was first purchased. We didn’t want to miss our time with them!

IMG_9613

Anne is always ready to toast a good time.

IMG_9615

And Ned is ready to cruise.

IMG_8759

Clayton, NY

IMG_8760 IMG_8762 IMG_8764

The houseboat once owned by Mr. Boldt – the man who built Boldt Castle.  Clayton has an antique boat museum.

IMG_8766 IMG_9618

IMG_9624 IMG_9626

Because we had cleaning and tasks to do, we worked until the fog lifted and then set out to Clayton, NY. It was a short ride from the anchorage and we arrived around noon. I needed to do some serious provisioning and John had read that a grocery store in town would pick up customers and then return them to their boat. I called the store’s office and, sure enough, minutes later, they came to pick me up. I bought enough to fill the freezer and stock the cabinets and was returned back just about when Ned and Anne arrived. As soon as I put all the groceries away we met up and had a wonderful reunion. They treated us to dinner at a very nice restaurant and then we all gathered in the lounge at the hotel/marina where we were all staying. The next day we got together for breakfast, John and Ned went to do an errand, and then we all went out for a ride on AfterMath before sharing a great dinner aboard. We were able to have one more breakfast with them, enjoying some delicious bagels they brought along with some banana bread Chris sent, while I did some laundry on Thursday, before they headed back to Connecticut. We traditionally spend New Years Eve with Ned and Anne and we all vowed to do so again this year.

IMG_9628

The Department of Environmental Conservation where we docked for a few nights
IMG_9629

A park in Cape Vincent

IMG_9630

What an interesting name for a pizza restaurant.  It actually only sold ice cream!

IMG_9631

The center of town in Cape Vincent.

IMG_9634

IMG_9636

At the aquarium.

IMG_9646 IMG_9653 IMG_9661

IMG_9662

Inside the pottery shop.

IMG_9663

Hostas in full bloom.

IMG_9678

Old lace curtains in these windows.

IMG_9666

The most interesting shop in town.  You really worried about turning around at this shop for fear something would fall down!

IMG_9674 IMG_9677 IMG_9671

IMG_9676

Our next stop after leaving Clayton was a little town called Cape Vincent. The town and the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) provide free docks and we found a beautiful one at the DEC right in front of their fishery building. I really loved Cape Vincent. It was a quaint town with a little center just a couple of minutes from our dock. There were shops, a post office, a tiny aquarium, a market with anything you could need, and restaurants right near us. We decided to take advantage of the local American Legion fish fry on Friday night where we could mix with the locals. In Cape Vincent, we also met a very nice group of Canadians who invited us to join them. We ended up staying there three nights and had a great time exploring the town, relaxing with our new friends, and watching the tankers pass on the St. Lawrence Seaway. We probably would have stayed longer but the weather a few days out didn’t look favorable for crossing Lake Ontario.

Yesterday we left our dock and headed to Henderson Harbor. It was a bumpy ride for the most part and the dogs were a little nervous, but we all did just fine. Henderson Harbor is a big port for sailboats on Lake Ontario, but we found a nice spot to anchor right outside of a mooring field.

Today we left our anchorage early and motored over to Oswego, NY where we again re-entered the Oswego Canal. We have vowed to take our trip down the New York canals at a slower pace than we did when we were traveling north. I will spend some time making canvas covers for the dinghy, the spot light, and whatever else John has planned, and he will get some more routine maintenance done and we will spend time exploring the towns along the way. We will also try to post to the blog more often than we were able in Canada!

Here is where we are now.

IMG_1252 IMG_1253

Clearing Customs at Boldt Castle on Heart Island – August 31

Monday morning, August 31st, found us on our way out of Canada and back into the United States. Our anchorage from the previous night was only a few miles away from this landmark, which also serves as a port of entry. The castle, with the slight haze on the water, appeared to rise straight out of a fairy tale. I couldn’t wait to see it, but first we needed to clear customs.

IMG_8755

Our first view of the fairy tale-like Boldt Castle

IMG_8756

The Powerhouse

IMG_9572 IMG_9588

IMG_9540

AfterMath at the Customs Dock

IMG_9503 IMG_9505 IMG_9522 IMG_9483

Stained glass ceiling in the castle

IMG_9473

IMG_9513

The currently un-refurbished swimming pool in the basement

IMG_9514

The castle came complete with an underground tunnel where supplies could be brought in

IMG_9523

The children’s playhouse

IMG_9526

IMG_9593

A waterfront view of the playhouse.  I guess my children were deprived!

IMG_9535

Inside the playhouse

IMG_9538

The arch that was to welcome all visitors

IMG_8758

The boathouse.  A water shuttle runs to take tourists back and forth between the castle and the boathouse.

IMG_9546 IMG_9550 IMG_9552 IMG_9553

IMG_9570

AfterMath from the boathouse

Arriving at the castle, we immediately were directed to a dock where a friendly customs officer came quickly to our boat. He looked at the name, asked for our passports, and said hello to Kirby and Jake, who are always willing to make another acquaintance. In a matter of just a couple of minutes we were told we were free to leave the boat, once again back in the U. S. We asked where we might dock if we wanted to tour the castle before leaving and were told that we were welcome to stay right there on the Customs dock as it was not a busy day. We were so happy with our experience at the island as other ports of entry in the past have not been so easily dealt with.

Boldt Castle was the brainchild of George Boldt, proprietor of the Waldorf Astoria, who wanted to build a castle to show his love for his wife, Louise.   Beginning the project in 1900, he set no price limits and held back nothing. He planned a six-story building with 120 rooms, a powerhouse to power the castle, and a tower to be used as a children’s playhouse. He even paid to have the island, on which the castle stood, blasted into the shape of a heart. Boldt wanted to give the castle to his wife on Valentine’s Day in 1904, but, in January of the same year, Louise passed away. George ordered all work on the castle to be suspended and he never returned to the island again.

Over the next 73 years the castle was left to the elements and to vandals, but in 1977 the structures and land were purchased by the Thousand Island Bridge Authority. Since the 1980’s the organization has been slowly refurbishing the buildings and the gardens and it is now a very popular stop for tour boats from New York and Canada. The first two floors have largely been completed now and they are spectacular. Tourists can see all of the floors of the castle and walk through tunnels and into the powerhouse and the children’s playhouse, even where the refurbishment is not completed. The powerhouse now has a picture history on the ground floor that is fascinating to see. The children’s playhouse has not been restored yet, but will hold a bowling alley on its first floor. Also available for touring is a boathouse across the river from the castle. Inside are gorgeous boats that were part of Mr. Boldt’s large collection.

IMG_9604

Crossing under the 1000 Island Bridge, now on the American side.

We spent a few hours touring the castle, the grounds, the playhouse, the powerhouse, and the boathouse. It was a gorgeous day to spend at a beautiful park that is a testament to a man’s undying love for his wife. After our tour was over we headed to a nearby anchorage where we enjoyed a quiet evening, happy to be back in the United States of America.

The 1000 Islands – Canadian Side, August 24 – August 30

The transition had to be made eventually, but it was hard for us to leave Canada knowing that we would not be back again for at least a couple of years. We were leaving a country that we learned to love after discovering the friendly people, the interesting history, the beautiful towns, and wonderful cities. And, it just didn’t seem right to be leaving before I ever caught a fish! But we had to prepare to leave, so we took the last several days to tour the Canadian side of the 1000 Islands.

IMG_8645

Ft. Henry, Kingston, Ontario

IMG_8647

Kingston powers 72,000 homes with its 86 windmills

IMG_8666

Shortly after leaving Kingston we were greeted by Shrek and some friends.

IMG_8669

We stayed an extra day in Kingston as the wind on the 24th was strong again and the general consensus of boaters was that it just wasn’t a good day to leave shore. Not ones to miss enjoying our day, we went to town where we ate gelato for lunch at the waters edge park. We then walked around the city and found a great little butcher shop where some provisions for the freezer were purchased. The next day was much calmer so we started out on our way to an anchorage.

IMG_8676

On the way from the Admiralty Islands to the Lake Fleet Islands, we saw this large Canadian police boat.

IMG_9356

After anchoring, this boat, which was based on the big red ship above, came up to us to make sure we had checked in with the border patrol in Canada (which we had done 2 1/2 months earlier).  They were the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and they couldn’t have been nicer.They even happily agreed to this photo.
IMG_9243

A few scenes from Gananoque (pronounced GAN-a-NOC-way).  It took us a few days to be able to say it correctly!

IMG_9249 IMG_9255IMG_8679

A peaceful sunset at anchor.
IMG_9289

The skies changed constantly and were very beautiful.  

IMG_9316 IMG_9338 IMG_9343

Even with that threatening looking sky above us, we barely felt a drizzle that day.

IMG_9346 IMG_9351

IMG_8695

Passing under the 1000 Island Bridge on the Canadian Side.

IMG_8697

Tour boat traffic

IMG_8713

IMG_8718

IMG_9369

Sparkling water near sunset time

IMG_9372

Dinghy touring times

IMG_9379 IMG_9400

The water is crystal clear

IMG_9431

Weeds are really pretty underwater – but not on your anchor when it’s time to pull it up! 

IMG_9434

IMG_8721

It seems that a lot of dogs like paddle boarding.  I really loved that the basset hound rode with this guy.

IMG_8723

A busy weekend day 

IMG_8725

IMG_9450

Kirby and John taking a little walk in the sun

IMG_9457

AfterMath in its most active anchorage.

The 1000 Islands area really number over 1800. To qualify as an island the land must be above water year round and contain at least one tree. About 2/3 of the islands are in Canada with the rest being in New York. They are grouped in clusters that have names and each island is also individually named. While touring we anchored in the Admiralty Islands, Lake Fleet Islands, Navy Islands and Grenadier Island and the North Shore. Our trips were short these days, and we enjoyed sleeping in a little, relaxing with coffee in the morning, taking a short ride and having time to explore in the afternoon. We were able to use the dinghy a lot, as nothing is better for exploring than a little boat that can go almost anywhere.

While the scenery was lovely, I found that the waters just didn’t have the same atmosphere as many of the places we had frequented recently, and I think my photos reflect that change. There is more traffic in this area and, while we found nice anchorages, many were just not quite as secluded and tranquil as those we had left farther north. There are a lot of tour boats in this area and the weekend is a busy time for boaters here.

IMG_8671

Homes on islands along the way

IMG_8703 IMG_8705 IMG_8709 IMG_9296

IMG_9320 IMG_9383 IMG_9405

The boat house and the Winnebago

IMG_9409

It might be fun to live in a lighthouse

IMG_8683

No house at all – just fun and a sailboat

All along the way we enjoyed looking at the variety of homes on the islands. Some are tiny, some are huge, some take up all of the island and others have glorious green lawns. One had a wonderful boathouse, but the home was a Winnebago. We wondered how they got that RV to the island and laughed thinking that the boats may have a more luxurious home than the people. Another had docks for boats, a gazebo and a shelter, but no house at all. Apparently the people live in their sailboat while on their island but use land for meals and other fun.

IMG_8733

Our last Canadian sunset

The end had come for our Canadian adventure. August 30 was to be our last day before re-entering the United States. When we started out last spring, I wasn’t even sure that I really had an interest in heading north, but now I am so happy we did. Unforgettable memories were made here, and some of the time was shared with friends and with family.   What could be better?