To Waterford, NY—the crossroads

We left Half Moon Bay at about 10 AM, because we didn’t plan to go far. On the way, we saw West Point from the water (this is the same day and time that our friends were taking OUR picture from West Point!):

And Bannerman Castle, constructed in the early 1900’s by Francis Bannerman, a collector and re-seller of antique military equipment, to store his huge supply of surplus munitions cartridges. After his death in 1918, and after a series of explosions, fires, vandalism, and neglect, it’s a pretty sad picture of abandonment:

We arrived into Norrie Point State Park, which reportedly had great hiking and walking trails. Unfortunately we were also told in the same breath not to hike on them because there were ticks EVERYWHERE, and those ticks are the nasty ones that carry diseases. Oh well–we walked the back roads nearby, which were beautiful. Reminds us both of the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Left the next day for Shady Harbor Marina, near Ravena, NY–a pleasant, if non-memorable stop. Yesterday, we only traveled 20 miles in order to arrive into Waterford early enough to be certain of snagging a mooring spot. The Waterford Visitor Center offers free moorage and cheap power for two nights in the center of Waterford. It is also the intersection between two major canals–one heading west (the Erie) and one heading due north (the Champlain)–so as you can imagine, a free dock in this place gets crowded. Here’s a map of the NY Canal system:

The voyage to Waterford took us longer than we thought because we had to go through a lock at Troy just south of town. Going through was a bit nerve-wracking because not only was our locking technique a bit rusty, but the method was quite different than we’d experienced previously. Instead of ropes hanging down that we could grab and use to keep the bow and stern against the lock wall, there were only long steel pipes inserted into the cement walls of the lock at about 50-70 foot intervals. We were directed to go to pipe #1 (we were first into the lock), loop a midship line around the steel pipe, and then feed it out as the water rose 14 feet. I didn’t like the idea of having our bow and stern unprotected as the water flowed in , so, in addition to our two lock boards midship (remember, a lock board consists of a 3 foot length of PVC pipe that rests outside of two fenders, and protects our boat from hitting the lock walls), also put large fenders on both the bow and stern. This was a fortuitous decision, for which I later patted myself on the back, because as you can imagine, the rush of water into the lock not only raised the boat up, but swung its ends in and out. Since I was concentrating on holding onto the midship line and feeding it out as necessary while not giving enough play to let us be swept backwards into the boat behind us, I would’ve watched helplessly as our bow and stern smashed into the cement walls. Disaster averted.

A few minutes after clearing the lock, we turned into the Waterford Visitor’s Center dock, and were gratified to see a mooring spot right in front of the building. Here it is:

Since it was not a marina, there was no one around to help with lines, but we’ve learned a lot over the last few months. David slowly pointed the bow in as close as he dared, I jumped a couple of feet out and down 5 feet onto the dock with a bow line, quickly tied it to a cleat, thus allowing David to easily pivot the stern in. After the stern line was secured, we could take our time and finish our mooring chores, which normally takes about a half hour or so. First, we fastened two spring lines (spring lines prevent the boat from going forwards or backwards; bow and stern lines prevent the ends from going in or out), adjusted the fenders either up or down, and ran a line from the stern cleat on the opposite side of the boat to a dock cleat further down to ensure that the swim steps remain close to the dock and thus easy to step on and off from, After we’ve placed that line, we can remove the former stern line, (also known as the “trip wire”) which is now redundant. Other chores: bringing down our paraphernalia that has collected throughout the day from the flybridge, turning off and covering all the instruments up there, turning off all the electricity and the engines, plugging into the power source, and turning power back on, entering all the data from the day into the ships log, and then turning off and covering the instruments down below.

After we were all done with our chores, and smugly congratulating ourselves at how well it had gone, we belatedly noticed that the rub rail in front of our mooring area was red, rather than yellow like everywhere else. We ran up to the Visitor’s Center, asked what that meant, and were informed that we were moored in the pump out area, and had to move immediately. We were worried that we’d lose a slip space, so I think we unmoored and re-moored in the fastest time ever–wish I’d taken a time lapse photo of our frantic movements to move the boat into the next available slip 75 feet away. Dang.

Our newest slip happens to be located just before the first lock on the Erie Canal:

Waterford was a wonderful town–in fact, may be the best so far. We found great restaurants, grocery and hardware stores an easy walk or bike ride away, free moorage, free restrooms and hot showers, and practically free electricity. However, the BEST thing about it was the network of bike paths that we (including Bruce and Janet) took advantage of on both days of our stay.

We rode the old tow path of the old Erie Canal (before it was widened).

We also stopped at some viewpoints and historical sites along our ride. Remember reading about the Iroquois Confederacy, a sort of Native American “League of Nations”? Well it happened right here, near the Cohoes Falls.

The day before we left, there was a farmer’s market right in front of the Visitor’s Center and thus right in front of us. We bought local vegetables, fruit, and baked goods, and listened to some surprisingly good live music.

Hunny loved the town too–until she nearly completely ripped out one of her claws while clambering out of the river onto some rocks. She could hardly walk for the first few hours after her injury–I tried my best to carry her, but only managed it for about 15 feet. Luckily, as dogs do, she healed incredibly quickly. Not even 48 hours later, she was running in the park with barely a limp, and begging David to throw the ball for her. Here’s her (much improved) limp the morning after:

We reluctantly left Waterford, and most of the cruisers we’d met along the way, including Bruce and Janet, as most go on the Erie Canal. We however, want to tour more of Canada, so continued north up the Hudson.

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