Showing posts from August, 2009

Sunday - August 30th - Weehawkeen (New York City)

Jerry and I took the “bus tour” of the United StatesMilitaryAcademy at West Point.  This was not the official tour – I presume they have one, but rather what happens when you walk on with Military ID and ask “where is the PX?”  It turns out on the other side of the base.  So we were directed to the academy bus service stop.  We then joined plebes and civilian workers as we drove all around the facility.  It was a rainy day so we were not motivated to hop on and off to visit the hot spots on the tour.  We picked up a few necessities at the PX (for example I was running out of sun block) and headed back to the gate and the boat.We set sail (mostly engine) in rain and fog headed for TarrytownNY. Within the first 5 minutes we had man overboard drill.  We knocked the boat hook overboard and had to retrieve it.  Fortunately it floats.  We arrived at Tarrytown in the evening and Jerry and I had a nice farewell dinner.I wanted to take advantage of the early morning current flow down the Huds…

Friday - August 28th - West Point - 7AM

We are docked just below the US Military Academy at West Point at Highland Falls Marina. Jerry and I intend to walk up the bluff in a little while and visit. We spent the night at a small marina in Highland Falls, NY. The main marina building is a train station. A set of very active railroad tracks runs between the marina office and Reboot. We listened all night long to the sounds of the train wheels squealing around the curve. And of course they have to blow their whistle for the grade crossing. We got in last night after dark so we really didn’t get much of a chance to scope things out. This morning I checked out the “grade crossing.” It is complete with signal lights and gates. It leads down 25 feet to the boat ramp! So all night long the railroad engineers were blowing their horns to warn boaters who might be launching or retrieving their boats. LOL!On the subject of trains when we were in Castleton-on-Hudson there was a high speed Amtrak line going thru town. We made jokes about …

August 28th - Evening

A 25 mile slog thru rain to the Tarrytown Marina.  Jerry will leave by train to Grand Central tomorrow, Reboot and I will continue down to Weehawken.

Thursday - August 27th - Castleton on Hudson

We are a sailboat again!  We spent yesterday putting the mast back up, the sails on, and so forth.  This morning we will continue down the Hudson River to NY City.Congratulations to Ace on his last day of work!

Erie Canal Transit - Reflections

Erie Canal Transit – August 2009 – ReflectionsWe transited the Erie Canal from Tonawanda (Buffalo) to Troy (Hudson River) in Reboot, a Catalina 42 Mark II Wing Keel sailboat.  We were 60 feet overall with mast down, 14 foot beam, 5 foot draft.  We had a total of two people on board.Reflections, in no particular order of importance:No matter what the tour guides say this is a transit, not a cruise.  You motor 337 miles along a river that is almost uniformly covered on either bank by trees.  There is little or nothing unique to look at.  We hand steered the entire way, if your autopilot is on the blink I strongly suggest you get it fixed before entering the canal.  This transit challenges watching grass grow or paint dry for excitement.Crew:  You can do the transit with two people but three will reduce the tension level in the locks.  The best setup in the locks is for someone fending the bow, someone fending the stern, and a third person gra…

Pictures - Erie Canal Transit

August 24th - Evening

We made it thru lock 2 and docked in WaterfordNY.  We are officially thru the Erie Canal as Lock 1, like the Black Rock lock in Buffalo is a Federal lock.  The Erie Canal is run by New YorkState, or to be precise the New York State Canal Corporation.We will get our stuff together for putting the mast back up and then head out into the Hudson  for the marina and crane.

Monday - August 24th - Schenectady Yacht Club

We are at the Schenectady Yacht Club.  It reminds me of the Hempstead Harbor Club that my parents belonged to when I was young.  It is a bunch of floating docks and a couple of buildings.  We asked about a bar and restaurant when we called them and they said, no, we don’t have one.  We will give you a beer but we can’t sell you a bear!  As a point of reference for my Milwaukee friends, SouthShore is way upscale!   We arrived late in the evening when our other docking options turned out not to be docking options.  Several members of the club were on their fuel dock to take lines and swap stories.  We had pizza delivered and spent the evening swapping tales.  We also met a couple that were transiting west, they had come east several weeks ago and were on their way home.I have not blogged for the last couple of days as nothing much has happened, just more watching paint dry with one exception.  As we were transiting LakeOneida we passed a powerboat exhibiting an orange flag with a black …

Thursday - August 20th - Into the wilderness

We left Fairport early this morning and spent the entire day motoring the canal.  We reached Lock 25 in the middle of the Montezuma Wildlife Refuge in the early afternoon.  We determined that we could not make the next lock and tie up point before dark so we called it an early day and stopped in mid-afternoon.  The weather continues to be hot and we look forward to those times when the sky is overcast.The next 50 miles is in very sparsely populated country.  We expect to make it thru to the west end of Oneida Lake by tomorrow at sundown.

Wednesday - August 19th - No Cows!

Jerry told me that his friends were all kidding him about the canal trip.  They said, “You will see a lot of cows.”  Well, so far we have only seen one group.  And they turned out to be llamas!  We are, however, keeping a sharp cow watch.It appears that Tux the cat may have jumped ship in North Tonawanda.  She had been very good about staying on board.  Then one night she jumped off and went prowling on shore.  We thought we had lost her but in the morning she was back on the boat.  The following night she went prowling again.  My last memory of her was her jumping down on my body and disappearing down into the boat.  So when we left we thought she had come back.  However, we have not seen her and she has not used the box for a couple of days.  She may have started a new life with another sailor cat.  Jerry suggested she just came back to pack a bag and wait for me to doze off again so she could make her escape.Another long grind watching the grass grow.  We navigated two more locks a…

Heart of Darkness

Spencer introduced me to Conrad’s Heart of Darkness.  At least I think it is Conrad, hard to do reference checks out here.  The book describes the voyage up an un-named river.  If you have seen Apocalypse Now you know most of the story.  The further up the river the more wild, the more primitive, and the more bizarre the behavior.As we have travel the Erie Canal I have had some small appreciation for what it must have been like to be a Swift Boater in Vietnam.  You are constrained on both sides by a narrow channel.  You can’t go particularly fast – of course the combat boats could go much faster than Reboot.  Every grove of trees, every cut thru limestone represents a potential ambush location.  That my brothers in arms did this on a daily basis in pursuit of freedom (as did all the other forces in Vietnam and every other military action by the United States) is beyond my comprehension.

August 21st - Making it to the Lake

Montezuma got his revenge in the form of mosquitoes.  After we had been docked for some time a couple from another sailboat came up with their dog to visit.  We noticed that the dog started rolling around in the grass.  A few seconds later we too were inundated by the mosquitoes that had been stirred up by their walk.We closed up the boat and put up screens but it was far too late. We both were covered with bites.  Fortunately Jerry had some antihistamine tablets and after a bit our bodies did calm down enough so that we were able to get some sleep.  Of course then there was the thunderstorm thru the open hatches that woke us up.Today was more of watching grass grow with two exceptions: we finally saw cows; and we played I Spy the Lighthouse.  The local Home Depot must have had a sale on replica lighthouses because every third dock along the SenecaRiver had one.Our fuel supply started to get low so we transferred 5 gallons of fuel from one of the plastic jugs to the main fuel tank.  W…

Tuesday, August 18th - Locks 35 & 34

This morning we met Dennis Wardell’s father, the founder of the Wardell boat yard.  He is working on restoring an old boat at the yard and was quite fun to chat with.  Dennis was kind enough, after we had walked over to the grocery store for provisions to pick us up and drive us back.So, with the mast, boom and everything else of ours back on the boat we proceeded down the Erie Canal.Jerry and I agree that for at least the first 30 miles the Erie Canal was about as exciting as watching grass grow.  Like most similar canals you simply run down a narrow ditch for mile after mile.  Yes, the scenery does change – corn fields, private homes, etc. but in general the entire idea is to get from point “A” to point “B”.So far we have seen 2 other sailboats making their way east to west.For those considering a transit:The entire canal is on channel 13 ---We locked thru the first two locks coming east – locks 35 and 34.  The lockmaster was very helpful and after purchasing our 10 day canal pass g…

Lake Erie

We left Cleveland headed for Buffalo and the autopilot started acting up again.  We are coming to the conclusion that it is the control head and not the computer but there is no real way of telling until we have more time and equipment to test with.We had a long, hot, flat no wind trip up the lake.  We put in at EriePA for the night.  At first we tied up at the public dock, but it was quite public and not very appealing.  Se we went across the small inlet area and tied up in front of the convention center.  We made some soup and while we were sitting in the cockpit a boat covered with disco lights with the music blaring came by a couple of times.  On the third pass we realized that it was one guy alone on the boat – he was dancing with himself.  I guess disco lights just don’t get the girls at Pasquile Isle.  Fortunately his third pass was his last and we were able to bed down for the night.The next morning we left and went direct to Buffalo.  Another flat, hot, windless boring trip a…

The Niagara River

We left our Buffalo anchorage and proceeded to a local marina to have the mast taken down.  We spent about four hours chatting with some people that were at the marina, and then concluded that we just did not like the state of the equipment at the marina and we would go elsewhere to get the mast taken down.  So we left Buffalo on Sunday afternoon and transited the Niagara River to the head of the Erie Canal.  It was an interesting trip.  We were both well aware that Niagara Falls was somewhere in front of us and entertained each other with commentary about going over the Falls. One starts the process by going up the River proper.  There is not much current – of course it was pushing us down toward the Falls.  You then enter the BlackRockCanal.  This takes you past the Niagara River rapids.  We had trouble getting the first bridge to open.  He did not respond on the radio and finally came out and told us a train was coming but he would open after the train.  The second bridge did open…

Taking down the mast (Part 1)

After a long night of worrying about Tux who had become bold enough to wander off the boat on to shore we started the process of building the supports and taking down the mast.  It was a very hot and sunny day and the work was hard and tedious.  By the end of the day we had the forward support built, the rear support 90% complete, and the mast (sans boom, sails, etc.) hanging in the crane next to the boat.  We agreed that it was late and we were too tired to cope with trying to get the mast into the cradle on the boat so we called it a night.Mr. Wardell is a Prince.  He has been helping us on and off all day by pointing out stuff we can use, setting up and pulling the mast out (he did it straight up which is a very big trick!) and in general making sure that we paced ourselves by saying – hey, if you need to spend another night that is OK.  I would recommend him to anyone who needs a stick up or down at this end of the canal.

In Cleveland

I left Put-In Bay early in the AM on my way to Cleveland.  Out about ½ hour the autopilot decided to go sneakers up so I had to hand steer for the next 6 hours.  I got into Cleveland, got fuel, and settled the boat in a marina for the night.  Today Jerry flew in (my pick up crew for the Erie Canal transit.)  We got the gooseneck fixed – hopefully for good and the antenna that will let us use both the high power VHF radio and the AIS at the same time working.  We plan a quiet night and an early morning departure.  If the autopilot stops acting up we will go direct to Buffalo, if not we will hand steer to Erie, PA and anchor out for the night.Roger

It's AMAZING how that worked out!

Sometimes a picture is worth 10,000 words.  Today I was transiting the DetroitRiver from North to South.  First I passed the City and RenaissanceCenter with it’s proud Government Motors (sigh) sign.  Then down past the River Rouge plant, at least at one time the largest steel plant in the world.  Of course “lakers” full of iron ore have been passing me in my travels on Lake Huron.  So it clicked.  Detroit builds cars.  Cars take lots of steel – not so much now as before, but still a lot.  Steel takes iron ore and coal.  Isn’t it just amazing how that all worked out?

The Marinas are empty

As I reflect on the past few days I realized that each time I stopped in a marina for fuel it was empty – at least 50% of the slips had no boats in them. As I came up the Black River this evening there were maybe 5% of the total slips with boats in them. It is obviously a tough season.Roger

What a day!

Well… A day for some firsts. I spent the morning working on getting some of the electronics sorted out on the boat while waiting for the waves to subside. Of course at dawn there was a pretty good sized thunderstorm but I didn’t care as I had spent the night in a slip. By noon it was clear and bright and I finished up my tasks and set sail. Would you believe, by 2 PM there was a special marine warning for thunderstorms exactly where I was sailing. And of course, within ½ hour they hit. So now I have survived my first single handed offshore thunderstorm in Reboot. In general thunderstorms are pretty nasty things at sea, but I have a particular aversion to them since in my first offshore sailboat race at the tender age of 21 we were hit in the middle of the night with a particularly nasty one in LakeOntario. It demasted three of the boats in the race. I was pretty scared.Today after the second wave of thunderstorms rolled over the boat I heard a strange banging noise. On furt…

Presque Isle Harbor

A long day. The wind and the waves were against me all of the way. I stopped in PresqueIsleHarbor for fuel, only to discover that the forecast for tonight was for 8 foot waves. Tomorrow should be better. I am planning on shoving off at dawn.

Leaving Lake Michigan

I spent last night in Frankfort, MI.  I purchased fuel and then went down to the end of the lake and anchored out for the night.  There was no wind to speak of so the anchor chain just hung down in the water.  I never did get to the rode (the chain is 50 feet long.)  I slept in the cockpit and woke with the dawn as the fishermen were heading out to the lake.  I decided that I might as well raise anchor and take off for points North.  The problem with this stretch is that there are no good places to pull in that don’t require a significant deviation for the straight course to Grey’s Reef. I passed thru Grey’s Reef at about 9 PM and turned the corner heading for the MackinacBridge.  Since it is 16 miles to the bridge I will leave Lake Michigan at the beginning of a new day. It is 4.6 miles in front of me as I write this post.The biggest accomplishment of the day was to get the chart plotter set up so that I can use the computer to write and journal and not for navigation.  In the last …


I left the Milwaukee Yacht Club at about 7 PM last night and have been sailing and motoring north in Lake Michigan.  It was a beautiful full moon with very flat seas,  This made for a comfortable ride except for the fact that there was very little wind so in order to make any significant progress I have been forced to run the engine most of the time.  So much for sailing around the world!  I am sure I will have many hour under sail alone in the next months or years.Ed King stopped down in the late afternoon to see how I was doing.  He helped me get the last few items tied down and stowed.  We agreed that since the boat was ready and the weather favorable there was no point waiting until morning so after a brief handshake I was off.  It was appropriate that Ed was the one to see me off, he has been a great friend and a constant racing companion for several years.Early in the AM I heard the plaintive cry of a black and white kitty.  Yes, Tux climbed up in the cockpit and joined me.  She…