July 1, 2013
When The Water Calls ... We Follow


June 20, 2013
New Adventures


May 31, 2013
Storing Our Shiny Red Tug


May 13, 2013
Viva La Difference


May 6, 2013
Swinging Free & Easy


April 15, 2013
In The Middle


March 29, 2013
On The Hook


March 18, 2013
Tinker Time


February 28, 2013
Jumping Into the Mix


February 15, 2013
Time Travel


February 6, 2013
Charlevoix - A Small Town With A World-Class Reputation


January 15, 2013
The Perfect Ending


January 1, 2013
Magical Weather & Mysterious Ports


December 15, 2012
Collins Inlet, Killarney, & Little Current


December 1, 2012
New Neighbors


November 16, 2012
What Makes a Perfect Anchorage?


November 1, 2012
Are We There Yet?


October 15, 2012
CHANGE OF LATITUDE


October 1, 2012
Womens Roundtable


September 15, 2012
Freedom to Discover a Southern Gem


September 1, 2012
Promises


August 15, 2012
Nice to Have Options


August 1, 2012
Go West!


July 15, 2012
The Perfect Boating Vacation Destination


July 1, 2012
Propane


June 15, 2012
Flagler’s Folly


June 1, 2012
Everglades Detour


May 15, 2012
Making New Friends


May 1, 2012
Something Old and Something New


April 15, 2012
Florida’s Wide Open West Coast


April 1, 2012
Life On the Water in a Trailerable Trawler


March 15, 2012
Becoming Second Nature


March 1, 2012
Last Dance


February 15, 2012
Call it Romance or Mystique


February 1, 2012
Natural Wonders Abound


January 15, 2012
Hardly a Care in the World


January 1, 2012
Wide-Eyed Anticipation


December 15, 2011
Winding Our Way to Lake Powell


December 1, 2011
On to New Cruising Grounds


November 15, 2011
Sharing the Love


November 1, 2011
On the Water Again


October 14, 2011
First Impressions


October 3, 2011
Possession is Nine-Tenths of the Fun


September 15, 2011
Getting the Show on the Road


September 1, 2011
Lets Dance!


August 15, 2011
Getting Our Ducks in a Row


August 1, 2011
Summer Without a Boat


July 15, 2011
The Water and The Boater Home


July 1, 2011
One Step Closer


June 15, 2011
Time Keeps on slippin’ Into the Future


June 1, 2011
Made in the USA


May 15, 2011
Making the Right Truck Choice


May 1, 2011
Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder


April 15, 2011
What Goes Around Comes Around


April 1, 2011
Wishing Star Interlude


March 15, 2011
Helping Hands


March 1, 2011
THE PERFECT BOAT!


February 15, 2011
Weighing the Options


February 1, 2011
Making a List, Checking it Twice!


January 14, 2011
The Science of Towing


December 30, 2010
The Upside of Downsizing


December 15, 2010
The New Plan!


December 1, 2010
Homeward Bound-The Final Leg


November 15, 2010
Somethings In The Water


November 1, 2010
Our Turn to Relax & Smile


October 15, 2010
Gem in the Rough


October 1, 2010
Whats Your Favorite Place on the Loop?


September 15, 2010
Reflecting Pool


September 1, 2010
Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder


August 15, 2010
Canadian Wonderland


August 1, 2010
"Low Bridge, Everybody Down"


July 15, 2010
One Day At A Time


July 1, 2010
Decisions, Decisions, Decisions!


June 15, 2010
Lets All Do the Rendezvous


June 1, 2010
On the Hard


May 15, 2010
Falling in Love With Key West


May 1, 2010
Helping Women Get On Board


April 15, 2010
Key West - A Repeat Performance


April 1, 2010
Unexpected Pleasures


March 15, 2010
Mom Cruise


March 1, 2010
Okeechobee Bound


February 15, 2010
Chance Encounters


February 1, 2010
Three Nights in Paradise


January 15, 2010
New Frontiers


January 1, 2010
First Time Experiences


December 15, 2009
A Friend In Every Port


December 1, 2009
Dealing With A Temperamental Lady


November 18, 2009
You Say Goodbye, I Say Hello


November 13, 2009
A Cult Following


October 15, 2009
Somewhere in Time


October 1, 2009
Unlocking Our Minds Eye


September 18, 2009
Its In My Nature


August 15, 2009
The RBS Antidote


August 1, 2009
Crab Crazy


July 15, 2009
Sights And Sounds Of The Bay


July 15, 2009
Sights And Sounds Of The Bay


June 15, 2009
Our Last Leg North


June 1, 2009
Northern Migration


May 15, 2009
Priceless


May 1, 2009
Hello Goodbye


April 15, 2009
Let The Sun Shine In!


April 1, 2009
Dont Worry, Be Happy


March 15, 2009
Bahama Bound


March 1, 2009
What Do You Do All Day?


February 15, 2009
Slow Motion


February 1, 2009
On The Hook With A Million-Dollar View


January 15, 2009
High Anxiety


January 1, 2009
A String Of One-Night Stands


December 15, 2008
Pushing Into New Tennessee River, Upstream To Adventure


December 1, 2008
All Together Now


November 15, 2008
Kismet in the Aftermath of Hurricane Ike


October 31, 2008
Our Love Affair With The River


October 16, 2008
Big City Lights


October 1, 2008
The Adventure Begins


September 15, 2008
Prepping For The Loop


September 1, 2008
The Space Ship


August 15, 2008
Jumping Aboard In Seattle


August 1, 2008
If We Knew Then What We Know Now!


July 10, 2008
The Second Time Around


July 1, 2008
Our Turn For The Great American Loop

   

"Low Bridge, Everybody Down"
By Kismet, Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Erie Canal is famous in song and story. This great canal links the waters of the mighty Hudson River (east) and Lake Erie (west) and includes an alternate, shorter route to Oswego on Lake Ontario. An engineering marvel in its day, many referred to it as the “Eighth Wonder of the World.” Planning for the canal first started in 1808 and was completed in 1825. The Erie Canal unlocked the interior of North America and within 15 years of its opening became the busiest port in America. Immigrants found work along the canal and settled in the many towns, which sprouted along its path. In its day, the canal brought a flow of people and new ideas. These newcomers infused the nation with different languages, customs, practices, and religions. All 363 miles, of this man-made inland waterway, were built by the muscle power of men and horses. A ten-foot wide towpath was built along the banks of the canal for horses, mules, and oxen led by a boy boat driver or “hoggee.”

This map shows the entire Erie Canal route. We went north to exit the canal at Oswego on Lake Ontario.

As Jim and I found ourselves headed towards another historic stretch of America’s national and nautical history, we thought it fitting that the impressive Hudson River preceded the experience. After leaving New York City’s majestic harbor and spending five days moving up “America’s Rhine,” our heads were already slightly spinning from the weight of those imposing cruising waters.

Our plan though was to only travel the eastern section to northwest to Oswego since we were headed to Canada and the Trent-Severn Waterway and had a time schedule to adhere to. The Canal Corridor is made up of some of New York State’s most picturesque wildlife preserves where one can fish, bird watch and take tours of farms and wineries not to mention touring the canal by an old timey tour or charter boat.

Jim and I always talk about the history we are exposed to while traveling on the Great Loop – the Erie Canal is no exception. As we were in the thick of this legendary wonder, one that not only made its mark way back when but also continues to hold a certain fascination and well preserved folklore to this very day, we tried to imagine what this waterway was like in its heyday. Pretty heady stuff for a pair of boaters from northern Michigan, which is more known for its wide-open Great Lakes, timber, Indians and the automotive industry.

Our first stop was Waterford, New York; well know as being the eastern entrance to the Erie Canal. We arrived along with several of the boats we had been traveling with up the Hudson River including River Quest, Betty B and another Kismet. As a side note – many Loopers opt to go north on the Champlain Canal (all the way up to Montreal and back southwest to Kingston which is also situated on Lake Ontario) and part of the New York Canal System. Our boat was too tall for one of the low bridges to go the Champlain route.

We arrived in Waterford to find a wall full of boats as the water in the canal was rising rather quickly; they were basically stacking up due to a lock closure. This day was somewhat exciting for us in that once we arrived at our destination, we realized that we would not have any more tidal waters to deal with and we’d be into fresh water again – more like our familiar home waters of the Great Lakes. We’ll have 29 locks ahead of us before we leave the state of New York and its canal system. When we traveled the Erie Canal the dockage on each of the town walls was free, most don’t have power or any services, but when it’s free what’s to complain about?

Not only a reunion for the Loopers, the potluck was enjoyed by all of the boaters tied to the Waterford town wall.

It was a fairly rainy season and the water levels were higher than usual. At its highest, during our stay in Waterford, the water came just inches from the top edge of the wall we were tied to. We had to stay an extra day due to the lock closures and for the unsafe conditions to improve. When flooding occurs, the locks tend to fill up with debris, which must be cleaned out before normal operations may continue. This really wasn’t an inconvenience to us though because we loved staying on the edge of this quaint and friendly small town.

The volunteer harbormaster, Rob, was a big hit at the potluck while telling stories of the canal and leading us all in a chorus of the Erie Canal Song.

We had a chance to meet some of the other boaters on the wall, during our stay, and also some townspeople who came to walk along the waterfront during the day and night. I got my hand kissed by one of the harbormasters just like in France. There were six Looper boats congregated on the wall and one night we had a little impromptu potluck in front of the harbor office that included all the boaters on the wall. The volunteer harbormaster, Rob (the one who likes to kiss the women boater’s hands) stayed late to make sure our evening was warm and welcoming. He took the photos for us with our cameras and passed out bookmarks with the words to the Erie Canal Song on them (and of course he led us through a verse of the song). He told us appropriate stories, bid us goodnight and invited us all back to visit with him in the future. It is hard to express the warm and wonderful feeling we all felt that night as we returned to our boats to sleep while docked in Waterford along the historic Erie Canal.

     Erie Canal Song
     Low Bridge, Everybody Down
     (Written by: Thomas Allen in 1905)

     I’ve got a mule, her name is Sal,
     Fifteen years on the Erie Canal.
     She’s a good ol’ worker and a good ol’ pal,
     Fifteen years on the Erie Canal.
     We’ve hauled some barges in our day,
     Filled with lumber, coal, and hay,
     And we know ev’ry inch of the way,
     From Albany to Buffalo.

     Chorus:
     Low bridge, ev’rybody down!
     Low bridge, for we’re comin’ to a town!
     And you’ll always know your neighbor,
     You’ll always know your pal,
     if you’ve ever navigated on the Erie Canal.

We followed this boat through most of the locks today on our way to Amsterdam.

Finally, three days later, the closed lock we needed to travel through opened and we were able to continue on our way. Next stop was Amsterdam. Ten locks on our first day traveling northwest. Most of the towns on the canal have seen better days, however you can see how at one time they were all rather grand. We found a great neighborhood Italian restaurant, Bosco’s; they had the best calzones we’ve ever tasted. The trains run non-stop abreast of the canal where we tied up on the free wall. Great at first with a nice quiet sunset – a little noisy through the night though when trying to sleep.

We enjoyed a beautiful sunset, after our walk and dinner at Bosco’s, while tied to the wall in Amsterdam

Next stop was a 23-mile, two-lock, move in the rain to Canajoharie. Canajoharie is the home of Beech-Nut Gum. We spent the night rafted together with a few other Loopers on the town’s dock. We found it to be a rather nice small town but we got soaked walking around while exploring in the rain.

Digging for diamonds at the diamond mine in Herkner was hard work in the rain. Can’t say we’ve ever done this before.

After only one night in Canajoharie, 5 more locks and another 26 miles brought us to Herkimer. We took a cab to the Herkimer Diamond Mines to dig, with pick axes, for gems in the two mines they have. We came back with two large rocks as mementos of all that digging. A few miles up river is the home of Remington Arms. Although we didn’t tour the plant or museum ourselves, we received a report back from some friends that it was an interesting stop.

On our way to Rome we encountered some of these canal workboats.
Rome was another 2 locks and 28 miles up stream. Rome has a great deal of historical significance. In 1758 Fort Stanwick, known as the “fort that never surrendered” was built there. Fort Stanwick successfully repelled a prolonged siege, in August 1777, by British, German, Loyalist, Canadian, and American Indian troops and warriors commanded by British Gen. Barry St. Leger. At this juncture on the Canal, we traversed 20 locks and have risen 420 feet.

Sylvan Beach, our first “paid for” stop at a marina since we started this trek ten days ago, is an old resort town. A welcome treat after so many days on free docks with minimal or no services – we enjoyed the full showers, electricity and a sorely needed pump out.

We found lots of fresh produce today when we encountered this little fruit and bakery stand in a neighborhood close to the waterfront in Phoenix.

We left Sylvan Beach the next day and cruised 40 miles across Oneida Lake, with only two locks to negotiate. This is a 24-mile long, shallow lake that can be as rough as Lake Michigan. It is considered the fifth most dangerous lake in the U.S. Although it was quite rough, as the winds had picked up the last few days – we survived. Our goal this day was to make it to Phoenix where we tied up, all by ourselves, on a town wall right next to a beautiful park. We had a long walk around town and while walking back into the nearby neighborhood we found a fruit and veggie stand in front of one of the little houses. We found fresh asparagus and strawberries in abundance as well as home baked cookies and a cheerful gardener/baker to chat with. Then as we walked away we had to chuckle to ourselves as we realized how very little we needed these days to make us happy.

Only 20 miles left in the U.S. before we head into Canadian territory for the final stretch of our Great Loop boat trip. 620 miles to go!

Oswego, located on the shores of Lake Ontario, is our last stop in the states before entering Canada.

Oswego was our last stop in the U.S. until we got back to Michigan. An old port town that also has a rich military history between the French, English and Native Americans, Oswego sits at the mouth of the Oswego River and Lake Ontario. We stayed an extra day because Lake Ontario had high west winds predicted. We took advantage of the time to make our final provisioning before we closed our Loop. We also visited the 226-year-old Fort Oswego, an impressive original fort sitting on a bluff overlooking Lake Ontario. It was used to protect the entrance to the Oswego River.

We left Oswego with a flotilla of vessels at 7 a.m. One last lock greeted us just before we entered this vast lake. To our sheer delight, we had absolutely no wind and glasslike water conditions for our 65-mile trek (40 of it across the open waters of Lake Ontario).

We spent almost two weeks cruising the Erie Canal and it felt as though we were in a time capsule of sorts. It’s an unusual experience to travel along these types of historic routes where the roots are so strongly steeped in American history. The sight of the little warm and friendly towns perched on the horizon at the end of a long travel day speaks to you; they grab at your heartstrings and pull you on in.

     Chorus:
     Low bridge, ev’rybody down!
     Low bridge, for we’re comin’ to a town!
     And you’ll always know your neighbor,
     You’ll always know your pal,
     if you’ve ever navigated on the Erie Canal.