Little Falls, NY

We have reached Little Falls, 80 miles along the Erie Canal.

So far we have tested our skills in 17 locks, and dressed for the occasion each time. Lock E9, which we locked through yesterday, today has a mechanical fault and will be closed indefinitely. How lucky were we to get through!

And even luckier getting under these bridges!

We stayed in Amsterdam last night. (No, not in the Netherlands!) Unfortunately, the write-up about the town is more flattering than in real life. We did, however, walk across the pedestrian bridge which had interesting historical plaques, statues and mosaics. As nothing was open (on a Monday the USA closes), we invited fellow loopers on board for spaghetti bolognaise and convivial chatter.

The Mohawk River continues to delight us.

And now we are in Little Falls, where the Mohawk River has a series of rapids. The Erie Canal digressed from the river to avoid the turbulence. We sailed through the manmade section (hewn in 1775 or thereabouts under the supervision of General Schuyler – of Revolutionary times) and docked at a lovely Rotary Park close to the historic canal centre. Mark and I walked into town and dined in a quaint canal-side restaurant.

And now? We are in a food coma having eaten too much, listening to the honking of the Canada geese.

Such is Life!

Low Bridges on the Erie Canal

Low bridge, everybody down. Low bridge, yeah we’re coming to a town… If ya ever navigated on the Erie Canal.

We sailed 19 miles on the Erie Canal to a place called Schenectady. We rose via 6 locks, the first 5 locks within one mile. And our locking skills from sailing in the South were flexed once more! All the locks on the Erie are gravity controlled/fed with no pumps at all. An engineering marvel!

The locks are very well kept with friendly and charming lock masters. We gave a plate of biscotti to our first lock mistress who was having a few problems closing the lock gates. Little did we know it was her first day on the job, and she was most taken with the gift. We just wanted her to know we appreciated the work she was doing and the problems she was solving. The other gentlemen lock masters were jovial. They picked us as Aussies and soon gave us tidbits of advice – a thoroughly enjoyable experience.

Sailing through these locks we saw parts of the old locks of a bygone era. These were rock-hewn, narrow locks, some with tow-paths alongside.

The Erie Canal encompasses the Mohawk River, a truly beautiful and enjoyable river to navigate. I kept a lookout for bears, but to no avail.

The weather again today was hot – 36C, but with little to no wind. The higher we climbed in the locks, the hotter it became. Once on the Mohawk River, (what an evocative name), the wind picked up a little, as did the temperature. We decided to head for the Schenectady Yacht Club, a huge drawing card – it has a lovely swimming pool. And yes, we used it before the afternoon storm struck.

Oh, and did I mention those low, low bridges? I may have, or not, said a rude word on one or more occasion!

Such is Life!

15 miles on the Erie Canal…

No – not yet! Just sitting at the town wall of Waterford which is the start of the Erie Canal.

We set out in ideal conditions, which turned into unrelenting heat. Yesterday we had temperatures of 22C and chilly, blustery winds. Today we reached 36C with no wind for relief. I am starting to think you either freeze or boil here!

As we approached the Port of Albany, the Hudson River became more industrial.

The Hudson River is still very much a working river, even way up north, close to the outskirts of Albany.

We then sailed passed Albany, capital of New York. Skyscrapers came into view first, then churches, impressive edifices and motorways.

Then back to the scenery of the ’virgin’ riverbank. We sailed past the town of Troy to our first lock. Beyond this lock, the Hudson River is no longer tidal. Even though we have locked through on the Tennessee River and Tenn-Tom Waterway many times, our first lock in the New York Canal System was, to say the least, ugly! More practice required, of which we shall get plenty!

We arrived at Waterford to a two-day festival in full swing. We received lots of comments on how pretty Bushranger looks. We agree!

We went for a pleasant stroll to Lock E2 – the start of the Erie Canal. Beside the beautiful modern lock is the original small, rock-hewn lock with tow-path. I do love history!

Yesterday, in Shady Harbor, we caught up on domestics – shopping, laundry, varnishing and baking. I was so excited to start baking bread again, but left the galley to check on filling the water tanks. Big mistake!

Such is Life!

A windy interlude

Today we sailed 42 miles in 5 hours to reach our destination of Shady Harbour Marina, just short of Albany. We had a ’fast’ sail, peaking at 10 miles per hour, with the flood tide enhancing our speed. Unfortunately, we headed into strong blustery winds making the trip both chilly and bouncy – bronco bouncy! But let me start at the beginning of the day…

In Kingston, we had stayed the night at the dock of the Hudson River Maritime Museum. The museum was closed, much to our disappointment. However, before we left this morning the harbour master opened the museum just for us and we were given a guided tour. It was sensational! Kingston was such a thriving metropolis with steamboats and paddle wheelers, some boats having 5,000 passengers. The information and exhibits were quite breathtaking – who knew about ’ice yachts’?

Out on the Hudson River, we passed more impressive lighthouses at Saugerties and Catskills.

The Hudson River is a wide and beautiful river, dotted with villages and mansions of the Gilded Age. But it is also a working river with tugs and tows moving huge barges up and down the river. On the banks are industries associated with mining stone, limestone and concrete. Ruins of bygone industries dot the water’s edge. And the ever present, ever sounding trains hurtle non-stop – all with the glorious Catskills as a backdrop.

And just a couple of fun facts: This is the Rip Van Winkle Bridge. Near here is where Washington Irving ’set’ his story.

’Kills’ in old Dutch means creek. Catskills Mountains were named due to the cats (bobcats) in the mountains which had many creeks.

Such is Life!

Land of the lighthouses

Guess we must be in the land of stunning lighthouses…

This beauty is called The Maid of the Meadows. It was erected in 1871 to warn mariners of the mud flats known as the Esopus Meadows.

This lighthouse guided us into the Rondout Creek, entrance to Kingston, the first capital of New York. The British burned the capital in 1777.

We are securely tied for the evening to the revamped historic waterside.

Looking forward to discovering more lighthouses tomorrow!

Such is Life!

Poughkeepsie: Day 2

We survived last night’s thunderstorm. The view from our slip was an ever changing kaleidoscope of colours on the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Bridge. It almost rivalled the Sydney Harbour Bridge during Vivid!

We awoke to more fog. Lots of fog. Pea-soup fog which eerily held voices but no bodies. I caught a glimpse of a ghostly crew of rowers gliding past. The fog didn’t burn off until after 9am. This resulted in a lazy start to the day. After an entertaining and informative Uber driver took us to the car rental pickup, we headed out for another day of discovery.

Our first stop was the village of Rhinebeck which has a quaint town centre with stunning architecture, gourmet dining, quirky shopping, and history at every corner. We dined at the Beekman Arms which has continuously welcomed guests since 1766. It was host to leaders of the American Revolution including George Washington, Philip Schuyler, Benedict Arnold and Alexander Hamilton. And now, the Rutherfords!

Next stop was the Vanderbilt mansion, Hyde Park, in Hyde Park. This historic property is situated on a bluff overlooking the Hudson River and includes manicured lawns, gardens and woodlands. We limited ourselves to the outside only.

The third and last stop was a visit to Springwood, Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s home located in Hyde Park. We took a tour with the National Parks Service. Such an amazing place for such an amazing man! Best $20 we ever spent!

We made it back to the boat in time for another afternoon storm deluge. As we could not work on the outside of the boat, we took advantage of a late afternoon siesta! There is nothing quite like listening to rain beating on the top decks at the same time as water swirling around the lower decks with logs and debris bouncing off the hull!

Such is Life!

Poughkeepsie

We started out in fog, leaving Half Moon Bay Marina at Croton at 7.40am. AIS on. Radar on. Eyes constantly searching the grey mass. Dodging parts of trees and debris.

We stealthily sailed past the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant. It eerily arose through the fog.

We tagged behind the tug named Mr Jim, as the fog was starting to lift at the Bear Mountain Bridge. From this bridge to West Point Military Academy, the Hudson River is at its narrowest. This stretch or river is known as The Race. And yes, we scooted along – almost warp speed for Bushranger!

Onwards we sailed. We passed West Point Military Academy from the waterside this time, marvelling at the Norman-style architecture clinging to the cliffs. The stretch of water directly north of West Point is known as World’s End. It was here the Continental Army stretched a chainlink barrier across the Hudson to stop the British from sailing south.

On our 5-hour trip northwards, we sailed past the derelict Bannerman’s Castle, mining works, tugs and tows plying their trade, and the never ending trains which hug the river’s edge. The trains on the eastern shore transport passengers; the trains on the western shore transport goods and can often be over a mile long. The trains constantly blow their mournful sounding horns. The Hudson River is not a silent river.

But for now, we are safe at Shadows Marina, Poughkeepsie, having entered a very narrow entranceway with 2.5 knots of current behind us. With the excellent help of the harbourmaster, he spun us around and backed us in. We availed ourselves of the beautiful restaurant overlooking Bushranger while we ate and counted our remaining 8 lives. And we waited out the thunderstorm.

Such is Life!

Another day of land exploration

After depositing our laundry with a most helpful lady in a nearby laundromat, Mark and I headed off in search of culture, history and culinary delights.

First stop was Main Street in Ossining for delicious coffee and Portuguese tarts. We then drove to the gates of Sing Sing Prison – a most unwelcoming sight, even though perched on the Hudson River with extensive views!

Next, we drove through Sleepy Hollow on our way to Tarrytown. Sleepy Hollow has the most exquisite homes on huge manicured lawns, amongst leafy woods. The blossoms of springtime create picture-perfect vistas.

We crossed the Hudson River, this time driving over the Tappan Zee Bridge instead of sailing under it. It still looked spectacular from any angle.

We drove through the riverside village of Nyack and back through the ages to revolutionary times.

Stony Point Battlefield State Historic Site – south of West Point and held by the British in 1779. The Continental Army made a daring three-prong attack and captured it. A lighthouse was built in 1826 to guide ships through the narrow passage of the Hudson River at this point.

Onward, ever onward…

Continuing our drive northward on the western shores, we sped past forts, battlegrounds, garrisons and Washington’s headquarters at Newburgh on a mission to find the CIA in Poughkeepsie. The Culinary Institute of America was once a seminary, but now turns out chefs. The scale is grand. The architecture is grand. The view is grand. It is all so very grand!

We did a ”taste appreciation” seminar, viewed a couple of videos showcasing the CIA and were entertained by two undergraduate chefs – all part of our tour.

Then back to pick up our clean laundry. Today was a long day. We were on the road from 9.30am until 5.30pm. This was a day we saw a lot of the Hudson Valley and villages along the shores.

Such is Life!

West Point and Croton Falls

A day to remember!

First up – our trip to West Point Military Academy. We drove along the scenic Hudson River valley before beginning our climb via the Bear Mountain Bridge to the town of West Point. We travelled through an historic area, being the sites of the first battles of the Revolutionary War. The scenery is sublime. The grounds are manicured and dotted with statues and historic military hardware. The architecture is mostly in the style of Classical Revival with Tudor Revival thrown in.

We were taken on a bus tour (after security checks) with stops at Trophy Point, Battle Monument, the Plain (parade ground) and the Cadet Chapel. A truly amazing place with an amazing organ!

Then, in the late afternoon we went exploring in the local area of Croton. I had heard of the Croton Dam and State Park. What we saw was a place of great beauty. Our first objective was to walk across the dam. On the eastern side was an immense lake with depths of 176ft – about 56 metres. On the western side was a spillway and waterfalls. A truly gorgeous gem.

I love days like these!

Such is Life!

The mighty Hudson River

Today, we farewelled the gorgeous port of Mamaroneck and their friendly inhabitants. Yesterday, we explored the town in sunshine, but today we left with grey skies. Long Island Sound, thankfully, was smooth sailing with the blustery winds of the last four days finally abating.

With the boxing kangaroo proudly displayed, we sailed back through the East River towards Manhattan. We decided to sail the less travelled waterway and turned to starboard, up the Harlem River. We sailed under quite a few bridges, enjoying the gentle twists and turns of this interesting river. We spied Yankee Stadium and the gracious foliage of Washington Heights lining the banks. Our Harlem River journey ended at the Spuyten Duyvil Railway Bridge. Fun fact: Spuyten Duyvil means spitting devil in Dutch!

Once through the railway swing bridge we entered the mighty Hudson River – and she is a glorious river to behold. Towering palisades line the western shore; trains glide by on the eastern river’s edge. At the lower reaches of the Hudson River, it is a wide, green river, with verdant foliage adorning both sides. Forests of buildings give way to lush woodlands, with scattered villages.

The Tappen Zee Bridge is majestic in its size and sweep. We sailed ever northward enjoying the rhythm and sights of the Hudson Valley. Our voyage of discovery sailed us past iconic place names such as Sleepy Hollow and Sing Sing Prison (and what a position the prison has!)

The weight of command took its toll!

Our berth for tonight is Half Moon Bay Marina. We will be here for a few nights, as we want to explore the area which is rich in sights and history. For now, we will enjoy the ambience and the sunset.

Such is Life!