En route to Oswego

Today was not a good day, at least not a good sailing day. I have no complaint with the beautiful sunny day, nor the temperature which was a typical Sydney winter’s day of 16C. My discomfort came from the wind – swirling, blustery, never-ending gusts.

On the Erie Canal the wind posed no problem. BUT, once we turned northward on the Oswego Canal it was another story. We needed to descend the Oswego River via six locks – and these locks were substantial heights to be locked-down, ranging from 18 to 24 feet.

At each lock we were blown sideways to starboard. As we do not have thrusters, Mark had one shot at getting me (on the bow) to the overhanging line to snag and hold on for dear life. Mark then cut the engine and raced for the stern overhanging line. With the effect of the wind, sometimes this was not pretty!

Once we were secured fore and aft, the lock master lowered the level of the water. At this stage, Bushranger started a little jig of bow / stern tip. Mark and I pushed off the lock walls as best we could to save our fenders from becoming dosed in slime and crud, as well as saving our wooden handrails from damage. All the time, we clutched the overhanging lines, trying to keep some sort of control to the washing machine motion. The lines were wet, slimy and slippery even while wearing gloves. In two locks, Mark and I were almost overcome with the force of the wind and Bushranger’s momentum, needing to secure the line around a cleat whilst trying to pay out lengths of line slowly and judiciously. Thank goodness we did not share any of the locks with other boats.

I do not wish to repeat today’s sailing conditions. I am pleased we survived the day intact, only a little muscle sore. We now reside in the lovely town of Oswego. One more lock and we will be on Lake Ontario. Tonight, we reside gently bobbing alongside the town wall, safe between the last two locks.

The day was not all bad. After tying up, we went exploring on foot. We visited Fort Ontario, erected in 1755, which has seen many battles with the French, Indians and British. It was used in the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, American Civil War, and during WW1 and WW11, where it was used as a Jewish refugee camp. We also visited a barracks which has been converted into the Safe Haven Museum showcasing the Jewish refugees and their life at Fort Oswego.

The sun has set. The wind has dropped.

Such is Life!

History alive

Today, history came alive on the Erie Canal. We sailed from Newark to Lyons this morning and were met by Bob Stopper who graciously gave us a land tour of his home town and the surrounding three Erie Canals: Clinton’s Ditch (the original 1817-1825); the second canal (1836-1862); the third canal – entirely new and enlarged canal system (1905-1918). We knew the third canal, as that is what we have been navigating onboard Bushranger.

What we didn’t know was the extent and the reasons behind the first two canals. The town of Lyons was the convergence of all three canals. Bob Stopper took us on an historical trip to ’discover’ Clinton’s Ditch, the shallowest (uniformly 4 feet deep) and narrowest of the canals.

We then went slightly further afield to see the second enlarged canal, with its rock-hewn locks and canal walls. Close by, sometimes crossing over Clinton’s Ditch, the second canal is wider and deeper.

This is old Lock 54, known as Lock Berlin. This is where we also saw a snake at our feet! Thankfully, it slithered into a hole between the canal rocks.

Bob Stopper showed us the rich history of the area around Lyons and how it is marvellously woven to form the life story of the Erie Canal. We are very appreciative of his knowledge and hospitality – he has made this part of our trip come ‘alive’.

All along the canal is the towpath mules used to drag the barges. These towpaths are now a cycling and walking pathway, the Empire State Trail, which crosses the state.

Earlier in the day, before we left Newark, Bob had emailed suggesting places to visit. We walked along the canal until we came to Lock 28B. The grounds and surrounds are beautifully kept. Inside the lock house is the original equipment in shiny condition.

But then, on Bob’s advice, we went a little further and ’discovered’ Lock 59, once used on the second canal, complete with lock house. What a find!

I love history!

Such is Life!

Nestled in Newark, NY

We spent two idle and extremely hot days in the delightful canal port of Fairport. I write idle, as it was for me too hot to do anything, but necessary for Mark to do some maintenance tasks in a down period.

As a reward for all his hot, hard work, we found the craft brewery. He was a happy boy!

The Erie Canal runs right through the town, literally! On both sides of the canal, boats may dock for a maximum of 48 hours with full services provided. You literally step from your boat to a waterside restaurant, which is what we did.

This morning we left Fairport in overcast conditions, heading eastwards, retracing our breadcrumbs.

In the two days since we had sailed this part of the Erie Canal, vast amounts of white petals had fallen from the waterside trees. At times, it felt like we were sailing on mudflats, but quite pretty nevertheless.

As we neared Newark, only 20 miles and two locks away, the thunder and lightning gods decided to have a play. The facilities along the western Erie Canal are superb, with full services docks usually located in beautiful gardens not far from the centre of the towns.

So, while the lightning and thunder show took place we decided to explore the town and fabulous clock museum. This photo is only one small section. We were here for the 4pm chimes! ‘Musical’ to say the least!

Thunder, lightning and rain will not stop us being cultured!

Such is Life!

POOP Holden moderated


Percival Oscar Owen Peter Holden 1st, is my name. I am Bushranger’s essential service.

As you can tell, I have impeccable breeding but the name is a mouthful, so I go by the honorific, POOP Holden. Others just speak of me in disparaging terms, but that is a socialist view of my aristocracy. Let me tell you about…

“N000000! Stop him!” says I, ‘Arry the hairconditioner. “‘E is too windy!”

“Plug his outlet. And his inlet. SHUT HIM UP! Have you seen his follow through? Spare the audience,” says I, Dinghy.

“From my all-round forward view I can tell you, his story should be wiped, maybe twice,” says I, Radar.

“I quite like burying my flukes in stinking mud. I don’t need to listen to Holden’s gasbagging,” says I, Hanchor. I mean Anchor! “Damn you, Hairconditioner, uh Air conditioner!”

Blog Moderator: ”Under threat of wide-scale industrial action from all boat departments, the Holding Tank’s story will not be published.