Clayton and TI, NY

We have just spent three delightful lazy days in Clayton, meeting up with three other looper boats. Camaraderie is alive and well.

We enjoyed walking through the town…

And visiting the Antique Boat Museum, where we drooled over the beautiful craftsmanship and designs. This visit was a highlight of our stay, although Mark did enjoy trying the sustenance at the local craft breweries.

We enjoyed sunsets… and watching the big boys pass close by, but not so much their turbulence which meant we rocked and rolled in our berth.

Today we sailed down the St Lawrence River, heads swivelling from side to side, taking in the gorgeous islands and isolated homes adorning these rocky outcrops. We sailed through the area known as ”The Narrows” and was very glad we didn’t meet any ships.

Tonight we are in a lovely marina, Thousand Islands Club, watching people come and go by boat to the restaurant. We have a prime waterside position, listening to the live band on the lawn.

It is hard to know where to look: the islands; the ships passing by; people watching; boat watching; house watching… The possibilities and enjoyment are endless.

Such is Life!

Not having fun, but then we reached Thousand Islands

Loved the ambiance and history of Sackets Harbour. Absolutely! Walked the battlefield, had a tasty lunch in a cute brewery, met lovely people.

Then it rained! And rained! And rained! And the wind howled, and howled, and howled. At one stage we had wind gusts up to 30 mph. Bushranger rocked and rolled. What to do with oneself, confined in a small boat? Tried my hand at cooking almond biscotti. (Definite improvement needed here!) Defrosted the fridge, (even though it didn’t need it!)

Today started off with grey skies and with wisps of wind. Mark warned me the first hour of our voyage would be heading into the wind and choppy waves. Mark warned me the second hour of our voyage would be side to side rolling. Mark foretold me the last two and a half hours would be following seas. He was right on all counts.

Forewarned, I downed my seasick tablets. Secured all items below – or so I thought. Made our coffee and took biscotti to the upper helm, knowing I was not coming back down below for a long time. Let the fun begin!

No fun had by me. Mark had fun. In the riding bronco stage, I maintained equilibrium. In the rock and roll stage I maintained equilibrium by lying down athwart ships, holding on for dear life.

Once we sailed into the St Lawrence River, ahhhhhh. I could see Canada. I could see blue sky. Actually, I could see quite a bit as I finally opened my eyes… I saw the broken coffee cup, shards on our steps leading to our stateroom. I saw our door had rolled shut. I saw our lamp which is secured by velcro lying horizontally. I saw the big ship come sailing by, pushing out a huge bow wave.

We are now residing peacefully at a marina in Clayton, NY. And I am having fun again. We walked the colourful main street, something I will do again tomorrow with my purse! The islands we have sailed by are very picturesque. Mark has already tried a flight of local beers, whilst watching the sun set over the water. Did I mention we found an ice-cream shop with an Adirondack chair with a view?

Yes, we are having fun again!

Such is Life!

Sackets Harbor gem

Farewell to Oswego. We passed through the last lock this morning to a gloriously smooth Lake Ontario and no wind.

Today was a good day! The waters were smooth and the sunshine warm on our faces as we headed to the region known as the Thousand Islands. The colour of the water was a deep green. As land came into view it reminded us of the Whitsundays in Australia. Just glorious!

We sailed 5.5 hours NE on Lake Ontario to Sackets Harbor, NY. What a gem of a place! It is picture-perfect. It has loads of history with a battlefield from the war of 1812. The natives are really friendly and welcoming. Architecture dates back to 1805. Eateries abound. It is totally walkable. We found the icecream shop. I am in heaven!

And did I mention the sunsets are exquisite?

As an aside: Who would have thought that during this looping adventure I would gain so many valuable skills such as stepping the mast? Or being a bow and stern thruster?

Such is Life!

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.

Memorial Day

Today is Memorial Day, 30 May 2022, and we are observing it on the Erie Canal, firstly at Lyons and then via our sailing to Fairport.

This morning, Mark and I walked the short distance to the town park where people were congregating. The bunting and flags were in abundance in the bandstand. The fire department arrived with three trucks. A scouts group formed up in lines. A few ex-servicemen assembled to re-tell old times. And a few citizens gathered to applaud the marchers as they passed. It was a small affair, but heartfelt for those who served and in remembrance for those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

Late morning, we set sail, passing through Lock 27, with the wonderful Bob Stopper farewelling us and taking action shots. Thank you, Bob, for sending them to us, as it is quite rare we have photos of us actually sailing.

Through more locks and under more low bridges, Bushranger sailed to Palmyra for a lunch stop. We wanted to boost the local economy, but alas, all was shut and the streets deserted for Memorial Day.

Westwards, ever westwards, Bushranger’s nose pointed towards the setting sun. We sailed on the stretch of the Erie Canal where many relics and ruins of the original canal are easily seen. It is exciting to see the towpath and buildings of the bygone era.

We have now reached Fairport, the furthest west we will venture. This is a town made by the canal. It runs right through the middle and dockage is available in downtown. The bridges are a hoot, with one bridge a lift bridge with unbelievable angles. It is raised by a bridge master after boats have radioed they need to come through town. When down, the bridge is only 5-6 feet above the water. On the signal of hooter blasts, plus a lowered boom gate with flashing red lights, cars and pedestrians are stopped. Then, when the bridge is fully raised, pedestrians can cross via stairs, whilst the boats sail underneath. It really is a buzz!

It is so lovely here, we may even stay two nights. A little bit of down-time, plus a little bit of boat sprucing up, not to mention boosting the local economy, would not go amiss!

Such is Life!

A lesson in history of the Erie Canal

When the Erie Canal officially opened on 26 October 1825, it was 363 miles long; 40 feet wide; 4 feet deep. It had 18 aqueducts to carry its waters across rivers and 83 locks to raise and lower boats a total of 682 vertical feet from end to end. It cost just over $7,000,000.

From 1905 and 1918, an entirely new and enlarged canal system was created. Major course changes were made and most of the original man-made channel was abandoned as rivers that originally had been avoided were ’canalized’. One hundred years after its creation, the Erie Canal has become 125 feet wide; 12 feet deep; with 35 locks.

Today, we sailed past aqueduct ruins.

And the remains of bridges.

We ducked under extremely low bridges.

We were enchanted by the white puffs of pollen which rained upon Bushranger and the surrounding water like snow.

All the while enjoying this magnificent waterway.

To finally dock at the Lyons welcome wall, where all is free: showers, electricity, pump-out.

And the best part – being greeted by Bob Stopper, a wonderful ambassador of the town and canal. A lovely way to end a full day of exploration.

Such is Life!

Around the world

Who knew that travelling the Erie Canal we would visit places named for far flung parts of the world?

So far we have visited Turkey – Troy; Netherlands – Amsterdam; Tunisia – Utica; Italy – Rome and Syracuse; England – New London; Jordan – Jordan.

In the coming days we will be visiting Scotland – Clyde; France – Lyons; Syria – Palmyra; Greece – Macedon!

We have just spent a few days at Winter Harbour Marina in Brewerton, on the western side of Lake Onieda. The night before the 2.5 hour crossing of the lake we docked at the town wall in the very friendly town of Sylvan Beach and had a delightful evening with fellow sailors.

At Brewerton we restocked the galley with the welcome aid of the marina’s courtesy car. Laundry was completed. And we lowered the mast and folded the bimini to reduce height to allow us to travel on the western areas of the Erie Canal. Here, there are fixed bridges with only 15 feet clearance.

Now, Bushranger looks like a racing goanna! She is ready for ’fast’ and sleek sailing. It worked, as today we overtook two boats in our westwards journeying!

And tonight, we reside securely tied to the Baldwinsville town wall, right beside the very picturesque cemetery. It is very peaceful here!

Such is Life!