75 Days Looping
1,271.0Nautical Miles Total (1462.6 Statute Miles)
106.7 Nautical Miles This Week
24 Hours Underway This Week
6.9 NMph Average Speed
Between lots of activity, very slow internet, and having to sort through 100’s of photos (most of them of Ducks and Geese, thanks Brenda!!!) I’ve fallen behind on the blogs. I’ll try to get Week 12 done in the next few days to catch back up. Hope you enjoy reading! Remember to click on the photos to enlarge them.
Monday – June 24th – 24.8 NM – To: Ilion, NY
Monday was a very nice day. We left the dock at Canajaharie at 8:30 and entered Lock 14 for a quick 8 foot lift. At the top we were met by more geese with their young.
On the way to Lock 15, we met up with a work barge heading west just before we got to the lock. We followed behind them, and called them on the radio to make sure that it was okay for us to go into the lock with them. They said that there was plenty of room but to wait in the lock when the doors opened so that they could spin in front of us and go to the dam. They were using the excavator with some big jaws to pick the logs out of the dam that were blocking the gates. We watched them ease up to the dam, and then headed out.
Lock 16 was just 6 miles ahead, and we reached it in about a half hour. This was a larger lock with a 20.5 foot lift. Between lock 16 and 17 we passed under another Guard Gate, Railroad Bridge, passed lots of birds, and along a long stretch of wooded canal and finally the Herkimer Homestead.
As we approached Lock 17, we had to wait as they needed to drain the lock for us to go in. Lock 17 is the largest lock on the Erie Canal with a vertical lift of 40.5 feet and rather than having gates that swing in, on the downstream side, the lock gate lifts up like a garage door. Once the door lifted, we went into the lock and tied onto the wall, and they started to lower the lock door. About half way down, it stopped, went up, then down again. While they were checking on why it was not closing, another boat called in that they were “almost there”. The lockmaster asked us if we’d be okay waiting, so we said yes. 20 minutes later, the still had not shown up. So they closed the door and started to fill the lock.
We had a rescue mission at Lock 17, one of our friends from Charleston, SC who are also Looping lost a fender in the lock when they went through about a month ago. The lockmaster picked it out of the lock, and held on to it for them. We radioed that we were picking up the fender, and as we reached the top of the lock, it was sitting there on the wall for us. It took about 20 minutes for the full lift, just as we were reaching the top, we heard the boat that was “almost there” radio in that they had the lock in sight. We’re glad that they didn’t wait for him!
We exited the lock, and passed through some large rock outcropping on both sides of the boat, then passed a dam and around a corner. There were signs as we exited the lock to stay to port (left) when exiting due to strong currents from the dam. As we rounded the corner, we saw our fellow Loopers on “Gokotta” had taken the advice a bit TOO literally and had run aground! They had come through the day before, and run aground and as the canal was draining the water down, it left them high and dry. We saw them sitting on their boat and called out asking if they were okay, and if they needed anything. They said they were fine and waiting for a tow boat to arrive. We wished them well, and continued on under another Guard Gate and into Little Falls, NY. The two boats that we had spent the prior night with were tied up in Little Falls, Heartbeat and Grumpy.
After Little Falls, Lock 18 our last lock of the day, was just 4 miles up the river. At lock 18, we had to wait a half-hour for some eastbound boats, a canal barge and a tour boat to come through. Commercial traffic takes priority, so even though they were not there yet, we still had to wait. The two boats pulled in, and they lowered them down. When they exited the lock, the passengers on the cruise boat waved as they went by. We pulled into the lock and were told that we’d have to wait again for some westbound commercial traffic. 10 minutes later they arrived, the same cruise boat! They had just gone down the river a bit, then turned around and were coming back. We got to listen to the narration that the cruise boat was giving as we were lifted 20 feet.
When we exited the lock, we let the cruise boat go by as they were in a hurry, and traveled the last 9 miles to Illion, NY the home of the Remington Firearms company!
There is a bike path that follows along the canal on the old tow path in many areas. From Lock 18 to Ilion, it’s just been improved and paved. It’s a beautiful area and we had a very scenic ride passing small towns, lots of people along the river, another guard gate, and a few low bridges.
At 2:45 we pulled up to the wall at the Ilion, NY Marina and R/V park. The dock hand Colby “piped us in” on his bagpipes, then came and helped us tie up. We watched as a Canal Tugboat came in with a work barge right after us and positioned it up against the wall.
We tied up, checked in and checked the route ahead. We found out that the Oswego Canal was still closed and not expected to open for several days. We checked for dock space between Ilion and the Oswego Canal, and found that it was completely full with some people forced to anchor out or tie up on walls with no services for days. We decided that we would stay in Ilion until we heard that the Oswego Canal was open and that the marinas had started to clear out.
Tuesday – June 25th – 0 NM – In: Ilion, NY
We had planned an extra day in Ilion to go to the Remington Firearms Museum. In the morning it was misty and rainy, and we watched the canal work crew pick up their barge, and head east. While we were waiting for the weather to clear, another tug came through with a load of dredge pipe.
After the rain stopped, we walked the mile or so to the Factory then went to the museum. They don’t offer tours of the factory anymore, but the museum has an excellent display of antique and modern firearms showing the history of the Remington manufacturing company. They even have samples of the Remington typewriter, Remington cash register, Remington sewing machine, and Remington bicycle showing attempts to branch out into other forms of manufacturing over the years.
We talked with the Receptionist/Curator who explained that there were currently approximately 1000 workers in Ilion in the sporting arms division that makes shotguns, sporting rifles, and the Bushmaster assault rifle. Currently about half the workforce is on a 3 month furlough due to lack of orders. They also have a military and police firearm division there that has another 500 workers that has orders. There are no other major employers in the area, so its hard for workers to find other jobs.
Because we had decided to stay in Ilion until the Oswego Canal opened, we decided to rent a car and drive to Corning New York, to the Corning Glass Works Museum, so in the afternoon we took an Uber to Utica (about 10 miles away, and picked up the rental car. When we got back, we had been joined by another Looper “Lazy Looper” had joined us on the wall. In the evening we walked to the snack bar at the Marina and had an ice cream, then walked up to the bridge over the canal to take some pictures of the marina.
Wednesday – June 26th – 0 NM – In: Ilion, NY
Corning NY is about a 3 hour drive from Ilion, so we got up at 6:00 to get an early start. The mist was still on the river as we got into the rental car and headed out. The drive was nice, we took the “scenic” route through the hills of NY on mostly secondary roads. We arrived in Corning at 10:30 and headed to the museum.
Unlike Remington Arms, Corning glass is doing VERY well and it shows. Lots of new construction and the Glass Museum is amazing! The outside walls of the main gallery are white glass which gives a beautiful light in side to view the glass works. The glass on the display cases is a polished crystal that you can see and photograph through with almost no glare. If we talked and showed every piece, the blog would never get done, so suffice to say, this is just a sample of what we saw in the new art gallery. The one item we wanted to call out is a mile long rope made of glass beads. It took over a year to make, and was made by a team of Zulu women in South Africa. It contains 4.5 million black glass beads. It gave employment to impoverished women for a year and taught them a craft.
At 11:00 we went to a glass blowing demonstration which was very well done. The artist made a blown and spun glass bowl. The demonstration studio was very high tech with cameras and monitors everywhere, including a camera inside the glass furnace!
After the demo, we went for lunch as we had scheduled a glass class for 1:00. After lunch, we watched a glass eye blowing demonstration and looked at some of the displays on Pyrex and fiber optic cabling. We then walked across the campus and to the teaching studios. The State University of New York (SUNY) has a presence at Corning and arts students from the university teach the glass classes to visitors. We had signed up to make a glass flower. Brenda went first, rolling out the glass, then pulling it into a flower shape with big tweezers. After forming the flower, she spun the stem into a curlicue. Then our instructor helped to snap it off the working rod, and placed it into the cooling oven. After Brenda it was my turn to repeat the process. We never got to see the finished products, we both chose orange and green glass but in different colors. Glass has to cool slowly or it will explode, so it goes into a cooling oven. The studio ships it to you after a few days, so we’ll see it next time we can get mail forwarded.
After our glass blowing class, we spent several hours walking through the other galleries covering glass creations from Ancient times (3,000 BC) up to modern sculptures. The glass paperweight and cut crystal were some of the most amazing!
So far, this is our favorite museum that we’ve been to on our Loop trip! Even better than the Chrysler Glass Museum in Norfolk, VA. It’s a great mix of art and science and a must see if you are anywhere in the area! We would make a special trip back because there was so much to see that it’s hard to do it all in one day.
At 6:00 we were exhausted, and climbed back in the car for the 3 hour ride back. This time we took a more direct route that started by going through the famous Watkins Glenn, and then up the shore of Seneca Lake which is the “New York Wine Trail”. We must have passed 100 wineries! At the end of Seneca Lake, we merged onto the New York Thruway and around 9:00 got back to the boat in Ilion.
Thursday – June 27th – 0 NM – In: Ilion, NY
Thursday we got some good news! The Oswego Canal was open! We spent the day doing some prep work on the boat. We had such a hard time bringing the mast up and down, that I ordered a come-along and we tried it out on the mast. It worked great! Now we can put the mast up and down without any extra help. After doing some cleaning on the boat, we drove back to Amsterdam NY (two ports ago) to pick up a repair part that had never arrived. The round trip was about two hours, and when we got back, we dropped off the rental car.
When we got back to the marina, we had a full wall! There were 6 boats in port! “Fancy Free” an MTOA member going to their summer home in the 1000 islands, “Time Away” & “California Lady” fellow Loopers, “Pura Diva” & “Living The Dream” from Canada heading home.
Everyone was moving up getting ready for the run to Lake Ontario! We made it an early night so that we’d be ready for a long run to Brewerton, NY.
Friday – June 28th – 53.8 NM – To: Brewerton, NY
We left Ilion at 6:45 am and headed toward Utica, NY and the first of our 4 locks of the day. With the rain from the last two days, the water was very cloudy and the streams feeding into the canal were running strong and we saw some nice little waterfalls. The two Canadian Boats and “Time Away” got out ahead of us and we caught up to them just before Lock 19. We called the lock asking if we could get in, but they told us that we’d have to wait for the next lift as there was not enough room. So we idled for about 20 minutes and watched the trains crossing the railroad bridge just in front of the lock.
When it was our turn, we were alone in the lock, and it was a quick lift of 8 ft. When we exited, there was an eastbound cruiser waiting and just beyond the lock was a dredge barge. The water level in this section had been lowered for dredging, the only low water we’ve seen on the trip, and we took it EXTRA slow passed the dredge and a good thing we did, as we heard a THUMP on the hull. We didn’t hit whatever it was with the props, and there was no damage, probably a submerged log kicked up by the dredging.
We entered Utica, and passed some other Loopers on the wall at the Aquafina restaurant. Aside from a few barges, and an old lock, there was not much to see in Utica, and we were back into tree lined canals on our way to Lock 20 for a 16 ft lift.
Between Lock 20 and Rome NY there are signs of the old infrastructure on the canal, old bridges, abandonded barge docks. We passed another dredge operation without incident, went under another Guard Gate, and by some kayakers enjoying the canal.
Lock 21 was different, it was a DOWN lock for us rather than an UP Lock. After rising 420 feet since we entered in Waterford, we were now going to start dropping as we approached Lake Oneida. Lock 21 was a drop of 26 feet. We joined a small power boat in the lock for the drop. When we exited it was just under a mile to Lock 22 for another 24 ft drop, bringing us to 369.1 ft in elevation and at the level of Lake Oneida. The ride to Oneida Lake was just a few miles which we had to take fairly slow as there were lots of people fishing and canoeing. As we approached Sylvan Beach, NY on the shore of Oneida Lake, we passed the tie up wall with the old Amusement Park behind it. There were several looper boats still tied up there, and we waved as we went by, then into the lake. The first big open water we’d had since New York City.
The trip across Oneida Lake was pretty quick! We finally got to open up the engines and blow out some of the carbon that had built up going 6 to 8 knots for a few weeks! The lake was very smooth and it was a straight shot of 20 miles to Brewerton, NY at the other end of the lake. About half way across we picked up three girls on a high power jet ski. They had a ball criss-crossing our wake and jumping the waves. We reached Brewerton, passed under the 3 bridges and pulled up to the Fuel Dock at Ess-Kay marina, our home for the next two nights. We filled up with fuel, and then moved to our slip. Brewerton is one of the main stops on the Loop, and there were several Loopers at our marina and the other 3 big marinas in the area. We visited with a few Loopers at our marina, then, after a long day, we just had a quick dinner on the boat and called it a night.
Saturday – June 29th – 0 NM – In: Brewerton, NY
Saturday we spent the day in Brewerton, NY waiting for the 15+ boats that had been in Brewerton and were heading up through the Oswego Canal to flush through and make space. We had a lazy morning, watching the other boats on our traffic app. One of our friends “The Lower Place” that we had not seen since the Chesapeake, was coming across Oneida Lake so we broke out the bikes and rode about a mile to a bridge that crosses the entrance from the lake to wait for them. It didn’t take us as long to get there as we had thought it would, and it was a bit hot and sunny, so we popped over the bridge to a little museum, The Fort Brewerton Historical Society Museum, to kill a bit of time.
The museum was excellent! Spencer Wells the young caretaker gave us a tour of the museum. We were impressed not only with his knowledge, but with his passion for the history of the area. The museum is in a reproduction of a block-house that stood on the site in the 1800’s, and contains artifacts from the original Indian residents of the area, through the war of 1812.
About half-way through the tour, we noticed on our tracking app, that The Lower Place was coming into Brewerton, so we appologized, promissed we’d return and headed back up onto the bridge. Charlie and Robin were just coming under the first bridge when we got there so we parked our bikes, pulled out an air horn and waited for them to approach. When they got within ear shot, we tooted the horn, and waved! Charlie who was at the helm, looking around wondering who the hell was tooting at him and what had he done wrong! Robin saw us waving on the bridge and we gave them a proper welcome to Berwerton.
In the evening, we borrowed the marina courtesy van and drove across the bridge to the other side of the river to have dinner with Charlie and Robin and catch up on their adventures including a new clutch plate in their transmission, and a “run-in” with a Grand Banks boat, that hit them in Watertown and damaged the fiberglass on the stern of their boat.
About 8:00, we drove back to the boat, and met one of the family of foxes that hangs out at the marina. From what other boaters told us, they are almost pets and have little fear of people. This guy, just sat there yawning at us and rolling in the grass like a dog.
Sunday – June 30th – 28.1 NM – 7 locks – To: Oswego, NY
We pulled out of Brewerton at 9:00 and headed down the last section of the Erie canal that we would be on. It was cloudy and overcast, but no rain. We reached Lock 23, and waited while an Eastbound boat came through. Then entered the lock for a quick 7 foot drop. This lock seems to be a popular fishing spot, and we had to dodge fishing bobbers as we exited!
We turned North and onto the Oswego Canal and by the Oswego Canal Authority maintenance center. A short time later reached the first of the 6 locks on the Oswego that we would do. All of the locks on the Oswego north bound lower us to the level of lake Ontario.
There were three boats tied up to the lock wall near Lock 1, and we let a fellow Looper “Aisling Gheal” pull out and into the lock ahead of us. We lowered the 10.2 feet, and when the door opened, had to wait for a lift bridge at the end of the lock to go up before we could pass.
The Oswego Canal is really the Oswego River with locks and dams where the rapids were. The area along the canal was built up a bit more than along the Erie Canal, but there were still plenty of birds for Brenda to take photos of. The ride to Lock 2 was just under 10 miles, and aside from being pushed along by a stiff current in places, it was an easy ride. We approached lock 2 and the doors opened almost immediately. As we entered Lock 2, we noticed that there was a bridge across the lock about half way down with a VERY low clearance. At this lock, they lower you, so that you can fit under the bridge!
Lock 3 is just a 1/4 mile ahead so it’s out of one and into the other. We’d been warned about strong currents exiting Lock 3. Each lock on the Oswego has a fairly large dam right next to it, and due to the high water that had closed the canal up until 2 days before, there was still a lot of water spilling over the dams. As we exited Lock 3, there was a spillway from the dam and it tried to spin the boat and push it into the rocks. We’re glad that we had warning and made sure that we were on the left of the channel so that we had room to maneuver when the cross current hit. Both of us made it through just fine, and we had a 5 miles to recover before lock 5.
There is no Lock 4, so our next locks was 5. Pretty standard except the wind came up and we had a hard time holding the boat against the wall while it drained. Exiting Lock 5 was a bit of ride as the dam falls are on your right, and the output water from the hydro plan comes in on the left so it’s very turbulent through there.
It was quick 3 mile to lock 6 and 7 which are one right after another. These went quick and with no drama. We had planned to go through the last lock #8 and stay at the Oswego Marina, but they had called us in the afternoon, and said that our slip was very tight, only a foot on each side and the wind was strong so they advised us not to attempt it. There is a very nice wall to tie up to between lock 7 and lock 8 and as we exited lock 7, we saw 8 other boats tied up there already, so we found an empty spot, and spent the night on the wall.
After tying up, we walked down to Lock 8, which is only about 1/4 mile and then to the marina, only another 1/4 mile more, and chatted with Golden Daze who were docked there. The slip we were supposed to go into was right next to them, and it was tight. By the time we got there the wind had died down, but it was nice on the wall with a breeze coming up the river and it was FREE!
On the wall with us was: As You Wish, Cats & Dogs, Inshallah, Heart Beat, Blessing, Stormy Petral, About Time and another sailboat.
Next Week: We are out of the canals for a while and into Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence Seaway!