Sept 22 to 28, 2011

­­­September 22, 2011

Time: 0930hrs

Weather – 15’C Wind SE 5 to 20 MPH Cloudy, 70% chance of rain – 2-4 foot waves diminishing to 1ft by the afternoon.

It was a late and restless night for me and Steve. This marina has great facilities but they put us on the gas dock overnight and all we did was roll around…roll around hard….all night long (and not in the fun way!!!)…an anchorage would have been more peaceful. Old Valcour Marina is NOT a good place to dock overnight. The docks are creaky and noisy which made sleeping very difficult. Every time I would start to fall asleep, a wave would come in and rock the entire dock and us awake. I think we got maybe 3 hours sleep last night. Bar none, worst night ever on board! On the bright side, we did get some much needed things taken care of like take SHOWERS,  do laundry, check in with family, ate supper then I worked on the website. I was worth it for the internet alone! Not sure how far we will get today. We have lots of ground to cover before the canal. Before leaving the dock, I had another SHOWER J then we filled up with diesel and ice. By 0930, two tired sailors finally got the heck off the dock!

It’s pretty rocky on the Lake this morning and are hoping we get to the narrows by this afternoon and get out of it. We are getting tired of the rolling and rocking. 

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Cloudy, rainy day on Lake Champlain – heading south J

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Lots of spray over the bow

 

It is one week today since our departure. I know I’ve complained a lot about the cold but for us, we don’t usually spend a lot of time outside.  Steve and I are not winter people at all so we tend to shelter ourselves in our warm cozy house and watch a lot of movies. That said, we like it out here and plan to take full advantage. I have to remind myself to take a deep breath every once and a while to take it all in. All this fresh air is delicious and the scenery is beautiful even when it’s cloudy.

 

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Mother Nature is all around and I find her so inspiring! I want to take pictures of everything and share it. However, I will try to control myself a little more. I know how long it took to download all those pictures from last week’s blogs. I will limit more as the trip progresses – it’s all a little overwhelming at the moment, forgive me.

Steve has chosen a good route. He is staying close to the edge of the lake; hugging the west shore to keep the boat in the waves at about a 45 degree angle. This reduces the impact and motion of the waves making a little more comfortable for the captain and the crew.

In an effort to keep busy and stay awake, I’ve started reviewing navigation. We use a Chartplotter; an electronic chart with GPS. It displays the map on a small screen that permits us to constantly see our position in real time and provides the ability make adjustments as needed. It’s a fantastic tool and if I could marry it, I would ;) We also follow along with our paper charts and plot our position every once and a while so we know within an hour or so where we are but what if the chartplotter malfunctions? We need to be able to determine our position and navigate safely to our destination. We have learned the techniques but haven’t practiced them. The Chartplotter does all the work for us but we should practice just in case. So, out came the navigation books and tools to practice taking bearings and plotting our position.

It started to rain, so while Steve was out in the elements, I chose to take stock of our fresh food and plan for supper.

One of my main tasks on board is food – cooking, storing and buying.  Sometimes at night while lying in my bunk, I swear I can hear my tomatoes begging me to eat them before they go bad. It’s important to limit waste for both our pocket books and the environment. Needless to say, I’m thinking about it all the time. So, I spent some time today reviewing my cruising cookbooks. One of which is called The Cruising Cookbook by Micheal Greenwall. He provides great detail on how to preserve fresh food, grilling techniques, advice on the best meat and vegetables to buy, examples of provisioning lists and lots of great recipes. Fun fact - Did you know you should not store apples in the same place as onions? Onions emit a gas that damages the apples (note to self – move apples)

After reviewing my hanging baskets and my ice box it was apparent that I needed to make a stew and what’s a good stew without fresh bread to dip in it.

I love baking bread! I rarely make it at home and have been looking forward to life on a boat that would permit me the time to make it. Baking anything but especially bread, reminds me of my grandmother. Growing up, we spent a lot of time together and during that time she taught me how to bake. We spent hours baking and talking together. When we would have nothing to do, we would either bake something or go for a long drive to visit someone.  So, to be able to make a nice loaf of bread gives me warm fuzzes and I’m instantly reminded of her, what she taught me and the time we spent together.

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………………………………………………………………YUM……………………………………………………………………………..

 

We anchored around 1840hrs across from Fort Ticonderoga.  We made it across Lake Champlain and into the narrows. It’s flat calm and the water was a perfect mirror.

 

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Along the narrows

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At anchor near Fort Ticonderoga

 

We are going to eat like kings and get to bed early tonight!!

September 23, 2011

Time: Up at 1000hrs

Weather: WARM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 65 to Mid 70’s today and since we are in the narrows we can FEEL the warmth. Almost no wind and calm water, chance of showers for the afternoon (30%)

We were in bed no later than 2200hrs and up almost 12 hours later – boy did we need it! It’s a warm sunny morning. The night was great! We didn’t need any extra blankets for sleeping and I wore shorts and a tank top to bed – happiness is!!

We were underway around 1100hrs – headed towards the Champlain Canal.

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Breakfast J

 

I took the helm for a little bit while Steve went on deck to enjoy his tea and check out the scenery.

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I’m really happy it’s warm out – YAY tank tops!!!! I think I’m sweating J

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Steve on deck checking things out

 

It’s very pretty here. It’s amazing to me that we missed all of this the first time through here in 2006. The area we are in now – we call the narrows- we did all at night in 2006 – yikes!!

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We could hear this train coming long before we saw it. It ran beside us, then around the bend.

 

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As relaxing as this is, I still feel like I’m in a rush.  However, I am anticipating a sense of relief when we get through the Champlain Canal. The canal is our last major obstacle that could inhibit our progress south besides the boat of course. Speaking of Diana, so far she is doing quite well. The engine is performing well since the overhaul in April. Steve says we are getting an extra knot of speed but it doesn’t start as smoothly as it used to. It’s not a big deal – it’s just different. The crutches set up is holding up surprisingly well and we will make an effort to store them on board when the mast goes up instead of storing them at Castleton.

 

We met a fellow “South Bounder” - a catamaran named Catito.

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Love the name – a cat is the “C”….the dog looks quite comfy on board don’t you think?

We arrived in Whitehall, New York AKA Lock 12 of the Champlain Canal by 1420hrs.

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Lock 12 Marina                                                           It’s Catito!!

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Lock 12, the start of the Champlain Canal                  Steve hanging onto the dock lines

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                               Out we go!

I will just take note of the first and last lock of this canal, since the locks are pretty much the same.  There are a total of 11 locks – number 10 is missing for some reason…

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It’s very narrow through this canal. We have another boat travelling with us – Catito. We met the Captain - Michel and his crew (friend) Daniel and dog Mona.  Michel is taking his boat to Annapolis with his friend Daniel, then he will come back in December to take it to Florida. In February, he will come down with his wife and sail it to the Bahamas….so we may meet again!

While on our way to the Canal I decided to try an applesauce recipe, since my last three apples had gone bad. With the applesauce and my last egg I put together a coffee cake for snacks tonight and/or breakfast in the morning. Both turned out delicious!

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Applesauce                  Me making Coffee Cake             Finished Product

We locked through number 12 and 11, then docked at Lock 9 (Lock 10 is missing….mystery). We bought a two day pass for the Canal (15$!!!) so we are hoping to be through the last 9 locks by the end of tomorrow. The lock opens at 0700hrs. We spoke with Michel and Daniel on Catito and they too agreed to be ready to go by 0700hrs.

Leftover stew and bread for supper.

September 24, 2011

Time: 0700hrs

Up and ready to go by 0700hrs. It’s a warm but rainy day. We are heading through the rest of the Champlain Canal J

We locked through LOCK 9 by about 0720hrs and the rest of the day was one lock after another. The Champlain Canal is a beautiful and extremely efficient.

Not much to report today…so I will explain the day in pictures. 

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There is dedging going on all through the canal. The process is interesting and the machinery is pretty cool ;)

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There are little tugboats and backhoes on barges...

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By LOCK 6 we had another boat join our Caravan of two (Diana and Catito). Her name is Emerald from New Haven CT - she is a beautiful 40 foot sailboat.

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Emerald joining us in the Canal...

There are many parts of the Canal that show remnants of Hurricane Irene. The flood damage was clearly visible in several areas.

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Debris from Hurricane Irene... 

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While exiting one of the locks we came across a Regatta.

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            Regatta with many spectators...                              two boats racing :)

By 1450hrs we were out of the Champlain Canal and into the Hudson River. One more lock to go in Troy!

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More Hurricane Irene damage coming into the Troy Lock.

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A barge squeezing its way into the Troy Lock

 

While in the Troy Locks, Catito asked us if we were headed to Castleton NY to put up our mast. Since we were both headed to Castleton, we agreed to help each other out putting up our masts the following day.

Off to Castleton we go!! We have covered a lot of ground the past 9 days.

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Welcome to Troy NY!! The memorable bridge into Troy...

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Wall mural...

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Albany NY Skyline

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Evidence of Irene is everywhere...debris collected under bridge...

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Pirate Ship docked in Albany

 

Just after the Troy Locks Steve and I noticed that our engine was sounding a little different. We noticed that it was running a little hotter than usual and it wasn’t spitting out as much water as usual. We figured that since there is so much debris and muck in the water, we think our raw water intake may have sucked some of it up. Steve will investigate in the morning. We arrived at Castleton safely around 1800hrs. We made Kraft Dinner for supper, chatting with family on Skype, checked email, updated the website and took a nice long hot shower.

Off to bed – tomorrow is masting day J

 

 

September 25, 2011 to September 28, 2011

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It’s laundry day for the crew on Diana which makes it a great day to update you on the last few day’s events.

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Castleton Boat Club

As I had mentioned, we are in Castleton, New York at a marina called The Castleton Boat Club. It is a lovely place that offers a DIY masting crane with crutch storage (we can store Diana’s crutches until we return next year), a club house with a bar that has 1.25$ draft beer!!!!, clean showers, internet, fuel and pump out facilities. It is a co-op club like our club - the RYC - so everyone is really friendly, helpful and likes to chat.  The club is located on the Hudson River right beside a train track and everyone couple of hours the Amtrak to New York goes by shuttling people back and forth, I believe from Albany…not sure. Lots of noise and horn but after a couple of days we are used to it – sort of.

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Behind Castleton Boat Club – train tracks

 

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Castleton is a very small town with a population of approximately 1700 residents. The area where the club is located does not offer much within walking distance but what it does offer is CLEAN laundry facility, a Stewart’s convenience store and a pub called the Village Inn which we only found out about yesterday (27th) that offers DELICIOUS food at good prices and friendly service - burgers (I had a BLT sans B), fries, pickle AND macaroni salad – with an unsweetened ice tea – yum  - all for 18$ total J Life is good!!

We were chatting with the Stewart at the club – Ronnie - who told us a little about the town and what was around. He let us know about the Village Inn. The waterfront looks a little depressed with most of the houses along main street either boarded up (one house had a sign that said FREE) or in poor condition but a few did look renovated. I believe it is just this part of town that looks this way. The rest of the town is uphill from here. Ronnie said most of the boats at the Club come from other communities outside of Castleton.

Another member (our neighbor on the dock) told us a little about the damage and flooding from Hurricane Irene. The members at the club were able to save their system because every member was there helping out when the storm hit. Using the Castleton Boat Club picture above as a reference - he said that the water was up over 8 feet – meaning the water had buried the bottom of the crane.  In Troy, the dock systems broke off entirely with boats attached and spilled right over the dam. He said you could see boats floating down the river bow up -very sad. Once the storm had settled, the water was so thick with debris that you could almost walk across the river. He joked that if you wanted, you could plant things in the muck or sod it. It was horrible but for the folks at the Castleton Boat Club, they didn’t lose any boats or their dock system and most importantly, no one was hurt.

This is a tidal river with a 2 to 4 knot current that pushes around all this debris. The debris collects in the water and jams in between the boats and the dock. 

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We caught a tree on our first morning

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Debris between the dock and Diana We caught a tree on our first morning 

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Steve clearing the debris from our neighbor’s boat

The Hudson River at this time of year has mostly transient cruisers heading south like us and lots of tugboat/barge traffic.

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Daily barge traffic – they are so big!!!

Now, for the bad news:

On the 24th while coming through our last lock in Troy – the engine sounded different.  It got worse through Albany and we could see that there was almost no water coming from the exhaust outlet. We slowed the engine down and got to Castleton without causing any damage – lucky!

As I had mentioned previously there is a lot of debris in the water as a result of Irene and it accumulates in the locks and in the river. Our engine has a raw water cooling system – meaning then engine sucks up the water and whatever else is in it to cool itself.

When we overhauled the engine in April, we were recommended by a fellow cruiser to install a raw water strainer which would filter all the muck and debris from the water before it gets into the engine. We decided against it because the overhaul brought us WAY over budget and we reasoned that we didn’t really need it since the engine never had one before and it’s 30 years old and worked just fine.  FAMOUS LAST WORDS!

The good news…sort of:

On the 25th, Steve assessed the engine for any damage. Luckily, there wasn’t any. In fact, then engine works perfectly and it would seem that the water runs through the engine but stops at the exhaust manifold. This saved our engine from overheating and basically becoming a really expensive anchor.

Stepping our masts:

Since Catito was ready to step it’s mast, we put the engine aside for the day and worked on the boats. We did Catito first….which took the better part of the morning but ended very well. We were able to step Diana’s mast in the afternoon which went very well.  I think it was up in less than an hour. Yay to us for being organized!

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Diana with mast up….looking more and more like a sailboat

On the 26th, the first thing we did was order a water strainer from West Marine to be delivered on the 28th. Once we get then engine running properly we were not risking this situation from happening again.

The night before, I was talking with one of the members and he suggested getting a garden hose and “blowing the shit” out of all the hoses to clear the debris. So, that’s what we did. We spent the better part of the day following all the hoses and running clean water through them. We were able to run water through the entire engine and confirmed that the water stopped at the exhaust manifold. This is where our level of expertise runs out. We were stuck and needed a mechanic.

Steve contacted the local West Marine for a recommendation. We were given a couple of names and so the hunt began. Steve spoke with a mechanic name Ronnie Bloomfield at a Van Schaick Island Marina in Cohoes NY about 20 miles from here. We explained our problem and he agreed to come to Castleton but the earliest he could come out was Wednesday (28th). He asked us to give him a call first thing in the morning and he would let us know if/when he could come out.

That was that, there was nothing more we could do with the engine without a mechanic.

On the 27th, we focused on rigging the boat.  By the end of the day, Diana was sparkling clean, rigged and ready for sailing.

This brings me to today – the 28th. We contacted Ronnie the mechanic and said he would probably be able to come out this afternoon – he would call us to confirm later in the day.  The water strainer arrived yesterday and looks like it is the right size and all the fittings and hoses are correct.

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New Strainer

This morning, Steve is fitting the new strainer and prepping the engine area for the mechanic – fingers crossed he can come by this afternoon.

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Steve and the engine

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Water Strainer Installed!

I did our laundry and am now working on the website….resizing all of the pictures – so hopefully the pages will load much quicker by tomorrow.

Update!

The Mechanic showed up around 1700hrs just as we were giving up on him. He was in and out in under an hour with two tools in hand. Gotta love professionals!!!

Here is what the problem was – description by Steve:

….mechanic came by and repaired a clog in an elbow fitting of the water pump. Seemed like a small piece of lead or metal stuck in the bend of the inlet fitting to the water pump. Some water was getting through so with the impeller unharmed we missed the blockage. Problem was that the pump couldn’t pump enough water and the water that did get through to the rest of the engine could not finish the trip because the exhaust pressure stopped the little water that was trying to get through… Risky business for the engine but fortunately enough water was getting through so as to save the engine.

We are back in business again!! We will be setting sail first thing tomorrow morning – headed for the Big Apple J