CHAPTER 1 JUNE 6, 2007
CT to LAKE CHAMPLAIN
We began this portion of our Great Loop journey on June 6 2007. Our first few days were stops on Long Island - Sag Harbor, Mattituck, and Northport (see pic) where we enjoyed a live Jazz concert on Saturday night, and an Arts and Crafts show Sunday morning. Next stop was City Island in the Bronx section of NYC. The following day took us down the East River, through Hell Gate with an outgoing tide – we cruised through Manhattan at up to 13.2 knots (we normally cruise at 7.5) with much help from the current! We enjoyed views of the Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and the Battery (see pic) at the tip of Manhattan. Going through NY harbor on a Sunday morning was a good plan – no water taxi’s or ferry’s trying to run you over!
Next we turned north and headed up the Hudson River, enjoying views of the Palisades (see pic) of NJ. We passed under the Tappan Zee Bridge and anchored at Croton Point NY on June 10th . Next morning, continueing northward up the Hudson River, we passed under Bear Mountain Bridge with 900 foot peaks on either side. The Hudson River Valley is truly majestic and beautiful. Railroads follow the river, sometimes tunneling through rocks. Next up was West Point (see pic) where the river is almost 200 feet deep, and Storm King Mountain (see pic). Then we passed Pollepel Island with Bannermans Castle (see pic) on it. Bannerman was an arms dealer that dealt in Civil War surplus that he stored on his island and sold through a mail order catalog in the early 1900’s. Next up was Poughkeepsie where the railroad bridge built (no longer used but still there) in 1888 was the first bridge constructed across the Hudson River. Further on the river is the beautiful Hudson – Athens Lighthouse (see pic) .
The air has been thick with Cottonwood seeds and green pine tree pollen that also coats the water. We’ve had beautiful weather, upper 70’s and low 80’s, and only one thunderstorm so far.
On June 13th we stopped in Troy NY to lower our mast (because most of the bridges that we pass under on the canal are only 17 feet high) and line the boat with fenders, preparing for the locks up ahead. Then, we passed through Troy Federal Lock and tied up to the wall (town dock) in Waterford NY, which was just around the bend. We are now in the CHAMPLAIN CANAL which was originally built 1817 – 1823. It has been rebuilt and rerouted several times. Early canal boats were 70 – 80 feet long, and were pulled by mules or horses along the banks. During the next couple of days, we will go through 11 locks, average of 15 feet, and 63 miles of the Champlain Canal.
PROCEDURE TO GO THROUGH THE LOCKS (see pics) is as follows: Call the Lockmaster on channel 13 to request an opening if the green (open) light is not on. After we enter the lock, we put on gloves and I go to the bow and catch one of the hanging ropes lining the inside of the lock with my boat hook. Ray grabs a rope from the stern of the boat. We hold on, adjusting the lines up or down depending on whether the lock is lifting or descending. When the gates open and you leave the lock, the lockmaster calls ahead to the next lockmaster letting him know what boats are coming.
The evening of June 15th we anchored in Ticonderoga NY (see pic), with the Fort Ticonderoga looking down on us, canons aimed! We are finished with the Champlain Canal, and are now on Lake Champlain. Tonight we raise our mast again and put away the fenders while we cruise the Lake for the next few days. On June 16th, we passed a really large monument (on the NY side) (see pic) commemorating Samuel Champlain’s discovery of the lake. We stopped at Basin Harbor (on the VT side of the lake), and took the dinghy ashore to visit the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum (see pic). We stayed for the night on a mooring in the harbor.