While we were at Shady Harbor Marina on the Hudson River, we communicated with Looper friends Ray and Diane on Radian Journey, who we met in the Florida Keys, and learned that they were one day ahead of us. We decided to move quickly to catch them, so we could travel part of the Erie Canal with these friends.
We traveled at 17-18 mph to Albany, where ship and harbor traffic slowed us to “no wake” speed.
On the north side of Albany, we again fast-cruised to Troy, where we passed through the Troy Lock a/k/a The Federal Lock a/k/a Lock 1 of the Erie Canal. The Troy Lock marks the end of the tidal Hudson River.
We were excited to refresh our skills in “locking through.” Most locks on the New York State Canal System are 428 feet long and 45 feet wide, much smaller than the 1200 x 110 foot Mississippi River locks we passed through in Fall 2019. Also, the process of tying up to Mississippi River lock walls and Erie Canal lock walls is quite different. Mississippi locks have “floating bollards.” Rhonda looped a line around the floating bollard back to a midship cleat, and tended (but did not lock down) the line. The bollard rises and falls with the water level and the boat.
New York locks offer metal pipes or cables that run from the top of the lock to the bottom – you loop a line around the pipe or cable back to a midship cleat (the “Cable Method” or the “Pipe Method”) or ropes that hang from the top of the lock to the bottom – you hold on to those slimy ropes with gloves to stay near the lock wall (the “Rope Method”). Rhonda quickly learned and perfected these new techniques.
Shortly after we locked through the Troy Lock we reached Waterford, a quaint village at a major fork in the NY canal system. The right fork is the Champlain Canal leading north to Lake Champlain and the St. Lawrence Seaway, and the left fork is the Erie Canal leading west to Buffalo. We turned left.
To join Radian Journey at Schenectady, we locked through a stairstep set of five Erie Canal locks, some located only a few tenths of a mile after the prior lock. We were enchanted by the first few miles of the Erie Canal, a piece of American history, a commercial and pleasure boat waterway, and a unique boating experience. More in a later post about Erie Canal history.
We arrived at Mohawk Harbor Marina, where Ray and Diane caught our lines. We were tired from two long travel days! We joined them and fellow Loopers John and Kathy from Free Spirit for dinner at a nearby restaurant, where we made plans to travel the Erie Canal together for a few days.
Travel will be slow, with many locks to go through each day, and “no wake” zones as we pass marinas and towns. We look forward to this slower pace for a few days.