Monday, September 20, 2010

Home Again, Home Again

After a very eventful three and a half weeks we have safely arrived home to Queen City Yacht Club. Hooray!!

We ended our trip on a high note. It took a long time to re-rig and re-wire after the mast went back up, so after a long, busy day we set out across the lake at 11:00pm. Andy really enjoys the overnight sailing, so he was happy to do his watch alone with 20-30 minute naps between his look out. All went well until the seas got a little lumpy in the middle of the night and Henry woke up sea-sick at 4:00am. He and I went outside into the cockpit for some fresh air and gave Andy an hour long sleep while Henry played happily and I kept watch. By 8:00am when we awoke again the seas were much smoother and we had a wonderful day! Andy took a two hour nap to refresh a bit and then we enjoyed the rest of the much anticipated sail home together. I didn't realize just how stressful this trip had been for him until I saw Andy doing a 'happy dance' on deck when he spotted the CN Tower!

After all of the experience I got on the helm doing 31 locks, Andy insisted that I be the one to dock her at home. It went beautifully, and I slid her into our slip to the sound of cheers from the lady yacht club members watching from the club. I've come a long way since that ugly attempt at our first anchoring with Sassy!! Andy is an excellent teacher.

Island Eclipse drew a few curious members of the club over for a tour on Saturday night, and so many Sunday morning that it felt like we were at the boat show! That's okay, we didn't mind a bit. I was so proud of Henry. He has really come out of his shell lately, and with his ever increasing vocabulary he was happy to give everyone a narrated tour of the boat...starting with his room, of course!

So we've been home two full days now, and spent today unpacking all of our stuff from the locker. I'm tuckered right out and off to bed shortly. We'll have another big day tomorrow, as Andy is back to work and Henry and I will be entertaining my Mom and Dad for the day. It will be great to see them again after almost six weeks. I'm sure they'll see a big change in Henry.

Oh, and I was able to post these pictures because they were emailed to us today from Mary Martha, a really sweet lady we met in Catskill Creek. Thanks, Mary Martha! We also found my battery charger today in the locker! What a relief!! So, more to come, pictures and all.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Through the Erie and Oswego Canals

Our trip is coming to a close. We arrived today in Oswego, NY on the south east end of Lake Ontario. It took us five days in total to get through the Erie and Oswego Canals.

Day one was fairly uneventful, we got an early start, did the first seven locks with little incidence, and arrived at Lock 8 to find it closed as they were having technical problems with the lock. We tied up for the night on the wall below the lock. It was in a very secluded area, so we enjoyed a quiet evening and dinner on the boat. We really noticed the seclusion, though, after dark when every bump in the night had us jumpy! It's amazing how you get used to the noise of civilization!

Day two we travelled from Lock 8 to Lock 16. We had initially worried about doing the locks without extra crew. Our worries were unfounded, as we handled the locks like old pros. We had Henry in his lifejacket with a tether to the binacle, and he was told that in the locks Henry's job is to look after Henry so Mommy and Daddy can look after the boat. It worked! He's getting to be such a big boy! We tied up for the night on the wall below Lock 17, the biggest in the canal system. We were next to the town of Little Falls, and set out to walk to the nearest store. After about half a mile, though, we discovered that it was unrealistic to go that far without a stroller. Henry likes to walk, but not when you need him to! We met a rock climber, though, who offered to drive Andy to town after he conquered his rock. He was really nice, and Andy was able to pick up a few essentials and bring back MacDonald's pies and sundaes to boot!

Day three was to be Lock 17 through to Lake Oneida...didn't happen as planned. There must have been a lot of muck in the water around the lock because we sucked enough of it in to clog both the engine strainer and the thru-hull. The raw water intake was clogged enough that the pump ran dry and caused the impeller to fail. After Lock 17 we managed to go only a mile to the nearest marina, where Andy spent the day travelling around searching for a replacement impeller, then installing it and a T valve so he could flush out the thru-hull and get us up and running yet again! He had a few choice words for the boat by this time! He even threatened to burn her to the ground. Not our best day, but, on the bright side, they had hydro hook-up and nice hot showers and Henry and I got a quiet day to rest and recover from our colds.

Day four we were underway and running beautifully. We got through Locks 18 - 22 and stopped for the day on the east side of Oneida Lake. We had dinner at a little bar and grill with some fellow Canadian sailors. Of course they are headed in the right direction for this time of year, South!! After dinner Henry and I took a walk and found a little park to play in. It was a lovely day until I had to retire early with a migraine. The cloudy unsettled weather is getting to me.

Day crossed Lake Oneida with 3-4 foot following seas. The boat handled it with ease and we arrived at the west end of the lake ahead of schedule. We decided to skip the fuel stop after the lake and just get through the Oswego as we thought we'd be hard pressed to make it by the five o'clock lock closing time. Oops! We ran out of fuel between the first two locks on Oswego. Luckily Andy had 12 gallons on deck in geri-cans. He fueled us up in the pouring rain and bled the system like a pro. We were only drifting for about 10 minutes in total. I really am proud of my Handy Andy! Don't know what I'd do without him. So we got through the rest of the locks, turns out they were closer together than charted in the canal book so we were done by 4:00! We tucked into the Oswego Yacht Club and called it a day. Dinner was delivered by a local Italian restaurant and we are all tuckered out and ready for bed.

Tomorrow we have an appointment at the Marina across the channel for mast stepping, and then it's off across Lake Ontario. We have a two day window of fair weather, so I think we're going to skip the originally planned stop in Cobourg and just head straight for Toronto. It's about 125 miles across, so if we do an overnight Friday night we should be in mid-day on Saturday and have a day or two to rest before it's back to work for Andy.

When we started this journey Andy said we'd be two weeks, which to me meant three...and he says to him meant probably four. It will be four weeks on Tuesday since we left. Not too bad, I guess, and we got a new home out of it, not to mention a whole lot of memories!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Without Bad Luck...

We have arrived at the south end of the Erie Canal system in Waterford. I am delighted to find wireless internet here, and so will endeavour to catch up the blog on our adventures thus far.
I'm sorry to say that the pictures from this trip are nonexistant, as I have managed to misplace the charger for my camera battery. Andy says I should throw in a few pictures of the Hudson from last year's trip, it hasn't changed much! I did manage to get the few interior pictures of Island Eclipse that I've posted here just before the battery died. This was, as it turned out, the first of many system failures on this journey.
After two nights of living on dry dock in Deale, just outside of Annapolis, we were finally splashed. Living out of the water sure is hot in this weather, so I was thrilled to be back in the water. About an hour later I was trying to flush the forward head and was having no luck. Andy checked the bilge and discovered that we were taking on water at a rather alarming rate! The leak seemed to be through a thru-hull in the forward bilge...and the bilge pump was not running! Andy found a spare bilge pump (hmmm....I wonder why George had that onboard...) and installed in quickly. He was able to tighten the thru-hull enough to slow the leak and get the newly installed bilge pump to keep up with the flow. Phew! Good thing he's so handy!!
And so the next thing we knew we were back out of the water! We spent another night on dry dock so Andy could install a new gadget in the leaky thru-hull, fixing the leak and adding a transducer at the same time. He also peeled some paint off of the speed meter on the hull and got it functioning again.

When we got underway at last, our first day's plan was to travel up Chesapeake Bay from Deale to the C & D Canal. We motored up the Bay, as the wind was on the nose. We really enjoyed the first couple of hours...then the engine started to sputter! We were losing power quickly! I am so thankful that Andy is so resourceful, he went to work diagnosing the problem and was able to get the engine running well enough to finish the day. We docked in Chesapeake City for the night, and carried on the few miles to Summit North Marina the next morning.
Boating is definitely not for the Type A person who plans out their trip! Something always comes up and delays always happen. We spent three days at Summit North Marina. There was a hurricane tracking up the east coast, so even without the boat repairs we would have been holed up there for awhile. It was a great hurricane hole, though! Very sheltered.

So Andy had several days to work on the engine trouble. The marina had a complimentary shuttle service that we took advantage of several times to get parts and groceries. By the time we were ready to head out again we had restocked, done laundry, fueled up, pumped out and changed the racor and the fuel filters and reprimed the engine. Andy also cleaned out the bilges and purchased an emergency bilge pump to keep on hand.
Andy, being the kind, considerate guy he is, helped repair the engine on a neighbouring boat at the marina, and in thanks the boat owner Brad invited us to spend the next night at his marina in Cape May. So on Saturday we set out bright and early for our trip through the C&D Canal and down Delaware Bay. The weather following the hurricane made for quite the adventure! The winds were about 30 knots (our wind gauge isn't working), and the seas were 3-4 foot and following when we entered Delaware Bay. The further south in the bay we got the wider it got and the rougher the seas got! We were in 8-10 foot seas by the time we got to the turn off for the Cape May Canal! We sailed down the bay at 9 knots with the staysail, a triple reefed main, and the engine off. It was a lovely time, with the only casualty being our littlest sailor. Henry got sea-sick and he and I wore it. Ugh!
Since Henry was feeling ill we decided to enter Cape May Canal instead of rounding the Cape outside. The fixed bridges were charted to be 55' at high tide. Our mast height is 55', so we figured we'd be okay....storm surge, who thinks of storm surges? Needless to say, we hit the first bridge with our mast! Luckily Andy was a little leary and approached the bridge at idle speed, with the boat in reverse. The second we hit he was backing out! He climbed the mast to check the damage. Our wind meter was knocked clear off, but we were otherwise unscathed. So, despite Henry's poor tummy we had to head back out into the rough stuff and circle Cape May to approach from the east. I gave him another dramamine tablet (Gravol) and he slept blissfully through it. We did, however, experience more intermittent engine trouble!
Brad's invitation included our mooring fees for the night, as well as participation in their marina's Labour Day festivities. There was a live band and pot luck dinner. A fun time was had by all, but we called it a night pretty early after the day we had! The next morning there was a 'dock master's breakfast' being served, complete with bacon, eggs, fruit, coffee, juice...the works. We were refueled and ready to go! Andy got a ride to West Marine before we left so he could pick up more fuel filters and additives, as he suspected that we stirred up some muck in the fuel tank when we rolled in the rough seas, leading to the reappearance of our engine issues.

We left Cape May around 3:00pm with the plan to go as far as Atlantic City. That would have been about a five hour trip just off the Atlantic Coast. We talked about it while we were underway, though, and decided that since the weather forecast looked good for the next couple of days we should just keep going and do an overnight to New York. The engine continued to give us issues, and neither of us enjoyed Atlantic City much last year. We certainly didn't want to get stuck there for any length of time this year! And so we saw Atlantic City come and go in the distance as the sun set. Henry and I took Gravol and went to bed and Andy planned to sleep in 1/2 hour intervals while the autopilot helmed the boat. There isn't a lot of action a couple of miles off shore in the Atlantic overnight, so you get up, look around, and go back to sleep if you don't see any other boats. Unfortunately Henry and I went to bed and the invertor stopped working, so the batteries died and took the autopilot down with them! Poor Andy had to stay awake at the helm all night alone! Needless to say, he was exhausted by morning! When Henry and I got up we were just coming into New York Harbour. Andy took a three hour nap as I motored us up the Hudson River. We continued up the river another 50 miles to Torches on the Hudson, our favourite restaurant from last year's trip. We did a total of 180 miles in 28 hours! Our new boat sure is faster than Sassy was!
We had three nights at Torches, enjoying their wonderful food and nice atmosphere while Andy emptied, scrubbed and serviced the fuel tank and had the alternator rebuilt. Henry really enjoyed Torches' beautiful, 25 foot aquarium. I really enjoyed eating out for a few days, and taking advantage of the lovely, clean showers at the marina next door. We took the $5.00 flat rate cabs around Newburgh several times for parts and a Walmart run, and by day three were ready to go again. The engine was finally bug free and purring like a kitten.
The run from Torches to Catskill Creek was easy and uneventul at last! Andy commented on how nice it was to finally have a day free of maintenance! We just enjoyed the ride. In Catskill Creek we found a nice park for Henry, a dog park for Buddy and Charlie, laundry facilities, showers, and met some nice people. Andy spent a full day prepping to take the mast down, and after two nights at Riverview Marina we were ready to step the mast. This morning the mast came down and went on deck with no incidences, and we set out for Waterford and our first lock.
We had another nice day today. The weather has gotten warmer and sunnier than it's been in a few days, and we didn't have any more issues with the boat. We did, however, arrive at the visitor's centre in Waterford only to discover that they aren't accepting transient boats this weekend as it's their annual Tugboat Festival! Again, it's a good thing that Andy is so friendly! After speaking to a few Tugboat Captains he arranged for us to raft up to a Tugboat for the night!! I wish I could take a picture!!!! Here we are rafted up to a 76 ft tugboat, surrounded by tugboats of all sizes alongside tents and vendors of all sorts! There was a live band and a fireworks display to top it all off. We sure do find adventures!
Well, I've finally caught us up to today's events. I'm bushed and off to bed. More soon, as soon as we have another internet connection! Until then, fair winds!