The Locks at this time of year are only open from 0700 to 1700. I believe that changes after the Memorial Holiday weekend. We were in good shape as we were the first boat lined up to enter the lock when it opened. We entered Lock 2 at 0700 followed by a trawler, Our Time. There were a couple of other boats tied up to the wall who weren’t early risers, I guess. All of the fender and lines were set up on the portside so we just left them there.
Last evening, Brian walked the dock and met John and Gail Thomassen the owners of Our Time, well they weren’t the owners anymore. John and Gail are Loopers and they are travelling with their 3 year old Golden Lab named Stanley. They belong to the America’s Great Loop Cruiser’s Association (AGLCA). They did the Great Loop 8 years ago when they retired from their home building business in Bobcaygeon, Ontario. They are both retired from jobs as air traffic controllers at Toronto International Airport where they met. After they married, Gail had to quit for obvious reasons, husband and wife could not work together. John continued as a controller until their business required him full time. For the last few years they have had the boat in Fort Meyers at Legacy Marina. So, they advertised Our Time on the AGLCA website and sold her. When the new owner actually made 2 trips to Florida to look at her, they knew they had a serious buyer. Part of the closing was that John and Gail had to get the boat as far as Winter Harbor in Brewerton, New York. This would be their last boat ride on Our Time.
So Our Time pulled into the lock behind us and the gate closed. This time there were ropes hanging in the lock, all I had to do was grab a line and hold on. This was another lift up. Everything went as it should, the gate opened and we were on our way. I started to walk back to the cockpit and the Captain said to me “Where are you going? Get ready for the next lock.” I turned around and sure enough Lock 3 was right there. Now I get why this section of the locks is called the Flight of Five. There are 5 locks in a row that lift the boat up a total of 150 feet in the distance of 1.5 miles. Statute miles that is. Boaters cannot overnight in the Flight of Five, you can stop but you must go through the five locks. Those are the rules. We got through in the allowed 1.5 hours. You cannot go faster than the specified time or the Lockmasters will hold you up anyway. The next lock number 7 was 11 miles away. Now can I have my coffee? John called on the VHF, laughing he said “You can have your breakfast now.” That is exactly what I planned, but I didn’t get the dishes done before the next lift of Lock 7. This is a piece of cake now. I’m like an old pro.
Brian radioed Our Time to ask if they wanted to make a pass since they would be faster than us. They declined saying that they would just follow us and enjoy their last ride.
There aren’t many facilities along the Erie Canal. We didn’t really want to be paying marina fees each night so we looked ahead in the paperwork that we had to determine where there was diesel fuel available and where we can tie up to a wall. There will be no more anchoring for this part of the trip. Not all of the marinas along the way carry diesel fuel either, only gas. So we picked fuel and overnight stops out ahead of time.
There are 34 locks in the Erie Canal for 338 miles. The locks lift up over the mountains and then it is a motor boat ride across Oneida Lake and then drop down to Lake Erie. There are also other canals in the New York Canal System for a total of 524 miles. Our 10 day pass, which we thought would give up plenty of leeway, was $37.50.
Fonda, NY was the destination for the first day. Fonda was a town between Lock 12 and 13. The place to tie up there was at Fonda Terminal Wall. By the time both boats tied up we were all pooped. The time was 1730 and we all stepped off to stretch our legs. Stanley was really happy. No sooner did we settle in and we heard a huge roar. There were County Fairgrounds across the street and they were doing race car trials. This went on until after dark. Also, there are the usual trains that go by every 30 minutes or so. No amenities here, no electricity, no water, no washrooms and hence no showers, just a free wall.
Brian could not resist the draw of the motor madness calling to him. After his usual safe arrival beverage, he wandered over to the Fairgrounds to see what was going on. I stayed behind to start dinner. Well, we decided that the “Mighty Hot Dog” was on the menu for this evening. An Easy, Peasy dinner for the night. The trip turned out to be worthwhile; Brian found a Chip Wagon and brought back some fries to go with the dogs. He also got entertained by two of the car owners. They were fighting about how one of the guys always cheats with his cars. The other guy was going to “Beat his competitor’s Ass”.
We discussed with John and Gail about departure time the next day and they were going to follow AFEICA once again. We would leave at 0630 for Lock 13 that was about a mile or so away. We were going to travel from Lock 13 to Lock 22. Then we would wait for a good weather window to cross Oneida Lake which is 29 miles across to Lock 23. At least that was the plan.