Between Waterford and Whitehall, NY are 11 locks, identified as C1 to C12, with no C10. Thought I had mis-typed eh? C10 was planned but in the end, the wise engineers determined it wasn’t needed. Yippee! One less. Can you tell I am not fond of locks? Russ, on the other hand, has no problem with them, and you know why of course. He’s a LOCKSMITH!! Sure that’s a far cry from a LockMaster, but wait, you could say he’s that too. OK, on we go.
One thing is baffling, but perhaps a wise reader can offer a believable explanation. The Champlain Canal locks are C1, C2 , etc. The Champlain Canal bridges, of which there are MANY, are labeled C1- C500! (or so) Yes, I know the C stands for Champlain because on the Erie Canal the locks and bridges are E1, E2 etc. After you go a few miles the bridge numbers are far enough ahead of the locks, but still, how about bridges being CB or locks being CL?
Any way… we had printed out a one page list of the locks and a three page list of the bridges. I won’t attempt to describe the details but suffice to say that words like “pool” when talking about water level, required an understanding that escaped us for the most part. But we managed, no worries.
We departed alone from Waterford but by lock C1 the green boat that had docked near us after SV Onapua left, caught up and we locked through together.
In this, and all “C” locks we found lines hanging from the top of the wall. Snag one with a boat hook, pull yourself in, then person #2, in this case Captain Russ, comes down from the flybridge (leaves engines on) and grabs a second line near the stern. Easy enough and as the lock fills the moderate turbulence moves the boat toward and away from the wall somewhat, so you adjust for that. Our large ball fenders were tied on in two places (not just one as is usual with fenders) to keep them as stationary as possible.
When the lock doors opened on the other end, I would let go of the bow line after Russ got up to the helm. If needed I’d push off near the stern and away we’d go.
At C2 (19ft lift) the fun stuff happened. The one thing we’d neglected was to don footware; barefoot loving “soles” are we. We followed procedure and thought we were prepared. However; the turbulence in this lock was strong and Twins was being pulled away from the wall more than before so I pulled harder on the line, then harder still as she was moving further away. Russ yells from the stern, “Pull, pull with all your might!!” Holy crap, if only I had shoes on to give me getter traction! I moved to the middle of the front deck near the anchor chain chute to get a better angle and pulled really hard. I guess Russ was pulling hard too, as we slowly came in toward the wall. Whew. I mean I am shaky!
When I am standing near the boat’s centerline I can’t see Russ at the stern; I also couldn’t see the boat behind us- the green one who locked through with us. Russ said their experience was worse than ours! Their bow was turned nearly 90 degrees toward the lock wall!, but they recovered. I was very glad I didn’t see that happening. Ok then, footware now part of the attire.
Our stop today was the free dock at Mechanicville, approx. a seven mile day with two locks but no “low” bridges”. A low bridge means the mast must be lowered onto the wooden brace and our height is then 15 ½ ft (give or take because we can’t measure well). The free dock is cement with large cleats, power, water and a free pump out machine. Life is good. I know seven miles and only two locks seems so measly, but we had long waits to enter at both locks and since anchoring isn’t an option you need to spend your nights at a dock, or just outside of a lock at a wall if that’s allowed.
Yep, did the pump out then moved to the northern end of the dock, plugged in and rinsed off the fenders and sides of Twins.
Temps well into the 80s meant air conditioning was needed to keep comfy so we were happy to have power.
The short walk up to the main road takes you past the police station- good that- and we found a pizza/bar place to consider for take-out dinner. The best find (which we’d read about) was Mom’s Laundry; not only was this the most pristine laundromat ever, I couldn’t help but think “Bahamas” with the Mom name. Huge place, new machines, Wi-fi, reasonable price, air conditioned- imagine we will stop on the trip down.
We spent two nights at Mechanicville due to crappy weather. This was also the time and place to lower the mast for the remainder of the trip until reaching our VT home base in Charlotte. Ah, did you say it right? Shar Lot.
Across the canal was some exposed shoreline. We caught sight of a large bird in flight and couldn’t identify it easily. Turkey vulture, no not osprey, but bald eagle? Once he landed we were more confused. Was that dingy, large scavenger bird really a bald eagle? Yes America that is a bald eagle.
Look it up- bald eagles eat fish- dead or alive.
Special tugs that can lower the pilot house transit these waters.
Just beyond the bridge is another lock. Sunday, Aug 6 would be a FIVE lock day. Happy to know we’d get one done right away. Saturday afternoon we lowered our mast onto the homemade brace. Tried to measure our height above the waterline- 15 1/2?? We’ll see how it goes.