Wednesday, June 30, 2010

About Face

Lock 20
43 08.59 N 075 17.51 W

Victoria decided that two days was enough so she asked her mother to come fetch her. That's OK. Libby and I enjoyed having her for whatever time we could.

Soon thereafter, I got a call from David about our upcoming trip. He's delayed a week or more departing Alaska. Uh Oh. That means a revamp of the travel plans.

I started thinking about how to revamp and pretty soon my head was spinning. In the past, I've written off such lapses as adaptations to the cruising life where we never have to worry about schedules. Everybody knows that sailors and calendars don't coexist easily.

I think though I've been a little too hard on myself. This replanning job is harder than most. In normal circumstances, to make trips A, B and C, one needs only to select departure dates. If however, after trip A the boat leaves on passage X, then that affects both the date and the city for trip B, and eventually C also. In this case, I had to decide whether to continue West on the Erie canal, and if so which city to depart from, or to turn back East and whether to depart from Albany or from Burlington for a flight to meet David. In the meantime, we have to choose a city to depart from for a trip to Potsdam.

After 20 minutes or so, my head stopped spinning enough to choose a plan. We'll cancel the rest of the trip Westward on the Erie Canal. Instead, we'll return East. We'll depart for Potsdam from Amsterdam NY on July 7. After that trip, we'll go up to Lake Champlain and I'll fly out of Burlington to meet David in Fairbanks, or Seattle instead of Flagstaff. Whew! I almost needed a pert chart for that one.

So instead of rushing, we find ourselves with leisure time. We could be in Amsterdam in 2 days, but we have a week. We'll stay here at Lock 20 to watch another free concert Thursday night. (I told you we like this place.) Then, we'll find a place between here and Amsterdam to watch 4th of July fireworks this weekend.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Happily Stranded

Sylvan Beach, NY
43 11.74 N 075 43.69 W

This morning we arrived at Sylvan Beach with the intention of crossing Oneida Lake. When we got here however, the lake was already too rough. Waves were breaking over the jetty and the spray from the breaking waves flew horizontal from the wave tops. With Victoria on board it would be inappropriate to attempt anything rough.

Therefore, we'll stay here for two days until the weather settles down. By supper time, 6 other cruising boats pulled in behind us. None of them want to cross the lake either.

However, our layover gave us the excuse we needed to arrange for a reunion. In high school, Libby's best friend was Emily. The two of them did everything together. Indeed, my first date ever with Libby was a double date with Emily and her future husband Baden. We haven't done a good job of keeping in touch tough, it has been more than 40 years since we've seen them.

Emily and Baden live near by so today we called them. They were very happy to hear from us and they came right over to Sylvan Beach. We spend the afternoon chatting. The four of us also took Victoria on an excursion to search for a near by geocache. We didn't find it.

Emily and Baden, being so nice, invited us out to dinner. After dinner they drove us to the top of that ridge I wrote about a week ago. The ridge top in Madison County, NY is today a big wind farm. The wind mills there are 233 feet high and very impressive when seen close up. Indeed, they look majestic.

Strangely though, one of them fell down last winter. Until the investigation to why it fell is complete, the entire wind farm is shut down. Therefore, it looked pretty silly to see all those massive wind machines sitting still on such a windy day.

Monday, June 28, 2010

One The Water Again

Lock 21
42 12.51 N 075 36.87 W

We had a great family weekend. Nick had great support from his family
and friends. I'm sure he'll remember that for many years.

Now however, we're back on the boat and moving west once again. Good
news! We have our granddaughter Victoria with us. Today is a rainy
day so we didn't push much for progress. We moved only 7 miles from
Rome to Lock 21.

Lock 21 is such a splendidly isolated and tranquil place that our
cruising guide says, "It is so quiet that city people will have
trouble sleeping here." That's perfect for today; our main mission
is to allow Victoria to get used to the alien environment of living on
a boat. Victoria already has a collection of wild flowers and goose
feathers gathered locally.

Tomorrow, we'll make better distance and cross Oneida Lake. I just
checked the weather forecast. It says W at 35 for Wednesday.
Definitely, we won't be crossing the lake or moving westward on that

Looking ahead I have two very pleasant dates. On July 7, Libby and I
will drive to Potsdam. I'm going to give a couple of lectures at my
alma mater, Clarkson University, in Potsdam. Potsdam is where Libby
and I lived the first year of our marriage, and it's a pleasure to
visit there.

After that trip, I'm hopping on a plane in Syracuse. I have a one way
ticket to Flagstaff, Arizona. There I'll meet my son Dave. Dave is
moving from Fairbanks, Alaska to Raleigh, North Carolina. He'll drive
his car to Flagstaff and meet me. Once there, we'll be tourists.
We'll visit the Grand Canyon and then follow our noses eastward in a
cross country car trip. It'll be like Jack Kerouac senior and junior.
I think it will be great fun.

So, between now and July 7, we have no agenda, no plan. We'll just go
from day to day in search of fun.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Graduation

Boonville, NY

It is Saturday at 10AM. We are all here in Boonville at the Adirondack High School for Nick's graduation ceremony. The rest of this weekend, we'll be off the boat having a family celbration. Sorry, no more blogs till Monday.

Saturday, June 26, 2010


The place that does the galvanizing is

Hubbell Galvanizing
40 Greenman Ave.
New York Mills, N.Y. 13417

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Alone but not lonely

Lock 20
43 08.59 N 075 17.51 W

This place at lock 20 is especially nice.

During the day I worked outside cleaning the anchors of paint and rust. After 4 years of searching finally found a place that will f them for me. Guess what? It its in Oriskany, NY just 2.5 miles from here. Two years ago I bought all new chain because I couldn't find anyone to regalvanize the old chain for me.

Anyhow, all day long interesting people came by to chat. A sailboat just tied up behind me. It is a couple from Toronto who just bought the sailboat and they're taking it home. Tonight I'm listening to a free big band concert as I sit in the cockpit. (see the picture)

From NY2010

You may remember, this is the place where we enjoyed a free concert on Labor Day last year. How nice its that? Free dock, water, power and live entertainment.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A Truly Intrepid Cruiser

Lock 20
43 08.59 N 075 17.51 W

Libby left me alone for a couple of days. I'm just hanging out here at Lock 20 and enjoying it.

Tonight I met Jake. Jake is a cruiser extraordinare. He is doing the Great Loop by kayak. 5000 miles. Jake started in Wisconsin, paddled down to Florida, back up the east coast and he plans to return to Wisconsin by the end of August. He carries all his gear and food with him on his one man kayak. At night, he stops, cooks himself a hot meal and camps by the shore. Jake said that the Erie Canal has been exceptionally nice for his kind of cruising.

I'm reminded of the old saw about the guy with the big luxury yacht. He says, "No matter how big your boat, there's always someone with a bigger boat." Amen. On this blog Libby and I amaze our readers with our intrepidness, courage and the hardships we put up with. Jake's adventure makes ours sound puny in comparison. I greatly admire Jake.

Have a look at Jake's web page here. I'm going to add it to the list of Cruising blogs in the sidebar. Some pictures of Jake below.

From NY2010

From NY2010

From NY2010

Smartphone Update

Lock 20
43 08.59 N 075 17.51 W

Time for a smartphone update. I really love my new Droid. The technology is amazing, learning is effortless, and most important using it is fun. The location aware weather and Google maps apps are extremely useful. Ironically, I find that the most difficult thing to do with this phone is to answer an incoming call.

The major downside is that typing on the keyboard is very frustrating. I have 3 choices: a vertical on screen keyboard, a horizontal one, and a physical QWERTY one. All 3 are frustrating. Nevertheless any of the 3 are easier than running all over town in search of a WiFi signal.

But wait, there's an app for that. I downloaded Swype. Swype provides a totally different way to use an online keyboard. How? It's hard to describe. Perhaps you've seen Swype in the news. Anyhow, after only a little practice with Swype, I find that it if very much superior and (most important) fun.

I'm hooked. With Swype, the physical keyboard on the Droid is useless baggage. In the future I'll be authoring more and more blogs on the Droid and fewer on the laptop.

By the way, do you see the irony? I love Swype because it lets me type on the phone much easier. I also love Easy Tether because when tethered I don't need to type on the phone at all. I think the real secret to commercial success is that we(I) value fun higher than practicality.

But the best app of all is called Easy Tether. That app lets me connect the Droid to the laptop as a broadband modem. That way, I can use the laptop and read my daily news articles on the big screen without having to find a WiFi signal. If the phone signal is really good, I can even watch streaming video. The other day, Libby and I watched some TV programs and a feature movie on the laptop using the Droid. We used 2GB of data that day. On some plans that's the monthly data limit, but our Verizon data plan is unlimited.

There are pitfalls. A while back we had dinner with John and Mari at their home. Mari compared my Droid with her Iphone. The next morning at 0500 my phone woke me up with a call. It was Mari's Iphone calling. I answered it but heard only background noise. I ignored it. In the next hour, between 5 and 6AM, Mari's phone called mine 5 more times! It turns out that Mari was sitting on her phone or had it in a handbag bumping against things. Having your phone call people on its own and thus bugging you could be very embarrassing.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Social Whirl

Monday, we motored East again across Oneida Lake. It was sunny and we had an excellent breeze. Libby and I looked enviously at the two sailboats we saw out sailing that day. It would have been a spectacular day sailing if our mast was up.

Back at Sylvan Beach once again we met with our daughter in law, Cheryl, granddaughter Sara and grandson Nick. Nick will stay on board Tarwathie a few days. Next Saturday is Nick's graduation and on July 12, Nick reports for basic training in the US Army. Here here for Nick!

We also met with former neighbors from Oran New York; the Randalls and the Fosters. They have been close friends for many decades. We all ate dinner at Eddie's Restaurant. Poor Nick. The whole restaurant was full of old farts like us. I think Nick might have been the only young person there. Here's a link to an album of Barb Randall's pictures from last night.

Today, we're motoring East again. We're going to Utica and we hope to let Nick take the famous tour of the Matt Brewery.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Old Stomping Grounds

Oneida Lake, NY
43 12.84 N 075 59.21 W

We are crossing Oneida Lake. The lake is about 20 miles long and 10 miles wide, but otherwise unremarkable. However, looking south from the lake we see a series of prominent ridges. The north slope of those ridges are our old stomping grounds.

Libby grew up in Fayetteville, NY and me in the next town, Manlius. My parents lived in Oran. Libby went to college in Cazenovia. The nearest town was Chittenango. All of these place are on or near the north slope of the Allegheny Plateau. South, the altitude is higher. North is a vast flat plain extending up far into Canada.

We both remember the specactular scenic views from the hilltops on that ridge. Especially at night when we could see the lights of Syracuse at our feet.

This slope also has the effect of wringing out the last droplets of moisture from the lake-effect air heading southeast. In winter, that meant snow; lots and lots of snow. Indeed, I remember some stats. Syracuse has fewer hours of sunlight per year than any place in the USA. It also has more snow than any other city of 100,000 people or more. There are lots of places in the world that get more snow, but nobody else ever built a big city on those places.

Just seeing that slope brings back lots of memories. In the spring of 1962 I drove a car to school. Libby and I used to skip school and drive around on those hills enjoying the spring feelings. (I hope our grandkids don't read this blog post:)

What's our plan? Tonight, we'll visit our dear friends Gerry and Phyllis in Clay, NY. Tomorrow, we'll backtrack eastward and meet our grandson Nick. Nick will spend a few days onboard with us. Next Saturday is Nick's high school graduation and a big party at John's house north of Rome, NY. Our whole family will be there, except David who is still in Alaska, but including John and Mary Ann from Schenectady. That will be the high point of the year for Libby and I.

By the way, being here reminds me of one of my favorite true stories. In the 1950's a local boy from Chittenango was the boxer Carmen Basilio. In 1957 he beat Sugar Ray Robinson for the middleweight championship of the world. That was a big deal back then. He fought Robinson in a rematch on March 25, 1958. I watched that fight on a TV with a 5 inch circular screen. The referee came out to start the match. He grabbed the mike, looked at his notes, and said, "IN THIS CORNER, FROM [pause] SHIT AND GO NEW YORK IS CARMEN BASILIO."

Saturday, June 19, 2010


Sylvan Beach, NY
43 11.71 N 075 43.74 W

Oh the shock. For the past two weeks we have spent most of our time in wilderness. (If it weren't for the canal it would be wilderness.) Few people, few houses, few other boats. Away from the RR and the Thruway, no traffic noise.

All that ended abruptly when we arrived here at 1600 on a Saturday. Sylvan Beach is the entrance to Oneida Lake. It also has an amusement park and a beach. On a sunny Saturday, it is extremely crowded. (see the picture below) It was shocking; shocking I tell you.

I can honestly say that I haven't seen such a crowded beach ever before. I've never been to the Long Island or New Jersey shores.

We would have passed by and avoided the crowd except that it's storming out on the lake. Just as we arrived, thunderstorms were crossing the lake 4 miles in front of us.

Oh well, we won't suffer. Actually, it brings back memories. When I was 14 years old, I went out and got working papers. Then I got a job at Manlius NY's Suburban Park near my house. I worked there 35 hours per week before school was out, and 75 hours per week during summer vacation. I ran rides.

One of the rides I ran was the Tilt-A-Whirl. Right now, there's another Tilt-A-Whirl tilting and whirling 100 feet from Tarwathie. The main difference between this one and the one I ran is age. The one at Suburban Park had been there for more than 60 years. Underneath it was a foot of grease that dripped from the machinery over all those years.

Once a year, we allowed someone to go swimming in that grease for coins. Every coin that fell out of customer's pockets went into the grease. It was an unbelievably dirty job, "swimming" in the grease and finding each coin by feel. The reward was substantial though: about $1500 in coins each year. Remember, this was 1960. How much would that be in today's dollars. We shared the booty from all the rides among several of us. Yes; I'll reveal the secret. All the amusement park rides were designed to make loose change fall out of people's pockets and for the money to fall someplace that the people couldn't find it. ;)

Below: Libby salivates over a piece of strawberry pie from the famous Eddie's restaurant here in Sylvan Beach. Haven't been there? You should try it.

From NY2010

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Fort Plain

Fort Plain, NY
42 56.39 N 074 37.08 W

Our progress up the canal today was only 4 miles. We motored from Canajoharie to Fort Plain. The weather was miserable. We fought a 25 knot headwind. It was cold and wet. We came here partly to avoid the stifling heat of the Chesapeake in summer. We may have succeeded too well.

Fort Plain is a place that we believe that we've never visited before; either by car or by boat. Our attraction was to visit the Fort Plain Museum and Park. We're tied up at lock 15 and the museum is only a mile away.

The museum's focus is mostly on revolutionary times and artifacts. It is on the site of Fort Plain/Fort Rennselaer. For us, the best part of the museum was the enthusiastic kibitzing and commentary provided by the ex-schoolteacher who runs the place. I don't think she gets many visitors in a day, so she was glad to see us. We were charmed by her stories.

SV Reliant

Canajoharie, NY

Yesterday afternoon; surprise! Another Westsail 32 came along and tied up next to us. That was unexpected. On board The Reliant were Sue and Leo from Illinois. We soon made friends and we did the irresistable; we inspected each other's W32s.

I'm fond of saying, "Every Westsail is the same but different." We enjoy seeing what is different about them. You won't be surprised to hear that in our minds, Tarwathie comes out on top in all such comparisons. We like what we have.

Reliant however proved a worthy competitor for best W32. Her interior design is radically different than any other W32 we've seen, and very well executed and beautiful. Leo explained that she was a kit boat bought by an industrial arts teacher. He believes that the teacher used his students and the the shop's materials to complete the interior of the boat. Beautiful wood and even hand-made custom cabinet hardware from the school's metal shop.

I wish I could describe her better. Perhaps this morning I'll try to convince Leo to write an article for Windblown, the W32 newsletter.

Anyhow, after many years of, mostly inland, sailing experience, Leo and Sue are on their way to the Chesapeake to begin some serious cruising and living aboard. I'm sure they'll have a great time.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Elwood Pictures

Canajoharie, NY
42 54.56 N 074 34.22 W

We really loved the Walter P Elwood Museum in Amsterdam. It is our kind of museum; the old fashioned kind packed with interesting artifacts. Below are a few pictures of those artifacts.

A mendind kit for enamel pots.

A hair wreath, (creepy)
Description of the hair wreath.

A genuine Edison phonograph restored
Edison: See the nameplate and the wax drum.

A huge marvelous steam whistle. Wish I could hear it.
Makes me feel old. I have those tools and that exact slide rule on board Tarwathie.

In the trophy room.

The museum building in Guy Park.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


The NYS Canal System knows how to do things right. Example: these wonderful work boats.

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Man, What a Corridor

The Mohawk River
42 53.73 N 074 30.20 W

As I pass by this place, I can't help thinking about the amazing flow of commerce along this famous and historical corridor past, present, and future.

We are cruising west up the Mohawk River in the Mohawk Valley. On our right is a RR track, another RR Track, a tractor trail, a local road, a highway, and then a cliff. On our left is the Thruway (I90), a local road, a highway, a RR track, and steep hills. There are also remains of 6 old RR tracks, the original Erie Canal, the upgraded Erie Canal, countless roads, plank roads, toll roads, and Mohawk Indian trails. Not visible are the buried pipelines and cables.

Most of the cities and towns along the way had their origens in the commerce of providing services to travelers along the corridor. There were also numerous factories located here to gain access to easy transportation. Indeed, my first engineering job was a General Electric's Schenectay Works. At that time their major business was making giant generators, motors and turbines. Today, those same cities are a depressed part of the "rust belt" created when heavy industries making things of iron and steel declined in the USA.

Growing up in Manlius, NY I remember the local story. Manlius was a terminus or a stop for the Cherry Valley Turnpike. The turnpike was a toll road that reached Manlius in 1803. Immigrants used the turpike to travel west to settle. Probably they arrived in Albany by boat. Beyond the turnpike, there was only wilderness where travel was much tougher.

In the 19th century, farmers in New England and New York, abandoned their farms and migrated to the midwest. Of course, they used the roads in this valley to get there. Later, they could use the more convenient canal, and still later the still more convenient and fast railroads. As with all mass migrations, a fraction of the settlers found nice places along the way and settled there without completing their journeys.

Even today, warehouses and distribution centers are one of the fastest growing parts of the local economies.

Libby remarked that the economy couldn't be so depressed after all. The daily volume of freight on the railroads and on the Thruway is amazing. Indeed, I would guess that these railroad and highway lines are used to nearly full capacity.

This valley was also of great strategic value during the French and Indian War, the American Revolution, and the War of 1812.

Worldwide there are many other corridors that follow river valleys and/or mountain passes for obvious reasons. At least for us, none of them are quite so historic and memorable as the Mohawk Valley.

By the way, I first wrote this nice long blog on my Droid using the Blogger app. I'm getting a bit better on using the Droid's keyboard. The app crashed halfway through causing me to lose all my work. Sigh.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Ah, WiFi At Last

Fonda, NY
42 57.02 N 074 22.30 W

Well, I proved that the smart phone can indeed be used to compose blog posts, and to publish them, and to take pictures and add them on the blog. However, the quality of my writing and the quality of the pictures don't match what I (and you) are accustomed to. I'll strive to find real WiFi whenever possible.

We still have 12 days before Nick's graduation party in Rome. We'll poke along and visit everything we can in between. Does anybody have suggestions for us.

This morning used the rental car to take our Honda outboard to Saratoga Springs, NY for repairs. The engine runs, but the propeller won't spin. I think that the clutch is gone because we dropped the motor in the water last year. We'll pick up the motor next month as we head up to Champlain.

Libby also used the car to visit her friends Mary Ann and Carolyn. That made her very happy. Things worked out well for us in the past few days.

Moving on after returning the car, we passed the Aurisville Shrine. We passed by that place by car many times in the past 40 years. What it is all about and what they do there has always been somewhat of a mystery to us since we're not Catholic. Today I looked it up on the web, here. The story is interesting.

Auriesville Shrine

Tonight, we're in Fonda/Fultonville. This is a big truck stop. 18 wheelers are all over the place.

MV Grand Erie

A new neighbor just tied up beside us. The Grand Erie is a floating hotel that canal workers use when working on. canal projects. She is headed up to Little Falls to work on a dredging project.

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The Local Advantage

Lock 11

We took full advantage of our local connections here. We rented an Enterprise car over the weekend. We used the car to spend a day with my sister Marylyn. We also got to visit with John&Mary Ann, Mari&John and Bud&Nan.

In short, it was a social whirlwind for us.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Friday, June 11, 2010

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Walter Elwood Museum

Lock 11
42 56.90 N 074 12.73 W

We stayed here at lock 11 last year. It is convenient. This year it offers a new attraction. The revolutionary Guy house on the property has been turned into The Walter Elwood Museum.

The museum is packed with lots and lots of interesting artifacts; all with local connection. Libby and I loved it.

Today we passed through Schenectady and Scotia, our previous home towns. Alas, there was no safe place to stop at either. Along the whole canal, the two least hospitable places are the two we wanted to visit. Sigh.

The Sound of Silence

Lock 7, Erie Canal
42 49:20 N 73 43:64 W

During our first year of cruising, I blogged about getting used to all the strange noises on the boat. Especially when lying in bed, one listens and interprets. On a boat, as opposed too a house, one must add motion to the. "sounds" of the night (since a boat is n ever 100% stiill.)

Now, after five years, I faced the flip side of that coin, unaccustomed silence. I woke at 0500 in the predawn light. There was zero noise, zero motion. It was spooky.

Last night we visited Fred and Mary. They are dear friends who live near lock 7. Indeded, much of the appeal of NY and VT is the ability to visit old friends.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Moving On

Lock 7, Erie Canal
42 49:20 N 73 43:64 W

Waterford is a neat place for cruisers. Someday we'll really explore it better, but not today.

I am having great fun with this new smartphone toy. I learned fast that using it in tbe cockpit is worse than texting while driving. I will have to discipline myself. It also gives me eyestrain, so no using it hours at a time.

Libby lost her favorite jacket. She thinks she left it in the shower last night. Today it was gone.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

The Half Moon

A mix of old and new

Athens, NY
42 15.91 N 073 48.02

We're anchored in this lovely spot called Middle Ground. We have lillys on the left and singing birds on the right. The tide will turn in an hour. (Isn't it wonderful how predictable the tide is?) Beside us is the Half Moon. She is a replica of Henry Hudson ship. My friend Pete volunteers as crew on her.

New? I'm writing this post on my new smartphone. It's amazing. Getting used to typing this way will take time. The first free app I tried was for weather radar. It worked perfectly. It makes a new safety related instrument for the boat.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Here We Sit

Catskill, NY

We're sitting here at Riverside Marine Services waiting for our turn on the crane to take the mast down. Regular readers of this blog know that is a bittersweet moment for us.

Our Wifi antenna has been broken since Florida. I had a new one shipped here and I'm using it now to post this blog. It works great. It is a Wave RV brand antenna from Radiolabs. It's main advantage compared to other Wifi boosters is that it is waterproof and can be left outside in the rain while the long USB cord leads down below to the computer. It is also omnidirectional, a mandatory thing for boats swinging at ahchor.

I also had our new phones shipped here, and while we're waiting for the crane, I'll try to activate them. Who knows?Perhaps the next blog will be written on my new Motorola Droid phone.

By the way, three men on another sailboat are also here to take down the mast. It's not their boat. They are delivery skippers. They found a big problem. The stainless turnbuckles are frozen solid. They've been using heavy tools and a propane torch, and penetrating oil with no success. They may be forced to cut them with an acetylene torch. Ouch. It reminds me how grateful I am for all the parts on Tarwathie that are solid bronze rather than stainless steel.

Sunday, June 06, 2010


Saugerties, NY

We are very glad that we stopped here for the first time. Saugerties and Espous Creek are jewels.

The creek offers a great anchorage, and the best shelter along the hudson. We're anchored at the base of a 100 foot limestone cliff. All around us are steep hills 100-200 feet wide. A hurricane or a tornado passing by would likely not stir the still air at the bottom of this hole. (Caution: I did hear though about a flash flood following a thunderstorm that flushed all the docked boats out of Espous Creek into the Hudson River.

Last night we were treated to a free concert in the waterfront park right next to the boat. We were able to sit in the cockpit and hear the music just fine.

The village is also a delight. Most towns in upstate NY, indeed all of the northeast, have dead or decaying downtown areas. A few exceptions are Burlington, VT, Saratoga Springs, NY and now Saugerties, NY. We had great fun walking around and seeing the sights. Particularly nice is Seamon park.

Tarwathie is Espous Creek

Tarwathie in the Background, Libby in the Front.
A bait boat permanently moored right next to us.

A beautiful lilly in Seamon Park

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Hudson Scenes

Saugerties, NY

Here are a few of the prettiest scenes from the past few days.

Part of West Point, I believe.
Remnants of a 19th Century Factory

A Quebecer Passes Us
The Hobo City

Amtrak Train, Albany to New York City

One of many fabulous estates

Good Challenge for Jenny, Make it a 50 Foot Wide Planter

What Kind Of Tree Has Such Dark Colors?

Friday, June 04, 2010

Lush Green

The Hudson River
41 58.44 N 073 57.15 W

This morning was splendid.   We ate breakfast in the cockpit anchored 100 meters from the Kingston Lighthouse.  The air and the water were totally still and quiet.  We heard voices and looked out to see a racing shell rowing out into the river for early morning practice.    We heard splashes and looked the other way to see a shallow area with lily pads.   The fish were going crazy in this little spot, leaping out to feed on surface insects.  If one had a fly fishing rig, I'm sure that he could catch those fish as quickly as they could be reeled in.

After getting under way toward Saugerties (our destination for today, only 11 miles), I stood on the bow with my camera to inhale all the beauty.   The Hudson River Valley is surrounded by mountains and hills in the background.  The shores are dotted with the remnants of 19th century industrial might.  Ruins, chimneys. some structures, and the remnants of numerous docks and jetties.  High on the hills are the palatial estates of super rich people.  Many of them are very beautiful.  Down at the shore, there are very few houses, but those few are quaint and working class.  Just north of Kingston is a hobo city.  It has persisted in the same spot since we first started traveling this river in 2005.  How's that for egalitarian?

Most beautiful at this time of year is the lush greens of upstate New York.  In May and early June they are at their lushest.   It reminds me of a story.  My father told me that he once picked up a hitchhiker on Route 20 near Auburn NY.   The man was a retired cowboy from Australia.   He said that as a youth he read the stories of James Fenimore Cooper and he was fascinated by Cooper's descriptions of the lush greenness of central NY.  Australia after all offers nothing but shades of brown; nothing but brown.   He dreamed his whole life of someday seeing the place that Cooper described.   Upon retirement, he bummed his way across the Pacific and North America.   Now he was in central New York and the beauty and the number of shades of green visible were overwhelming.    We feel like that cowboy when we return to this area after a year's absence.

By the way, the greens of central New York were much nicer in Cooper's time and in my youth in Manlius NY, than they are today.   Why is that?  Global warming is not the culprit; the decline in agriculture is.   In 1776, the land in Central New York and New England was 80% fields and 20% forest.  Today the proportions are reversed.  Indeed, it might be as little as 5% fields today.   Open fields in hilly country provide wonderful views from many viewpoints, and they also offer infinite varieties in the shades of green. (Think of the opening scene from The Sound of Music.)   Forests block most of the view.  The thing you see most of the time is the nearest trees, plus the wooded slopes of distant hills which tend to be very uniform in color.   I've tried before to suggest that we restore the beauty by cutting down most of the trees.   How stupid of me.   Modern people are very protective of trees.  They are horrified at the idea of cutting any down, regardless of the motive.

Anyhow, the morning beauty and the return to our home areas put us in a very mellow mood today.  There will be thunderstorms this afternoon, but we don't care.  By the way, I have some beautiful pictures of the scenes described today.  I'll post them when I can.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Welcome Matt Half Out

Rhinecliff, NY
41° 55.17 N 073° 57.07 W

A few week ago a fellow cruiser remarked that when cruising in New England that he had the feeling that everyone was out to loot his wallet or worried that he would loot theirs. We had that feeling too in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, and New Hampshire, but not in Maine. We also have that feeling a little bit on the Hudson; especially compared to the Erie and Champlain Canals.

For example, there's a restaurant in Newburg that allows free docking while dining. Then they have the gall to charge $3/foot to stay overnight at the dock. ($1/foot is cheap, $2 is very expensive, and $3 is out of sight.) Many other places with public docks have "No Overnight" signs. In fact, we're tied right now to the dock at the Rhinecliff train station. There's no sign saying we can't stay but I worry that we may be rousted out by police in the middle of the night.

There are lots of places that could do more to welcome visitors who arrive by boat. Yonkers, Tarrytown, Nyack, Haverstraw, Newberg, Beacon, Poughkeepsie, Hyde Park, Kingston, Catskill, Hudson, and more places all seem to have no interest in visitors. We'd like to visit the Rockerfeller estate, Hyde Park and we'd like to eat at the Culinary Institute of America. All are on the shores of the Hudson but none are accesible by boat and walking.

It's not just a matter of money. It is hospitality. Along the Erie Canal and the Champlain Canal we feet that those communities truly welcome visitors and do their beat to attract them. Here on the Hudson, we get the feeling that the local communities don't carea about being hospitable to boaters, or even downright hostile. Too bad for them. We've see very many places that make the waterfront, especially the part with visiting vessels the centerpiece of downtown attractions for citizens and automobile tourists.

Of course money does play a big role. New York State provided money to make the NYS canals hospitable, but not for the Hudson. Also, because the Hudson's shores are so steep and currents so swift, it is more difficult. Finally, there's the culture of the travelers. If many or most of the boating public sees no problem paying $3/foot for a dock place after dinner, then it's not the proprietor's fault to charge what the market bears.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

The Elements, The Beauty

Croton On The Hudson, NY
41 11.81 N 073 53.82 W


Our salt water sailing is done for the next three months. We're up the Hudson River, almost far enough to reach fresh water.

I was going to write a blog complaining about how the elements conspired against us. Last evening, out at sea our nice wind died almost completely. NOAA forecast SW 15 but we got SW 3. That forced us to motor the last half of the passage.

We arrived at Sandy Hook, NJ around 0430. We had to wait until 0900 for the current to turn our way at the Verrazano Narrows so I thought we could grab a few hours sleep. I eyeballed a nice place on the Atlantic side to anchor in 20 feet of water with a sandy bottom. No wind, hardly any waves, why not. Just as I approached that point the wind started blowing really hard. Darn. I motored for another 90 minutes to the bay side of Sandy Hook and we anchored there. It still blew like crazy. It continued to blow like crazy until 15 minutes after we hoisted anchor and set sail to continue the trip. Then the wind died again.

We went up to 79th street Marina in hope of getting a mooring so that I could tour the Navy ships at fleet week. Alas, the ships were gone, fleet week ended yesterday. We took a mooring anyhow, but when we put the dinghy down and tried to mount the outboard motor we had to abort. The wind had come up again and the wind plus current plus waves made Tarwathie pitch so violently that it would have been dangerous to try lowering the outboard. Therefore, we changed our minds and departed for this place, Croton On The Hudson. This is an excellent anchorage.

On the plus side, we dodged 6 thunderstorms yesterday and today. They went south of us and north of us and we missed every one. We didn't miss the 7th storm. It hit the classic way, just 60 seconds before we dropped anchor here in Croton on the Hudson. The wind blew 35 and the rain was intense for the 10 minutes it took me to set the anchor and make everything secure. Then, I went below. My clothes were drenched. I stripped naked, grabbed a bar of soap and headed back out to get a free shower. Too bad, the rain stopped just seconds before I was ready.

But the really big story today is the beauty. Hills! Beautiful hills; the palisades of New Jersey. We haven't seen a hill since last fall. We're so tired of flat. The Palisades are a singularly beautiful way to re-introduce ourselves to hills.

On final event. Just 15 seconds before the 7th storm hit us, Libby went snif snif, "I smell honeysuckle." Is that a physics effect of lightning storms, or are the honeysuckles really in bloom.

p.s. The SSB radio link hasn't worked well the past week. I've been having trouble posting blogs. This is the first Wifi connection I've had in more than week.