Thursday, September 30, 2010

Position and Hold

Croton On Hudson
41 11.34 N 73 53.843 W

We're hiding out today from the storm called Nicole. We have one of the very few anchorages on the Hudson River that is secure against a southerly storm. It would be cool to visit Amy, my second cousin who lives near here, but we don't want to launch the dinghy in a gale.

We also appear to be lucky in that most of this storm's rain appears to be passing west of us.

I'm worried however about friends who decided to wait out the storm in Espous Creek at Saugerties, NY or Rondout Creek in Kingston. The mountains west of here may get a foot of rain thus making flash floods in those creeks possible. More than once in the past, floods have washed out all the boats moored there, most of them still tied to the marina docks that washed out with them.

Yesterday turned out to be beautiful. We traveled a long way from Catskill to Croton On Hudson, leaving at first light and arriving in twilight. Normally, we take two days to travel that stretch. The scenery getting here was spectacular. Around Catskill, we had about 20% color in the trees and they looked great. The percent color decreased gradually, reaching near zero around Newburg. If we had desired to continue until midnight, we could have had a beautiful night trip past a lit up Manhattan all the way to Liberty Island.

Looking at the weather, I think we'll move to Liberty State Park or to Sandy Hook, NJ on Friday. First light Saturday morning, we'll head out to sea and try for Norfolk. It may take us 72 hours rather than 48 hours to get there this time.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Guess where

People who side the train to New York know this sight well.
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Hooray a Monarch

Hudson River
41 28.96 N 073 59.90 W

Hooray! A Monarch butterfly is flying right beside me. First one we've seen migrating south in two years.

We love Monarchs.
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Uncooperative Weather

Hudson River
42 07.42 N 073 55.02 W

The good news is that the mast is back up.   The rest of the news has to do with weather.

I thought we had a good plan.  We would put the mast up Tuesday morning in Catskill, move on to Kingston overnight, pick up Jenny's friend Nick  from Vermont Wednesday morning, sail to Storm King Mountain Wednesday, then to the statue of Liberty on Thursday, and drop off Nick when we get there.

The plan started unraveling as soon as we got to Catskill.   The marinas don't put masts up and down in the rain, and it was raining heavily.   It rained the day before too, so there were two big boats ahead of me.   It could have been a  24 or 48 hour delay.  It wasn't that bad.  The rain held off, and by 1600 Tuesday we had our mast up.   

Should we depart for Kingston right away?   I turned on the VHF weather radio -- tornado warnings for our area.  No thank you.  We tied up at a slip at the marina overnight.

Today, Wednesday is beautiful.   We set out at 0630 to meet Nick.   However, checking the weather, Thursday looks very very bad.  There is a storm, almost a tropical depression, working up the coast.   We'll have to find an anchorage secure for SE winds and sit it out Thursday.   

I just got a call from Nick.   He too saw the weather forecast and he called to cancel.   Too bad for Nick, perhaps another year.

My next plan was to depart NYC on Friday bound for Norfolk.  The wind forecast looks favorable.  However, we'll have to put that back a day too to allow the seas to settle down after the storm has passed.  Perhaps midnight Friday or early Saturday we can depart.

What am I complaining about?  It's a lovely fall day today and we should have a spectacular ride past West Point.

By the way, I really screwed up handing the mast down/up this time.  I'll tell that story another day.

Sunday, September 26, 2010


Waterford, NY
42 47.22 N 073 40.76 W

Well, we had a car over the weekend and this area is our former stomping ground. Therefore, Libby and I indulged in nostalgia for the past few days.

  • We visited West Charlton and our friends Bud and Nan.
  • We ate king steak sandwiches at Morette's restaurant in Schenectady.
  • We went to a movie at Scotia Cinema, our former neighborhood theater. Wouldn't you know it, we encountered friends in the lobby.
  • We visited John and Mary Ann in Glenville.
  • Our friend Pete from Guilderland came over for a visit.
  • I drove to nearby Cohoes falls, following a tip from Pete. I never saw it before. It's quite beautiful. (Picture below)
  • We picked up my sister Marilyn at her group home and took her out for a day.
  • We ate at Oliver's in Glenville; home of the world's best home fries. I've written about Oliver's several times on this blog.
  • We had a visit from Libby's cousin Susan. We also had a separate visit from Susan's daughter Beth and Beth's daughters Katelyn and Kristen.

Cohoes Falls

The local area where the Mohawk River splits into 4 branches at the confluence of the Hudson River.

Tarwathie and other boats at the Waterford Visitor Center. Libby and Marilyn are shopping at the farmers market behind Tarwathie.
They had a tug boat festival here a couple of weeks ago and some of the tug boats are left over.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Happy Equinox

Waterford, NY

Somehow, the elements conspired to make Thursday, the equinox, the nicest day of the year.

As we went to bed the night before, the evening temperature was balmy and the winds still. I left the hatches open and was rewarded by being lulled to sleep by the sound of crickets and frogs. I hadn't realized until now how much I miss the sounds of the night in the northeast. We spend too much time bottled up in the boat in fear of chill and evening mosquitoes. Also, too often we are anchored out away from shore, and the sounds of wind and water drown out the normal sounds.

At 0600 I looked out and the entire sky was a soft rosy pink. How charming. For reasons I can't explain, pretty sunrises seem to be many fewer than pretty sunsets.

At 0700 we started moving down the Hudson. The weather was perfect. Just warm enough, sunny, and zero wind. For punctuation, we admired the beautiful fall colors that seem to be coming out rapidly now; somewhat ahead of schedule.

We didn't have far to go Thursday, so we were in no hurry. By 1300 we arrived at Waterford, and it seemed sad to stop. But the day was hardly over.

Our Kiwi friends, John, Mary Ann, Nick and Annette, came by. Libby went with Mary Ann, Nick and Annete over to The Clark Museum in Williamstown, Massachusetts. There, they got to admire classic art that just doesn't get to New Zealand. They also got to travel Route 2 through the valleys that offer the best of the best fall colors in the Northeast. They were rewarded with beautiful views.

In the evening, John and I walked up to Erie Lock 2. It appeared that they were flushing it with a whole lot of water. We talked to the lock master and were treated with an explanation (they were draining lock 5 for maintenance) and a discussion of the mechanisms, equipment, and operating procedures for the locks. We as engineers, and the lock master, eager to explain his knowledge and art, communed perfectly.

John demonstrated his outstanding knowledge of engineering by instantly identifying the motor that operates the lock valves. It is a GE traction motor, circa 1908 that was adapted from trolley car duty. Exactly right.

Then we all got together and shared pizza sitting on the plaza of the Waterford Visitors Center as the sun set. The weather remained balmy, perfectly comfortable in shirt sleeves. The jumping fish and passing geese helped establish the ambiance of this perfect day.

I hereby resolve, to do more to enjoy the nighttime sights and sounds of the places we visit in the coming year.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The color is coming!!!

Lovely day out here. Warm. Sunny. Still. With COLORS!
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Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Hudson Crossing Park, Schuylerville, NY
43 06.83 N 073 31.70 W

As many times as we've been up and down the Hudson, we never stopped in Schuylerville before. This time, we heard from people we met in Vergennes about this nice park that they are building near lock 5. The park has a public dock and that's where we're spending the night.

The world is getting smaller. No sooner had we tied up here, than another sailboat came by heading north. It was a couple from Shelburne Vermont that we met a month ago. Then, walking around in the park we struck up a conversation with a man who is building a stone gate pillar. "I know you two," he said, "We met at Valcour Island a month ago." True enough, we did.

Tomorrow we'll get to Waterford and we plan to stay there over the weekend.

Back to Schuylerville: We took a walk around the village. It was a bit of a disappointment. Schuylerville is a very historic place and it used to be charming. Now it is another decaying downtown.

To be sure, upstate New York is part of the so-called rust belt. Economic times are not good here and the state government is very hostile toward business. Therefore, urban decay should not be surprising. Still, some places, Saugerties for example, seem to thrive in the midst of all that decay. If someone could isolate the secret and bottle it, it would be worth billions.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Whitehall Colors

Whitehall, NY
43 33.29 N 073 24.17 W

Last night it was very cold. There's a benefit to that. This afternoon during a sunny moment, I glanced up and saw fall colors on Skene Mountain. I estimate 30% colors, and they look very bright and very nice.

Skene Mountain

Then I noticed some nearby trees, 50% with brilliant red. Looking closer, I see it wasn't the leaves turned red but rather prolific berries.

Looking still closer, I noticed that there are at least 4 species of berry bearing trees here in the park. I recognize the one with clusters of orange berries as mountain ash. The other three I can't identify. Above is a collage showing the 4 kinds of berries.

Last is a picture of one leaf from each of the 4 species of tree.

We're very fortunate to see a peek of the fall foliage. It has been 5 years since the last time we saw it.

Monday, September 20, 2010

No Turning Back

Southern Lake Champlain
43 45.80 N 073 21.48 W

We're not only heading south, but the mast is down too.  No turning back now.   

Actually, we'd love to turn back and to stay 3 more weeks.   In early October, Lake Champlain is even more beautiful.  The weather is usually great, and the foliage is in full bloom.   The only thing that prevents us from staying longer is cold.   We know from experience that if we don't leave quickly, that the cold will be nipping at our heels all the way down to Florida.  Sailing in the cold-damp weather is not fun at all.   We prefer to make it to northern Florida by November 1.

Right now, we're traveling at flank speed.   We hope to make it to Lock 12 at Whitehall before 5 PM when they close.   It's a splendid September day.   Clear sky, slightly cool, a 15 knot breeze from the North.  The trees in the forest have about 5% fall color.  This is the kind of day that makes us and many others so very fond of September.   Sadly, 9/11/2001 was a day like this one.

You would think that as we get more practiced at raising and lowering the mast, that we would get progressively better at it.  That's the theory.  Today, we messed it up completely.  I think it is the worst job we ever did.  It all happened because I had a better idea for how to handle the loose lines and cables for lazy jacks, halyards, side stays, and so on.  In the past, we lashed all of it to the base of the mast; and that made the base too heavy in my opinion. 

To make a long story short, my idea backfired.  We wound up with a massive snarl with everything tangled with everything else.   It took us hours to untangle the mess and that's why we're late heading for the lock.  

Engineers fight their entire lives to find the answer to "There's always a better way."  versus "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."   Basically, the liberal versus conservative views on technical problems.  Neither answer is correct 100% of the time, but we try to do better than random guessing.  Our screw up today only goes to show that this engineer, still hasn't settled that question.  Oh well, it makes for fun things to write blogs about.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Queen Of The Hill

Vergennes, Vermont
44 10.17 N 073 15.51 W

Jenny has a great network of friends in Vermont. Not only is her network great, but the people in it are great people. Yesterday, at Jenny's house, I met Pete, Jenny's new boyfriend, and John, and Grace. John and Grace gave me a ride to Vergennes last night, and another ride today.

It turns out that John and Grace live at the top of the hill in Vergennes, just a mile west of where Tarwathie is sitting. She had lunch on the boat with Libby, and the three of us hit it off. Then, Grace took us for a tour of her place at the top of the hill. All I can say is wow.

The Queen of the Hill (Grace) owns an old farmhouse on a stunningly beautiful site. From everywhere on her property, you can see mountains. Green Mountains in Vermont to the East and Adirondack Mountains in New York to the west. Just behind her house, the hill slopes down to Otter Creek. One can almost, but not quite, see Lake Champlain from up there.

Grace is also a person who loves art, crafts, gardens and old things. Her house and grounds are full of interesting things. Libby and I were fascinated by the tour. We didn't want to leave and we didn't want to stop listening to Grace's stories. We really hope that next time we come back to Vergennes, Grace and John will still be here.

I took a whole bunch of pictures of Grace and her homestead. I only included one of them here in this post. The rest are at my album site. I encourage you to watch this slide show of today's pictures; they're great.

The Monster

Hudson River, near Athens NY
42 15.94 N 073 48.36 W

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In the picture, you see me with the anchor that I bought for Lake Champlain. It is an 80 pound Luke anchor of the so-called fisherman type. It's huge, almost bigger than me. I call it the monster.

The anchor's 7/8 inch shackle is so big that I have no shackles that could fasten it to our 5/16 chain. I had to tie a big bowline knot in the chain to attach it to the monster. The bowline held fine. You can see it in the picture.

Why have such an anchor? Because zebra mussels have clarified Lake Champlain's water to the extent that you can see the bottom almost 20 feet deep. That allowed sunlight to penetrate to the bottom and dense weeds sprung up. The dense weeds are so thick that our ordinary 35# CQR anchor can't penetrate to the bottom. It just sits on the weeds. I bought the monster specifically to let us anchor at some of my favorite places on Champlain where the water is less than 15 feet deep.

Did it work? Yes. It did drag one night (I wrote about that) but not in a weedy spot.

How did we stow the anchor? It sure doesn't stow in the bowsprit like the CQR does. I had to rig a snatch block at the very tip of the bowsprit. Then I could drop a slip knot loop over the end of the monster, pull it tight, run the line through the snatch block and back to the deck. Then I could use that line to haul the monster out of the water with the fluke just kissing the front end of the bow sprit. A second line kept it from rocking side to side. Such an arrangement would never work in blue water, but on the lake it was OK.

What do we do now? The Luke anchor comes apart with three pieces. I have one stored aft in the lazarette and two stored in the bilge aft of the CG. That should help us with a long-standing problem in that Tarwathie is slightly nose heavy.

If we ever do need to hunker down and prepare for an approaching hurricane, the monster should be a welcome accessory. Yes, I know that a "real" seaman would head out to sea to ride the hurricane, not anchor. I confess that we're not courageous enough to do that.

Friday, September 17, 2010

A Fool's Errand

South Burlington, VT

Regular readers of this blog already know about our friends John and Mary Ann. They are from New Zealand and we've kn0wn them ever since they arrived in Schenectady, NY in 1966; same year as we moved there.

John's brother Nick is here on a visit from Wellington, New Zealand. John has been trying for 40 years to arrange for Nick and I to meet, and this was the chance. We all met up at a mutual friend's camp on the lake.

The next day, the men went out for a sail on Tarwathie, while the women took the ferry to Burlington for a shopping trip (no that's not sexist.) It made for a great day.

First and foremost, John, Nick and I are all engineers. Therefore, we enjoy doing what engineers do -- we have great fun talking about things technical. Yesterday was no exception.
Second, my fools mission. I wanted to show John and Nick how beautiful Lake Champlain is and especially, how pretty the mountains are as seen from the lake. You should know that New Zealand has really spectacular and really big mountains, whereas the Adirondacks and Green Mountains are merely stubs of their former selves. In the end though, I didn't need to say anything. The day was clear and the views spoke for themselves. It really is beautiful.

Third, Nick is a long time sailor. In fact, he designed and built on his own a racing yacht using the latest high tech materials and methods. Nick's boat is about 42 feet long, built of glass, and foam cores, carbon fiber. The mast is 60 feet tall but one man can lift and carry it. Tarwathie's mast is 42 feet tall and we can't lift one end with three people. Nick's boat weighs only 9600 pounds dry, a W32 weighs 20,000. He sails as close as 35 degrees to the wind, we can only come within 60 degrees. Nick says that with a twitch of the finger on his tiller he can knock down a man standing in the bow -- his boat turns on a dime. Tarwathie's not like that.

Then we started discussing the other aspects. Tarwathie is much more comfortable, and the living space is better than any racing boat. She's designed to be safe and strong at sea; to sail in a straight line; and to rapidly shed water if pooped. A W32 can take all sorts of abuse without serious damage. Racing boats are fragile. Indeed, even Nick managed to dismast himself once already.

With all that fun stuff to talk about and to see, it was a great day. To cap it off, I demonstrated a triumph of technology. We had been thinking that we would sail a few more legs up the lake. I checked my Droid. When I saw the Doppler radar, I said, "uh oh, heavy rain is almost upon us." We cut short the sailing, returned to the anchorage, anchored, rowed ashore, and walked back to the camp just in time to miss the rain which started 5 minutes later.

All in all, it was a great day, and not at all a fool's errand.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Burlington, Vermont

Last night we made a camp fire on the beach at Valcour. We had the whole place to ourselves. We love camp fires, and we love the intimacy of not sharing them with onlookers. It was a special treat. Meanwhile, Tarwathie sat securely tied to a cliff Mediterranean style, facing North while a stiff breeze raged from the South. See below.

Tarwathie's Last Night on Valcour

The picture below shows the remains of a dinghy which must have got loose from some cruiser's boat. It is broken in half as you see.

First, this picture is a good reminder of how disastrous it can be to let your dinghy get loose. Have we ever done it? Yes, once on Tarwathie. We were in Solomons, Maryland and one evening I returned to Tarwathie and must have forgotten to secure the dinghy painter. The next morning, it was no where in sight. Uh Oh. Fortunately, our friends Chris and June on Albion were close by. Chris took me for a tour of the area in his dinghy and in a half our we found it. Whew.

The other salient point is that the skipper who lost that dinghy on Valcour, committed a very gross act of littering. By next spring, bits of broken fiberglass will be spread over half the island. True, it would be a tough job to gather up the pieces from the dinghy and to take them to proper disposal on shore. But it was the captain's responsibility to do so. Shame on him.
Shame on me too. It just occurred to me as I write this that instead of just whine, I could have been a good Samaritan and done the job myself. Considering how much I love Valcour, it would have been the right thing to do. Oh well, too late now. My excuse is that I didn't think of it, and that I would have needed help and some ropes to climb down to the place where it was. Pretty flimsy.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Au Revoir Valcour

Valcour Island, NY
44 37.35 N 073 24.39 W

This is our last week on the lake this season.  We returned to Valcour Island yesterday for one final visit.   It is a bittersweet moment.   Today, as I walked the trails, I fantasized yet again about making Valcour our permanent home.  

The trip up here was exciting.  With a 26-29 knot wind behind us, and flying just our jib, Tarwathie zoomed the 20 miles from Porter Bay to Valcour in less than 3 hours.  It was also a clear day affording great views of the mountains on both sides.   The Green Mountain ridge was surmounted by a bank of clouds driven by strong SE winds.  We viewed it from the NW side, and we could see the clouds bend over the top of the ridge, start to descend on the western slopes, and evaporate before it reached ground level.  Visually, it looks like a waterfall, 3000 feet high and 30 miles long.   It was spectacular.  I remember the first time I ever saw a sight like that.  It was in 1967, on my first trip to San Francisco.  I stepped out the front door of the San Francisco Airport, looked west, and there it was; huge clouds coming over the ridge resembling a waterfall.

On Thursday this week, we'll host a delegation of racing sailors from New Zealand who would like  day sail on Champlain.  More on that later.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Amazing Technology

Vergennes, Vermont

I continue to be amazed by the things that my Droid smart phone does. Today, I downloaded an HP48 scientific calculator program. The HP48 is an amazing device, but now there's no reason to buy one; my phone does all the HP48 things, including function and appearance.

For the boat, I have weather, animated weather-radar, an inclinometer, calculator, sky-map, knot guide, 3D gravity/3D manetometer/acoustic spectrum/phone-wifi signal analyzer, and also a metal detector that I can use for treasure hunting. All those apps were free. Now I also have one additional app that I paid €9.95 for. It is the Navionics chart plotter.

The Navionics plotter on the phone does basically the same thing as the Lowrance chart plotter that we've been using for 5 years. It has charts, including navigation aids, tides, currents, and depths for the whole US East Coast. The phone-based Navionics plotter doesn't need a phone signal to operate, all the charts are in the phone's memory. True, the Lowrance has more features, and true the Navionics is a battery hog on the phone. Still, for $9.95 we now have a very capable backup for a heavily used boat application.

The photo below shows the Navionics and the Lowrance screens side-by-side one day as we were underway on Lake Champlain. As you can plainly see, they basically do the same thing.

The Navionics also has functions that a traditional chart plotter never thought of. It can send a track, or a route, to email, Facebook or Twitter or pin a photo to a map. I've already thought of using that feature to create a database of Tarwathie's favorite places. It also links with Google maps so I can query it for things such as the location of the nearest laundromat.

So much and we've barely scratched the surface regarding the capabilities of these pocket machines. Truly Amazing.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

The Slocum Connection

Burlington, Vermont

Yesterday in Vergennes three small sailboats pulled in. It was Jim and Tauno and Howard. They are three guys we met several years back at the same spot in Vergennes. It turns out that Jim is a long time reader of this blog. These guys also shared my old passion -- to save a part of their vacation every year for a sail on Champlain. Still more important, they are
involved in a project to build a replica of Joshua Slocum's boat Spray.

I'm sure that all the cruisers reading this article already know about Slocum and Spray. For the benefit of the others, Joshua Slocum was credited as being the first man to sail around the world alone. His boat was named Spray. He wrote the book which even today is the inspiration for many people like myself. Sailing Alone Around the World has been in print continuously since it was first published in 1899. I re-read it about once per year.

Building Spray was easy for Slocum to do but a monumental effort by modern men. Read about it on Jim's blog Slocum Spray Sailboat Project. Below is a picture from Jim's blog.

I wish them luck, and I hope to meet up with them another year.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

The Epiphany Moment

Vergennes, VT

I was sitting on a park bench reading the newspaper when the above apple fell out of a tree and hit me on the head. Wow! I thought. Just like Newton. This must be the epiphany moment when some of the mysteries of life and the universe will be revealed to me. How blessed I am. Newton became famous for centuries because of his apple.

I waited and waited. No mystery of the universe appeared. Wait! Can that be the truth, that there is no God and no meaning? Nah. No way can I claim that a non-existent entity revealed a secret by not revealing anything. Not even Nostradamus could get away with a baloney claim like that. I guess my apple wasn't big enough.

Later in the day I did learn a surprising truth and a secret, but it was not at all what I expected. The WIFI at the Vergennes library works well when it is up but it crashes frequently. Today the librarian told me that the WIFI crashes whenever the phone rings at the front desk. I don't suppose I'll get to be famous for explaining that secret to the world.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

East Versus West

Vergennes, VT

Our recent visits to Valcour and Burton Islands made me think. On the western shores of Lake Champlain, all the rock appears to be limestone. Only 10 miles away on the eastern shores, Burton Island appears to be made of slate and sandstone layers of sedimentary rock. That made me wonder if the geology of the Adirondacks and the Green Mountains are substantially different and if the Champlain valley could have been a plate boundary.

Bedrock of sandstone layered on shale on Burton Island

Limestone bedrock palisades on Valcour Island

I tried searching for that in the library's reference section. I didn't find much there. Then I went to the lazy man's research tool -- Wikepedia. What I found there was (1) that the Green Mountains are 100 million years younger than the Adirondacks. (2) That both are considered part of the Appalacians. (3) The were formed when the Iapetus plate subducted under the North American plate. (4) The mountain building process is called The Taconic Orogeny which does allow for diverse regions to be slid in close proximity (see the picture.)

So, what did I prove? Nothing. True scholarship requires much deeper digging than this. Instead, as a thoroughly modern Internet addicted person, I dug just deep enough to satisfy my curiosity. I can walk away with the smug satisfaction that my speculative theory could be correct. I think it's true when the sociologists say that the Internet gives us broader but shallower access to information compared to prior methods.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Mission Complete

Vergennes, VT

Friday morning I completed a chore in preparation for the return to salt water. After breakfast, I donned my mask and snorkel and went diving to put a new zinc on the propeller. That's a chore we have to do a intervals as short as one month and as long as a year. The zinc I replaced was put on when we were up on the hard in Fort Pierce last March.

I like doing the zinc chore best when in the Bahamas. The clear warm water is ideal for the job. To do it, I have to stay in the water for about 15 minutes, and I have to be able to see some very small screw holes. Anything I drop is lost forever. Therefore, the worst case is to do the job in cold-rough-opaque water. I don't think I've faced a worst case yet.

In Vero or Marathon, after a few months we need to hire a diver to clean the bottom. We usually have the diver change the zinc while he's down there.

Porter Bay, turned out to have water much less clear than up in Burlington or at Valcour island. Still I was able to manage.

An Old Zinc (left) and a new one.

p.s. For non-boating readers. A zinc is a critical piece of boat equipment in salt water. Because the water is conductive, tiny electrical currents flow through the water from submerged metal (like propellers and shafts.) These currents eat away the metal and can completely ruin the parts. The zinc attaches to the metal, and the zinc is eaten away instead of the metal in the expensive parts. In the picture, you see a new zinc and the old one it replaced. The old one had 3 months in salt water, and it lost about 50% of its mass.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Top Of The Falls

Vergennes, VT

I've posted quite a few pictures of Vergennes Falls as seen from below. It's a lovely view. Today, here's some shots as seen from the top of the falls.

The news this year is that they are working on a big project to rebuild the hydraulic parts of the Vergennes Hydro Plant.

The stone work where they cut new paths for penstocks (pipes)

The plant below with two stubs to connect penstocks to

Man works on the temporary dam to divert the water

Tarwathie is seen below by the red house.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

High & Clear, Down & Dirty

Burlington, VT
42 28.12 N 073 13.35 W

We visited our friends Bob & Carol the other day. We offered to take them for a day sail. They countered with an offer to go mountain climbing. We took the climb.

It has been many years since we were at the summit of an Adirondack mountain (or any other mountain for that matter). So it was a special treat to see the world from the summit of Coon Mountain. The day was fairly clear, so we could see a long distance -- Adirondack high peaks to the East and Green Mountains to the West. At our feet was the southern part of Lake Champlain. Best of all though was a pastoral view of a farm right below us with rolls of cut hay dotted around the fields. Thank you Bob & Carol.

Click to see full size. Note the hay field.

Cool how the trees adapt to the prevailing wind.

The four of us at the summit.

Yesterday, Jenny invited me to go kayaking with her. That was a special treat because we very seldom get to do father-daughter things together. We drove down to Vergennes, put the kayaks in to Otter Creek, at the confluence of Dead Creek and paddled up Dead Creek. It was a very hot, very hazy day so it would being out on the lake would not have been as much fun as usual.

Dead Creek offers wonderful nature, wildlife (we saw Vermont spotted moose), and isolation from man-made things. We had a great time.

After a while, I wanted to swim to cool off. That was a bit of a problem. (At least) I can't manage to dismount and mount a kayak while swimming. We pulled in to shore and dismounted. However the sucking mud on the bottom made it almost impossible to walk. Each step, our legs sunk up to our knees in the mud. I laid flag and doggy paddled through the mud to get to deep water. I went out about 200 yards but it was still only 1 foot deep. After returning my body, my bathing suit and my tee-shirt were covered with mud. Jenny was only slightly better.

On the way back, we picked some water lillys for Libby. They grow prolifically and are particularly beautiful.

Back at Jenny's house, I headed for the shower. I was amazed at the amount of dirt that streamed off my body. I think I can safely say that I've never been so down and dirty before in my life. Still, the outing was lots of fun. Thank you Jenny.

Vermont black and white spotted moose escape from the heat.

The crew

The bouquet