Monday, August 29, 2005

No Rest For The Weary

South Burlington, VT

(8/29/05) Sigh. After writing the "Tuckered Out" article the other night, little did I know that there would be no rest for me that night. The nice anchorage I picked out sheltered from a south wind, turned out to be terribly exposed to a southwest wind.

Around 2300 the wind picked up from zero to 25 knots. Around midnight I sensed that the anchor was dragging. I had to wake Libby and get out of there in a hurry. We pulled anchor. It came up all covered with weeds. The weeds were what caused it to drag.

I thought that the simplest thing to do in the middle of the night was to pick up an unused mooring nearby. We didn't have permission to use the moorings but in the middle of the night there is little chance that the owner will appear. However actually doing it in the face of 25 knot winds proved to be very difficult. Tarwathie needs speed to steer, but one has to stop to pick up the mooring pennant. Every time I did that Tarwathie's nose blew away from the wind and we either missed the pickup or had it snatched out of our hands by the force of the wind on the boat. We tried and failed 4 times.

Tarwathie is much bigger and heavier than any boat I've every owned. It is futile to try to use muscle to hold the boat against wind or waves.

We gave up and we sailed up the bay to a more sheltered spot. When we got there, it was too full of boats to approach in the dark. Back to the mooring spot. We tried the fifth time and succeeded. I sat up the rest of the night making sure we didn't drag again.

Sunday we went to Burlington to leave the boat for a few days to visit Jenny and take care of business. The winds were still fierce and it took us three tries to catch the mooring pendant at Burlington.

Oh well. The point of our new life style is adventure. Midnight Chinese fire drills are adventure. It could have been worse. If we had continued with our original plan to do the great loop, we might have been meeting Hurricane Katrina later this week in Lake Superior. It never occurred to me to worry about hurricanes while sailing on lakes.

We are almost out of cash because of government requirements and bureaucracy. To withdraw money from my IRA the broker requires that I fill out a government form. It has to be on paper, no electronic submissions allowed. A month ago, we did that and sent it off. After several weeks, nothing happened. We called the broker and he said we forgot to include a voided check with the form, so they ignored it. The fine print in the form tells you to include the voided check even if you filled out all the blanks with bank and account number info. Flame!

We send a second form with a voided check last week. Still no money. Today on the phone with the broker, we found that we sent it to the TD Waterhouse address shown on the front of the form rather than the address listed on the bottom of page 2. There is no way to tell how much delay that may cause, perhaps infinite. Flame! Flame!

So that we can pay our bills next week, I'm going to have to drive from Burlington down to Albany tomorrow to make a withdrawal in person. Then drive back to Burlington. Seven hours on the road and needless depletion of our oil reserves. Flame! Flame! Flame! There's a chance that when I arrive in their office that I'll find that the transaction cleared overnight and that the whole trip was unnecessary. If that happens, I'll have words stronger than flame.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Tuckered Out

Shelburne Bay, VT, N44 25 W 73 15
(08/27/05) We spent last night at Deep Bay near Ponte Au Roche, NY. The cruising guide said that is was the best, most scenic
anchorage on the lake, and that there was a free pump out station. Wrong wrong wrong. The bay has been taken over by a state
park. They installed moorings everywhere so that there is little room left to anchor. They charge $12 for the mooring. The pump
out fee went from $0 to $7, that's more than the commercial marinas charge. Libby went looking for the office to pay our mooring
fee and it took her nearly 2 hours to get back. She had a double dose of walking today.

Anyhow, it was interesting to see all the other boats come in, moor and go about their evening activities. Unfortunately, once
again very few of the neighbors spoke English. It's a shame. I bet the Quebecers would be fun and interesting people to know, but
the language is a barrier. The percentage of French-speaking Quebecers who also speak English much be smaller here than in Europe.
Probably smaller than in France.

Anyhow, I couldn't help but notice that the majority of the Quebec wives on these boats were young, lithe, blonde (natural blonde of
course), and partial to itsy bitsy bikinis, even in cool weather. Even Libby would point out new arrivals if I failed to notice. I
guess the guidebook was partially correct. It was scenic.

Today, Saturday, we sailed South again against a 20-25 knot wind from the South. We had a chance to meet Mary Ann and John Undrill
if we could make it to Essex in time, or a chance to meet up with Jennifer if we could make it to Burlington in time. Alas, we were
too late for both. It was 1730 before we got to Shelburne Bay, and we were both exhausted. It is physically demanding to beat
upwind in those conditions. We did it for 10 hours covering about 40 nautical miles made good (probably 60 miles linear). Libby
conked out around 1830 and she'll sleep till morning.

A side benefit to the strenuous day was that we out-sailed several bigger and faster boats. I had the most fun with one particular
boat. It was a racing boat, and had some kind of low friction silvery coating on the hull. He came up behind us out of nowhere and
was gaining speed on us fast while on the same tack. As we approached Valcour Island, he tried to pass me on the leeward side.
That's when I had the fun. As he pulled abreast, I changed my course 2 degrees to leeward. That gave me another 0.75 knots speed
which matched his speed. It also set me on a course to just clear the cliffs at the south end of Valcour by less than 100 meters.
The guy in the silver boat had the choice of trying to point higher than me, thus loosing speed, or to run his boat onto the rocks
of the island. Hee hee. He chose to come about and abandon the impromptu contest. Probably with a few choice cuss words in

Tarwathie loves the heavy weather, and our skill at handling her improves all the time. Libby is getting to be a better helmsman
than me. Her secret is concentration. When I steer for long hours I daydream and forget to steer the optimum angle.

Friday, August 26, 2005


Plattsburg Bay, N44 38 W73 23
(08/26/05) Shame on me. It's been several days since I wrote a blog article. On Wednesday Libby drove her car up to Vermont and we
were reunited. We took the opportunity to go ashore to mail letters, post blogs, and run errands.

We tried three stores to buy a snorkeling mask, but no luck. Today all the stores are stocked with fall goods and no summer
clothes or gear are left. It's frustrating.

Wednesday night we anchored near a place where we could park the car. It was also near the place where the super rich Vermonters
like Howard Dean live. I was afraid that Howard's primal screams would keep us awake but that didn't happen.

Our anchorage gave us a bird's eye view of a Lake Champlain Yacht Club sailing race. Right around 17:30 many sailboats came out of
the yacht club. By 1815 the bay was crowded with perhaps 75 of them. Each boat had 5 or more crewmen. That means that over 350
people were taking part in this race. They all looked enthusiastic.

As we watched the boats jockey for starting position, it looked like total chaos and constant near collisions. When the race
started, we watched but we couldn't understand what the goals were. It was too confusing. Both Libby and I wondered why those
people thought it was fun. We never sailed in a race in all these years and we have no desire to.

At the end of the race many of the boats drifted over near Tarwathie to take their sails down and pack them away. I was impressed
by the number of different ways to rig a boat, and also by the apparent professionalism of the crews. They looked to be very
experienced in their tasks.

Thursday we sailed north toward Valcour Island. On the way we stopped at the mooring at North Burlington to see if we could dive
down and retrieve the mooring chain on the bottom. It was sunny and still and the water is only 10 feet deep. No luck though. We
couldn't see underwater without a mask.

Last night we anchored in Sloop Bay on Valcour Island. Valcour is one of our most loved placed in the world. We've returned to
Valcour year after year to sail sometimes and to camp other times. Sloop Bay was very crowded and the bottom was overgrown with
milfoil weeds. It took us four tries to get the anchor to hold. The weeds prevent the anchor from reaching the bottom.

This morning we walked on the Island and visited the campsites we used in past years. It made us miss our dog Pup very much. Pup
loved Valcour as much as we did.

I'm sure we'll return to Valcour several times in the coming month. Hopefully, after Labor day it won't be so crowded with boats.

My wiring repairs are not 100% successful yet. We still don't have wind speed indication.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Interrupted Sleep

Shelburne Bay, VT, N44 25 W 73 15
(08/23/05) I somehow keep one ear open for strange sounds when sleeping on a boat. When I went to bed it was calm but soon a mild
wind came up. Last night I heard a thud from the starboard stern quarter. A while later I heard another strange sound. I got up
and looked. The mooring had moved 20 feet. I had to leave immediately to prevent moving it more and risking being blown

The moorings at that place are just inadequate for a boat the size of Tarwathie. I can't trust them except in nearly still
conditions. Neither can I anchor there except in still conditions, because it's too exposed. Too bad, the exposed position is
precisely what made those spectacular views possible.

Anyhow, I had to get up, get dressed and leave at 0200. I headed for the nearest anchorage sheltered from a west wind. That was
Shelburne Bay, about 6 miles to the south. Moonlike made navigation easier. The lights on buoys in Lake Champlain are not the
best. It turned cold and the waves increased to 4 feet. It took me about 90 minutes to get to the new anchorage and drop the hook.
I lost about 4 hours sleep total.

Today I repaired the wiring broken when the mast was down and I varnished the dinghy. Tomorrow Libby will rejoin me.

Monday, August 22, 2005


North Burlington, N44 30 W73 15

(08/22/05) I find myself alone tonight. Libby went back to NY to fetch her car and to work on the house a little bit. I also find
myself back on the mooring at North Burlington. I just watched the sunset. Once again the beauty of the view from here stuns me.
The weather today was fall-like. Huge cumulus clouds filled much of the sky leaving big blue breaks for sunshine. The lake creates
a microclimate so that there are fewer clouds directly above the lake than above the surrounding shores. That allows one to see
distant cumulus clouds from their bases to their tops. Some clouds create vertical walls 20,000 feet high. They look spectacular.
One day I saw a wall of cloud on the western shore that created a virtual cliff face 40,000 feet high.

An hour before sunset, the sun brightly illuminated some of the mountain slopes in the Adirondacks. They shone bright green while
the shaded slopes were gray. As the sun set, I could see streamers of mist rising from the mountains colored pink by the sunset.

On the shore, little kids swam unsupervised. That surprised me. Their parents must have great confidence in their water skills.
There were two men throwing sticks into the water for their dogs to fetch. There was a woman with a camera on a tripod taking
sequential pictures of the progress of the sunset.

I stopped at a marina on the New York side before returning to the mooring and chatted a little with the nice young woman there. I
said, "You have such a beautiful place to work here." She replied, "Thanks for reminding me. Sometimes, I forget to look." Now
that would make an excellent slogan to hang on the wall, "Don't forget to look," or better still, "LOOK"

On a different note, I pulled a dumb stunt today. I tried to hook the dinghy anchor line with the boat hook, but the line was too
taught and it yanked the boat hook right out of my hands and into the lake. Darn. That was an all aluminum boat hook and probably
more rugged than any replacement I'll be able to buy.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Little Shop of Horrors

Willsboro Bay, N44 24 W73 24

(08/21/05) What a fun day! The deMellos took us to Essex, NY to see an amateur production of Little Shop of Horrors.

It was so much fun that we almost squealed with delight. The songs and the story were all very familiar from the movie. Years ago
we bought the tape of the movie and played it again and again. To see them performed in this tiny theater with a cast of actors so
enthusiastic was a great treat.

Libby's other project for the day was to remove the brown stains from along Tarwathie's waterline. I had a vague idea that the
stains were from salt, and we knew that vinegar in the toilet dissolves salt, so I suggested vinegar. It worked! After soaking in
vinegar a few seconds, the stains wipe off. In some places it takes repeated applications, but it works.

Making friends on the other boats found in the anchorages of Lake Champlain is hindered by the fact that very few of them speak
English. Probably our friends from other countries or from other states have no idea, but in big portions of northern New York
French is a major language. In Burlington and out here on the lake, tourists from Quebec bring the language.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Old Friends

Willsboro Bay, N44 24 W73 24

08/20/05) Today we sailed with dear old friends, Bob and Carol deMello. All four of us had a great time.
After stopping for lunch behind Schuyler Island we headed downwind toward the Ausable River where Champ was supposedly sighted last
week. When we turned back upwind we discovered that the wind had risen to near gale 30-35 knots. It made for slow going on the
lake beating upwind in those conditions. 30 knots on the lake is unlike 30 knots at sea because the waves are closer together and

Happily, after and hour or so the winds diminished. We were able to make good progress. We got back to the anchorage around 1730.

The deMellos treated us to dinner at a lovely little restaurant in Willsboro NY. The chef was a graduate of CIA, and the food was
great. Thank you Bob and Carol. We all had fun except that I had sea legs. I felt that everything was rocking the whole time I
was ashore.

Friday, August 19, 2005


Willsboro Bay, N44 24 W73 24

(08/19/05) This morning I met with Jenny at a bagel shop within walking distance of the mooring. She brought me my replacement phone and I transferred the address book to the new phone. Sigh. I'm back in business phonewise.

Lib and I went out for a sail and the wind really picked up, 20-25. We had a ball. We sailed down to the four brothers (4 islands) then back up to Shelburne bay where we anchored for lunch. Then we sailed across the lake to Willsboro bay close to the deMello's camp to anchor for the night.

Tonight's weather forecast is for winds at 35 knots from the south. That's why we anchored at the south end of a bay; to find shelter. There are 21 other sailboats anchored nearby. There is also a marina with seemingly 100 sailboats and only 2 power boats. I guess it's true about the sail to power boat ratio up here. In addition to the price of fuel, Lake Champlain weather can be too rough for many power boats. In a stiff wind and steep waves, power boats get tossed around while sailboats are stabilized by the force of the wind on the sails.

Tomorrow we plan to sail with Bob and Carol deMello. It will be windy, 20-30 knots and we know that Carol isn't fond of getting tossed around so we'll try to find sheltered areas to sail in.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Shopping Day

North Burlington, N44 30 W73 15

(08/18/05) Today Libby went off with Jennifer to shop and do laundry. I stayed behind to work on the brightwork varnish.

One mishap today. This place makes me nervous because it is exposed to so much of the lake with no shelter from wind or waves. Of course the exposure is what makes the scenery so spectacular. Anyhow, I decided to test the mooring's security by backing up with the engine. Pop, just as soon as I pulled the ring broke off and the mooring ball started floating away.

Darn, I should have known better. There are two designs for mooring buoys. The first kind you attach the boat to the chain under the buoy, never to the top ring. There is supposed to be a pennant attached under the buoy with a line or chain that you pick up and attach to the boat. The second kind, the chain comes up through the buoy and you attach to the ring on the top. Anyhow, this mooring was the first kind but there was no pennant. I attached to the top ring and broke it.

We moved to the next mooring over. It is of the second kind. With the dinghy I retrieved the loose ball. I told the owner that I'd repair the broken one before we leave.

We have a new friend, Tim Parsons. We met Tim as he and his dog swam past Tarwathie yesterday. There are several other families here that swim with their dogs. The water is very clean and the shoreline is sand beach. There is also a bunch of pre-teen kids who swim out to a swimming raft near us. They swim unsupervised. What a nice life living on the shore here.

Today, Tim brought some vegetables from his garden, and we chatted for a while. Sometime soon we'll get Tim to go sailing with us.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Nearly Perfect Day

North Burlington, N44 30 W73 15
(08/17/05) Too bad for Jenny's friends. Christian and Robin were going to come sailing with us today but they couldn't make it. It was just Jenny and Libby and I. The winds were strong today 20-25. We put up all three sails, took one reef in the mainsail and beat up the lake on starboard tack. Tarwathie just heeled a mere 20 degrees, and moved out at 6 knots.

We sailed across the lake to Port Kent where the Burlington ferry meets New York. The trip back was even faster. 6.3 knots.

Jenny had to help Christian with some work so we took her back to the Burlington Boathouse and dropped her off. Then Libby and I went out to sail again.

At the end of the day we returned to the borrowed mooring. This time it is calmer here and also this time I attached us to the mooring buoy with a chain (primary) and a rope pennant (backup). It should be secure enough while we're away for several days.

All evening I had to keep calling Libby up on deck again and again. "Come see this." I said, "It's even more beautiful." First there was the silhouette of the Adirondacks against the sky. The air had cleared so there was no haze and visibility was unlimited. Then there was the beauty of all the different vessels on the lake, ferries, sailboats, cruise boats, and tourist excursion boats. Then there was the golden sunset. The sunsets seen from Burlington are legendary. New York's Adirondack Mountains are best seen from Vermont. Then, post-sunset the high clouds were illuminated in gold from beneath. Then, an hour later, a nearly full moon rose over the ridge behind us. Soon after that, all the stars were blanked out by moonlight, leaving only planets visible. Venus, Jupiter, Saturn and Mars were all in a line marking the plane of the ecliptic.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Busy Day

Burlington Harbor, N44 28 W73 13

(08/16/05) Our daughter Jenny met us in Shelburne this morning. The three of us sailed north to the place where Jenny had arranged for us to loan a mooring for a while. Libby was so glad to have Jenny onboard that the two chatted incessantly. Anyhow, the breeze was stiff from astern so it didn't take long to get there.

When we found the mooring, I attached my anchor snubber to it. The snubber has a chain shackle, a thimble, and a rubber shock absorber.

I got in the dinghy and tried to attach the shackle to the mooring buoy ring. There was no shelter from the wind and waves and it was very choppy. That made the job difficult. It was like trying to thread a needle while riding a bucking horse. After a few minutes the dinghy dipped and dumped me into the water. The water was fine so I didn't care at first. I didn't care until Jenny asked me if I had anything in my pockets. Ay ay. I had our new digital camera in one pocket and our cell phone in the other. Needless to say, neither is waterproof.

After all that trouble, it turned out that my snubber was too short anyhow. As the boat rocked it pulled the buoy out of the water and put too much strain on the lines. In less than an hour it broke the rubber shock absorber. I decided that we couldn't last a single night in that state without chafing through the line. We abandoned that mooring and motored to Burlington where we hired a mooring behind the breakwater for tonight.

Jenny and I then took a taxi to her house where we tried to dry out the phone and camera with a hair dryer and I tried to find a replacement phone. I also bought a new length of line, thimble and shackle to make a longer snubber for the mooring. We'll try it again some other day.

Tomorrow Jenny is coming to sail with us again and it's supposed to be very windy. Tarwathie should like that.

FLASH: No phone

Today I was in the dinghy trying to attach a shackle to a mooring bouy when the boat flipped me into the water. Unfortunately I had my new camera in one pocket and the cell phone in the other pocket. Neither were waterproof.

Sorry, but I'll be phoneless for a few days until I get a replacement.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Sunset from North Burlington


Shelburne, Vermont, N44 23 W73 16
(08/15/05) We are blessed with beautiful anchorages this week. Ticonderoga, then Cobb Island, then tonight we are just offshore from Shelburne Farms. Just a few hundred meters away is the summer home of Gloria Vanderbilt built about 150 years ago. The landscape the buildings and the lush green grass all combine to make the scenery especially beautiful.

Today we had blue sky, puffy clouds, and light winds. We beat upwind from 0900 until 1800 and had a ball. Libby got perverse pleasure from sailing behind bigger boats, but sailing faster and closer to the wind than they did. Three times, the bigger boats suddenly decided to take down their sails and motor away. They couldn't stand the competition from Libby.

The worm turned though when an elderly couple in a small but elegant racing sailboat came along. The boat looked to be about 25 feet long. We'll they came about a quarter mile behind us. 15 minutes later they were passing us with big smiles on. I say, “More power to them.”

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Fife and Drum Salute

Cobb's Island, Lake Champlain, N44 08 W73 25

(08/14/05) It was raining this morning so we got a slow start. The delay was fortuitous because at about 1000 we heard Fife and Drum music coming down from Fort Ticonderoga. I'm not exactly sure what a fife is except that it is related to a flute. Anyhow, the sound of the fife carried well more than half a mile to where we were. That makes sense, because the fife and drum music was for battlefield use. Sounds that carry a long distance would be a must.

We motored up the lake because there was no wind. We had no goal in mind. Starting around 1500 the wind came up, albeit dead against us. We decided that the lake was wide enough to beat upwind anyhow so we hoisted main and staysail, and stopped the motor. Passing the Champlain Bridge the lake widens to about 3 miles and the wind had increased to 25 miles an hour. Tarwathie loved it. We barely heeled 15 degrees. Soon we were the only boat in sight, all the others must have been scared off by the "rough" weather.

The anchorage here at Cobb Island is beautiful. We are about 6 miles north of Port Henry and 4 miles south of Westport, NY. Wee had to learn to deal with a new problem. Lake Champlain has lots of weeds on the bottom in shallow waters. So many weeds that it makes it nearly impossible to anchor. The anchor can't reach the bottom. We wound up anchoring in 16 feet of water whereas my preference would normally be 8 feet. Some of our favorite anchorages on Valcour Island could be problematical for anchoring today. We'll see.

Saturday, August 13, 2005


Anchored below Fort Ticonderoga, N43 50 W73 23
(08/13/05) Ah what a pleasure. Today we had our first real sail since Sandy Point NJ.
This morning we started 0800 stepping the mast and re-rigging everything. It went very well, no major snags. However, it was very hard work, and we didn't finish until 1300. We may be getting used to hard work in the heat and humidity, but it's still yucky.

The only thing that really didn't work was my labeling and protection of the wires that run inside the mast. Before unstopping I carefully labeled each wire showing where it came from. I also protected the bundles of wires with duck tape so they wouldn't be exposed to the weather while the base of the mast was on deck. I still had a vague feeling that it would go wrong. I was right.

I didn't reckon with the strength of the duck tape glue. By the time I got the duck tape off, three of the very fine wires were broken and several labels were pulled off. Darn, another day another lesson learned. Oh well, with time and patience and I'll get all the wires mended and back where they belong. Next time, I won't use duck tape.

Anyhow, by 1400 we were out on the lake. It is a beautiful clear day, there's a slight breeze, the lake is beautiful and Tarwathie loves sailing much more than motoring. Libby breathed a big sigh of relief when we stopped the motor. The silence was deafening. We see the eastern slope of a nice mountain ridge to the west. Two weeks ago, we were viewing the western slope of the same ridge from Schaffer's boat on Lake George.

We're anchored right at the foot of Fort Ticonderoga, looking up at her cannons. A year ago we took the tour of the fort and looked down from above. Across the lake is Mount Independence and two years ago we toured that. I guess you can say we're in the heart of home territory.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Vermont Ho

Onwell Vermont, N43 48 W 73 22

(08/12/05) What a nice day. In the morning we motored to Whitehall and lock 12 (the final lock on the canal.) Just past the lock there are two marinas and a boat hardware store. It's a very picturesque place.

We met a young man in a canoe who was waiting for the lock with us. He was paddling from Cayuga Lake to the north end of Lake Champlain, then back to Cayuga before his deadline of November 15. Boy, what upper body strength he must have. A notable thing about him was that he was dressed covering everything from head to toe. No short sleeves, no short pants. I guess bug bites and the sun are bigger enemies than heat. I neglected to take his picture. If we run in to him again, I'll get his picture and post it on the blog.

We hoped to step the mast in Whitehall, but the marina there declined. They only do smaller boats. Therefore we motored on into Lake Champlain and we weren't disappointed. Even though the lake is as narrow as the river down here, it is flanked by mountains and 1,000 foot cliffs. It's simply beautiful.

There are few houses, and no roads along the southern part of the lake. Just the railroad track that takes trains from Albany to Montreal. We saw two trains during the day.

We also saw some very strange vessels, namely paddle-wheeled weed-eaters. Those strange machines were cutting the reeds that grow out from the shore. My guess is that those reeds threaten to block the lake unless cut back. The men running those machines have a long season's work ahead. There must be a couple of square miles of reeds to cut.

We pulled in at Chipman Point Marina in Orwell Vermont. Ah, how nice to be back in Vermont again. Let's see, on this trip we sailed in Florida, South Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York and Vermont. We skipped Georgia and North Carolina.

Tomorrow morning we'll step the mast here, so we'll spend the night at their dock. Their store/shower/laundry transient facility is an 1824 warehouse, with stone walls and plank floors, probably original. It's very charming. Unfortunately, there is no cell phone signal and no Internet. Sorry blog readers, you'll have to wait till I post this.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Last Meal

Comstock, NY N3 28 W75 26
(08/11/05) Today was a delightful day on the canal. The weather was much nicer than in recent weeks – cooler and less humid. Except for a brief stop in Schuylerville to post last night's blog, we continued all day. The river's beauty continued right to the end. The end is at Fort Edward where the canal departs from the Hudson river.

Mid morning we passed the place in Saratoga National Park where there the cannons overlook the river. Four months ago we visited those cannon redoubts with our friends Kenneth and Sonja Randèn and looked down on the river. Two hundred and thirty years ago the British tried to visit the same spot. They never made it, and were defeated in the battle of Saratoga.

The canal is narrower than the river and nearly featureless. We see nothing but trees lining both banks. Once in a while though we get a glimpse of one of those Adirondack Mountains in the distance and that adds spice.

At lock 8 the lockmaster cultivated some fantastic sunflowers. One of them is 13 feet () tall so far. Amazing. Each lock is operated and maintained by a lockmaster. Each lockmaster treats it like his property and gives it loving care. The machinery is more than 100 years old, but likely will last forever with the maintenance it gets. The grounds and buildings are immaculate. Each lock has its own power plant. General Electric (who else) made all the electrical equipment.

There were many pretty places to stop along the way. We chose this place, just north of lock 11. We are only 200 meters from Great Meadows Correctional Facility, (translation, a major jail full of very bad people), yet all we can see is beautiful nature. I trust that the prison is secure so we won't lose sleep worrying about escaped prisoners. I just saw a large bird that I think was a piliated woodpecker.

The lockmaster gave us a menu from a nearby restaurant that delivers to the prison and to the lock. They would bring food right to the boat. I joked that we should order the entrée called "Last Meal" because it should be a very good meal. On the other hand maybe that logic is faulty. The usual “Last Meal” customers don't get to complain if they don't like it.

Decide Now

Starting on the Champlain Canal

Stillwater, NY N42 56 W73 39
(08/10/05) Finally we're on the move again and exploring waters that we've never been on before. Today we passed through five locks. We're tied up just North of the fifth one. There is a very pleasant and quiet little park here.

Libby got a kick out of the locking experience (to tell a secret, I did too). When the open the valves the water swirls and tries to twist and turn the boat in all directions. One has to tug and push on the mooring lines to keep the boat from moving. At one point I was pushing off with my back against the dinghy and my feet walking up the lock wall. It worked great until I put my slimy feet back on the deck.

Did we cruise today at our new breakneck speed of 5.2 knots? No. I should not have been so optimistic. With the higher pitch the engine works harder for the same RPM. Whereas we could cruise at 1800 RPM before at 200 degrees F, now we can only do 1400 RPM at the same temperature. We get 4.2 knots. Once again, the cooling system is the limiting factor. Aw heck. I'm not going to worry about it for a while.

We probably won't make it to the end of the canal until Friday. With luck we'll be able to step the mast on Friday and actually sail on Champlain by Saturday. That would be extremely cool.

We note in the cruising guide that it's possible to take a side trip from the canal to Saratoga Lake. Boy could we be big fish in a little pond, sailing Tarwathie on that lake, using the self-steering of course. I think we'll forego that pleasure.

We continue to be impressed by the beauty of the Hudson River. Even this part is beautiful. Only a small percentage of the shoreline is developed with houses or buildings. Of course we have to leave the Hudson at Fort Edward, but most of our readers know how beautiful the upper Hudson is, all the way to Newcomb. No wonder it is the Hudson more than other Rivers that inspires writers, poets, and naturalists. I used to think that the Hudson's fame was just because of New York City. Now I know better.

Luck us. Next we get to sail Lake Champlain, which is also wonderfully beautiful. After Libby and I completed our first circumnavigation, ask us what the most beautiful sailing place was. I won't be surprised if the answer is Lake Champlain.

Notice to all blog fans. We should have 5 to 6 weeks of sailing on Champlain. We love having company and crew. The forward V berth is vacant every night. There's plenty of room for two couples. Kids are also welcome for day sails. If you're at all interested in sailing with us anytime in the coming weeks, please don't be shy. Call us 518 256 0889 and leave a voice mail.

Starting on the Champlain Canal

In the lock

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

At dinner with Pete and Mary Ellen Lemme

Ready To Resume

Shady Harbor Marina, N 42 27 W73 47

(08/09/05) Three steps forward, one back. I would that it were different. For the past several days we’ve been sanding, painting, and adjusting.

We repainted the blue strip on the upper part of the hull. That was a mixed success. The color is nice, and the old dings scrapes and flakes are covered. However, the finish is ripply and shows brush strokes. The original finish was as smooth as that on a new car.

We refinished the refrigerator top with rubbed varnish. It’s nice.

We refinished the floors in the cabins with glossy polyurethane. They shine so much that it hurts my eyes.

Each night we went to West Charlton to sleep while the coat of paint dried.

I also changed the pitch on the propeller. There’s a long story about that. Way back when we did the survey to buy the boat, Al Hatch decided to change the propeller pitch while the boat was out of the water for the survey. The boat has a MaxProp with internal gears that allow you to change the blade angles. I wrote in my blog that Al was stressed and hurried doing it. He explained that the maximum RPM was only 2200 which made the engine work to hard. Reducing the pitch would make it run faster. When we put it in the water and he revved up the engine and, the RPMs went way over 3,000. Al declared it a success and I didn’t know any better.

Ever since we took possession, we’ve been having trouble with engine heating. It wouldn’t go fast at low RPM, and it overheated at higher RPMs. Twice I hired diesel mechanics to work on the engine cooling. The best we were able to achieve was 3.8 knots boat speed in steady state.

While at Shady Harbor, I did some emailing. I finally heard from Bud Taplin, the guru of all things Westsail. Bud gave me the specifications including max RPM and a curve of boat speed versus RPM. I also called MaxProp and talked to Fred. Fred is MaxProp’s expert and he has done this adjustment thousands of times. Fred is very familiar with the Perkins 108 engine and the Westsail. Fred gave me recommendations. Now I had three wildly different recommendations from three very expert sources.

Anyhow, we couldn’t get away from the dock Monday night because of wind and current. In trying we bent one of the chainplates. That's the step backward. I'll write more about that later.

Today, Tuesday, we came at 730 AM, hauled the boat out of the water and, by 1030 I had the pitch reset. I chose Bud Taplin’s recommendation, but I was fearful because it was so drastically different from where Al Hatch had set it. Each adjustment step is supposed to mean 15% engine speed, and I changed it 6 steps!

To make a long story short, the operation was a success. When we put it back into the water and I revved up the engine, the max RPM and the boat speed were exactly what Bud Taplin said they should be. Now our cruising speed under power will be 5.2 knots rather than 3.8 knots and our top speed will be 6.5 knots. I can only conclude that when Al Hatch changed it that he adjusted in the wrong direction, or otherwise got it completely wrong.

This evening, we had a very nice time. The Pete and Mary Ellen Lemme came down from Albany and treated us to supper at The Boathouse restaurant right here at the marina. We sat on the deck overlooking the river and had a lovely evening. We talked about boats, and Lake Champlain, and SMD2 price convergence, and changing culture at the ISO, and we swapped a lot of stories. Thanks Pete that was very nice.

Tomorrow we head for the Champlain Canal. The adventure continues. Stay tuned.

The inside of a MaxProp

The business end of a MaxProp

Out she comes

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Back Again

We waited around this morning until about 10 for the tide to turn, then motored back to shady harbor. With the mast down I was able to rig a large sun awning so that we could escape the worst of the heat. Tomorrow is supposed to bring cooler weather once again.

The only thing left to do before heading for Champlain is to haul the boat and to change the propeller pitch. Correspondance with Bud Taplin and with the manufacturer, MaxProp, convinced me that the pitch change that Al Hatch did in Fort Lauderdale on the survey day was wrong. I'm getting far too little motion per revolution and that leads to high engine RPMs and overheating. At least that's the theory.

Fortunately, the MaxProp is the only propeller that allows one to change the pitch. Unfortunately, it required haulling the boat out of the water for each adjustment.

Tonight we'll spend the night in West Charlton.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Heat Heat Heat Too Much Heat!

Near Athens NY, N42 16 W73 48

(08/04/05) In the morning I made arrangements with a Catskill Marina to unstep the mast. We need the mast down to traverse the canal to Lake Champlain. It took three hours to prepare, two hours to wait for the crane operator, and one hour to actually take it down and secure it on deck. The hard part was the heat. Hot days don’t come more uncomfortable than this.

Poor Nick was very bored. He declined to help us because of the heat, so he just stayed below with nothing to do except try to catch up on sleep.

The guys from the marina were very experienced in handling the mast. I learned a lot from them. I now know enough to do it myself next time. However, it needs 3-4 strong men; more than Libby and I could handle alone.

I sure hope I labeled all the wires correctly and that I didn’t lose any of the clevis pins. We’ll find out when the mast goes up.

We left the marina about 1600 and headed at full speed toward a place where we could anchor and swim. That was Middle Ground Flat, just up here near Athens. Finally around 1800 we got to jump in the water and escape the heat.

There is another blue water sailboat, Shadowfax II, anchored nearby and in the evening the owners came by in their dingy to say hello. They were a young couple who had been living on their boat for 14 years and who were just returning from a 5 year voyage. They looked very healthy and happy to us. It’s great to hear stories from people who have actually done what we hope to do. They said that in all their years in the tropics they never saw weather so hot as here in NY today.

By the way, Athens, and the place where we are anchored, were featured in the current movie War Of The Worlds. I can tell you that if those Martians invaded Athens today they would give up and go home because of the heat.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005


Catskill Creek, N32 13 W73 52
(08/03/04) Boy was it hot today. Our day’s plan was to sail from Shady Harbor down to Catskill. At Catskill we’d spend a day or
two at anchor and see about unstopping the mast.

We were blessed with wind only half the way down. At any rate it gave Nick a chance to see Tarwathie under sail for at least part
of the time.

Halfway down the river we couldn't’t stand the heat any more, so we pulled over into a bight, anchored and swam. That felt
wonderfully good. After swimming all three of us napped a little as we waited for the tide to turn. Nick got the surprise of his
life. He was napping on the little platform way in the stern beside the tiller. A big tugboat came by down the river at full
speed. Since we weren't in the channel, he saw no need to slow down and reduce his wake. I saw the wake coming directly toward the
stern. It was big. I told Nick to look, but he was sleepy. I told him again but he was still sleepy. Finally, the wake overtook
us and washed right over the stern and right over Nick. Boy was he surprised.

At Catskill, we rode up the creek to the end but I didn't see any anchorages to my liking. There are hundreds boats in the creek at
docks and on moorings. It’s an interesting place to explore. A week ago I heard a story that when hurricane Frances came through
here a few years back that there was so much rain that it caused a flood that washed all those boats and their docks out the creek
and into the Hudson river. That must have been quite a sight. I’m glad I wasn’t the insurance adjuster surveying that scene the
following day.

We decided to tie up to a dock that belonged to a restaurant. They allow you to stay there if you eat dinner at the restaurant.
When we got there, we found that the restaurant was closed on Tuesdays, so we wound up using the dock for free.

Libby and I decided to sleep up on deck because it was so hot. Nick was afraid of mosquitoes so he slept below with all the screens
in the windows and doors. Nick made the wrong choice. It was cool and pleasant on deck, and no mosquitoes. It was hot and stuffy
below so Nick didn’t get much sleep.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Dinghy Sail

Today it is just Nick (our grandson) and Libby and me. We plan to head for Catskill creek tomorrow morning. Today they forecast severe thunderstorms.

Nick and I tried out the sailing rig for the dinghy on the river today. It works fine and she sails right along. We played chicken with a tugboat and a barge. The tugboat won.

Yay Dinghy