It was a trade off. If we left Coeymans early we could get out before the tide was low and decrease our risk of touching bottom but we would be bucking a one knot current for about two hours before it changed. If we waited until the current changed direction we might kiss the bottom. For those of you from Orcas — shades of “the ditch”. We opted to leave early.
Troy Lock was ahead about 18 nm. This was going to be our first lock of the trip. We stopped just short of the lock and drifted while we set the boat up for locking. This meant putting out large fender balls at the stern and forward and putting the fender boards out with standard fenders between them and the boat. Now we crossed our fingers that we were ready. We knew that these upcoming New York Canal System locks were much bigger and with greater lifts/drops than our experience on the Midi Canal in France would prepare us for.
There seem to be a variety of set ups in these locks. Some have pipes to hang on to in recesses in the walls. These are spaced far enough apart so that a boat the size of Sea To See can only hang on to one of these which necessitates holding it amidships. Then there is about the same set up with cables instead of pipes and sometimes they are set far apart and sometimes close enough together so we could hang on to one at the bow and one at the stern. With both the pipes and the cables you place your mooring lines around the back side and then hang on and allow the line to slip up or down the pipe/cable. The third arrangement is ropes hanging down over the lock side at intervals. Usually these were close enough together that we could grab one at the bow and one at the stern.
Our preparations for the Troy lock were adequate. This lock had pipes and so we held on amidship. The turbulence in the lock and sometimes the wind, which was blowing around 15 knots from the west, caused the boat to move around some and we had to watch the bow carefully so it didn’t swing out causing the dinghy on the swim platform to kiss the wall. All went well and we were ready to take on more locking!
Following Troy Lock we came to the town of Waterford that is where the canal system splits into the Erie and the Champlain Waterways. We moored on a very high concrete wall in front of the first lock gate on the Erie. We were pleased that the crutch for the mast and boom had ridden well.
We took a long walk to Hanaford Grocery store and purchased a bunch of stuff. While in the store there was a huge downpour of rain and when we came out of the store the sun was shining again. In our guide book it said that we could use a store cart to wheel our purchases back to the boat and that someone would come and pick up the cart at the “wall”. When we got to the edge of the store parking lot the wheels locked up on the cart. Vicki got another cart but when she reached the original cart to transfer the groceries the wheels of cart two locked up. What????? I went to get a third cart and ran into a cart retrieval person so asked what the deal was. She said the cart wheels electronically lock at the edge of the parking lot so she brought over a little device that unlocked the wheel. First time we had ever encountered that!
Jim and Mimi on Perfect Balance were there when we returned to the wall. They were going to do the Erie while we were headed for the Champlain.