Monday, August 27, 2012

Captain's Log

The Island Hopper Crew, Kevin, Debbie and Bryce, the Welsh Terrier flying the St Pete YC Burgee.

I want to summarize our travels this summer on Island Hopper,  a journey of 2750 miles and 95 days aboard.  I departed May 6 with my good friend and college buddy, Ed Daniel from our homeport of Longboat Key Moorings.  We headed to Ft Myers and the Caloosahatchee River.  Across FL we went through Lake Okeechobee (these Indian names are difficult to spell!), to Stuart, FL on the east coast.  Total mileage 225 miles.  (all miles will be statute miles not nautical miles)

Up the east coast to Charleston, SC we traveled after hanging out in Beaufort, SC for a few extra days as we were ahead of schedule and Tropical Storm Alberto was lurking just offshore, where our wives joined us.  We arrived in Charleston on day 16, May 21, total miles 750.   After 3 nights in Charleston, we threw off the lines and headed to Norfolk where our guests would depart.

We arrived Norfolk on June 1, day 27. Total miles 1225.  We spent an extra night in Belhaven, NC to ride out Tropical Storm Beryl.  It rained all day and blew so we caught up on inside chores.  

After two nights in Norfolk (Portsmouth) Debbie and I headed up the Chesapeake Bay, one of our favorite cruising grounds. We harbored IH on the Chesapeake the summers of 2008 and 2009.  After visiting our favorite harbors we arrived in Baltimore, Anchorage Marina on June 10, day 36.  Total miles 1472.  I had rented a condo dock from an acquaintance for a month so we could return home for a few weeks.  We stayed in Baltimore for 5 days to sight-see and perform engine maintence, returning to Cincy by air on June 14, Day 41.

We flew back to Baltimore with our new dog Bryce, a 6 month old Welsh Terrier, on July 3. We changed our tickets from July 1 as it was over 100 degrees at home and in Baltimore. The entire east coast was in the grips of a terrible heat wave.  We enjoyed the 4th of July in Baltimore including great fireworks which we could see from our dock.  

We departed Baltimore on July 5 heading up the Chesapeake Bay.  After passing through the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal we entered the dreaded Delaware Bay and headed south to Cape May NJ. Luckily the wind and tide cooperated.  We took a cab around town it was so hot, the cab thermometer showed 103 degrees, ugh.

The temperature finally moderated as we headed out in the Atlantic to work our way up the NJ coast.  We arrived in NY harbor, a very exciting experience seeing the Statute of Liberty, (My Dad was an immigrant) on July 10, day 49 and 1772 miles.  We harbored at Liberty Landing in Jersey City, across the harbor from the financial district in Manhattan, what a view.

After a great visit we headed up the Hudson River to Troy (Albany) a distance of 165 miles.  It is tidal until we passed through the "federal lock" at Troy.  Here we entered the Erie Canal, which leads to Buffalo, 340 miles to the west.  We  only traveled 160 miles on the Erie Canal hanging a right to head north to Oswego, NY on Lake Ontario.  We traversed 22 locks on the Erie Canal which lifted us up 450 feet from sea level, and then down 66 feet to the level of the Oswego Canal.   We passed  7 more on the Oswego Canal, which lowered us 118 feet to the level of Lake Ontario.  

Our good friends Ian and Joan joined us from Ayr, Scotland in Brewerton on the Erie Canal.  They helped us navigate the 8 locks to Oswego, NY.  After departing Oswego we steered IH to the St Lawrence River and the ports in the US of Clayton and Alexandria Bay, and then we crossed the river to clear customs into Canada at Gananoque, ON.  We cruised this beautiful area known as the Thousand Islands.

Our final destination was Montreal where Ian and Joan departed for a visit to Quebec City before heading back to Toronto for a plane home.  We had to pass through 6 big ship locks on the St Lawrence to navigate the 200 miles to Montreal.   

We covered 312 miles and 14 locks with Ian and Joan.

After a few days of enjoying Montreal our friends from FL, Kurt and Pam arrived.  We stayed a few more days in Montreal, a total of 7 before leaving for Ottawa.   We had to again pass through two St Lawrence locks but we were not delayed luckily.  We entered the Ottawa River at St Anne de'Bellevue, QC.   After two more locks and 99 miles we arrived at Ottawa where we entered another canal system know as the Rideau Canal.  The Rideau is a 126 mile canal with 46 locks, all manually operated by parks personnel.  It was constructed in the 1830's.  The first 32 locks raise IH 274  feet and the remaining 14 locks lower us 165 feet to the level of Lake Ontario where we exit the canal at Kingston, ON.  

Our friends departed IH in Kingston after traveling with us 270 miles and 50 locks.  We spent a few more days in Kingston to take in the sites and then we headed back to Oswego, NY backtracking on the Oswego Canal to Brewerton, NY and IH's winter home of Winter Harbor Marina.


Total miles from FL 2751
Total Days aboard       95
Total Locks                 99 

Friday, August 24, 2012

Brewerton-Winter Harbor Marina

Winter Harbor Boat Storage Facility
Winter Harbor Marina

 We had a checklist of items to accomplish before leaving Island Hopper for the winter.  Routine maintenance such as oil changes for the two diesels (5 gallons of oil and two oil filters each), generator ( 1 1/2 gallons of oil and one filter) and fuel filters (two filters for each engine), clean the holding tank, add Clorox to the water tanks, etc. Also a complete wash of the exterior was completed.

  Luckily no winterizing of the systems  is necessary because the building is heated.  Usually I rinse the engines and air conditioners with fresh water, but we are in fresh water so didn't have to do that either.

Debbie cleaned the entire interior and the bridge, including the carpet and cushions.  After 4 months of full time use IH was in need of some TLC.

We were able to complete our jobs by Sunday so we rented a car for pickup at the nearby Syracuse airport for  one way to CVG.  We rented a standard SUV which was packed to the roof with our stuff including Bryce, the Welsh Terrier.

On Monday I moved IH into the "pit" for liftout by the travelift.  After that IH was blocked so she could have her bottom pressure washed.  No barnacles either in fresh water, a few zebra mussels and some slime but everything else looked great.   She will be moved into the building utilizing a hydraulic trailer, in a few days.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Oswego to Brewerton, NY

 We leave Oswego for the 31 mile 8 lock day to our winter home, Brewerton, NY, a suburb of Syracuse.  We plan to be there 4 nights to prepare Island Hopper for her winter stay.  More on that tomorrow.  We turn to port out of the marina and enter the Oswego River (canal).  A lock is 1/2 mile away.  WE buy a lock pass for two days (the minimum) for $20.  The paperwork is handled while we are tied up in the lock.  The Oswego Canal is 28 miles long, it dead ends into the Erie Canal.  Hang a right and the Erie Canal takes you to Buffalo, NY or  hang a left and your final destination is Troy, NY at the Hudson.  We can not pass further west as the bridge height is 15 feet, IH needs 19 feet.

 Every lock has an associated dam. Some are visible as this one is and others are not.  Many have a hydro electric generating station, especially in Canada.

Link to Oswego Canal Map

 Link to Lock 7 Overview
Another visible dam and associated waterfall.  
For 30 years I have kept a knife handy when locking through in case a line hangs up when the boat is rising or falling.  I used it today.  I eased the line as the boat rose in the lock but the line was jammed in the cable on the lock wall. IH began to list so before damage was done I touched the taught line (it was like a bango string) with a knife and WHAM it thankfully parted.
We spotted an ice cream shop along the canal at a small town.  Also a city dock was available and Bryce needed a stretch so out came the docking lines and we tied up for an hour to walk around and check out the town.

The only lock we passed today on the Erie Canal was number 23.  Nice lock wall for an overnight.
When the deck boss is busy on her duties Bryce is secured on the bridge complete with fan.

Erie Canal

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Kingston to Oswego, NY

We watched the weather forecast, Wed called for south winds 5-10 knots, seas less than 2 feet. We had an open crossing of 55 miles the entire width of Lake Ontario on the eastern end.  Our destination, Oswego, NY the mouth of the Oswego river (canal) that we must take back to Brewerton, NY.  We set off at 8:00 AM to take advantage of light winds in the morning.  By 11:30 we were passing the lighthouse at Oswego.  The weather forecast however was not quite accurate.  About 10:00 the winds picked up and whitecaps were common, 15 knots gusting to 20, luckily the seas did not build by the time we arrived in Oswego.  In the afternoon it was dead calm, go figure.

 After arrival we proceeded to the video phone at the marina  that is a link to Border Protection. We had passports and the ship's papers in hand.  We stood in front of the camera and then the officer asked us to put our passports under another camera and voile' we were back in the USA!  I replaced teh SIM card in the IPAD and we were back on Verizon, yippee!

We had stopped at Oswego on the way north over a month ago.  This time we had more time to bicycle around, nice town.  I visited Fort Ontario and the Maritime Museum, both enjoyable.  I also found a nice restaurant for dinner, Bistro 197, it was excellent.       Link to Bistro 197

Oswego Link
 Another fort visit, we had seen many on this trip.  This area is heavily fortified as the Brits didn't trust the Americans and vice versa, for good reason.  Of course the French were stirring the pot as well always looking for an excuse to oppose the British.

Fort Ontario Link

Bike trail and City hall in background

Fort Ontario from our helicopter

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Kingston, ON


We elected to stay two nights in Kingston as there were many sights to see.  A university town, Queens University with its 20,000 students keeps the town vibrant.   About 150,000 people and at one time the capital of Canada.  Pam and Kurt had left their car here
so they headed to see friends in the NYC area, about a 6 hour drive.  We had to watch the weather as we had to cross Lake Ontario to Oswego, NY about 55 miles.  Since we are are on the eastern side of the lake the prevailing westerly winds can make for some large short period waves.

Link to Kingston travel Info
City Hall (Hotel deVille)
The modern marina, Confederation Harbour, with the downtown square in the background.
A view of the town from Fort Henry.

Link to Fort Henry Site

Fort Henry soldiers 
Fort Henry from the air

Monday, August 20, 2012

Lower Brewers Lock to Kingston, ON

Our last day on the Rideau as we close in on Kingston on Lake Ontario.  Only 16 miles, a flight of 4 locks at Kingston Mills and 2 bridges that must open.  The last bridge at Kingston only opens on the hour.   We leave Lower Brewers and its old grist mill at 8:45AM.
Very quiet at Lower Brewers in the morning.  I walk up to ask the lockmaster (eclusier) to call Kingston Mills to give them a heads up we are coming.  It can take over an hour to reverse the 4 locks.  
Oh well, the best laid plans! We arrive and they were just reversing the lock to lock upbound traffic, we are downbound so we tie up and enjoy walking around the lock.  About an hour later we are able to pull in to the lock.  Note the train trestle.  It is said to be the busiest track in Canada.  This is not a popular overnight stop for that reason.

Link to Info on Lock, scroll down for pictures
 Enlarge the photo on the right to see our circuit. Down the St Lawrence to Montreal, up the Ottawa River to Ottawa.  At Ottawa we scaled the 8 step locks to enter the Rideau Canal where we headed south 125 miles and 45 locks to Kingston.  WE transited  six locks on the St Lawrence and also two locks on the Ottawa River  both of which I have detailed earlier.
For some reason Pam enjoyed handling the stern line in the locks.  Note the line passes around a cable and back to the vessel.  One must make sure that it does not get hung up.  When entering a lock for a downbound lockage, the aid of the lockmaster is needed to secure the bow line to the cable.  The lift/drop is 8-20 feet per lock.
The Rideau is back to a canal and it is shallow due to lack of rain.  I saw 4.8 feet in a few spots, IH needs 4.2 feet.  Didn't hit bottom at all though.  
This is the bridge into Kingston, a major road that opens on the hour but not at noon or at rush hours.  IH needed 50 gallons of fuel and a pumpout at a marina before the bridge so we just stayed at the fuel dock until the 2PM opening.  
 Debbie was generally up early with Bryce so she captured a great shot of "sea smoke"
It is starting to feel like fall in Canada. Bryce is warm in his cuddly bed.  He has adapted well to his new home on IH,
Our marina in Kinston is Confederation Basin, a large marina right in town.

Link to marina info.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Jones Falls to Lower Brewers Lock Day 89

 We left the Hotel Kenney at 11:00 AM as we only had 12 miles and 3 locks to traverse.  WE took a hike around the lock grounds to work off the great meal last night.  It was cloudy in the morning but it burned off by noon.
 We had to pass this bridge which opened to allow us through, only 4 foot clearance closed.
We left the lake and entered a cut, glad no vessels were coming our way, shallow as well.
 When we arrived there was an upbound lockage in process, so we tied to the "blue line" and chilled.  Debbie used the time to take Bryce for a walk.  When the lock doors open we started the engines and in we went.
Not much freeboard on the lock when we enter so the skilled deck boss is checking to make sure the fenders are doing their job, and have not popped up.  The rock walls would do a number on the hull paint.
There really is no town stop before the end of the Rideau Canal in Kingston on Lake Ontario so we ask the lockmaster if there is room at the lower lock for us to spend the night.  He calls ahead to Lower Brewers Locks (we are in Upper Brewers Lock) and advises us we are good to go.  Traffic is way down since it is mid August.  The Quebec "construction holiday" has come and gone so the boat traffic has dropped to just a few cruisers, even on the weekend.  We grill out and enjoy a great meal with wine from the cellar (bilge).  Dockage is $.90 per foot per night or one may purchase a season pass, which doesn't make sense for us as we are passing through.  Hydro (what Canadians call shorepower) is an extra $10.  Most of the walls have shore power.  In our case we would like to have two 30 amp plugs but many of the walls have them spaced about 40 feet apart whcih makes it impossible to connect to.  On this wall the plugs were in close proximity so we had full power.

Across the canal was a converted grist mill now an art studio.  Also note the dam that works in conjunction with the lock.  When more water is available there is also a hydroelectric plant that operates here the artist told me.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Westport to Jones Falls, Ontario

We left Westport after having a real breakfast of eggs, etc at a local diner, nice change from cereal.  The weather has cooled off lows in the 50's high in the 70's and sunny with light winds though some days the wind builds in the afternoon to 10-15 with higher gusts.  Usually when you pull into a lock the gust hits!  Only 18 miles to cover today but 7 locks which slows the journey.
They provide a dock to tie up to while waiting for the lock.  No maneuvering around for 30 minutes like on the river system in the States.  Here we saw a beautiful woody, of which there are many in this neck of the woods. 
The last 4 locks are together at Jones Falls, called a flight of locks.  The entire system was build in the 1830s, if you can believe that.

Jones Lock Photos Link
Our destination is the Hotel Kenney at the bottom of the locks.  We reserved a space on their wall.  Since it was a weekend it was imperative that we had  wall space.  No reservations at the lock walls.   Their wall filled up by 5:00 PM.  The Hotel has been owned by the same family since the late 1800's until it was sold in 2008. We had a great meal at the Inn.
Link to youtube
We took a tour at the locks of several buildings.  This one was an operating blacksmith shop used to forge parts to maintain the locks.

The flight of 4 locks can been seen from Island Hopper which is docked at the Hotel Kenney wall.
Of course the crew received training on cleaning and maintaining the vessel.  If dew was prevalent the squeegee mop works great for a quick clean.