Lake Champlain & Burlington, VT

On May 30th we left for Fort Edward Yacht Basin where we stayed for one night on the free town dock. Not much there but the basin is very quiet and protected. Then it was on to Whitehall, NY to stay on their free wall (with electricity) for two nights. Whitehall is a pleasant town and is home to the raised wreck of the USS Ticonderoga. It also has an historical marker noting that Whitehall was the birthplace of the first US Navy fleet (Benedict Arnold’s Valcour Fleet) but the date is at odds with the official birth date of the Navy. Whitehall is another quiet town but we stayed here to time weather windows. Rain and wind are boaters’ enemies.

We left Whitehall on June 2nd for the two-day run to get to Burlington, VT even though the winds were brisk the reason for which was that the following day was forecast to be warm and sunny with just a light breeze whereas the following day was to be a miserable day to be on Lake Champlain. Not wanting to be on the more open waters of the lake – the lake widens as one travels north – we elected to go only about 20 miles and stayed at the Chipman Point Marina. That lengthened the next day’s run to 55 miles to Burlington but that was fine because it turned out to be a glorious day to be on the water.

The Chipman Point Marina is rather smallish but quiet interesting. The main, four-story stone building dates back to 1820. It is of post and beam construction with very heavy timbers and steep, narrow stairways to the upper floors where the laundry, showers, and bathrooms are located. Honesty prevails here. The laundry is not free but the washer and dryer is not coin-operated. Users simply put the fee into a bucket on the counter.

We pulled into the Burlington Boathouse Marina on June 3rd. Burlington just has to be one of the finest small cities in the US. It is a college town (Univ. of Vermont, Champlain College). It is loaded with good restaurants, cafes, and bars. The first night we had dinner at a local upscale pizza restaurant purported to have great Neapolitan-style pizza (thin crust). The pizza was quite good but nowhere near as good as the Wooster Street (New Haven, CT) pizza venues (Sally’s, Modern, Pepe’s) or Patsy’s (our favorite) in East Harlem, NY.

So, we arrived in Burlington after a great run up the Lake. The scenery and the solitude all the way from Fort Edward were grand. We have seen a few other loopers

but know that there is a much larger flotilla a few days behind us. Right now we are docked next to another boat with which we were dock neighbors at Staten Island. We will be staying in Burlington to at least Friday waiting for a better weather window to begin travelling through the Rideau Canal to the St. Lawrence River.

The Upper Hudson River

We left Half Moon bay on May 24th bound for Poughkeepsie where we would be dropping off brother Jerry. His son, Elliot, along with our sister, Janice, met us at Shadows Marina. We all shared a nice meal at the Mill River Brewery. The next day we left to continue our trip up the Hudson. Our next stop was Shady Harbor Marina in New Baltimore, NY. We stayed three nights and met two other boats who had been at the Great Kills Yacht Club when we were there. We were able to borrow the marina’s loaner car to do some provisioning. Three cases of beer were high on our list.

We dropped lines and pulled out of Shady Harbor on May 28th bound for Mechanicville, NY. This transit included our first encounters with locks and not with some apprehension. Handling the boat, John as captain (boat driver) and Gloria handling fenders and lines, is not without confidence as we have owned and piloted the boat for several years. However, locks were an unknown for us. As it turned out, our apprehension was ill founded. Helping was the fact that were alone in the first three locks which gave us the opportunity to negotiate the locks with no witnesses and no stress with having to transit the locks with other boats trying to cope with the currents in the filling locks.

Mechanicville is a sleepy, small town but it does have a free wall at which to dock with free electric, water, and squeaky clean showers. We spent two nights here before leaving (tomorrow) for our next stop, 28 miles to the free town docks at Fort Edward yacht Basin. This will require transiting five more locks. Not a problem! Now.

The pictures are of some of the sights and things we encountered along the way from Poughkeepsie to Mechanicville. The Upper Hudson River narrows and becomes a pleasant, smooth, easy cruise with great scenery at every turn in the river.

New York City (Staten Island)

We stayed at The Great Kills Yacht Club for six nights. On Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday we travelled into the City. On Sunday we had dinner with our son Jack, daughter-in-law Sara, and her family at a nice steak restaurant called The Palm. Not cheap but we had a terrific meal and time with all. On Monday, we met Jack and Sara at the tram station that goes to Roosevelt Island. Beforehand, we had lunch at Serendipity 3 near the tram station. They have terrific ice cream sundaes and milk shakes that they call frozen chocolate milk. The tram travels right alongside the Queensboro Bridge which is often seen in movies. Then we hopped on a ferry and went down the East River and got off at Wall St. to catch the bus back to Staten Island. On Tuesday, we had a most pleasant brunch at Sara’s folk’s apartment in Manhattan.

On Wednesday, we left Staten Island bound for a marina in Haverstraw, New York on the Hudson River above the Tappan Zee Bridge. We boated close to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island and then up along Manhattan. The current was running fast out to sea so we were able to make only 5 MPH while our normal Cruising speed is 9 MPH. It made for a very long day and spoiled our plans to meet Jack, Sara, and the folks for dinner at Patsy’s Pizza in East Harlem. Unfortunately, it was the one thing we really wanted to get done while visiting NYC. We have had many good pizzas in the Northeast including famous Wooster St. New Haven pizzas and Patsy’s is the one we like best. It’s one of the few remaining pizza venues that are allowed to use coal-fired ovens in NYC.

Atlantic City to Staten Island

We left Atlantic City via the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) rather than the open ocean. The ICW is not generally recommended for a boat with a draft of 4.5 feet such as ours due to many reported shallow areas in the channels. Still, we elected to use the waterway but left on a rising tide to take advantage of higher water during transit. We went only about 20 miles on May 15th and stayed at the beach Haven Yacht Club  for two nights. Then it was on to Manasquan, about 40 miles, where we anchored in Point Pleasant. We didn’t touch bottom at all in the ICW. Luck? Perhaps.

The next day, May 17th, we transited the Point Pleasant Canal to the Manasquan River and out to sea again for the 40-mile run up the rest of the Jersey coast, around Sandy Hook, and on the the Great Kills Yacht Club on Staten Island. This ocean voyage was comparatively benign with waves not exceeding two feet and coming mostly from the stern, a following sea. It was uneventful except for the rain.

Coming into the docks here was an adventure. It was dead low tide and the fairway to our slip was no more than 75 feet wide. The dock master wanted us stern in. I should have insisted on a bow in approach as several attempts at backing in were wildly unsuccessful. The bow of our boat kept hanging up in the mud making it extremely difficult to maneuver the boat into the slip. We abandoned the stern in approach. We went out into higher water and came in bow-in with nary a problem. I got the boat’s bow into the narrow slip at a 45 degree angle and then used port and starboard throttle, forward and reverse to get the boat lined up into the slip. It went in quite easily. In the future, I will insist on a bow-in approach in any marina we use.

The Great Kills Yacht Club is a nice place to stop. There are several very nice restaurants nearby along with a terrific Italian market that sells freshly-baked bread and store-made sausage. I took the bicycle there to get some bread for Saturday night dinner. On the way I took a small spill and broke the front brake handle. Now what. I continued up the block to the Italian store and, as luck would have it, I came across a local bike shop. On the way back from the market I stopped in and the staff was able to service my bike on the spot. Installed were two new brake levers and new brake pads. Bike is like new again.

We will be staying here until Wednesday, May 23rd so we can visit with our son Jack and wife Sara who, are flying in from Dan Diego for a visit to her parents who live in Manhattan. We’ll get to spend some time with them before moving on up the Hudson River on our way to Lake Champlain and points north. Jack is in the Navy (Chief Petty Officer) so we don’t get to see him much.

No pictures this time. The weather has been lousy for three days and won’t be clearing up until Tuesday.

Cape May & Atlantic City

Golden Nugget Night

 

On May 10th we arrived at the Delaware City Marina on the Delaware Bay which is at the far end of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal. Our next stop was Cape May, NJ which is a 45 mile run down the Delaware Bay. Now the Bay is notorious for bad conditions and must be run only when the winds are in the boater’s favor. As it happened, the next day, May 11th, found us with a stiff breeze at our stern and favorable outgoing currents. After about two hours of steaming, the current changed to outgoing and, between the winds and the current, we traveled at 11.5 MPH rather than our normal 8 MPH at 1,650 RPM engine speed. Plus, it was a beautiful, cloudless, warm day. We stayed out of the main channel to give the freighters and tankers a wide berth.

Now, the run up to Atlantic City must be done on the open ocean as the Intracoastal Waterway is too shallow for our boat. The ocean run is not recommended for pleasure craft when there is an east wind. An east wind causes larger waves which are always on the beam. Big waves on the beam means lots of rolling. Anyway, the forecast was for a south wind, a pusher wind, and moderate waves. Well, the forecast was not a good one. We, and several other boats that left Cape May on the morning of May 12th, got beat up for six hours but, fortunately, no one aboard became seasick although we were unable to safely go below. It was chilly and windy on the flybridge until we entered Abescon Inlet at Atlantic City. We tied up for two nights at the Golden Nugget Casino Marina. As for the casino, even though John enjoys casino gambling, none was done.

Since Sunday was a rain day, John and Jerry took the opportunity to do some maintenance. Since leaving Galesville on the 8th, the port engine would occasionally drop 250 RPM and then return to speed after about 10 seconds. This malady is usually indicative of a fuel supply problem and is often related to needing a filter change. However, the filters are fresh and an inspection revealed a fuel supply hose on the suction side that showed signs of collapsing. We changed the line to more sturdy 3/8 line from 5/16. Hopefully, this was the problem.

Tomorrow, we leave using the Intracoastal Waterway which, north of Atlantic City, generally is deeper and more navigable for a bigger boat. We’ll see. If we go aground, we’ll call a tow truck. We’ll be stopping at Beach Haven which is only about 25 miles. The next day we’ll travel to Manasquan. Then it’s outside again to Staten Island.

Leaving to Begin the Loop

This morning, promptly at 8:30 am, our scheduled departure time, we dropped lines to begin the Great Loop. Our live aboard dock mates, three couples, saw us off after having thrown us a bon voyage party the night before on the porch of the guest cottage at our marina, Hartge Yacht Harbor. We managed to back out of our slip smartly with an audience. We traveled about five hours and 45 miles on our first leg and anchored at Worton Creek on the eastern Shore of Maryland.

Our first attempt at setting the anchor did not go very well. The captain, John, did not let out enough chain for the anchor to power set the anchor. That mistake will not be made again. With Gloria at the throttles, we retrieved the anchor and did it the correct way the second time. After shutting down the engines the dead quiet of this anchorage was remarkable.

Not long after setting out, a bug in the engine speed synchronizer appeared again. Intermittently, the port engine would occasionally drop 200 RPM and return to speed after about 15 seconds. John’s brother, Jerry, an ace mechanic along for the the first part of the trip – dropping him off in Poughkeepsie, NY – diagnosed and fixed the problem while underway. A locking nut on one the control cables had become loose. Tightening it up fixed the problem. My goodness, I was thinking the worst, maybe a failing fuel injection pump. What a relief.

Tomorrow will see us travelling another 45 miles or so to the Bohemia River where we will stage for the next day’s transit through the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal to Delaware City. Then it’s down the Delaware Bay to Cape May, NJ.

Continue reading “Leaving to Begin the Loop”

Getting Ready to Begin the Great Loop

This blog is to document our travels on the Great Loop and share with friends and acquaintances who have an interest in following along on our adventure. The Great Loop is a waterway route that, for example, starting in Annapolis, the route we are taking takes us north on the Chesapeake Bay, through the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal to the Delaware River, down the river to Cape May, NJ, up the Jersey Coast to the Hudson River, north on the Hudson to a canal that leads to Lake Champlain, another canal at the north end that leads to the St. Lawrence River. We will go downriver to Montreal, up the Ottawa River to Ottawa, then down the Rideau Canal to Lake Ontario. After heading west on the lake, we will enter the Trent-Severn Waterway (canals, lakes, and locks) to the Georgian Bay of Lake Huron. Then it’s west to Lake Michigan, to Chicago, through a canal to the Illinois River, then the Mississippi past St. Louis to the confluence of the Ohio River. Then, it’s up the Ohio past Paducah, KY to reach the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway which eventually empties into the Gulf of Mexico at Mobile, AL. Then, we will cross the open water of the Gulf to the West Coast of Florida, around the keys, then north on the Intracoastal Waterway back to Annapolis. The trip will take at least one year to complete.

Our tentative departure date is May 10th. It is weather dependent. John’s brother, Jerry, will be joining us for the first two weeks of the trip. We will drop him off in Poughkeepsie, NY on the Hudson River. He lives in Northwestern Connecticut. We will be staying three nights at the Great Kills Yacht Club on Staten Island. Our son, Jack and his wife, will be visiting her parents in Manhattan at the same time so we will get some visiting in. Jack is a Chief Petty Officer in the Navy.