Featured

Welcome

So we are not really bloggers, but then we are not really ready to become homeless either.  In any event this website hopefully will help anybody interested to stay somewhat current on our travels and travails.  If you want to know more about us, you can read the “About Us” page.  Duh.  The “Follow” button apparently will get our updates delivered to your email in-box.  These updates may range from a sentence or two to Doug’s awesome drone videos or Dana’s even more awesome photos of sunsets and sunrises and landscapes and seascapes and wildlife.  And if we don’t make it back from the high seas–and by high seas we mean shallow waters near sheltered marinas–at least our electronic diary will allow future generations to marvel at our stupidity.

If anyone wants to see where we are in real time, Marine Traffic and Vessel Finder track our AIS transponder.  Just put in Misty Pearl.  Don’t buy the app.

We will post more photos on Instagram.  #mistypearllife.  (Created by our much more hip daughters.)

No news is good news

img_4006-1In anticipation of a 7:30 departure from Utica, we took Oscar and Benny over to the bagel shop, just in time to catch a Misty Pearl reflection in the morning sun.  We’d have written another poem but it was too early for beer, plus we had about 9 hours and 50 nm ahead of us.

Three locks, a big lake (Oneida), and nothing much else noteworthy before we reached Brewerton, although we still are puzzling over how the last couple of locks lowered us.

We plan to hang here for a couple of days until Dana’s sister joins us.  Maybe some cool stuff will happen.

Because this was an easy day, now is a good time to ask that nobody judge our grammar, spelling, syntax, or punctuation.   Just know we have plenty of valid excuses.

In conclusion, here’s a picture of the boys in travel mode.

img_4009

Taming the Beast

Because we don’t get much news anymore, we only learned today of the world’s tragic loss.  So wherever you may be, a moment of silence as we mourn the passing of the great John Ward, without whom it never would have been “Football time, in Tennessee.”

On to Looping.  Little Falls, N.Y. is a picturesque village along the Erie Canal.  It’s apparently quite popular.  We planned to give it a pass on our way to Utica, however, because there are many other picturesque villages along the Erie Canal.  We can’t stop at all of them.

FBA22DE4-279C-415A-80F4-29A672682AF5From our perspective, the most significant thing about Little Falls was the giant protective maw that confronts travelers heading west.  Erie Canal Lock No. 17 is the highest lock in New York, and is one of only two guillotine-style entries in the universe unless there are some on other planets.  (The quality of the photo is crappy because it’s a frame from the time-lapse video that occupied one phone, while the person who owns the other phone and the camera was busy worrying.)  Here is one taken just before we started the worrying.  003a1181

The guy in charge must get perverse pleasure from watching unsuspecting boaters confront unexpected current, because he didn’t bother warning either of the two boats to be ready.  Turns out the front boat gets the worst of it.  Thankfully for us that was Second Wave.  Thankfully for Second Wave they are experienced enough to wrangle things safely.  For a moment, however, we feared for everyone in the lock.

003a1221003a1204Things tamed down the rest of the way.  Dana bagged a great Great Blue Heron.  The Canal straightened out for several miles.  The restaurant at the wall in Utica was delicious.

Things would be perfect if not for the whole John Ward thing.

img_3999

St. John must be proud

img_3983

We got up, left Amsterdam, cruised through some locks, it was beautiful, blah, blah, blah.  But that’s not what this post is about.

img_3959We docked at small, quiet, and sort of quirky St. Johnsville marina and popped into town.

img_3963St. Johnsville was founded in 1725 by Jacob Zimmerman, who may or may not share  a family tree with Steve Zimmerman, who provided great service work on Misty Pearl, and with Steve Zimmerman, whose daughter attended elementary school with Shannon.  In fact, based on our experience and knowledge Jacob may the only Zimmerman in history who isn’t named Steve.   But that’s not what this post is about.

During some down time, Doug flew the drone around town and then down to the dock.  And right into a real tree.  Rather than look at the track on the phone to see where said tree was located, the better plan seemed to be assuming the crash site was across the river, waking Brent (Second Wave) from his nap for help, jumping on the personal bicycles graciously offered up by the marina, and riding into the woods with no idea where to look.  Dumb plan.

The good news:  after looking at the flight path, it was obvious the tree in question was next to the marina.   That beautiful tree at the top of this post.  Even better news:  eagle-eye Brent spotted a tiny red light.

The really bad news:  the red light was about 60 feet off the ground, in a completely unclimbable tree.  Time to panic, because it seemed very unlikely that Dana would authorize buying another drone.

img_3987But wait.  While walking through town earlier, we had seen the Fire Department doors open and volunteers working a fundraiser.  Why not go up and ask for help?  Maybe they have a device specially made for retrieving drones after morons crash them way up high.  Off on the bicycle and back to town, only to find nobody around.  Oh crap.

The three guys sitting outside the market were not firemen and had no ideas about drone rescue.  One of them suggested calling it in as an emergency, because someone probably would respond.  That seemed a bit dramatic.  And potentially criminal.  The more helpful guy noted that down two streets, left on Washington, in the yellow house on the right, lives Chris Weaver, the Fire Chief.  He might be home.

Knock, knock.  Who’s there?  Dumbass.  Dumbass who?  Dumbass Doug.  Not only was Chief Weaver home, he already was relaxing with his family.  One logically might have expected him to explain that a drone in a tree was not really his problem.  Instead he immediately said he would put on shoes and come check out the situation.

img_3975Thirty minutes later the fire truck rolled up to the marina with an extension ladder, a chain saw, and a long pike.  Shannon Whiteman, Alex Countryman, and Fred Doxtader came to help as well.  After some discussion about strategy, up went the ladder and up went Chief Weaver.  One slip and he would be visiting with St. John and Jacob Zimmerman immediately.

Down came the drone, with only a smashed battery and broken propeller.  Down came Chief Weaver with nothing smashed or broken.  Amazing.

We left the Fire Department with a donation for their fundraiser and with our gratitude.  We won’t be forgetting the good folks of St. Johnsville, N.Y.

As for the drone video we recovered, here you go:

Lock No. 11, here we come

img_3916The Schenectady Yacht Club sounds pretty grand—and it did provide a safe haven in the rain—but we nearly fell off the rickety dock more than once.  Even worse, the Jim Jones of the bug world apparently selected Misty Pearl as the appropriate place for the mass suicide of his 10 million followers.  When we went outside this morning it looked like someone had painted the decks brown.   Gross.

img_4423Dana channeled her inner mythbusters while touring the “yacht club.”  We’re pretty certain that even a rising tide would not lift a boat with weeds growing through its hull.

img_3923

The dockmaster sneered when we discussed possibly stopping tonight in Amsterdam because it would be only 2 hours of cruising.  Wrong.  Three locks and 4 hours later we tied up.  Along the way we  slipped under the low bridges made famous by Thomas Allen’s song.

img_3929We also passed the ruins of abandoned factories and mills.  They could make a fortune turning them into haunted houses.

img_3926The common wisdom is not to pilot “by video game.”  In other words, find the navigation aids visually and rely on them rather than the chart plotter.  Good idea.  The chart today showed us firmly on dry land.  We weren’t.

img_3939Having arrived in Amsterdam, we contemplated walking around the famed red-light district.  We really aren’t that kind of people, however, so instead we visited the Amsterdam Castle.  Dana found her knight in shining armor.  Fortunately for the family unit he can’t pilot a boat.

img_3944The dock is just a long wall with 12 boats along it.  Eleven of them are looping.  Doug shot some drone footage of Amsterdam but is too tired to edit it for a video.

Ten locks down—and the next one only is about 500 yards ahead of the dock—with some 200 left to go.

img_3945

Erie Schmerie

We hit the Hudson River for the last time, passing through Albany and Troy on our way to the Erie Canal.  Troy claims to be the home of the original Uncle Sam—personification of the United States government—who was a meatpacker or some such thing.  We didn’t stop to determine if the claim is valid.  We had narrow canal locks to master.

003a1104It turned out to be a long day.   More work than fun.  Seven locks.  90 degrees and 200% humidity, and that was before the downpour.  But we made it to Schenectady.

Here is the first Erie Canal lock in 26 time-lapse seconds.  In real time it took what seemed like 26 hours.  Lock No. 2 actually is Lock No. 1.  That federal lock on the Hudson is called Lock No. 1, however, although it is not on the Canal at all.  Go figure.

003a1098Perhaps the highlight of the day was Dana finally seeing American bald eagles.  And having the presence of mind to whip out the camera.  Maybe Uncle Sam is from around here after all.

About 100 yards before the entrance to Lock No. 4, we spotted a deer that either was swimming or drowning, depending on who you ask.

003a1108 One of us was worried about getting into the lock without turning sideways, finding a line, and not smashing the boat and his pride into smithereens.  One of us wanted to drop the anchor, grab one of the boys’ life jackets, and somehow strap it on the poor thing.  We opted for telling the lock-master, who assured us that the same deer had been in there before and knew how to get out.  Whew.

Drinks with Second Wave and the first couple we have met who started their Loop after us.  They didn’t have boat cards and we can’t recall their names right now, but they seemed very cool so hopefully we will cross paths again.

 

Low bridge, everybody down

img_3743We always will know our neighbors and pals, but they will know us as a little shorter.  There are several bridges along the Erie Canal that would love to scrape off our new KVH antenna and our radar, but the guys at Coeymans foiled them by building a cradle and helping us drop Misty Pearl’s mast onto it.  Voila.  Just like that we went from 27-feet tall to 16-feet tall.  Misty Pearl is the Nate Cox—after the unfortunate incident with Dewey and the machete—of the looping world.  Heck, we probably could make it through Madison County.

Palanca Maputo is an asphalt/bitumin tanker sailing under the Marshall Island flag.  Why a Marshall Island ship is hauling stuff to resurface roads remains a mystery.  What isn’t a mystery is the size of these suckers.  They take up the entire channel.

We didn’t have time to request a flyby this morning before we launched the drone, but doubt he even noticed us.

For our birthdays, we exchanged Hobie i11 kayaks.  We drove up to a family-run outfit on Lake George in the Adirondack Mountains to buy them.  Unfortunately we took no pictures, which is too bad.  Lake George was filled to the shores with every manner of boating and water sport.   Think the lake where Mrs. Smails christened the Flying Wasp.  We will have photos of the kayaks at some point.

Although we use a variety of weather sources for forecasts, to some extent they all use data from the same weather bouys or other stations along the water.  Usually these are sites maintained by NOAA or other reputable outfits.  Up here, we actually are relying on information supplied by stations at “back of barn” and “in orchard.”  Old Man Tompkins in coveralls is calibrating sensitive meteorological equipment—on which our safety depends—between milking the cows and eating whatever Yankees eat instead of biscuits and gravy.  Not at all confidence-inspiring.  But based on what he tells us, we are leaving tomorrow for the Erie.  (We know, we know.  We don’t need any first-year law student reminding us that the Erie Canal is different than the Erie Railroad.  However,  it’s probably not even the same Tompkins.)

img_3746The Federal Lock at Troy—so named because New York stalled until the federal government paid for it—is the end of the tides on the Hudson.  These tides are the reason most Loopers avoid Coeymans despite a water-front restaurant that attracts locals from as far as Albany.  At high tide, we have about 7 feet of water at the point we have to pass the end of our dock.  Below that there is pump-clogging silt.  At low tide, it’s too shallow for us to get out.  Dana’s tide references agree that if we leave between 8 and 9 in the morning, we should be fine.  Assuming that without Eric in the marina dinghy we can avoid the fallen tree.  We literally have to pass within 2 feet of it.

We probably will skip docking overnight in Waterford—at the Erie Canal entrance—since we spent three days at Coeymans.  However, Coeymans Landing was pretty cool all in all.

If you don’t like the weather, just wait an hour

The excitement the Hudson River provided the first few days wore off this morning as we left Kingston.  Maybe it was the gloomy weather.  Maybe it was anticipating the invoice from the service yard at our next stop.  Maybe it was the annoying dude traveling ahead of us who kept  doing a Crazy Ivan, perhaps in an effort to defect to a different yacht club.  We thought that maybe we just gave New York too much credit much too early.  Even the lighthouses looked dreary.

img_3723

003a1043About the time we reached Hudson City, however, the skies and our moods brightened considerably.  The lighthouses got cuter.   The river seemed clearer.  We turned off the funeral dirges that the morning had required us to play.

003a1035The big ships in the narrow channel were less bothersome.  Dana even finally photographed an eagle.

003a1046Everyone said the marina at Coeymans Landing was treacherous, and indeed it was.  One of our buddy boats—which will not be identified here—grounded in unmarked silt for a bit.  We had to give it a try, however, because the mechanics at Shady Harbor never called us back.  Coeymans was kind enough to send Eric out in a dinghy to lead us around the submerged wall, past the tree in the water, around the no-wake sign, and back into a spot along the dock.  Dinner and the view from Misty Pearl made it a great day after all.

img_3734

We will be here until at least Tuesday to get some work done.  We need to get Misty Pearl’s height under 18 feet for the couple of weeks on the Erie Canal.  The fly bridge shifter is acting up.  Plus some other stuff.