Sometimes the ability to speak French significantly is underrated

Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu turns out to be a really neat little town.  Although it was raining and 52°—which is 11° Canadian—we walked over to chat with the lockmaster and check out the cinema for later.  What could be better than movie-theater popcorn and Top Gun: Maverick? 

Hmmm.  There’s the rub, in print so small that unobservant Americans easily could miss it until too late: “Version Française.”  We figured the nice French-Canadians watching the movie might be annoyed if Karen used her app to translate the dialog in real time for us, so we decided to skip it.

Maybe we should walk around town and look at all the stuff explained by the historical markers.  Nope, that won’t work either.

No doubt a lot of interesting events took place around here, and no doubt—just like the sign said was the case in Sunbury—many famous persons lived here.  All of it was lost on the four of us because the three of us not named Doug got nothing useful out of high school French class, and Doug never bothered at all.

Instead we decided to eat lunch.  Lots of cute little places from which to choose.

Ultimately we settled on Captaine Pouf, a place Dana picked based entirely on the fact that she liked saying the word “Pouf” despite having no idea what it meant.  Captaine Pouf got 4.5 stars—which we figured was at least 6.5 stars American—and turned out to be a decent place.

Mostly, however, Captaine Pouf was interesting because they played “Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys” except it was in French and they warned the mammas against their babies becoming rock stars.  Startlingly odd, that was.

Almost as startling as discovering that historic Route 66—with which we westerners are very familiar—also passed through southern Quebec.

Here’s the thing though.  We now remember why we love Canada in general and Quebec in particular.  Great people who put up with our American nonsense, beautiful scenery, and we enjoy the sound of French even though we don’t understand a damn word of it.

Nice post-storm colors on the Richelieu River Saturday evening, after Brent flummoxed our French-speaking waitress by ordering the “French onion soup.”  In French-speaking Quebec, it’s just “oignon soup.”  It’s like ordering an “American steak” in Texas.  But we all had a good laugh so it was worth it.

Sunday was all about Chambly.  The canal first.  The town second.  The Chambly Canal is only about twelve miles long, but it’s probably the coolest twelve-mile stretch we’ve done in some 15,000 miles of cruising.  Nine locks, each barely big enough for Tumbleweed.

Last time through, we traveled alone through the locks.  This time, at each one we had a sailboat named Grande Ourse threatening to shove a mast up our aft.

But once again, the canal was gorgeous.

The Chambly Canal was completed in 1843 and intended to foster trade between Canada and the United States, which seems weird since the locks are so small as to make the swapping of beaver pelts and Vermont maple syrup inefficient.  Now the canal is used by people like us in the summer and people like Hans Brinker in the winter.

In part shipping through the canal would be inefficient because—although beautiful—it’s slow going.  Actually, “slow going” is an understatement.  Joggers who hadn’t seen the sun in eight months cheerfully passed us.  That’s not hyperbole.  Here are untanned joggers cheerfully passing us.

The plan was to stop for the night on the scenic and well-protected wall above Lock—“Écluse” in French—3.  The plan was foiled by Parcs Canada, which has the temerity to flush the locks every Sunday, thereby preventing overnight stays on the scenic and well-protected wall above Écluse 3.  We found exactly one open spot at the end of the concrete slab that juts out into Lake Chambly, but that was good enough.

Despite the high winds and numerous gawkers, we managed to walk around as far as L’église Saint-Joseph, which is the church we photographed a zillion times our last trip.

About the only thing we could tell from the plaque is that the church has been looking cool since 1881, which means it was two years old when Sam Elliott led the immigrants and country music stars across the untamed west until Elsa was shot in the liver with a poisoned arrow and then died right where generations later Beth would become the Badass of Yellowstone Ranch.

But we digress.  On the way back from the church we found another of those giant Adirondack chairs that up here are called giant Muskoka chairs.

Chambly is green and colorful and vibrant.  Just the kind of place we like.

Here’s another thing about Chambly.  From the blue dot on the concrete wall where we tied up Sunday night, it’s only thirteen miles to the Montreal Yacht Club.  Those cheerful joggers could’ve made it before getting  sunburned.  At Tumbleweed speed it’s a two day trip, with an overnight stay at Saint Ours along the way.

Before heading to Saint Ours, however, one last sunset photo sort of of the church.

Our only concern on the Richelieu River up to Saint Ours was what in our family is known as “The Bridge of Near-Certain Death.”  The French-Canadian name for it roughly translates as “Russian Roulette.”

Meh.  Not a problem this time.  In fact, the only bridge-related thing of note was Dana’s legitimate beef with Brent and Karen’s cavalier lack of fear.

Here’s something new.  A tractor lowering a seaplane onto the runway.

Seaplanes are dead last in the vessel right-of-way pecking order so we weren’t concerned.  It did occur to us though, that if Brent and Karen had the foresight to book a flight to San Antonio with this outfit it would have saved them the cost of an Uber to the Montreal Airport.

Our last canal system before the Saint Lawrence was the historic Saint Ours Canal.  From end to end the entire canal is about the length of three football fields.  American football fields, that is.  Canadian football fields are 110 yards, because apparently the football field exchange rate is approximately .91.

The lock at Saint Ours is our favorite of the many scores of locks we’ve traversed.  Pull up to the floating dock.  Hand the lock attendant a line.  Look at the scenery.  That’s it.  That’s the entire process.

Someone said the little café closed at 2, and we tied up above the lock at 1:30 so hustled to make sure we could make it.

Our old friend/nemesis Grande Ourse was docked behind us but later took off for Sorel, leaving us alone amongst the oTENTiks.

Speaking of oTENTiks, they basically are tent-like structures of the type found in those rustic summer camps where parents who need a break have been dumping their kids for centuries.  Parc Canada rents them out.  Fortunately we were a week ahead of the season opener, so avoided what undoubtedly soon will make the little island a boisterous carnival of family noise.  We’re also glad they put the emphasis on the “tent,” rather than the “tiks,” which we assume is French for “ticks.”  Our family is terrified of ticks.

Perfect evening.  Peaceful.  Absolutely quiet, except for the country music we enjoyed while grilling on the flybridge.

Our friends Maurice and Renee from Trois-Rivières gave us the skinny on the trip down to Montreal against the mighty Saint Lawrence current.  “Leave your fears,” said Maurice.  So we headed out this morning shortly after dawn and shortly after one last picture.

The Richelieu?  We’ve now run the entire river two times.  Smooth as a baby’s butt.  The current was with us so we bumped it up a hair.  Nine knots?  That’ll help the long day.

As we turned the corner into the Saint Lawrence River, everything turned gloomy.

Based on a sample size of two, we deduce that Sorel is gloomy 100% of the time.  It also doesn’t help that we turned into the current this time.  But we moved along at about five knots, which was not too horrible.  Forty miles seemed pretty doable.

After about three of those forty miles, we started getting bored.  Dana took a nap. Karen enjoyed the salon lounge chairs.  Brent and Doug debated the merits of the great Kris Kristofferson, until Brent finally conceded—sort of and begrudgingly—that at least in his younger days the dude could sing as well as write awesome songs.

Although there wasn’t much to see along the way, we did find one thing we hadn’t seen before.  In the States, fathers put up basketball goals in the driveway.  If your kid plays baseball or softball, maybe you build a batting cage.  But what if you’re Canadian and your kid dreams of being in Cirque du Soleil?

That’s right, you give him or her a backyard trapeze, although as parents of a kid who fell off a trampoline and broke her arm we’d tell her that acrobats are big losers so as to manipulate her interests.

As we approached Montreal, Doug and Brent started debating issues relating to the lifeboats hanging off the backs of big ships, which led to videos of lifeboats, which led to Spruce Glen sneaking up from behind and scaring the crap out of us.

Maurice told us the trick to avoiding some of the current north of the Jacques Cartier bridge, so we slid out of the channel as instructed.

Wait.  WTF is going on with that channel marker?   It looks like a green alien wakeboarding.

That’s because at the bridge, the current funnels right where we needed to go.  And hit 6.5 knots.  THE CURRENT WAS SIX POINT FIVE KNOTS.  AGAINST US.  At 2200 rpms we barely moved forward, although swirling around back and forth wasn’t a problem at all.

Somehow we made it to the protected waters of the Montreal Yacht Club entrance and around to our slip.  We’re lucky to have a slip at all.  Over the past few weeks Doug communicated multiple times with Debbie the Dockmaster and had everything lined up.  Doug called yesterday to confirm, but the dude who answered the phone apparently misunderstood “This is Doug on Tumbleweed and I’m confirming that we’ll arrive before 6.”  So he cancelled our reservation.  But Debbie found a spot for us anyway.

More on Montreal later, since we’ll be here for a week.  Right now it’s time to collapse.

No hablo Français, part two

Even the gale-force winds that kept us pinned to the dock without shore power in Burlington couldn’t dampen our spirits, because Brent and Karen showed up on Tuesday.

We did about 2,000 miles of Misty Pearl’s Loop with Second Wave, which means we’re damn near family no matter what they might think.  Maybe we’ll make it to Montreal for their flight back to San Antonio.  Maybe we won’t.  Either way we’ll have a great time while they’re here.

Now some stuff about Burlington, where we sat in the wind until Friday morning.  First, Burlington is home to the University of Vermont, which was established in 1791.  The university apparently spent the last 231 years working up to its current spot atop the list of schools where students smoke the most marijuana.  Students, alumni, and Catamount fans sport shirts that say “UVM,” which seemed nonsensical but then we looked it up and found that “Universitas Viridis Montis”—which is Latin for “University of the Green Mountains” is on the official seal.  So UVM kind of makes sense, especially for people who are are high on pot.  Doug went by the pretty campus on his trips to West Marine, but took no photos, so the shirt in the window of the Church Street gear shop—which was closed because of unspecified “system issues”—is all we can offer.

Burlington is an artsy place, where galleries and murals and sculptures abound.  This joint had a distinctive Jumanji vibe.

We passed the rhinoceros on our way to what some sources call “The World’s Tallest Filing Cabinet.”  Other sources say it’s “The Filing Cabinet Erroneously Called the World’s Tallest.”  Either way, the filing cabinet is at least ten Karens tall, if you count the plinth.

The best part is its technical name: “File Under So. Co., Waiting for.”  Many years later, the artist and the rest of Burlington still are waiting for the Southern Connector, a promised roadway between the city and I-89.

Then on to the beach.  Wait!  Vermont has a beach?  Yup.  One with a nearly-full moon on it.

Lake Champlain is an awesome lake, with awesome sunsets.

As great as Lake Champlain may be, however, it isn’t a Great Lake.  Although actually for a hot minute in 1998 Lake Champlain indeed was a Great Lake after Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy snuck the designation into a funding bill, which the President then signed into law.  The uproar—mostly by people from states that border lakes they consider better than Lake Champlain—caused the legislature to rescind it eighteen days later.

Lake Champlain may lack status, but it more than compensates by having a lake monster.  People have reported sightings for hundreds of years, so obviously Champ is a real thing.  There’s even a very disappointing monument that we went out of our way to see because we expected something more impressive.

Another thing about Burlington is that at least for one month every year it’s really green.

On Thursday we braved 35-knot winds to hike along the second photo, past the cemetery and down to our second Burlington beach.  The wind pushed up surf that would be fun to ride on a boogie board, although the chance that anyone in Vermont owns a boogie board approaches zero.

Google Maps suggested that the Burlington Vault in the Lakeview Cemetery was of some importance, so of course we stopped by.  Meh.  Just a big monstrosity holding three families-worth of remains.  However, here’s what will be Chuck and Jann Perkins’ final resting place when they pass away, which hasn’t yet occurred even though they’ve already built the coolest mausoleum we’ve encountered.

The cemetery also had a tree that was four Dana/Karens in circumference.

Finally, Burlington has what we first thought was a replica Stonehenge but turned out to be the Burlington Earth Clock.

Which was cool and all, but if it was Stonehenge we could’ve worked in a line or two from This is Spinal Tap, in which the band commissioned an eighteen-foot Stonehenge stone but mistakenly showed the dimensions as 18” on the napkin.*

On Thursday, sustained winds of 25 knots and gusts of nearly 40 knots drove the folks aboard the Camano Troll to a hotel.  We rode it out, but ain’t no way we were traveling.  Friday looked bad, but better.  We agreed to head out, with the secondary plan to turn and run back if things were rough.  As we were leaving the marina the Coast Guard marine weather update came across the VHF:  “25-knot winds from the south.  Three- to five-foot waves  on Lake Champlain.  Mariners urged to use caution,”  Hmmm.

Big pile of nothing.  The first hour or so was slightly lumpy, but otherwise we had a gorgeous travel day.

First stop was the border station.

The dudes made quick work of the boat inspection, undoubtedly because of our honest faces and cute dog.

Pop up the Maple Leaf, and let’s get to the marina and tie up while it’s only pretty windy and not crazy windy.

We landed in time for a meal that stretched from late lunch to late dinner, but up here the days are long enough that there still was time for a quick drone flight before the rain started.

Today, it’s damn cold.  And rainy.  The heater is blasting.

Venturing out requires bundling up like we’re summiting Mt. Everest.  Of course, Brent and Karen are from Texas and we’re from Arizona, so mostly we’re all weenies.

We’re back where everyone speaks French, but Karen has a translation app and Brent has a theory that our English will work just fine as long as we speak very loudly, so we’re getting by so far.  Hopefully Top Gun: Maverick—showing just down the river walk—won’t be dubbed in French.


*What the hell.  “I think that the problem may have been that there was a Stonehenge monument on the stage that was in danger of being crushed by a dwarf.”  Shame on anyone who hasn’t seen This is Spinal Tap at least five times.

Penny Lane is in our ears and in our eyes

So the scary 17’ C-5 railroad bridge proved so uneventful—thanks to the same Aubrey and Mike we thanked last post—that we didn’t even take a photo.  They told us we would be good on Friday all the way through to Whitehall, but to let them know when we reached Lock 7 in Fort Edward just to make sure.  So off we went from Schuylerville, carefree and happy.  Some of the bridges looked tight, but no worries.   Aubrey and Mike were all over it.

Shortly before Fort Edward we reached Billings Island, in the middle of the Hudson River.

The bizarre part isn’t that there’s an island in the middle of the Hudson River, but that there’s an airstrip in the middle of the Hudson River.

If Brent and Karen had the foresight to fly from San Antonio straight into August Field, we’d have scooped them up by now.

Anyway, Mike cheerfully met us at Lock 7.  No worries all the way through, he assured us.  All the pools up the line had been lowered for us.  At that point we barely slowed down for bridges, even if they looked dicey.  And frankly, they all looked dicey.

As we approached Lock 8, Billy hailed us to check our height.  Yup, still 17’4”.  “Hmmm,” he said.  “After you get through the lock, tie off on the wall.  I need to confirm something.”  Hmmm indeed.

Miss Lily stopped with us for what we all assumed would be just a hot minute.  The short of it is that someone didn’t get the message, and the New Swamp Road Bridge was sitting at 17’2”.  After an hour and a half—enjoyed only by Oscar—Billy came back in his truck to say the water was down and we probably could get through.

Billy also said he’d meet us at the bridge, although despite the full thirty minutes it took us to get there we couldn’t figure out how his being present might help in the event our fiberglass hardtop struck a steel bridge.  And just that fact that he was going to the trouble was a tad disconcerting.  But there he was, waiting for us when we arrived.

It later occurred to us that maybe he was there to take before and after photos to show his friends.  After we slid by, however, he reported that we cleared by six inches.  Turns out six inches—in bridge clearance as in other aspects of life—generally is more than adequate.  The vultures literally waiting on the other side of the bridge were left disappointed.

From there we had smooth cruising through the cool canal.

The Tavern at Lock 12 is one of our favorite joints along the waterways.  Friday night was hopping.  Sadly the WiFi and cell service were wanting, so Doug couldn’t watch the first super regional baseball game.

Even more sadly the number one Volunteers lost to the holier-than-thou dirt balls of Notre Dame, which set the stage for yet another Big Orange Disappointment.  But we do love Whitehall Marina, despite of—or because of—its quirks.

One of those quirks is a new boatyard cat, who demands belly rubs and presumptuously hopped aboard Miss Lily like she owned the boat, not caring a whit that Dave is highly allergic.*

One last thing about Whitehall.  Whitehall claims to be the birthplace of the United States Navy, because the first Navy vessel was built here.  The United States Navy is a pretty big deal, such that the historical marker seemingly deserves better than to be oddly juxtaposed with old jet skis and semi-derelict runabouts.

Whitehall is at the very tippy southern point of Lake Champlain, which not surprisingly is named after the same French explorer Samuel de Champlain who gave us Quebec City, which is famous for the Plains of Abraham and as the place we first met No Drama, yet another out-of-place Arizona boat.  The lower part of Lake Champlain is called the “brown lake.”  For obvious reasons.

Fort Ticonderoga is on the brown lake, and also is where the dirty Brits set up shop until Ethan Allen and his Green Mountain Boys took it over in 1775.

We’re not into recycling material from our last trip through, but our bit about Ethan Allen and his furniture was solid gold.

We wheeled into Westport—a new stop for us—at about 3:45.  Nobody answered the radio.  Nobody answered the phone.  Later we learned that they knocked off at 3 without bothering to let us know in advance.  Fortunately our clueless bobbing-about caught the eye of the nice folks aboard Where’s Lucas, who grabbed some friends and directed us to a place with sufficient depth and working shore power.

Doug later enjoyed sharing beers with them on their oddly named boat.  Great people.

The kid in the back jumped aboard to help Doug when we moved spots while Dana and Oscar were off the boat.  His six-year-old brother is Lucas, who tends to wander off.  Hence the boat name.  True story.

Although Westport had no restaurants, or stores, or much of anything else open on a nice Saturday afternoon, Dana did buy delicious strawberries—which she later fashioned into delicious strawberry bread—from an Amish dude with a horse and a cart and a sleeping toddler.

The Amish came to America to escape religious persecution, much like Becky’s Huguenot ancestors.  They grow everything but mustaches.  Amish are pacifists who get along well with everyone except possibly Mennonites, who also are part of an Anabaptist sect but one that isn’t quite as Anabaptisty and allows cars and such.

One last thing about Westport.  For years, we’ve been plagued by couples who time their weddings to coincide with our travels.  As we’ve photographically documented in this blog, they’ve tracked us to Georgia, South Carolina, Vermont, Quebec, and Prince Edward Island, among other places.  Add New York to the list.  These folks were sneaky enough to have the actual ceremony out of sight, but then made sure that we were there for the traditional post-nuptial “stroll past the canon.”

Today we crossed the part of Lake Champlain they call the “blue lake.”  For obvious reasons.

Off on the New York side we have the start of the Adirondack Mountains.   Our prior bit about Adirondack chairs?  More gold.**   Turns out this area is a veritable gold mine for furniture references.

Then on into Burlington, where the wind was gusty but not as bad as predicted.  Assuming they figure out the shore power issues, we’ll be here until Dana and Karen decide it’s time to leave.  We also love Burlington.

Note:  For anyone thinking “Wow this blog post title seems even less relevant to the post than most of their seemingly irrelevant titles,” there is in fact a logical connection.  Burlington Harbor Marina is located at 75 Penny Lane, such that every time we look up the telephone number and see the address, the song gets stuck in our heads, where it firmly was residing when the time came to finish this post.


* We never learned the cat’s name, but if her owner is a quantum boat mechanic named Schrödinger, we’re missing an opportunity for a most excellent physics joke.

**This is an appropriate spot for a quick public service reminder that Canadians call them “Muskoka chairs.”  Canadians also put gravy on their French fries, of course, so as nice as they are and as much as we like them, they’re hard to trust.

Unpaid endorsements of Coeymans Landing and Champlain Lock 3

Bonus time!  Sometimes we stash photos to use in a post but then forget where we put them.  Like this one of the barge that was taking New York garbage to New Jersey, or was taking New Jersey garbage to New York, or was taking garbage to dump offshore someplace.

Whatever he was doing, we don’t see many garbage barges in Arizona.

Anyway, a few days and one post ago, we barely made it into Coeymans Landing after a long day of feeling stupid.  In case we sounded overly dramatic, here’s a beautiful 65-foot non-looping Fleming.  At 6 p.m. on Tuesday we watched her get stuck in the mud at the entrance, right where we’d have gotten stuck if we’d arrived five seconds later than we did.

Fortunately the tide was rising so about a half hour later they started moving.   When they slowly passed us along the face dock, Mrs. Fleming—preparing lines on the bow—was quick to say to anyone within earshot “Well they told us to come in at 6:30 but . . .”  At the ellipsis she was pointing derisively up at her husband, who was piloting from the flybridge.  And that’s exactly why Doug was stressed when they told us to arrive at 2.  It wasn’t the shallow water per se.  It was the fear of giving Dana yet more reasons to point derisively.

Yanni is a devilishly-handsome Greek musician who is famous for composing and performing exactly no music that appeals to either of us.  Yanni’s Too—no relation—is a wonderful seafood restaurant located about a hundred feet from where we docked.  Closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.  Grrr.  But Coeymans still was a most excellent stop for more reasons than the dinner we shared with New Horizon and Miss Lily.

First, Sean hopped right up and expertly removed the stuff that needed removing if we want to go to Montreal.

Dude was awesome, standing up there in thirty-knot winds.

Second, Coeymans has Hudson.  The swan, not the river.  Hudson apparently has his own Facebook page.  Dude was awesome, swimming around and eating out of his food dish.

As much as we love Coeymans, however, rain is a-comin’.  If we go to Schuylerville on Wednesday, we can wait out the Thursday storms.  Plenty of time on the off-day to finish cleaning the engine room and to binge-watch shows on the Acorn TV subscription Dana’s mom and step-dad gifted us.

Schuylerville is past Albany, so we passed Albany too.  Albany is famous as the place our friend Patrick went to college.  It’s also the capital of New York, where many important events took place and where then-Governor Eliot Spitzer canoodled with hookers who weren’t his wife.

There’s a long list of visual images that cause an immediately-traumatic shock-and-despair response.  For example, seeing a man in a hockey mask with a running chainsaw at your door at 2 a.m.  Or seeing a public Instagram post of your daughter holding hands with someone wearing a shirt that says “Florida Gators” or “Roll Tide” on it.  Terrifying.  Right there near the top of the list is seeing an unexpected bilge pump indicator light come on.  If a bilge pump is running, there’s something filling the bilge.  If that something is raw water, you fear that your last memory will be wondering why you didn’t install a one-million GPM pump.  As we approached the Federal Lock at Troy, the engine room bilge pump light came on, and stayed on.  Curse word, curse word, that isn’t good.

Doug was at the helm, so Dana went down to check things out.  The damage report and photo she took only ratcheted up the terror.

Because here’s the deal.  You can’t just pull off to the side of the road and wait for help.  We’re in a 30-foot-deep moving river.  We’ve assured many folks through the years that nobody dies on the Loop.  What if we’re proven wrong in the most personal of ways?  How embarrassing to have “They were mistaken” chiseled on our stones.

The bilge pump seemed to be holding its own, however, and the water clearly was coming from the engine water pump.  Let’s get through the lock and tie up on the wall on the other side.  The lock photo makes everything seem nice and calm.  It wasn’t, although Dana covered up nicely as she chatted with the other boats.

When we stopped the engine, the water stopped, which was about the best we could want.  This was the first lock we did on our first Loop.  In no way would we appreciate the macabre symmetry of it also being our last lock.

Fortunately, the super-duty tape Doug put over the hole in the water pump held until we could limp slowly to Waterford.  Waterford, New York, not Waterford, Ireland, which is where we spent two weeks at the hospital that time a British Duke crossed the center-line and smashed into Dana’s sister and brother-in-law.

Now again about Coeymans.  Those guys are the best.  Turns out a bolt that holds the cam in the water pump decided to shear off, allowing the cam to rotate, causing water to shoot out of the hole, all so that Dana could take the photo and scare the bejesus out of both of us.  Jimmy had a used pump with a good cam and bolt, and within three hours of our call had come up from Coeymans to help us.  And that’s why we stay at Coeymans.

Waterford wasn’t in the plan, in part because it’s where Loopers doing the Erie Canal pile up every night and we’re not doing the Erie Canal.  Still a cool stop though.

Once you’ve survived near-certain sinking and dying, leaving Waterford in the wind and rain is child’s play.  And we’re keenly aware that Brent and Karen flying into Burlington while we’re on the Waterford free wall wouldn’t be ideal for any of us.  So off we went in the intermittent downpours.

The entire Hudson River is cool, but north of Waterford it’s damn near magical, even on crappy days.

Champlain Lock 1 took us up just as expected.  But then back down.  Then up again.  Hmmm.  This is new.  Lock 1 must have issues.  Lock 2 surely will go faster.

Lock 2 took us up.  Then down.  Then up again.  Lock 2 also must have issues.  Then we got the answer.  Turns out both locks actually had fishuesTM.  Round Goby fish may have a cute name and all, but New York wants to keep them from spreading and flushing the lock twice apparently has the same effect as flushing the toilet twice after a long night of tequila shots and spicy Mexican food.

Now about our new best friend Aubrey.  Aubrey works at Lock 3, and arranged to have the dam at Lock 4 hold some water back so that the pool would drop.  Yesterday the C-5 bridge clearance was 17’4” when Miss Lily went under it, and Tumbleweed was still at 17’4” this morning.  We had 19’ today when we safely squeezed under.  All because of Aubrey.

Of course, there’s always a downside.  Just after the bridge we passed this sad sight.

When the dude left his boat, it was floating happily in nearly two feet of water.  Then a couple of clowns from Arizona go by and suddenly he’s on dry land.  In fairness though, the weather still was crappy so if we thwarted his plans to go out, we actually saved him from a miserable afternoon.  Also, we’re not sure what that is in the foreground but it looks a lot like the poop emoji.

Last time through we posted in detail about the Saratoga Battlefield, the British surrender, and other cool historical stuff around Schuylerville.  It wasn’t raining back then, so we also hiked up to the Saratoga Battle Monument, which is a 155’ granite obelisk commemorating, well, the Saratoga Battle. We’re not going back up there, but we feel a strange obligation to work in the word “obelisk” whenever possible.  So here’s a photo from the river to provide context.

The new pump parts worked great, Miss Lily met us at the small campground dock, the rain stopped to allow a quick drone photo, and the little campground restaurant was as enjoyable as we recalled.  Life indeed is good.


There’s only one lock worthy of taking up and down and up.  That’s the “World’s Highest Lift Lock.”  Here’s the video to prove it:  Peterborough Lift Lock.

New York buffoonery, and other odds and ends

We’ve now traveled by trawler some 15,000 miles.  Plenty of time to work out the basics of navigation, one reasonably might expect.  Meh.  We still do enough boneheaded things to justify our constant fear that Kim Russo is going to stop by and repossess our gold burgees.  Like, say, that time we wandered off into the drainage ditch on Lake Okeechobee.  And yesterday.

Gorgeous morning in Kingston yesterday.  Five easy hours to Coeymans.  Dana had time to get a run in.  Doug had time to get the drone up.  We’ll leave around 9.  No stress.

At about 8:30, it finally occurred to us to check the tide at Coeymans.  Last time we were there, some friends we wouldn’t dream of identifying publicly (Ron and Debbie on Bucket List) went aground going in at low tide, although at the time they hadn’t yet earned a gold burgee so weren’t afraid of Kim.  So we called Coeymans.  “If you get here by 2, you probably can get in.  Don’t get here after 2.”  Hmmm, that’ll be tight, but at eight knots we’ll just make it.

Hey, let’s also check the current here at the very last second, rather than, say, the day earlier when we were deciding to sleep in.  Hmmm, max current against us the entire way.  Insert sound of clanking monkey wrench and bilateral inward-directed cursing.   Yup, at normal rpms we’re doing about 6.5.  That’s knots good enough.  At 2100 rpms we’re burning double the fuel and eking out about 7.3.  Albany Yacht Club has room but nobody to help dismantle the stuff that’ll be grotesquely scalped by the 17-foot railroad bridge if we don’t clear it off first.  We could drop an anchor out where Forever Friday did it a couple of years ago, but the helper dudes ain’t coming out there.

We managed to pass cute Miss Lily, but pretty much nothing else besides time.

About Miss Lily.  In Jersey City we ran into YOLO, a boat with a liveaboard couple from Scottsdale.  Crazy coincidence, right?  Turns out Miss Lily also is from Scottsdale.  We don’t know the exact math, but gotta be long odds against three Looper boats from the same town in Arizona—a landlocked state that any day now won’t even have enough water to drink—meeting up on a river in New York.  That’s even more coincidental than that streak we had where we bumped into things relating to The Big Lebowski and that time Jim Tucker turned out to be related to Glover Wilkins.

Anyway, at the end of five-and-a-half panicked hours we made it in, with not enough water under the boat to feel good about ourselves again.  We churned up silt at the fuel dock and when trying to edge into our spot.  Now there’s a boat-full of morons at Coeymans, but at least we didn’t have to wait for the tide to float us.

Ok, that’s enough self-flagellation.  Back to a few days ago and the good stuff.  Until we hook a left on the St. Lawrence in a few weeks, we’re re-plowing turf we’ve exhaustively addressed in prior posts.  But there were a couple of new things back at Liberty Landing to keep us on our toes.

First up, L Dock was littered with Hinckley jet boats.  At least six of them, at about $2 million per.  Nice boats.  Each of them staffed with two full-time captains.

Turns out Barton & Gray is an outfit that owns about fifty of them around the east coast.  For the low low price of about $120,000 a year, members can go ride around in a Hinckley for a few hours.  One of the captains said there are 700 members, which totes up to some $80 million per year in revenue.  Some people just have lots of money.

The other thing that was new this time was seeing the lady on the bike get run over by a Jersey City Public School truck.  She was about twenty feet behind us in the crosswalk when he rounded the corner.  The worst part was when he stopped with his rear tires directly on top of her knee and sat there for a minute or two while she screamed.  Dana called 911 while Doug kept yelling for the dude to move the truck, until he finally did.  Gruesome, but noteworthy.*

The Liberty Landing highlight, however, was when Dave and Becky showed up.  Until eight months ago we hadn’t seen or spoken with them for about 25 years, but they’re the kind of folks with whom it’s easy to reunite.  Best weather day so far as we took them up the Hudson to Croton-on-Hudson.

Hey look!  The Tappan Zee Bridge construction finally is done!

Croton-on Hudson is an odd little town—and Half Moon Bay is a quirky little marina—but we like them both.

Loopers were piled up in the marina like dead squirrels on the tables at fancy Alabama restaurants.

After a glorious day our guests took off by train, but we’re hoping they’ll meet us in the Bahamas next spring.  Or they may not meet us in the Bahamas next spring, because if they do, nobody will be around to take their kid his shoes.

Out the next morning when we headed to Kingston.  New York, not Jamaica.  For some reason the Hudson was full of debris, which meant Doug couldn’t employ his usual level of distraction.  But some folks had it even worse.  For example, somewhere some poor slob is wondering what happened to his telephone pole.

Yet another awesome day on the river.   Once again, however, we’ve used up all our material about West Point, and the CIA, and Roosevelt’s Home, and the other cool stuff, but everything was right where it was supposed to be.  So here’s a photo of one of the scenic spots.

Hey, here’s something else crazy.  It’s the Walkway Over the Hudson State Bridge, which is the “world’s longest elevated pedestrian bridge.”  At least that’s the claim.

When built as a railroad bridge in 1889, it was the longest bridge of any kind in the world.  At least that’s the claim.  The crazy part is that not only have we been under it twice before, last time through we stayed at Shadows Marina, from which we damn near could’ve hit the bridge with a whiffle ball.  And yet we only now learned of its record-holding status.  Oh well.

On our way up Rondout Creek someone took a picture of Dana expertly setting fenders, and posted it on the AGLCA Facebook Page.  So we stole it.

Now a little history.  The Huguenots were French Protestants who fled persecution, and apparently at least a few of them ultimately relocated to these parts.  Becky said that her ancestors were in that bunch, so we should visit the Huguenot Museum in Kingston.  Becky also said that sometime well before her ancestors made their way to upstate New York, New Jersey was next to what now is Africa.  To the chagrin of the one of us who scoffed, it turns out that in the whole Pangean sense of things she basically was correct on the latter, so we assume she’s probably right about her family history as well.  She wasn’t right about the Huguenot Museum though.  All of the Huguenot stuff isn’t in Kingston—it’s in New Paultz—so we skipped it and had a delicious meal instead.

Once we got settled in the mud at Coeymans, time to walk up the 20% grade to Halfway Tavern, so named because it’s located halfway to St. Louis.  Actually it probably just seemed like it was further than the less than a mile Google promised, but either way hanging with Miss Lily and New Horizon was fantastic.

Today is all about getting the bridge clearance down to a workable number.  Brent and Karen might not come if we have to do the Erie Canal, what with all the drama at Lock 22 last go round.


*This footnote is to document Dana’s objection to including a crime scene photo.