Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Nov. 4-20: Baltimore to Norfolk

On election day, November 4th, the wind was quiet and election coverage on the radio got most of our attention as we motored from our anchorage near the Bohemia River, in the north end of Chesapeake Bay, across and down the bay to Baltimore. With apologies to any Baltimoreans out there, Baltimore Harbor is one of the dirtiest harbors I've ever seen, including New York and Miami. The Inner Harbor is highly developed, surrounded by tall modern buildings, restaurants and shops, a great museum including a submarine, a lightship, and an old schooner, and lots of fancy brick condos built over the water on pilings. Leading into that, however, is an ugly collection of shipyards, loading facilities, old hulking factory buildings, power plants, landfill projects, and generally neglected waterside structures of various sorts. Trash peppers the water in spite of the trash-picking boats that patrol the harbor, and the reeds along the shore are simply littered with plastic, styrofoam, bottles, junk of all description. The contrast between the fast-growing development and the neglect is stark and sad.

The fancy condos and buildings above are directly across from the scenes below:

This trash catcher can't keep up with the junk in the water.....

But at midnight of election day we celebrated among the lights of the Inner Harbor while some bar blasted out "Joy to the world, all the boys and girls! Joy to the fishes in the deep blue sea, joy to you and me!" How appropriate! We were ecstatic and oh, so relieved!

On Wednesday we moved out of the Inner Harbor to a quieter anchorage a mile or so downriver. We stopped at the big marina there for water and a pumpout, and got into a fascinating political discussion with a delightful Israeli man who worked there. He let us stay on the dock for several hours while we took hot showers (aahhhhhh!) and did our laundry in the marina facility, and picked up a few provisions. The next morning we walked back downtown to meet with our consultant, Chris Gallagher, who is helping us with marketing the Turncouple patent. About halfway along the way, we smelled the most incredible yeasty cinnamon fragrance, and found it emanated from the Blue Moon Cafe. We had our meeting and did a bunch of errands, and walking back found the same awesome fragrance still wafting along the street 2-3 blocks in both directions from the restaurant. Of course Thursday morning we went there for breakfast - turns out this place is the Penny Cluse Cafe of Baltimore - a fantastic breakfast nook with huge 2-person cinnamon rolls that just melt in your mouth, in a tiny old building with very cool tinwork and ancient brick walls and a slate hearth - and a line of people on the sidewalk waiting to get in. The one woman working the tables was super busy - she had a tattoo on one arm of the memorable characters from Where the Wild Things Are, which must have been how she felt. To anyone traveling in or near Baltimore, stop for breakfast at the Blue Moon Cafe on Aliceanna Street - easy walking distance from both the Inner Harbor and the Baltimore Marine Center anchorage.

Ships from all over in Baltimore Harbor, anchored or at docks

For a while we were pretty land-based - we ended up motoring to Annapolis because the wind was negligible, and hung there on a hook for over a week, taking the opportunity to spend some wonderful time with cousins living in the area whom I don't get to see anywhere nearly often enough. I also watched the Annapolis Drill Team on Veterans Day - they were very impressive but so, so serious.

There is a wonderful chandlery called Bacon's in Annapolis - they have lots of pre-owned boat goodies, so of course we went for a walk in that direction. There we discovered a 2HP, 4-stroke Honda outboard that looked lightly used. Eureka! I've been wanting to trade our big inflatable and smoky 2-stroke motor for a sailing dinghy with a small, cleaner 4-stroke, so this looked like a perfect opportunity to take a step in that direction. (Jed, who loves the fast inflatable, generously agreed to this plan.) We had just sold Spellbound's steel cradle, which had been sitting in a field in Charlotte, VT for 3 years, so we decided to buy the Honda - very exciting. A Bacon employee even dropped it off for us at a nearby dock so we didn't have to lug it a mile in pouring rain. Immediately we put an ad for the inflatable and its motor on a website in Oriental, NC, hoping that we could coordinate the transition somehow - and we had 3 calls within a couple of hours. Unfortunately, the Honda stubbornly refused to start -we had to return it, and yes, they even picked it up for us! Oops - now what do we do???

Finally on November 17th we left Annapolis and sailed (yes, actually sailed) south down the Bay. It took us a while to get out of town, since we needed to pump out and most of the pumpout stations were shut down for the winter! We motored around until we found a marina that could do the job - they said we were the last boat of the season. Then we had to send mail, but the post office was on the opposite side of the creek from the marina we were at. So Jed nosed Watercolor up to a private dock at another marina, on the right side of the creek, and I jumped off the bow with our package to send. I walked all around the parking lot and discovered I was in a totally fenced and gated facility, so I had to go the the office and admit I'd jumped ship on their dock and would they please let me out and back in again??? Fortunately they were very nice about it but it's getting harder and harder to find places to get ashore - marinas are gated like so many developments are. One of the joys of being a vagrant.... By the time I returned our daylight hours were limited and the night was expected to be cold and blustery, so we sailed about 15 miles south to a beautiful anchorage on the Rhode River.

Thomas Point Light

The bluster waited 'til morning, but the cold settled in - the Lying Thermometer said 40 when we arose at sunrise. The overstuffed yellow bear re-emerged from her lair, along with a big red beast that was Jed with layers of wool and fleece under his foul weather gear. The north wind built as we left the anchorage - by 9:00 we had the genny out and were flying southward at 6-8 knots. In spite of the cold the day was gorgeous and we made great time, sailing into the Patuxent River in the late afternoon and motoring to a very protected anchorage behind Solomon's Island. Just as the hook settled, the phone rang and we were greeted by the very welcome voice of our son Topher calling from Budapest!

The next two days were much the same - clear or mostly clear skies, cold brisk NW winds, and great speeds. Brown Pelicans began to appear, along with the beautiful Gannets which make spear-like dives from great heights and disappear into the water, bobbing to the surface after a few seconds. The Brown Pelicans also make wonderful dives, but they don't go below the surface - at the last minute they open their wings and stop the plunge so their big bills fill up with water - and hopefully fish. Our third night out was spent in Reedville on the Great Wicomico River, where we caught up with Jim Godwin at last.

Our acquaintance with Jim Godwin is a story in itself. In 1998 Spellbound was in a slip on Tangier Island, a tiny island in the middle of the Chesapeake where the language spoken is almost Elizabethan English - the residents were British Loyalists during the Revolutionary War and to this day are almost a world unto themselves, mostly crabbers. Anyway, tied up next to us was a sailboat called Gandy Dancer - of course we were curious and asked the owner what that meant. He explained that a gandy dancer is one of those little railroad maintenance cars that is moved by levers pumped up and down. Gandy Dancer's owner was Jim Godwin. He had to return home to Reedville on that cold, rainy, miserable Sunday morning. We'd been hesitant to leave because the weather was so nasty, but he called us on the radio from partway across the Bay and said it wasn't too bad, so we peeled ourselves out of the pilings and set off west. By the time we reached Reedville we were truly cold and soaked - my hands were so frozen I couldn't even hold a line. Jim, who had stayed in touch via VHF radio, gave us directions to a mooring behind his house, but we got lost and just anchored so we could shut down - we had no heater at the time so we lit the oven and huddled over it until we thawed out. About 7:00 p.m., for some reason I can't explain, I turned on the VHF, and there was a voice calling "Spellbound" - it was Jim, out looking for us in his truck! He met us at a landing and drove us back to his house, where we took hot showers and were served hot tea by Jim's wife Lou. What a blessing!! We've been back to Reedville several times to look for them and thank them, and we've seen Lou once, but this is the first time we've actually seen Jim and had a chance to explain what a wonderful rescue that was.

We left Reedville mid-morning after our visit with Jim - the temperature was noticeably warmer with the wind on our beam, and we decided we could make it the last 60 miles to Norfolk. Watercolor romped along at 6-7 knots with the gulls and terns and Gannets and Brown Pelicans, until late afternoon when the wind disappeared - we were about 10 miles out of Norfolk at this point so we fired up the iron genny (motor) to get us the rest of the way, anchoring in Hampton Roads next to the bridge tunnel about 7:30.

Wolf Trap Light

The best position to be in, in cold weather, is steering the boat. The body keeps warm because it's always rocking from side to side to remain upright as the boat rolls, and we wear our NEOS (New England Overshoes) boots over deck shoes to keep our feet toasty. Jacket hoods up keep the cold wind from roaring down our necks, and side curtains on the dodger provide a small sheltered place in the cockpit. The hardest part is keeping hands, holding a stainless steel wheel, from going numb. We can't run Mr. Heater under way - the tip-over shutoff works too well - so the person off-watch has a difficult time warming up even in the cabin. There's always a quilt or two on our bunk.... In spite of the chilly temperatures, our sail down the Chesapeake was sunny and glorious and enjoyable, and we're glad we decided to do day sails rather than an overnight.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

On the Road Again, Again 10/28-11/3

Tuesday afternoon (10/28) the rain stopped and the wind let up, and we decided it was quiet enough to bend on the sails and get ready to attempt a morning departure. We were still expecting a blizzard and 50-mph winds late Tuesday, but for the moment it was calm. First Jed mounted a new turning block for the topping lift on the end of the boom - the topping lift keeps the end of the boom from flopping down into the cockpit when the sail is down. We hoisted up the heavy boom and mainsail - which we had taken off with the sail still attached to the boom - using the mainsheet as a hoist, and it went up easier than we'd expected. Next Jed ran me up the mast in the bosun's chair to install the lazy jacks, so we could raise the sail and flake it easily back down. We covered the main, then hauled up the huge genoa - of course the wind threatened to blow it away as we were doing this, but it proved to be an idle threat. The genoa furled, we shoved the staysail up from its nest in the forepeak and bent that on. After stashing the bikes from the deck into the forepeak, we retreated to our heated cabin and our books, waiting for the winter weather.

Thankfully, neither the blizzard nor the high winds materialized, at least where we were, but morning dawned partly clear and very cold - our Lying Thermometer (so called because the air always feels chillier than its reading) said 43 degrees but of course it was colder than that. Jed installed a lifeline stanchion that he'd had repaired, then we hauled anchor and glided under the bridge with a foot or two to spare - it being a new moon, the tide was very low. We'd burned through almost a tank of propane, so we tied up at a dock on the other side of the bridge and Jed went off to see if he could find a local place to fill the propane tank. At the wonderful Maritime Museum in Kingston he met John, a volunteer educator, who kindly volunteered to give Jed and the tank a ride down the road to the propane place. People have been so generous!! Gratefully knowing we'd be warm in the evening, we set off again down the creek and into the Hudson, the creek entrance guarded by a lone Bald Eagle with his white head shining in the wintry sun. As we got out into the river we could also see white Catskills shining in the sun - apparently the snow had indeed fallen around us! Wind out of the north in our staysail countered the tide from the south in the morning, and from Newburgh through the beautiful narrows, by West Point and Storm King Mountain, we had fair tide and good wind and made it to an anchorage in the north end of Haverstraw Bay just as dark fell.

West Point from the water - the arch way down in the lower right corner of the picture is the train tunnel.

We did see a freight train actually entering and exiting the tunnel that goes right under the buildings at West Point. I always wondered how that train got around the Academy! There are several tunnels through Catskills in this area, but mostly the RR tracks run right along the riverbank, the easiest place to build them at the time. The long slow freights still run up and down the west side, and the east side is mostly frequent commuter trains. It's nice to see rail used extensively.

Thursday the north wind again howled down our necks, but it was bright and clear and we had a great motor-sail down the Hudson, through New York City with its huge orange Staten Island ferries, hurrying water taxies and small ferries, and intrepid sailboats out on a sunny afternoon. At sunset we motored into crowded Great Kills Harbor on the southern side of Staten Island - still this late in the year filled with moored sailboats but also a lot of empty moorings. Thank you for the tip, Captain Lou and Captain Anne!

Polypro long johns, Carhartts, foul weather pants, wool socks, deck shoes, NEOS overshoes, polypro top, turtleneck, fleece shirt, wool sweater, fleece jacket, foul weather jacket, wool hat, gloves with liners. I felt like a large, slightly over-stuffed yellow bear. I'd been waddling around in this gear since Wednesday. But Friday turned warm and lovely with a perfect 12-knot westerly zephyr, and we breezed down the coast of New Jersey peeling layers as we went - it was glorious and more so because so very unexpected! The Lying Thermometer reach 70 degrees! Unfortunately the wind backed southwest at the end of the day and the water became choppy and confused - no matter which way we turned it felt like we were beating directly into the waves - so the night was less than comfortable, but fortunately the cold never developed a bite. I don't think I've ever seen such brilliant phosphorescence - our wake was a gleaming trail of bright green light and the foam at the top of breaking waves literally glowed silver-green as far as the eye could see - it was amazing! We emerged into the dawn not too far north of Cape May. The wind being uncooperative and then dying altogether, we motor-slogged most of Saturday to get to our destination. By nightfall we were anchored in the very protected Harbor of Refuge at Cape Henlopen, on the south shore of Delaware Bay.

Two and three day sails are always tough, especially at night, and especially in the fall when the nights are long. In that amount of time we don't acclimate to the motion of the boat or fall into the comfortable rhythm of eat, sleep, watch, eat, sleep, watch that characterizes a long passage. In Marathon, Florida, last spring we met a couple just returned from a 12-year circumnavigation, and they said they never do a passage of less than six days if they can help it - if you're out for five days, the first two days you're uncomfortable and the last two days you're anxious to arrive at your destination, so there's only one day when you're enjoying the journey! We have done a 5-day passage, from Marathon, in the Keys, to Cape Fear, NC, with mostly lovely weather and the very helpful Gulf Stream, but we did feel that what those cruisers told us made sense. Usually we do three-hour watches, which allows you to get at least two hours of sleep during each off-watch plus time to eat something. On this trip from NYC to Delaware Bay, because we anticipated severe cold at night, we tried two-hour watches so that neither of us had to freeze for too long. Two-hour watches are great when you're on watch, but miserable when you're off watch because you just cannot get enough sleep - that experiment didn't last long! Fortunately it didn't get cold enough to make it worth it, and we extended our watches and rest times by midnight.

Sunday the predicted wind was NE and strong - gusts to 25 knots or more - and we had quite a discussion about whether to go up Delaware Bay or sit tight in our protected anchorage. Since it looked like the wind would be behind us and the tide would be favorable, we decided to give it a go. To our dismay, however, the wind was much more northerly than we had hoped, and the resulting steep waves slowed us down to the point where we would not be able to make it up the Bay in daylight. So after half an hour of slogging, we turned around and sailed back to the anchorage. What a good idea! We spent a quiet day reading and listening to the wind generator humming merrily away at our stern, keeping the batteries charged so we could read into the night.

Delaware Bay has one of the worst reputations for nasty water - it's 55 miles long from the entrance to the C&D Canal, and it's shallow - when the wind is strong and against the tide it can get very rough. It's also a place where boats almost always motor or motor-sail - there are no protected anchorages along the way so you need to do the whole bay in one day, which means you have to average at least 5 knots, particularly in these short days. We studied the rotary tide table for the bay and decided that if we left by 7:00 a.m. at the latest and the wind was east of north, we could make it up the bay with a fair current all the way. Again on Monday the wind was more northerly than the predicted easterly, but it was light and we decided to go for it. This time it worked - we had a great motor-sail all the way in relatively quiet water, and current with us all the way - we averaged almost 7 knots. We flew through the C&D Canal and into the northern Chesapeake Bay with time to anchor before dark, a highly satisfactory run.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

On the Hard Again, 10/14-10/28

Well - out of perfection and into the pits!! On Tuesday, October 14, Jeff and Karen at Jeff's Yacht Haven hauled Watercolor out and we took a look at the keel - UGH! We'd hit a ledge on the Otter Creek and now we had the golden opportunity to see what 30,000 pounds of boat hitting rock can do - and it's not damage to the rock. Three weeks had passed since it happened, too, so a fair amount of water had soaked into the fiberglass.

OK - guess we've got to deal with it before venturing out into salt water. Jeff and Karen blocked the boat and parked her on jackstands, and we settled in for a week or so of life "on the hard," or life at 0 knots. They blocked the boat with her bow slightly down, so the water could drain out of the keel - and drain it did, for four straight days. (Along with the blood draining down to our heads while we slept.) We had two heaters going on it all day every day, enclosed by a little tent of plywood and scraps of shrink wrap, plus we tried sucking the water out with a shop vac. By Friday it was down to a drip, but it just wouldn't dry enough for epoxy to stick to the damp places, so we asked Jeff to tip her back, bow up, so the water would go somewhere else. (Now we had to climb uphill to get to the head - very strange.) After a few more days of heaters and shop vac, the damp spots were finally dry enough that I could slather epoxy and fiberglass patches over them and seal them up. I don't want to know where the water went......

Meanwhile, Jed caught a bad cold and as he recovered, I caught it. We also caught a mouse on the boat! Little bugger had ruined some of our stored pasta and nuts, chewed up a shammy and munched on a boot! And the weather continued to be "brisk" - not conducive to either recovering our health, drying out a wet boat or curing epoxy. But at the end of the first week in the parking lot we were both feeling better and beginning to make some progress on our repair and a few other chores. Jed's sister Ann and her husband Rob stayed with us for three days on their annual visit from Sydney, Australia - we made them schlep up and down a long ladder to get in and out of the boat, shower in the freezing marina bathrooms, live with only cold water, huddle with us around the propane heater, and hang around bored silly while I worked on the keel - what a lovely visit! They'll have stories to tell for sure! Of course we loved it - It was wonderful to see them and it took our minds off the drudgery of life in the parking lot.

I continued to lay on the epoxy and glass and to fair the keel, and finally on Friday, the 24th, put 3 coats of bottom paint on the spots - yes, there were several scrapes and scratches along the keel where we had bounced and dragged over the ledge. Saturday Jeff and Karen launched Watercolor and we were floating again - hooray! Saturday night thunder and lightning raged around us, but the mast was still sitting on sawhorses in the parking lot so we didn't worry - however it rained so hard in the Hudson Valley and the Catskills that the tidal flow up and down Rondout Creek, where we were anchored, was overwhelmed and Watercolor faced upstream for the next 2 days - very unusual - in normal tidal conditions we'd switch directions about every 6 hours. On Monday Jeff and Karen stepped (raised) the mast - finally we look like a sailboat again!

We had originally planned to leave Kingston at low tide on Tuesday morning - with our 60-foot tall mast we can't get under the highway bridge over Rondout Creek except when the tide is down. But by the time we finished tuning the rig and stabilizing the mast, we had no energy left to bend on the sails and reinstall the boom. So we determined that we'd stay in Kingston yet another day. Good thing, too. Tuesday morning we woke to pouring rain and a dead water pump - never a dull moment. I had neglected to install the boot (cover) around the hole where the mast goes through the deck, and water was pouring down the mast and into the cabin, soaking everything - that may have been what killed the water pump. Anyway, Jed saved the day - he manufactured a temporary mast boot out of a garbage bag and bungies (the real one gets taped to the mast with stretchy rigging tape, and it was way too wet for that), then dug out our water filter display pump and replaced the dead one with that. I finished wiring up the wind instrument and the radio antenna cable, which along with the masthead lights had been disconnected to take the mast down. But it's no day to go down the river - it's bloody cold and windy out, and a winter storm is forecast with a foot of snow in some places - we may see white stuff on Watercolor's deck! Yikes! Thank goodness for the propane heater we found in Middlebury before we left - it does a great job of heating the cabin enough to maintain what's left of our sanity. But we're looking at two long days down the Hudson, a 30-hour sail along the New Jersey coast to Cape May, and two more days up Delaware Bay and down the Chesapeake to Baltimore. The weather's not getting warmer and the nights aren't getting shorter - we're keeping our frozen fingers crossed for a good shot of Indian Summer for that run!

I have to say that there were many bright spots in that week and a half in the parking lot, in addition to Annie and Rob's company: the warm and generous couple, Kevin and Pam, who loaned us their car - twice (a nice little Honda hybrid, too) so we could get supplies and provisions; a lovely afternoon visit with our friend Gladys whom we met years ago at the Poughkeepsie Yacht Club and who remembers my grandfather from the Civil Service during WWII; a superb supper at Armadillo (where we also went with Annie and Rob - a wonderful restaurant) with my childhood neighbor Michael and his wife Paula and sailing neighbors Kathy and Rich who have also become good friends; the big bags of fresh yummy apples that Paula and Kathy brought us which are delicious with cheddar cheese; the lovely couple down the street from the marina who let us put our compost in their compost bin, drop recycling in their recycle bins and pick fresh peppers from their freezing garden along the chain-link fence around the marina, and who told us stories of the history of the community; a brisk hike through the woods to a huge abandoned quarry now full of water and glistening in the afternoon sun; and friendly faces all along the streets of tiny Connelly. Also the humor and quiet competence of Jeff and Karen at the Yacht Haven.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

On the Road Again, 10/8-10/13

Watercolor and her crew are off on another adventure, heading south after a wonderful fresh-water summer, filled with friends and family, on Lake Champlain - and we are off to a gorgeous start with the most perfect weather we've seen all summer! We left Vergennes Wednesday morning, October 8, and meandered down the mighty Otter Creek, noticing that the water level was at least six inches lower than a week before when we came up. This was a huge contrast to July, when the lake level rose 2 feet during the month under the onslaught of what felt like continuous rainfall. Along the river, a small flock of shy Mergansers kept their distance ahead of us, lifting off and flashing their white wing-patches when we approached too close. Finally they retreated over our heads and disappeared astern - I don't know if they figured out that we would just keep going or if they ran out of fish and headed back to better hunting grounds. Anyway, they're fun to watch, gracefully diving and then popping back up like corks.

The day was glorious with a light southerly breeze, and we pulled out the headsail to test the new turning blocks that we'd installed after one of the old ones broke. Trimming the big sail felt a lot easier - hopefully we just got rid of a lot of resistance caused by the old blocks! We spent the afternoon enjoying the lake and the colorful mountains from the comfort of our quietly sailing home, and arrived all too soon at Westport where we planned to unstep (take down) the mast for the journey through the Champlain Canal. The rest of the day was occupied with taking off the sails, boom and bimini cover over the cockpit, disconnecting the radio antenna and the wiring for the lights on the mast, and other preparations.

Thursday morning a crew of men met us at the dock and secured Watercolor. Jim and his crew are very professional and do a great job with their crane, and our mast was down and secured by 10:30. The day, which had dawned cloudy and damp, turned gorgeous as we started toward the southern end of the lake. A pair of loons witnessed our passage - I always take that as a good omen. South of the bridge, an adult Bald Eagle soared on the breeze, lazily followed by four Crows. Occasionally one of the Crows would make a half-hearted pass at the Eagle, and the Eagle would languidly flap and dodge - it looked more like a game than a chase, for sure. As we anchored near Benson's Landing, a juvenile Eagle flew into a tree at the shoreline - it looked gigantic. It's pretty impressive, and exciting, to see these huge birds in the area again.

We were off fairly early in the morning, on another absolutely perfect day. The lake is very narrow for about 30 miles from the Champlain Bridge south - more like a river than a lake - so we traveled close to the marshes and hills on both sides and could clearly see the amazing fall colors this year has created. The vividness of the colors changes quite dramatically during the day, starting bright and sharp with the slanting morning sun, fading out in the high light of midday and then becoming vivid again as the sun drops lower in the west. We saw what we believe (thanks to the amazing detail of David Sibley's paintings) was a solitary White-winged Scoter cruising the marshes - probably migrating through on its way to warmer weather. Just north of Whitehall, NY, the Poultney River forks off to the east, and we bid Vermont farewell for now. By early afternoon we had negotiated the first lock in Whitehall, "Birthplace of the US Navy," and were motoring down the Champlain Canal. A few ducks, mostly Mallards and Mergansers, fished along the canal, and a constant chatter of Kingfishers kept us company. We tied up at Lock 8 around 4:00 - eight hours of motoring was enough - and listened to the huge flock of Canada Geese conversing in the farm field across the way. All of the locks provide free dockage for boats transiting the canals - very convenient.

Saturday dawned foggy but not enough to hold us up - it quickly burned off presenting yet another amazing clear, calm, sunny, warm day - it's hard to believe it could be this perfect for so long! Lock 8 is the first down lock on the southerly trip, and Lock 7 lets you down again, into the Hudson River. From this point on the canal follows the Hudson, dropping down through 7 more dams and locks until it finally reaches the tidal river in Troy, NY. Between Locks 7 and 8, GE has begun construction on the large facilities - long wharves, big metal buildings, holding pools, new roads, lots of fences, and who knows what else - needed for dredging the upper Hudson to remove the PCB-contaminated waste they dumped years ago. We've been told that the dredged material will be brought up to this facility by barge through Lock 7 and there loaded onto vehicles to be taken to a disposal location. People we've spoken with have expressed doubts about the magnitude and effectiveness of this project, not only about disturbing and possibly spreading the PCB's in the river bottom, but also how many trips the lock can actually handle and what impact it may have on commercial and recreational use of the canal.

We traveled this day with a boat from Montreal, Bella Caio, with Walden and Karin and adorable little one-year-old Marin, off on their first cruise. Below Lock 3, we waited while Bella Caio stopped to deal with an oil leak, and shortly after that her engine began to overheat, so they rafted up with us while Walden investigated. He found a seacock stuck shut, which prevented cooling water from reaching the motor, but handy Jed was able to pry it open with a screwdriver so they could run their engine again. We motored together down to Waterford, where the Erie Canal leaves the river heading west, and tied up at the free Welcome Center dock for the night, welcomed by another flock of Geese.

The fog Sunday morning was pretty thick over the river, and we stayed on the dock until it lifted about 10:30. We locked through the Federal Lock with Bella Ciao, then waved good-bye to her in Troy, as they were staying there to do a crew change. I'm sure we'll see them along the way again. That's one of the most wonderful things about this lifestyle: you say farewell in one port, and then meet up again maybe a thousand miles away. For example, we saw a cruising couple at the Newport Boat Show whom we thought were in the Caribbean - coincidentally, I had been thinking about them as we drove over the bridge from Jamestown, since we had met in Newport 3 years ago - and then they materialized in front of our booth!! What a treat! Anyway, Sunday turned into yet another perfect day, and everyone and his brother was out on the river reveling in the sunshine and warmth. A fair current carried us to Coxsackie where we anchored behind the island there for a peaceful night filled with the sound of autumn insects and Geese.

It can't last forever - on Monday the bloom was off the rose, so to speak. The day was gray and damp, and we had a foul current slowing us down for about half the trip. The Hudson is amazing - actually it's a tidal estuary, with 4½ vertical feet of tide 125 miles from the ocean in Albany! For almost half the day, the water actually flows north, and for the other half it flows south. The downriver (southerly) flow, or ebb, is a little faster than the upriver (northerly) flow, or flood, because it has the river current running with it, but the flood current today was about 1½ knots and had us slogging along at about 4.2 knots for an hour or two. A couple of huge power boats waked us pretty hard and almost dislodged the mast, which was lying on braces between the arch on Watercolor's stern and her bow pulpit, hanging over each end of the boat by about 10 feet. But we arrived intact at Jeff's Yacht Haven on Rondout Creek in Kingston about 2:00, and Jeff and his assistant Karen carefully lifted the mast off our deck and put it safely on sawhorses on the shore. On the river we saw two more young Eagles, and about 30 white Swans in several different locations - I've never seen those on the Hudson before, although we've seen them often further south. Such graceful, elegant creatures!

Altogether this was a lovely week, filled with sunshine and simply spectacular autumn color, while traveling along some of our favorite waterways.