Sep 27, 2007

Grrr.... Engine...

We are in Catskill, NY. this time our engine really gave out. We had to be towed into Catskill. So we had a mechanic take a look. Seems our head gasket is blown. So now we are waiting for a new gasket.

It's a nice place to be shacked up. Quiet little river with a small mountain in the background. We are only a few miles away from where the original Woodstock took place.

I've never seen a tide. It is really amazing. We have a 5 foot tidal range here. When I get really mad at the engine and I want to take my frustrations out on the world, I'll tie a kitten to a rock out in the mud flats at low tide... then I just sit back with a beer and watch the tide come in! Tide go up! Cat stay tide down.
Oh my god. That's really terrible. I can't believe that just came out of my head.

Sep 23, 2007

Waterford, New York

I found a baby snapping turtle floating by the dock in Little Falls. LeeAnn rushed outside with the camera. I thought she was going to take a picture of me. But she gave me the camera, took the turtle, and said "Take my picture!"

Huck and Jim, floatin' down the Erie Canal.The Dock in Waterford. First two nights free, 10 dollars a night after that. after our two free nights we are going to go dock at the Price Chopper Supermarket. Their store is right on the water, and they have a dock! Talk about convenience.

We left Little Falls, made it to Amsterdam, and the following day we finished the Erie Canal which ends in Waterford. We can see the Hudson River from where we are docked.

We started the Erie on September 10th, and finished on September 22nd. It took us 12 days (limping along with the motor) to finished what many people do in just 4 days.

The Erie Canal finishes with what Lockmasters call "The Flight." This is a series of 6 locks which drop from around 260 feet above sea level down to 15 feet above sea level, all within a mile and a half. We have one lock left which will drop us the remaining 15 feet down to sea level, but this is a federal lock and is not considered part of the Erie Canal.

Here in Waterford we've met a nice man named Gordon, who is a delivery boat captain. He lives on his boat in Key West, but he is from Montreal, Canada. His first language is French, so he has a nice accent. It's fun to hear him say things like: "Ee iz aa anale retintive azzhole." He was talking about the owner of the boat he is currently moving. We've only just met him, but I'm excited to hear some of his stories.

Our engine keeps troubling us. We fix one problem and two more spring up. I can't complain much though, despite our engine troubles, it has never completely given up on us. We always make it to the next town. But that has been on the Erie canal, we have relatively little traffic, and no current. The Hudson River however, has large, ocean going cargo ships, swift currents, and is deep (making emergency anchoring difficult). So we would like to resolve any problems we have now, before we attempt this big crazy river.

Sep 20, 2007

Last Day for Little Falls

Today is our last day (cross my fingers) in Little Falls. Our friend Kathy has a friend coming in from Texas and they are going to run a few miles down the canal with us. We will go through lock 17, a 41 foot drop. This used to be the biggest lock in the world, but there are now locks twice it's size.

Picture of the dock in Little Falls.

Waiting on the motor isn't all bad....

Kathy Scanlon made this awesome progress map. I've yet to figure out how to do this... So for now I will just steal hers! Our trail is red because of all the fish I'm slaying while we are on our way... Let all fish be warned of my trail of blood!!! HAHA!

Joe trying to teach LeeAnn how to paddle the gondola.
Gondolas are all built to the same specifications. 35 feet long and around 4 feet wide. They have no internal ballast, they are built to lean to starboard. This gondola was purchased in Venice and shipped back to America in a container. Joe learned how to paddle in Venice from a guy whose name I cannot pronounce, let alone spell. Joe camps out each night in a tent.
We have a Lennon fan!
Paddling the gondola is kind of tricky. The oar is flexible, has a top and a bottom, never leaves the water, and always stays on the same side of the boat. He didn't let me take it for a spin.

Sep 19, 2007

Just for Fun..

Still Sitting in Little Falls. The Gondola Man showed up last night and we hung out around a fire. I will post pictures later...
Mark, the gondola man's buddy went on the gondola today, and left his convertible in the care of LeeAnn and I, so we have been having a good time joy riding in it. Too bad the car didn't come a day earlier. We stocked up on groceries yesterday. It was a pretty far bike ride on a busy road. One hand for the bike, the other for the bag of charcoal.

Sep 18, 2007

Stuck in Little Falls.

Well sunovabitch. Woke up this morning. Early and cold. Started up the engine, and for some strange cosmic reason I looked over the side to make sure the engine was spitting out water... and was it? No. Do you think it would have been had I not looked? Kinda like if a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to hear it.

I dismantled the water pump and found two of the fins on the impeller broken. I searched around town, but no one carries the little rubber bastard I needed. So our only option was to order the part online.

Two impellers (a spare for the future) $51.00
snap ring for the impeller (again, a spare) $10.00
Tachometer (RPM gauge - just so i know) $110.00 (OUCH!)
and UPS 2nd Day Shipping $20.00
total - $190.00

Damn, that hurts, and combined with the fact that we will probably be here for three days... I'm feeling a little depressed. Time to go eat some good food.

Sep 17, 2007

Erie Canal baby!

We are now on the Erie Canal docked in the town of Little Falls, New York. The dock we are at cost 10 dollars, but we get to use the brand new shower facilities, so we decided it would be worth it. I got stuck washing my hair on the boat a few nights ago. it was like torture. The water was freezing. We have a good video... I'll post it later.

Things are going smooth. Our engine has been holding up. We reached a maximum elevation of 420 feet and are now heading back down towards sea level. We are currently at 383 feet above sea level.

We met this crazy guy in a gondola today. He was traveling the length of the Erie Canal. He said he was just training, and that his real ambition was to be the first person to cross the Atlantic Ocean via gondola. I was surprised at how fast he could go. But I do wonder how he turned?

He had no refrigeration, but said that an egg covered in Vasoline can last for weeks. He spoke in short bursts... He would talk for a few seconds, but then had to pause while he pushed his oar. I think he has been out paddling for a long long time, because he spoke this way even when he was just standing still.

LeeAnn and I started out a little goofy, but more and more we have been falling into a rhythm. We don't drink enough water, but the food situation is great. You would be amazed at how many variations there are of Ramen Noodles. I think, that if I am ever really hurting for money I might put together a Ramen Noodle cook book and sell it in college bookstores.

These are the work tugboats on the canal. Most of them have big funny fenders made out of rope. They remind me of horses.

Just a picture of the Erie canal. miles and miles. just trees and a river.

Just another day in paradise, taking a shower. Hi Mom! Dad!

Sep 15, 2007

New York Canal System

We are currently on the Oswego River, which is apart of the New York State Canal System, in a little town called Phoenix. It is a really nice town. we are staying at a great free (free is good!) dock that has power, and water.

The locks have been interesting. It is a little intimidating to pull these big metal coffins... I mean boxes... then two giant doors close in behind us slamming shut with a loud "BOOM!!" that echos off the walls.

At the front of the lock water forces it's way through seams in the doors that are holding back millions of gallons of water which towers 20 feet above us. We grab the smelly green ropes that hang down the side of the lock and hold on. The lock master opens chambers in the bottom of the lock and water starts to boil up like a witches cauldron pushing and pulling the boat.

When we get to the top, the front doors open, and we motor away. There are 7 locks on the Oswego river numbered 1- 8 (there is no lock 4) all of them around 10 to 20 foot lifts. This year the locks are free (free is good!)

The Oswego river is beautiful, it is fun to have a boat on a river. We are like Huck Fin and Jim floating down the Mississippi... except we are going upstream, and LeeAnn isn't a 40 year old black man. I think everyone would agree that I should be Huck.

We had some engine trouble. we kept losing oil pressure, and at one point we opened the engine hatch to find a quart of oil on the engine floor. We made it to Phoenix by going slow. We found a mechanic who told us to take it easy on the engine, but that we will be able to make it to North Carolina before we have to pull the engine to have new bearings installed. Yikes! He said the main problem was that I put too much oil in the engine.

And we're off!!

We left around 8 am Monday morning, September 10, 2007. We sailed off the anchor. I looked up and noticed that almost all the people who live on the bay had come out on their decks to see us off, and to get one last look at the boat they have know for 30 years. We yelled and screamed and blew an air horn. It probably sounded like a crowd of people were being run down by a Volkswagen.

Our good friend Kathy Scanlon helped us sail the boat from Chaumont to Oswego. it was a great sail. There were steady following seas, everyone got a little queasy, but only the cat threw up. We made Oswego in 8 hours flat. This boat flys! we averaged above 5 knots the whole way. Our old boat was basically topped out at 5.

Once in Oswego we headed off to get a package that was waiting for us at a marina across the river, and to get some dinner! we ate at a nice Irish resturant. Kathy got a Guinness (naturally) which had a nice little outline of a shamrock imprinted in the foam.

It feels great to be on with the trip. No more waiting. No more worries about what might happen. The cards have been dealt, All we can do is play our hand and see what we can make of it.

If you want to check out more videos of the trip, take a look at this blog made by kathy scanlon:
kathy uploaded a whole boat load (ha!) of pictures, my personal favorite is "kathy tries to kill chad"

Sep 3, 2007

A few "Before and Afters"

When I first got on the boat there was a rats nest of stray, old, cracked, wires. The boat is about 50% wood, so I thought it would be best to just replace it all. Marine wire is usually really expensive, but thanks to the internet and ebay, I got away with spending less than $100 on new wire. The AC distribution panels were normal household hardware. So I replaced that with a new Blue Sea systems panel.

The bathroom was just plain no fun. It smelt bad. The floor was completely rotted. It all had to be pulled out, but the wood was so rotted that it pulled apart like a tender roast beef. Getting the head off was gross. It was full of mildew. The hoses were old and sticky. Aren't you jealous!?!
After I got the head ripped apart I had to rebuild it. I plan to install a shower, so the floor had to be watertight. Custom shower basins aren't cheap, so I made my own from fiberglass. Also not fun, again with the sticky and smelly. Fiberglass is usually expensive, but again thanks to the internet I found a place where I could get fiberglass mat for a $1 a square foot. Dirt cheap!
I've never washed my hands in a sailboat head. The floor was not level, and I couldn't stand up straight. It is a million times easier to just get out of the bathroom and wash my hands in the normal sink. So to give us more space I pulled out the sink and counter in the bathroom.

Bookshelves. You can never have enough. These were fun to do. I used white panel board, cost $10 a sheet. Dirt cheap.

Caulking the deck. Boy was that fun. The stuff is like tar. I had to pull out old caulk, sand down the sides of the joints to fresh wood, tape off the wood, squeeze some caulk into the joint, and then force it down into the joint with a puddy knife. After waiting about a day I would peel the tape off the wood leaving behind a nice sharp caulk line. A tube of caulk doesn't go far, and at 10 dollars a tube I ended up spending around $500 making deck caulk the most expensive project of the summer.

Then at the bottom of the picture is the bow sprit. The wood of the bow sprit was bolted on with rounded, flat head screw driver bolts. The ends of the bolts had been cut off, leaving them jagged. A lot of the nuts ended up getting stuck on those jagged ends. The screw driver head of the bolts stripped pretty easily. So I ended up having to dremel off about 20 bolts. I replaced all the bolts with Hex head stainless steel bolts. I ordered them the proper length so I didn't have to cut the ends off. The bolts cost around a dollar a piece at Jamestown Distributors.
I also varnished the bow sprit.

I was really excited to get these beams varnished. It was crappy work sanding them down. I got all full of dust, and all the corners had to be sanded by hand which took a few hours... The end result is nice though.

My closet. I figured we could fit a lot more clothing on shelves than on hangers. So I used some cedar to line the closet and build shelves. It took me about 2 days. This was very satisfying work. The only bummer was that I ended up being allergic to the cedar saw dust.