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Coming Home! – Part II

Waking up early in Brewerton revealed another picture-perfect day. It was a little on the cool side with temperatures starting in the mid-fifties, and the boat was soaking wet with the morning dew. Barn swallows lined the rails of many of the boats docked at Winter Harbor while others flew in and out of the morning fog. After morning showers, we got the boat ready to head east on Oneida Lake and the Erie Canal. We fueled up the boat and resumed our trip. The lake was glassy smooth and the boat was running flawlessly as we cruised the lakes twenty-two miles with boats fishing here and there. Soon Sylvan Beach came into view and in no time, we were back in the Erie Canal and the no-wake speed limit.

Locks Twenty-two and Twenty-one passed by easily and when we came to Lock twenty, we were met by a family friend who lives within walking distance of the lock. Gaby came down to the boat once we were on the other side of the lock. She had wanted to take us all to lunch but time did not allow for that as we had a long day ahead. “Boats” Howard put together a nice snack of wine, cheese and apple slices for us and we enjoyed a short visit. Far too soon we had to be on our way and we said our goodbyes.
Arriving at Ilion Village Marina around six thirty, we tied up on the seawall and I went to check in with the marina manager. The ladies’ room was broken and the men’s room was not exactly clean, but it was late and we were very tired. We got some food from the onsite restaurant and after some more planning on my part settled down for a good night’s sleep. Unfortunately, that sleep was hard to come by, because across the canal are railroad tracks that are used frequently. And while they are passing, they give their horns a nice long blast! I was thinking of the movie “My Cousin Vinny” each time they passed by.
Thursday dawned as another beautiful day and since we were all up early, we got underway quickly. After transiting Lock Eighteen we arrived at Lock Seventeen, Little Falls. This lock has an elevation change of just over forty feet. I believe the entire crew felt being lowered in the lock was easier than going up. There was no noticeable turbulence in the lock when it was being drained, but it is a different story when being filled. In fact, the Little Falls lock has all boats being raised to use the port or south side of the lock for that reason. Luckily for us, we were being lowered.
One lock after Little Falls, Lock Sixteen, there are no more speed limits except when passing marinas, etc. You are still responsible for your wake. We pushed on, now making very good time as we traveled through some very picturesque areas. Our destination was Mohawk Harbor Marina, in Schenectady NY. We had been trying to reach the marina office most of the day by phone with no results. Kathy used the Dockwa app to try and get reservations and was able to get on the wait list at first. Then she was able to get a slip reservation.
About an hour before we reached the marina, we were caught in a tremendous thunderstorm. It rained so hard that our aft deck fish boxes flooded with rainwater. We arrived at the marina during the worst of the storm with frequent lightning so I just idled outside in the canal waiting for the storm to pass. The marina has a high sea wall that prevents you from seeing inside the marina. There is a large sign there that tells boaters not to enter the marina unless they have made contact with marina personnel. When the storm passed and I could not make contact, I decided I was going in. What we saw made us laugh, out of what is maybe a sixty-boat marina, there were five boats docked with nobody around. After docking and securing the boat, we made our way to a nearby hotel for a hot meal and a good night’s sleep.
Friday had a little rain in the morning, but we still managed to get underway fairly early. Traveling through some of the prettiest areas on the trip, we made great time and soon were transiting the “Flight of Five” at Waterford NY. This is a series of five locks that take you to the Hudson River. Once heading south on the Hudson, you transit the Federal Lock at Troy NY and you are free of any more locks! We made it down to Coeyman’s Marina in Coeyman NY right on the Hudson. There we fueled up, had a nice hot meal and hot showers and had a great sleep. By eight in the morning, we were heading south on the river and I was thinking of staying overnight in NY Harbor. The upper Hudson River is another beautiful area. Be mindful of a few marinas there right on the river, but for the most part, cruising at speed is unhindered. Passing West Point Military Academy we saw two Blackhawk helicopters, one on the ground and one hovering roughly fifty feet in the air with Army Rangers fast roping down.
We passed by many scenic areas and had to look at the Little Red Lighthouse under the George Washington Bridge. Continuing south we pulled into the Liberty Landing Marina in Jersey City for fuel. After that, I took the crew around Liberty Island and Ellis Island to see the Statue of Liberty. I was stationed at Governors Island in the mid-seventies when I was in the U.S. Coast Guard. New York Harbor was nothing like it is now. Heading into and out of Liberty Landing Marina I could not believe the traffic, especially the jet skis. Between them and a high-speed tour boat doing donuts off Liberty Island, I could not wait to get out of there. In short order, we were heading up the East River and eastbound to Port Jefferson where we would leave the boat for the night.
Our son Eric picked us up there and ten minutes later we were home for a good meal and a well-deserved rest. We covered over one hundred and seventy miles this day in nine hours, including our fuel and sightseeing stops.
Later Saturday morning Cindy, Howard and I took the boat the rest of the way to Mattituck and Strong’s Marina on Peconic Bay, another seventy miles on another beautiful day. Kathy met us there and we secured the boat, unpacked and celebrated our successful trip. We covered roughly five hundred and thirty miles in six days. The boat ran flawlessly and the crew did a fantastic job. The scenery was gorgeous and even though I was operating the boat I was able to take much of it in. If you ever get the chance to do even a part of this trip, I suggest you take it.