Tales from a small creek on the Eastern Shore

My Friend Bill

Well this is a tough one.

Some time ago I promised you all a picture of myself, well here I am.

nup s

The occasion was my recent wedding, both I and my bride have been widowed, me for three years and Deb for more than ten (Steve died of pancreatic cancer at 40)

This is our wedding reception, catered by yours truly (I roasted a whole hog on the nuclear pig cooker in my back yard).  I’m the one in the middle with the apron and the Octoberfest hat (well it was October) Deborah, my new bride is to my left.

On the left is Bill and on the right is Nancy, good friends and great neighbors.  Bill is an ex-US navy diver, tough as a piece of chewed string and an all round good guy, he built a forty foot sailboat from scratch in his backyard and he and Nancy sailed it 30,000 miles in a period of ten years after he retired, that kind of spirit.

Just before we left on this trip Bill was not feeling well, he’s 80 and had the energy and stamina of a thirty year old, but he told me he thought he was suffering from allergies, difficult breathing and stuffed up sinus etc.

 A few days after we left Maryland he went to the hospital, stage four Pancreatic cancer they told him.  A death sentence, Steve (Deb’s husband lasted 15 months but he was in his thirties)

 Bill died today.

 He was a husband, a father, a grandfather and a great grandfather, but to me he was simply my best friend, a man you could absolutely rely on for your life if that was at risk, a rock, a source of learning and knowledge that come only from a lifetime of testing ones limits.

 We are going to take this old boat and find a marina that will rent us a slip for a week or so, and rent a car and drive back to Maryland.  There we will say goodbye to our best friend and when he is at rest we will come back here continue this journey.

Goodbye for now.

June 26, 2013 Posted by | Journeys, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Whitehall to Partridge Harbor – June 25, 2013

Partridge Harbor is a tight little hurricane hole of a size a little hard to judge but probably about one hundred and fifty feet across, almost circular with a fifty foot wide entrance, like a little meteor crater carved out of a cliff.

Google Earth might show it  (it’s right about N 44.12.10  W 73.23.45 by my GPS,  just to the NE of Hunter Bay.

Great little spot for one boat and one partridge brave enough to surf in with a following wind, I did beat the usual afternoon thunderstorm to anchor by about ten minutes.  Settled down nicely now and the wind is forecast to drop overnight.

Made about fifty miles today, cleared lock 12 at 8:30 and with the following wind made good time up into Lake Champlain proper.

The approach to the lake is more and more like the lower Wye valley, cliffs and trees with a railroad running along the bank

wv1 s

The other bank that is.

RR s

Then just before the lake opens up, the defensive works are seen.

Ti s

Another place from the history books, Fort Ticonderoga, built by the French (has that look somehow) in 1758 and taken by the British in 1759 the Brits seemed to favour this strategy, let someone else do the heavy lifting and then swoop in and acquire a brand new building.  They did not have it long, it was thinly garrisoned and one of the first successes of the Revolutionary War was the capture of the fort by our old friend Benedict Arnold early in the morning of May 10, 1775  (like I said before, he was a good soldier before he turned agin’ us).

Around the next bend more defensive works, Fort St. Fredericks again French built (1759) and again captured by the British in the same year (1759) and renamed Fort Crown Point.  Now mostly ruined.

Crown s

On up into the lake proper, with the usual lake inhabitants.

Ospreys nesting on a channel marker.

osprey s

Finally after fifty odd miles, we are tucked into our little cove for the night.

Not much room to port,

Port s

or to starboard,

stbd s

or out ahead come to that.

ahead s

Thinking about Plattsburg tomorrow, the wind is down but the forecast ain’t so good, rain and fog, will  decide in the am.

G ‘night all.

June 26, 2013 Posted by | Journeys, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

At Whitehall – June 24, 2013

Like the sound of that, eating in the Members dining room etc.

This Whitehall is a little different.  Claims to be “The Birthplace of the United States Navy”  according to the records a fleet of twelve ships were commissioned and built here during the Revolutionary War.  A footnote states that just up the lake and less than a year later they were burned to prevent them falling into the hands of the enemy (enemy, what enemy?).  We do seem to have trouble getting it right the FIRST time.  Of course the previously mentioned Benedict Arnold was in charge of things then and that may explain a lot.

 Whitehall is in a deep river valley a notable stone home/castle? overlooks the town.

 House s

Nothing much happening today until the skimmer boat came by to clean up debris around the lock, a modern use of paddle wheels, very maneuverable, just drops the front belt in the water and picks  up all the sticks and stuff and dumps them in the following skiff, clever.

 skim s

Did make a run for necessities (milk, bread and beer) had to use the portable ground transportation as the nearest store was a mile away.

 gnd t s

Yes they fold up, mine’s the sober graphite gray one the Flamingo Pink jobbie belongs to another person.

Just got back inside when the heavens opened with a late afternoon thunderstorm.

Lake Champlain Tomorrow, definite.

June 24, 2013 Posted by | Journeys | Leave a comment

Fort Edward to Whitehall, June 23, 2013

Short day today, Sunday innit.  Made it to the end of the Champlain Canal (lock 12).

Just below us here is the start of the lake, it starts off as a narrow winding cut through high hills but opens out into a decent lake, about two hundred miles long North to South and twenty miles wide.  We need to get to the Northern end at the Quebec Border.  Rouses Point, might take us several days to get up there.

Memories of my time  in Canada even down here, I did sail Lake Champlain a bit but it was an awful long time ago, probably all changed.

Also  a triangle of towns on the lake,  Plattsburg, North Pole, Burlington one of the few US TV stations we could get in Ottawa  pre-internet days “WPTZ – Burlington, North Pole Plattsburg”   Hard to believe we lived hundreds of mile North of the town of North Pole.

Anyhow we had a few of the lowest bridges today, we need sixteen feet with the top up and about 13 with it down.

“Chart says sixteen feet”      “OK”

16 1 s

“Chart says what? That’s never sixteen feet”        “Chart says Sixteen feet”.

16 2 s

“Sure you have the right chart?”

“Yes! and the right frigging bridge.  Chart says Sixteen feet!!

“Never, it does look a bit higher over to the right, I’ll squeeze over there”

“Chart says three feet depth on right”


16 3 s

Lots of room , six inches to spare at least

Easy s

As a convenience most locks have a traffic light on each end, red means wait and green means come on in.  This one’s red, not real obvious is it?

Red light c s

In to Whitehall  moored on the town dock, free water and electricity.  One more lock (lock 12) to go.

Looks like a lock and two or maybe three bridges (one twelve feet clearance) downstream, time for a quick shufti.  That’s me on the bridge with the yellow shirt (yes I know it could be anyone) but it is me doing my recon. for the morning.

yell s

Just got back in time for the weather radio to erupt “Flash flood warning for Whitehall until 11 pm”.  Rain and Thunder just starting.

Lake Champlain tomorrow, maybe.

June 23, 2013 Posted by | Journeys, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Mechanicville to Fort Edward – June 22, 2013

 High point of the trip so far, from here on to the St. Lawrence River we will be going downhill.  Locking down to Lake Champlain and points North.

 Tied up tonight just North of Lock 8  listed as “Quiet rural setting.  We do have an audience, but they seem quite friendly.

cows s

Uneventful day except for a long delay while dredging operations busied about, spent about an hour loitering below lock 7 before the tugs and barges were sorted. Then it was our turn.

 Lock 7 s

Have to hang tight when these biggies fill, just like going up in an elevator.

  Pipe s

Of course after each lock one gets to see the river channel.

  Rapid s

Then on towards “Bald Head”Mountain, with the top down, not for comfort but for those pesky low bridges..

Mount s

and  flood control gates, all duck down.

 gate s

Past Saratoga where Benedict Arnold decided the right side was the wrong side for him, pity he was a fine soldier.

 sara s

 Not much to see from the water the actual battle was over the hill.

 Finally into Lock 8

8 s

and out and tied to the wall for the night, nothing much to see back there

 8n s

or up ahead

 Tomorrow Lake Champlain.

June 22, 2013 Posted by | Journeys, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Albany to Mechanicsville – June 21, 2013

Out of Albany at low slack water 10.00 am headed for the Champlain Canal and hence Lake Champlain.

 First the federal lock at Troy

 Fed s

it’s about a fifteen foot lift.

 Then on to Champlain Canal lock C-1

C1 S

This is looking over the east side at the alternative route!!

Then a few hours later into Mechanicsville, nothing much to look at but it does have a municipal dock, 300 feet long with free dockage, free water and free electrical hookup.

Restores one’s faith in this great country.  May send them a little note of congratulations on their public spirit.


Parked right next to a tumbling little mill creek, looks like this trip is finally picking up.

 Mill s

Tomorrow Fort Edward  (Google is available)

June 21, 2013 Posted by | Journeys, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

At Albany June 19 to 21, 2013


Erie Canal locks E8 through E15 still closed.  We had some pretty appalling weather but upper New York State has had much worse, very heavy rains and mudslides.  The control dams have been opened to release all the excess water which explains the amount of debris in the river, whole trees and docks in some cases.  It has been fine for almost a week now so the flooding is probably subsiding rapidly.

We took the opportunity of this stay catch up with laundry and groceries, good services close to the marina, including a nice little breakfast place.

We have replanned our onward  route as there is no definite date for the Erie Canal reopening.

We will now travel on up the Hudson to the Champlain Canal and through into Lake Champlain and up the Richleau to the St. Lawrence.  In effect running round the loop in an anti-clockwise direction (the reverse of that originally planned).

That should put us back at the western end of the Erie Canal in late July, if the canal is not open by then we will have to reverse direction and do the loop clockwise to get back here.

In order to get up to Champlain we will have to lower our mast and the bimini top over the helm station.  It also means driving in the wet if it rains for the next few days.


 Mast down, Bimini folded, well that’s Friday’s work done, now top up the water tanks and wait for the tide, should be about 9:00 Saturday morning.

 Mast s

Quite a few boats waiting, several in the marina and at least four anchored close to it.

Boat s

June 20, 2013 Posted by | Journeys, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Sauguties to Albany – Tuesday June 18

Out of our little creek at 8 and upriver towards Troy, quite a stretch from here.

Not much in the way of photographic materials today, colder and windy with showers.

So here are a couple left over from yesterday, saw this sailing vessel at Croton-on-Hudson where the Pete Seeger concert was going on, it may be his ship, anyway the name was Mystic Whaler, and obviously on a day trip with sightseers.

Mystic s

Sublime, and then of course the ridiculous, what do you suppose it could be? The Church of the Eternal Pineapple?

dont ask s

Then on up the narrowing Hudson still deep and traveled by large ships but shoaling here and there and narrow channels, I did ease over to let this lady past in a tight spot.

 Af1 s

Af2 s

As she went past I thought it very appropriate that “Afrodite” would lead us up to Troy.

 But it was not to be, she stopped at Albany, and so did we.

Albany waterfront

Alb s

Overnight dockage.

 Alb2 s

Learned here that ten locks on the Erie Canal are closed due to excessive rain, we knew about the rain, but not about the closing.  They are promising to reopen by the weekend. So we may have to hang here for a while

June 18, 2013 Posted by | Journeys | Leave a comment

Monday June 17, Newburg to Sauguties.

Delayed start this morning , had to stock up on essentials, wine, beer and bread with taxi run to the local market.

 Away at 10 towards Saugities about 50 miles  upriver.

 First an anticline for Mrs. O,

ac s

or maybe not, I was no great shakes at Geo.

 Then a little railroad station, the line runs right along the river bank.

HP s

Not much is it but just up the hill and hidden in the trees something more befitting a Roosevelt

Hyde Park

Hyde s

Drama later as I get a bug on my navigation computer.

bug s

A seventeen year Cicada and they are out in their thousand this year.

Lovely day, water about seventy feet deep, rolling along about eight knots, nothing to do but admire the scenery

Progress s

and dodge the barges.

barge s

But when they put a house in the middle of the river, some attention should be paid to the depthsounder.


Mid-Hudson Shoal, with a view of the Catskill Mountains in the background.

Finally into Saugities Creek, it’s narrow, this is looking out!

creek s

Troy tomorrow, maybe.

June 17, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Sunday 16 – NYC to Newburg

Early start to catch the tide at the Battery, then the tide was late, only got rolling about 10 am.

Started at Ground Zero

zero s

Then up past the marine terminals where there is a waterfront museum, a WW2 carrier, the USS Intrepid and next to it a retired Concorde.

conc s

Once we got rolling, quickly passed under the Washington Bridges (George and Martha) then past the Pallisades

pall s

Through the Tappan Zee Bridge and into the Tappan Zee


And on up the Hudson to the town of Osinging (renamed to dissociate itself from this place, Sing Sing the prison.

ss s

After a few miles, under Bear Mountain Bridge

bear s

Where the Hudson pierces the Appalachian Mountains, just a note about Bear Mountain Gap, the Americans, during the war of independence linked a chain across the river here to stop the British attacking Northward via the Hudson.  The Royal Navy stole the chain and took it to Gibraltar where they used it for a similar purpose.

wp2 s

Finally about 4 pm past West Point,which was built as a fortress largely in response to the chain incident mentioned earlier.  Strange to think the first class to graduate was almost 200 years ago.

 A mile or so upstream we are into Newburg on the Western bank.

More Tomorrow.




June 16, 2013 Posted by | Journeys, Uncategorized | Leave a comment