We have been looking for a weather window before Memorial Day to finish our trip home from Hilton Head Island on Essential, our Back Cove 37. Last month we ran to Annapolis to get out of South Carolina before we rubbed up to the 180-day rule subjecting us to state taxes. We also arranged for some engine service at Bayshore Marine, a reputable Cummins dealer in Annapolis. Last week, we hopped into a one-way Avis and drove to Annapolis on Wednesday afternoon. We hit McGarvey’s Wednesday night for Donna’s last oysters fix, did some provisioning Thursday morning, and were on our way up the Chesapeake by noon.
Going north in the Chesapeake was very comfortable and we made quick time to the C&D (Chesapeake and Delaware) Canal. It was still fairly early in the day so, instead of our usual stop at the Chesapeake Inn off the C&D, we decided to continue on down Delaware Bay to Cape May. The Delaware Bay was not as friendly as the Chesapeake and the wind was stronger than the weatherman said. With 15-18 knots in our face and a steep chop in the shallow Delaware Bay, we uncomfortably pounded our way down to Cape May. We pulled into the South Jersey Marina just off the Cape May Canal just after closing. We tied up, enjoyed a well-deserved cocktail and walked over to Lucky Bones for a tasty dinner.
Friday morning the forecast wasn’t great but was far better than the predictions for the next few days. After fueling up, we headed out into the Atlantic. With 15-18 knot winds and 4 to 5 foot waves on the starboard beam, it made for a roly-poly ride up the coast, but far better than pounding head-on into them. After a few hours, our course up the coast backed some and the wind moved slightly more aft and our ride improved. As we entered New York Harbor, the wind was dead aft but still choppy.
Passing through New York City is always scenic and the sights enjoyable. We took some pictures and continued up the Hudson River to Haverstraw, dropping anchor behind Crouton Point on the east side of the river. We enjoyed a peaceful night on the hook. Saturday morning, we woke up to light rain and thick fog. We started our way north at a reduced speed and dialed in our Doppler radar to a ¼-mile range to help dodge the many fishing boats out on the river. For a few hours the fog would lift and sock back in, until early afternoon when it cleared off enough to run at full speed.
We stopped at Riverview Marine Services in Catskill for fuel and arrived at the Troy Town Docks, just 3 miles from Waterford and the start of the Erie Canal at 5pm. John, a friend who has helped us transit the Erie Canal in the past, was there when we arrived.
The Troy Town Docks are a desirable stop to launch your start into the Erie Canal and it has the added attraction of sitting directly under the Troy Dinosaur BBQ. The aroma from the smokers draws you in! We had a very nice BBQ evening. Sunday morning, we got through Lock 1, the “Federal Lock” on the Hudson River and were first in line for the Waterford Flight, Locks 2-6, for the 8:00 am opening. Once out of Lock 6, you are in the Mohawk River with a 45 mph speed limit. With one other powerboat, we were able to break away from the crowd and head west.
One tactic we used was to call ahead, either by phone or VHF, to alert the lock tenders we were coming their way, we found many lock doors open and waiting for us when we arrived. We made good time getting to St. Johnsville Municipal Marina between locks 15 and 16 before stopping for the evening. Monday morning, we were at Lock 16 at 7am to continue on. We made great time all day, across Oneida Lake early afternoon and into the Oswego River with hopes of getting back to Rochester Monday night.
Unfortunately, as we worked our way towards Oswego, lock service slowed down mainly due to a lock tender having to cover more than one lock. We got stuck at lock 5 for the night. The worst part is lock 5 has nothing to offer, no services, no way to get off the boat to walk around, nothing. We made the best of the situation and pulled out the grill—steaks from the freezer, some delicious, scalloped potatoes from Omaha, and a tasty bottle of Cooper & Thief Bourbon Barrell Aged Red Blend from Essential’s wine cellar—and enjoyed a delicious dinner and picturesque sunset.
Tuesday morning, we were again on our way at 7 am, through the last four locks and into Lake Ontario by 8 am. The lake was calm, and we were in the Genesee River by 11 am. In summary, this spring, Hilton Head to Rochester was 11 days of travel. For us, that was a pushing pretty hard with lots of long days, several over 160 miles. Last fall, I was not as busy and had more time to travel, we did the same two legs over a total of 26 days. It was a very enjoyable trip. A few years ago, we ran into an older couple on the Rideau Canal. Their goal was two locks a day, which at the time, I thought was a terrible waste of time. Now, I am not so sure.