Sunday August 26, 2012
Since our goal had been to get to Buffalo, NY within two weeks of leaving we planned another overnight trip to get there from Fairport. You may ask what the rush is, but we’re just trying to get through the Erie Canal before it shuts down due to a storm like it did last year. That happened on Labor Day weekend and all the boats inside it had to be pulled out and shipped at the cost of the owner. Not likely that it will happen again, but we can’t afford the chance. So on we rush again. I promise, one day we will have a chance to stop and relax. The ride over to Buffalo was a mostly uneventful one. The wind was of course non existent and we were motoring again. After thinking about it and realizing that we’ll be motoring all the way from Buffalo to the ocean, and then most of the eastern US going through the ICW, our mast and sails are going to be pretty useless for the next 3 months. Thoughts of castrating the boat pass through my mind. We’ll just become a permanent motor vessel. (I’m just joking, I love this boat under sail).
The one issue that we (I) had on the way to NY is that an hour into my 9-12 sleep shift the winds picked up to 25-30 knots and the waves were building up and hitting us on the side. After waking up to help Matt put a reef in the sail I went back to bed in the v-berth. What happened next I can only blame on myself. For the past 9 months or so Matt had been bugging me to make a lee cloth, a piece of fabric that will hold you in your bed when the boat is listing from side to side. These are used in the saloon area because you feel much less movement there than you would in the bounciest part of the boat, the v-berth. Guess who had not finished this project? So we’ve been constantly sleeping in the v-berth, even in bad weather. After getting back to bed that area was like a bucking bronco ride and it was not sitting well with my stomach. I was actually happy when it was time to get up for my shift because I needed the fresh air. It didn’t help me out too much though because even in the dark I could see the faint outline of the horizon go way way up and then way way down. Then while spinning my head around to look for other boats my body couldn’t handle it anymore and I tossed my cookies overboard. I’m just glad that after the first time I was smart enough to take my glasses off so I didn’t lose them overboard as well . I should really get working on that lee cloth.
My second shift went much better and when Matt took over at 9, because I only collectively had 4 hours of sleep up to that point I was allowed to go back to bed and slept in until 11:00. Waking up I saw winds had died out again and the water was glass. Buffalo was coming into sight and soon I was behind the wheel and bringing us into the rivers and canals. Before we would be allowed to get moving on the Erie Canal we had to get our mast stepped where it would lay across the length of our boat since the canal has so many low bridges we wouldn’t otherwise be able to pass under. We had scoped out a few places that would be able to take our mast down and both were a few miles inland. Making it to this included getting past two low bridges and one lock and someone thought it would be good to keep me behind the wheel the whole time. I got to have a nice freakout at the first bridge where I kept hailing them under the wrong name and finally had to call them under channel 16 (“Oh, you were trying to get a hold of me? We’re the ferry bridge, not the Black Rock bridge. Would you like me to open for you?” Umm…yes please). Then my other freak out came when we were going through the first lock. I had no idea how these things work (yes, I really should have researched that before this trip) so Matt explained that you pull up to the side with your fenders down and there’s ropes you grab on to and just kind of hold the boat steady and in place while the water is lowered. I was doing great, coming up on starboard when we realized there were no ropes on this side. Crap! We needed to get to the other side and quick! Doing a dance of neutral, reverse, and then forward we did make it over but I think I may have put a few new scrapes into the boat.
After that mess I handed the wheel over for the rest of the night. We were probably only five miles from our destination at this point but I was done for the day. We pulled into Wardell’s near 4 in the afternoon and Dennis who ran and handled everything on his own came out to greet us and tell us what we needed to do to prepare for the mast coming down the next day. Most of what we could do that evening was pulling out all the lines that ran from the mast to the cockpit and tie them up to the mast, as well as get the cradle ready that would actually hold the mast once it was on the boat. In the heat of the afternoon all of the lines were removed and tied and then it was building time. We were so happy when we looked over under the bridge and saw there were some leftover pre-built cradles and lots of spare wood. We got to work right away but because of the different shapes and sizes of boats non of the pre-made ones fit us just right and we were able to disassemble a couple (and still use their bolts, score!!) to make our own. At the end of the day we had constructed one for both the bow and the stern and we couldn’t have been more proud of our creations. Due to all the heat and hours of hard labor we also couldn’t be more tired. 9:30 bed time, you are my new best friend.