The Flight Of Five! ….Errr Three

Thursday September 6, 2012

After 10 days of traveling our pass expires today and although we’ve throughly enjoyed our time on the canal we were ready to be done. There were only 22 miles between us and the visitor’s center in Waterford that had facilities including showers and we’d be allowed to tie up for free for the first two nights. Following our favorite turquiosed hulled boat that keeps falling behind us and then throwing a huge wake at us as they pass,  into lock 7 we were happy they’d be far ahead of us by the time we reached Lock 6, the beginning of The Waterford Flight, or Flight of Five. These are the last five locks in the system and lower you 169 feet in less than two miles. This is the highest set of lift locks in the world.

 Since there were 10 miles between Lock 7 and 6 I took over the wheel while Matt went to argue with T Mobile about switching over our number from AT&T, something we’ve now been working on for over two weeks. Now that we’d finally gotten that issue taken care of and literally just started service with them today they were trying to charge us for the past two weeks of the prepaid service even though we hadn’t used it because we hadn’t been able to. I left him alone in the v-berth to have it out with them while I sat behind the wheel with autopilot on and e-reader in my hands. He came up 45 minutes later and when I asked how it went he told me this is how the call ended. T-Mobile rep: “Sure, let me transfer you to my supervisor”….click. They hung up on him. Let’s just say that didn’t leave him in the best of moods and he took over the wheel, throwing us into high gear just ready to get out of the locks and be done with the day.

As we pulled into Lock 6 I greeted the Lockmaster and as they usually do, he asked us how far we were going that day. “We’re going through the five”, I replied. He said something I didn’t understand like “You can’t”, and thinking I may have confused him I replied again that we were going to the visitor’s center at Waterford, afraid he thought I meant we were only going to Lock 5 and you weren’t allowed to stop in the middle. “You can’t go to the visitor’s center”, he echoed ,“Or Lock 2”. He saw me cock my head to the side, now absolutely confused and continued on, “There’s a tug boat rally going on this weekend and there will be no space at the visitor’s center or at Lock 2 until Monday. You’ll have to stay at 3 or above”. This was not sounding promising. Our pass expired so we had to be out that day and without being able to go to the visitor’s center or remain docked at the low side of 2 we’d have to go to a marina…..until our new rigging came in on Monday. Have I mentioned we’re on a budget? Being the kind of person who just accepts things for what they are I thanked the guy and hung on to my rope, waiting for the water to go down. At the other end of the boat, Matt had only heard part of the conversation and I filled him in on the rest. After getting screwed over on the phone earlier that day and getting nowhere with that issue he was having none of this. Ready to get into a dispute he started arguing with the Lockmaster whom I felt bad for because he had no authority over the places we wanted to stay. When he explained to Matt that we were welcome to stay between 3 & 4 for a few days until the rally was over, Matt exhasperately replied, “But our pass expires, we have to be out today”. “Oh”, remarked the Lockmaster, “That will extend until Monday”. It took Matt a moment to understand that they were trying to work with us and weren’t going to throw us out on our asses without a place to go. He made nice then and the Lockmaster called ahead to let the rest of the crew know that we’d be docking in between for a few days and our pass would still be valid until the rally was over. Staying at the locks we’d be without showers which was disappointing, but it was better than paying $40-80 a night for a marina. Looks like the universe is giving us a lesson in living on Island Time a little early.

Passing through Locks 5 & 4 we tied up at the designated pier just before three, scaring off about 20 geese in the process, and got ready to walk into town. The good thing about being stuck here is that we were still only a mile from town and could walk to civilization, unlike most of the other locks. Throwing our computers into a backpack we set out to explore town and find a place to sit awhile while getting wifi. Finding our way through the little side streets into town we walked past all the diners, coffee shops, and taverns. We could have easily slid into one and started our work but we kept wandering, anxious just to see what was out there. Coming to the end of the shops we were faced with a large bridge sprawling over the Hudson River and crossed it to see what was on the other side. Which happened to be the outskirts of Troy, NY. We could see a commercial area down the road but didn’t want to get too far from the boat so while we had a moment of a wifi connection on the phone standing in front of a Rite Aid we looked up McDonald’s and started walking toward it.

Making it to the restaurant after what felt like at least two more miles (and may have been) we ordered lunch and looked for a place to sit down next to an outlet. Both of us have crappy batteries on our computers and can’t work for more than 15 minutes with it dying. Grabbing our tray we wandered around the corner and found no outlets anywhere near a table. Plopping down at a random vacant table we ate, assuming we’d have to wait another day for internet. While eating I spied an outlet off to the side, but there were no tables near. Determined to get a post on the site and send a few necessary emails I pulled up a chair and sat with computer in lap, ready to work. Things were still moving a little slowly so I sat quite awhile, waiting for photos and documents to pull up. Since I was directly next to the entrance for the restrooms I had a lot of traffic pass by accompanied with strange looks. At this point I didn’t care. I hadn’t had an internet connection on my computer for a week and I was going to take whatever I could get. An hour had passed by and I was still working as Matt sat at one of the booths, just using the internet on his phone. Buying me an iced coffee and seeing that I couldn’t get much work done while holding it in my hand he came over with another chair to make a make-shift table for me and now I was all set. My computer sat on the high chair while my coffee rested on the ground and I happily typed away for another hour. I could have worked for much much longer, but I could tell Matt was getting restless and we had been there almost two and a half hours now.

Closing down my laptop I slid it back in the backpacked and we left the air conditioning for the warmth of the sun waiting outside. Following our path back we noticed a short cut to the lock and probably cut almost a mile off our return trip. With nothing else to do for the day I figured we’d just hang at the boat, reading or just finally relaxing in the cockpit and enjoying the sun after a few days of clouds. As we walked back down the pier toward Serendipity we saw a group of old and restored tug boats lining up to enter the lock. The owners were smiling and waving, eager to show off their hard work. As one little two person tug passed us, freshly painted and with a mock wind-up lever sticking out of the back, I smiled and thought maybe the universe was actually working in our favor, forcing us to slow down and remember the reason we were out here…to enjoy the little things in life. And the little things have always been my favorite.

Tables are so over-rated.

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