Thursday, June 28, 2012

On Up to Albany, Troy and the Erie Canal


The few days that we spent at Half Moon Bay Marina at Haverstraw Bay were a bit of a disappointment for us. The marina was nice enough with a very nice dock space and pleasant surroundings but it had some things about it that just didn’t work. For instance the reports on ActiveCaptain.com and other resources touted a swimming pool, stores and restaurants within a short walking distance and a nice town to visit. Well, we boaters were not allowed to use the pool (only for the nearby condo owners), the nearby stores, especially the grocery store were very pricey, and the town of Croton-on-Hudson wasn’t all that great. I wanted to do the routine maintenance on the boat but there were no marine stores at all in the area and even a substitute like an auto parts store was nowhere to be found. The view of the beautiful river valley was even blocked by a sea wall. Another oddity of the marina was that even with the sea wall, which was more like a snow fence of alternating vertical lumber with spaces in between, it was surprising susceptible to wakes and waves from the bay. Oh well, you live and learn. But we left Croton-on-Hudson behind and headed up to Kingston NY.
A wall. See what I mean?
The cruise up to Kingston was interesting in a couple of respects. The river began to narrow quite noticeably from a thousand yards shore to shore at Croton-on-Hudson to become a fairly twisty stretch of water no more than one or two hundred yards apart. The other interesting thing was that the water up in this stretch was even deeper than down close to New York. There is one stretch of water called “End of the World” just north of the West Point Military Academy that was 170 feet deep. The Hudson River is basically a big gash in the Earth. Speaking of West Point we passed it on our port side and unlike the wide open spaces of the US Naval Academy, West Point looks like a fortress with massive building all crammed together on the steep slopes of the Hudson River bank. Impressive!


Narrower and narrower...

and even more narrow.

West Point. A fortress on the Hudson

West Point

We arrived at the Rondout River Inlet at Kingston fairly late in the afternoon. The channel was very easy to navigate and we made our way to the Rondout Yacht Basin marina to catch a very nice piece of floating facing dock for a couple of days. Our weather for the trip up there was fine but the next two days were suppose to have some rain, thunderstorms and high winds, all of which did happen.
It was a dark and stormy night.

Yep, sure was.
The marina was kind of a blue collar kind of thing which is fine with us. A little frayed around the edges but it was all good. And the price was right, too. The town of Kingston itself is on the opposite side of the river from the marina and as we had errands we had to do we had to rent a car for twenty four hours. Fortunately Enterprise does pick clients up. Our driver was a retired fellow who was very nice and knowledgeable about the area. He had some tips on where to do for some of the things we needed. Fortunately Kingston is a pretty good sized town and we were able to get to a Walmart, a Home Depot and a local grocery store. The only downside of Kingston is that the only marine store was very much for local recreational and fishing run-abouts. I needed to do a full oil and filter change on the generator and engine. I did have a complete set of filters for the job but I wanted to have another whole set on hand, so I was out of luck. They did have the oil I needed. We were planning on leaving on Wednesday but the forecast on up north towards Albany and Troy wasn’t too good. The skies were clear but the wind was horrendous: steady winds of 15 to 20 knots with gusts to 35 knots. No thanks. We spent one extra night there and pulled out on Thursday instead. One really great feature of the marina was that their wifi connection was totally awesome so we were able to entertain ourselves on Netflix all the time that we were there and we could do all kinds of stuff on the internet without it chewing up our T-Mobile hotspot bandwidth.

One totally awesome detail about Kingston. When we returned the rental car the same gentleman as before drove us back. We got along good so he took a few detours to show us a couple of interesting sights. Well, one of these sights was an old warehouse with some wooden boat hulls covered in plastic. It turned out, according to the driver, that these were PT boat hulls and there is a group of volunteers there that are in the process of restoring several PT boats. That is so cool! Actually I noticed the hulls as we were first coming in and made a mental note about them at the time but shrugged it off as if to say, “Nah. PT boats here? No way.” Well, Yes, way.
PT boat hulls




Thursday had ideal conditions. It was calm in the morning with beautiful blue skies. The breezes did stiffen up a tad in the afternoon but it was no big deal. The river was even narrower now and we were riding a flooding tide. And the tide was cruising in very fast. In fact, so much so that the markers had wakes going in the direction that would normally be upstream. And, to our astonishment we hit 10.5 knots! That is the fastest that we have ever gone in this boat. We had some cruising buddies on this leg, Jim, Gail and Kathy of Jim-O and they were getting the same result. We had planned to reach our destination about 5:00 pm but we made it to the dock by 3:30.
Troy Lock closing in on us.

Troy Lock

Lock E-2 and the Erie Canal
Albany was the largest city on the Hudson other than those of the New York area with a pretty impressive skyline and a very busy commercial harbor which I was kind of surprised about. After Albany we passed Troy, NY. And just a tad past that was our first lock since Great Bridge lock back in Virginia – The Troy Lock and Dam, commonly called the Federal Lock as it is operated by the Army Corps of Engineers. It was a thirteen foot climb up to what I guess would be the very bottom of the Champlain Canal. After a short distance we spied a big blue sign that basically says, “Erie Canal, turn left. Champlain Canal, go straight.” We made our turn left, ducked under a bridge and found a nice spot on the free floating dock at Waterford, NY, just 200 yards from the first real lock of the Erie Canal. We made it.