So we last blogged about Little Falls and Lock 17 and how lemonade was made from life’s twists and turns onboard Maraki. We sat for 17 days and watched the autumn arrive in all its glory. We made friends with Chris from Old Sal’s Cafe and Creamery (be sure to stop in and say hello if you ever get there), Tom and Deb from Lock 17 who made sure we got to the grocery store, went out to dinner with us and showed us NY hospitality that we will never forget. Linda from Piccolo Cafe who insisted we have a free dinner on her just because she felt bad for us being stuck in her town(another great place to have a stop/great food). To Tom and Chris at the Little Falls Marina who allowed to come and take a shower or use their internet connection. To all of you who made us feel welcomed and at home, thank you for a wonderful two weeks. We can highly recommend this old little town as a good stop on the Erie Canal.
However, on Oct 3 we were told it was time to throw off the lines and head on toward Lock 14. We had been very worried about this particular lock/sill(cement bottom of lock gates)- in fact Tom the lock keeper from 17 took us after work on a road trip to look at the work and ease our mind about potential lack of depth. We felt much better and had a plan in mind if the water level was not suffient for Maraki’s 7 foot draft.
The morning was again very foggy but we all felt the excitement of moving.
We got as far as Lock 16 and stopped there for the night. Early the next morning we were at Lock 14 in a persistent but not cold rain. We were told the water level over the sill was 7 feet 7 inches so Maraki should be able to easily glide over that sill. However, we soon doubted the measurement as we had seen on our earlier road trip what 7 feet should look like on the lock gate wall.
This is a boat in front of us exiting the lock who ran aground on the way of of the lock. John tried to gently drive over the sill but we solidly “bumped”against it, no riding over that sill. John then insisted on a re-measurement at the sill and when the “stick” was put into the water we read 6 feet 7 inches, a full foot less. The lock keeper decided that he could raise the water level by “cracking the upper gate to flush us” and when that did not work so he opened them more and then more until a torrent of water came crashing at us throwing us sideways in the lock and rolling us over onto our side. Our mast was stuck bow and stern in the lock gates.
However, the lock keepers then shut the upper lock gates shutting down the “flush” and we rolled back upright and used our lines to the lock wall to crank us in proper position in the lock. A half hour of full water flowing through the dam brought the water level back up to 7 feet and we were able to exit the lock easily. The channel between lock 14 to Lock 13 was also very shallow and we continued very slowly for the 8 miles and managed to negotiate the channel with only 3 bumps on the bottom.
People often ask me what some of my scariest times have been and I now have a new story to tell. I was not afraid for my life but I was afraid for our boat and our planned trip. We did make it past all the lock repair and eventually I was able to stop the heart pounding feeling I felt. We felt rather “infamous” as people continued to say they heard about our “event” in Lock 14.
Now we just wanted to get to Waterford and the end of the Canal system. We had the flight lock left to do down into the Hudson River Valley. Here we are at the top of the first flight – 5 locks that each drop us about 35 feet until we are at the Hudson level.
Waiting for us at the bottom of the flight lock was the Waterford Visitor Center where we all tied up and enjoyed a few days of relaxation and celebration of having finally completed the Erie Canal. Now on to the Hudson to put up our mast and become a sailboat again.