Monday, July 27, 2009

Captain’s Log

Port Stanley, Ontario

July 17 2009

The Butt is back !! (home)

We arrived in Port Stanley last night on a 18:30 bridge. Our slip was ready and several members on hand to greet us. In our absence the clubhouse renovations have been completed and with the renovations a new sense of pride and enthusiasm among the members was evident. We always liked our little sailing squadron and now the facillity we have is second to none.

We were able to get underway from Lyons last Saturday morning (the 11th) and made it to Fairport before torrential rain started at noon. Fairport is a nice place to stop with town docks in the centre of town for I think it was $9. a night with electric and water. The rain stopped mid afternoon so we toured the town, bought some more books and had a nice meal in an authentic Mexican restaurant. Dessert was at the local ice cream parlour and Niki will be dismayed to learn the flavour of the day which she missed was called “Panda Paws”.(LOL). Sunday got us to Medina. Monday we reached Tonnawanda in the early afternoon and at 15:00 we were tied to a dock at Anchor Marine on Grand Island in the Niagara River. Our mast was waiting for us. By 14:00 Tuesday we were a fully rigged sailboat again and heading for the Blackrock canal and Lake Erie. Canal transit was very slow so when we reached Buffalo at 17:00 we found a dock for the night. Wednesday afternoon we sailed into Port Dover and enjoyed the Customs’ Officers’ “Welcome back” when we checked in. And of course Thursday we sailed from Dover to Port Stanley with 15 to 20 knots of wind out of the west. Why should our last day be any different than all the others?

So we are back home, our trip is complete and today is our 44th wedding anniversary. I’m glad we didn’t leave this adventure to do any later in life.

What are the most poignant memories? This is tough but surely the big one is the joy of sailing on the Bahama Banks. The clarity of the water and the wonderful shades of blue (from the deep blue of the Gulf Stream to the azure blues of the shallow banks) is simply undescribable.

And the Bahamian people were wonderful hosts. Being there with other sailors from home was great. Meeting so many new sailors that also became friends was equally great. The snorkling was incredible. The leisure to take one day at a time with few demands from society is a treat I must learn to practice back home.

For Niki the key to the trip was social for when asked for the one outstanding memory her response waivered. Was it Junkanoo in Georgetown, or happy hours on the disappearing beach at Cambridge, or the memorable lunch on Long Island prepared by the absent chef’s sister? Or the snorkleling at Rocky Dundas? Maybe the Bananaquites (sugar eating birds), the pigs at pig beach on Big Major. Or the stars that surround you when anchored on the Banks? For Niki it was definitely the people and the variety of social customs and, well, the people !!

Maxine agrees # 1 is definitely the water. Water defines the Bahamas. Hopefully Niki will find some time to post a few more pictures of our time in the Bahamas for pictures can speak so much more clearly than words.

In a nutshell, it was a wonderful year !!


Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Captain’s Log

Lyons, N.Y.

July 8, 2009

As planned, we left the Hudson River and entered the Erie Canal at Waterford, N.Y. a week ago today. The ‘free’ dock at Waterford was reserved for a steam boat festival so we simply carried on through the flight of 5 locks and tied up at a dock several miles west along the canal. We secured ourselves about 15:00 just before the heavens opened and poured for the rest of the night. The Macaulay’s’ arrived around 21:00 to drop Larry off.

We made good time each day since then till Saturday. We planned to cross Lake Oneida Saturday afternoon and stop in Brewerton to refuel and recharge. Ma Nature had different plans. The wind was blowing stink out of the west and Lake Oneida looked a lot like Lake Erie at its worst. At the entrance to the lake, Sylvan Beach, we sailed past Whippoorwill. One look at the Lake and we did a 180 and tied alongside the wall ahead of Whippoorwill. Abe and Karen were there to take our lines.

About 11:00 Sunday the lake had settled enough that we crossed and stopped in Brewerton 4 hours later at Ess-Kay Yards where we had stayed last fall heading south. Grace C had a new transmission installed there and we repaired our ignition and replaced a leaky hatch. They remembered us; called us by our first names, inquired about Niki and generally made us feel like it was only last week that we had been there. How nice is that !! We refuelled, filled water tanks, used their courtesy car to get groceries at Walmart, spent a relaxing night and got underway next morning, all for a dock fee of 95 cents a foot.

Whippoorwill chose to go on to Lock 23, three miles on for the night. We caught up to them Monday morning at Lock 24, Baldwinsville, to learn that the canal has been closed at Lock 28B at Newark, N.Y. A dredge had sunk in the canal ! With no idea how long the lock would be closed or how crowded the docking facilities would be Whippoorwill chose to stay at a comfortable dock with facilities in Baldwinsville and we chose to carry on the 50 odd miles we could still travel in hopes the lock would reopen by the time we reached lock 27, Lyons, the last practical place to stop before the closed lock 28B. We arrived at Lyons Tuesday mid morning to find the courtesy dock empty but lock 28B still closed for an indeterminate time. So here we sit. We have shore power and, courtesy of the Lyons Fire Department which we are beside, we have clean showers and fresh water as required.

We are hoping the canal will reopen in time for us to get Nice Butt back to Port Stanley before our family reunion in Huntsville on the 19th.