N 43 02.1 W 74 52.0

June 9, 2001

Coxsackie I. to Waterford to Lock 7 to Canajoharie to Little Falls, Erie Canal, NY

Hard at work at Coxsackie I.
We stayed over in Waterford after passing through a surprisingly busy port of Albany. We watched a barge here being loaded with scrap metal by two cranes, each equipped with a fearsome looking grasping claw. Each operater spun his crane around in coordination with the other and they seemed to almost be dancing together as they cast their loads of rusty metal into the belly of the barge. At Troy we left the tide behind us by entering the federal lock. No more up and down every six hours, now we float upon serene predictable canal water.

Chugging passed Albany and a train going over a bridge
This blue byway of smooth water seems to be largely overlooked by travelers. This day a fair contingent of cruisers had gathered at Waterford, but once we climbed the "staircase" of the Waterford flight of locks nearly 200 feet and started west toward Schenectady we had the canal to ourselves. We traveled past a twisting section of the Mohawk dotted with rugged stony little islands looking much like the St. Lawrence. Then the river straightened out and narrowed to a more canal like aspect. We decided to anchor out near Schenectady for the night and settled in near the shore where a sheer rock face rose about 30 feet from the water. In the early morning ripples reflected wavering lines of light upon it making perfect sine waves as mist wreathed the calm black water surface. But the strong June sun quickly warmed the air and we had another beautiful nearly cloudless summer day to travel on.

Overtaken (and practically rammed!) by rowers on the canal
In the early morning the canal lay mirror smooth before us, reflecting the lush green of the trees along its banks. Later the wind came up raising miniature white caps about 3 inches high. The canal runs close to the railroad line and Thruway east of Albany. Several stretches of the waterway are just a few yards from the highway and the embankment sometimes forms one side of the canal. Here the truckers seemed to get a kick out of driving past Titania tooting and waving as they roared by. Here, too, the hills crowd in close squeezing road and rail and canal together. In the breezy afternoon we looked up at the slopes above us to see a half dozen buzzards wheeling and soaring above the crest of the hill riding updrafts from the wind that tossed the tree tops up there. Titania trudged on under power. No sailing now for her. Late in the day we saw a road sign on the Thruway, Albany 45 miles-a whole day to get this far west! We stopped at Canajoharie for the night and parked practically under the Thruway at a little town park.

Canal workers painting signs
On June 9 we steamed on west through another beautiful June morning much like the day before. A deer watched us pass by from the safe shady strip of woodland along the bank. We passed by men at work painting road signs on the bridge supports, and a dredge at work deepening the channel and past a dam under construction. It takes a prodigious amount of painting, fixing, pushing , pulling, steel work, stone placement,digging, filling, lawn mowing, and Heaven knows what else to keep this waterway navigable. And again we traveled for hours at a stretch without seeing another boat! But we did pass a tug and barge. It was sort of cheering to see the canal still carries a bit of freight.

The Little Falls lock with a lift of 40 feet is the Big One. You pass under a 300 ton steel gate with its massive concrete counter weight to enter its dark slimey chamber with walls spurting jets of water from leaks. Water from the dripping lock gate plopped on us as we went under it. Once inside the lock closes with some muffled thuds and groans and creaks and you wonder how the 84 year old engineering is holding up. However, the lift here was very gentle, no turbulence at all. The lock tenders know how to ease the smaller yachts and pleasure craft aloft without bouncing them around.

Heading through a gap in the hills between lock 13 & 14
We tied up just west of this lock in mid afternoon and took a short bike ride out into the countryside to visit a historic site, the farm of General Nicholas Herkimer. He and a force of milita men held the British to a standoff in one of the bloodiest battles in the Revolutionary War. The battle was considered possibly pivotal to the entire outcome of that war. His farm and old brick house stood on the fertile bottom lands of the Mohawk and his family, protestant refugees from Germany, had prospered here as farmers and traders for a generation before he was born. The 1764 house, at the time of its building one of the area's most prominant mansions, is restored and open for tours and the serene grounds and family cemetary plot by the bank of the river made this a tranquil place to stop on a long summer day's afternoon to ponder the flow of history along this valley.

Tomorrow we plan to push on to Lake Oneida. Then it's a day to Oswego and a short hop home across wider waters. This might be our last posting from the narrow sheltered byways of the canal.

Barge traffic on the Erie