September 8, 2000 - Phoenix, NY - N 43 13.653 W 76 17.933

Leaving Fair Haven
"Titania" departed Fair Haven yesterday morning and with a favorable tail wind motored to Oswego and the start of her canal travels. We purchased our season pass and entered lock 8. This afternoon will see "Titania" climb about 120 feet through a series of 7 locks over a distance of about 20 miles.

When you enter a lock at low water for the first time, you get an impression of potential great force briefly held at bay. The closed upstream gates loom above you, a massive black wall of steel, from which a few jets of high pressure water squirt and spray along the bottom sill. Otherwise it's quiet down there after you shut the boat motor off. Then the downstream gate closes astern with an ominous thud that echoes around the cement chamber. You're trapped now. In the slimy slightly claustrophobic dank depths you wait for what seems a long time ( but isn't) for something to happen. Then somewhere iron machinery meshes and rasps for a few seconds and several boils of green murky water ten feet across then emerge off your boat's quarter as the lock begins to fill.

The process is surprisingly moderate and controlled thanks to the skill of the lock tender. (I have heard, though, they can give an obnoxious boat captain a hard time by the way they use their various devices to fill the lock). Soon we rise above the walls into the hazy afternoon sunshine. After the gloom of the lock, the carefully tended red geraniums and purple and white petunia beds seem especially cheerful. The gates open silently before "Titania" and she casts off, bound upward for the Oneida River drainage.

Negotiating a lock
The Oswego River surprised us by how scenic it proved to be. It winds with gentle curves through a lush green land and much of its bank is forested with fine big maple, cottonwood, and pine. Now and then as you chug along there will be a little break in the shoreline and you can catch a glimpse of a tiny backwater through the gap that looks intriguing. Several stretches of old canal lie parallel to the early 20th century version. Where they do, you sometimes see some of the old 19th century cut stone walls and lock entrances still in place. This does not seem to be farmland around here- it's either industrial, residential or forest. There are also a number of substantial dams, often next to the locks. Some, our canal guide states, generate up to 10 MW. Today we go on the the Three Rivers Junction and Oneida Lake, weather and motor willing.