Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Amsterdam to Canajoharie

Six boats were on the wall last night in Amsterdam and all of us were heading westward. Three left early, around 7:30 am. We left in the later group, around 8:30 am. Because of the nature of locking, which tends to cluster boats, just traveling in a cluster seemed like an expedited idea.

It worked great for two of the three locks we had to go through. The first two, that is. We three boats, As You Wish, Bay Tripper, and Cat-n-Dogs stuck together with Bay Tripper in the lead. The lock masters had the doors opened and waiting for us. It all went like clockwork.

Bay Tripper in the lead, As You Wish behind them.
We'd heard on the radio that of the three in front, one of them was going very slow and letting the others by. I won't divulge their real name because of events to come so I'm going to just call them SlowBoat. SlowBoat is a BIG boat and piloted by an couple who'd been doing this for many years. They said had enough of the east coast. In other words, they'd done all this a number of times already.

The stretch to the third lock was a bit longer. Bay Tripper, who'd been traveling faster than the rest of us, managed to get quite a distance ahead. About 2 miles from the lock we heard them call to request passage. The lockmaster said he'd wait. SlowBoat got on the radio right away saying they were already in the lock and ready to go. The lockmaster repeated that he would wait. Bay Tripper then said there were two other boats behind him (us). The lockmaster said we'd wait for us, too. Armed with that, we both sped up a bit, not wanting to hold up the show. 

The falls at Canajoharie
Immediately, however, SlowBoat got on the radio and complained about having to wait for these other boats. The lockmaster said (again) he was going to wait. SlowBoat complained further, saying we were far enough away that he could move them through now and have the doors open by the time we got there. The lockmaster (patiently) explained that locking through would take fifteen minutes, and we'd be there in three. He was going to hold the lock.

We did get there in just a few minutes. Bay Tripper was on the port side, pulled far ahead. SlowBoat was on the starboard side, smack in the middle of the wall. So As You Wish pulled up next to Slowboat, on the port side. As Cat-n-Dogs entered the channel the lockmaster told us to stay on the port side as well, so we buttoned up behind As You Wish. We hadn't fully secured ourselves to the wall when they closed the doors behind us.

Van Alstyne homestead, 1749. Still a residence.
(Note: We're not sure but we suspect that the goodie bags we'd been leaving behind for all these lockmasters may have had something to do with the lockmaster holding for us. Both As You Wish and we have been diligent about it.)

I've mentioned that, at this point in the process, we wrap lines around our cleats and manage them as we go up. Some folks just hold the lines themselves. We think SlowBoat did just that. But when the chamber filled with water, the fill came from the starboard side. This pushed their boat away from the wall so hard that they couldn't hold on and let go. SlowBoat drifted sideways and into As You Wish.

Thankfully, no people or boats were damaged.
I saw this drama unfold. Russ and I yelled to John and Martha to look behind them -- they'd been managing their own ropes, facing the wall, unaware of what was going on behind them. Then the two of them kept running back and forth, pushing SlowBoat away, then tending their lines, then back to SlowBoat

Everyone had fenders on them, so no damage was done other than some scuffing. 

Once the doors were opened, SlowBoat immediately got on the radio and yelled about how this was all the lockmaster's fault. That, if they'd been allowed to lock through that would have never happened. 

The rest of us were flabbergasted. 

I tell ya, everyday's an adventure.

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