We'd gotten some advice from a dockmaster in Poughkeepsie that if you want to expedite your trip through the lock system on the Erie Canal give the lock masters a small gift. Cheap beer works, maybe some nibbles. We loaded up with Budweiser and snack-sized bags of pretzels. I don't know if it worked or not, but of the six locks we went through today we only had to wait for one to open. The rest were waiting for us.
That said it wasn't a quick trip. Typically a day of about 20 miles is 2 - 3 hours of travel. We left at 7 am, and powered off our engines in Scotia around 1 pm. This was due partly to the number of boats that traveled with us. Six. A small flotilla. Getting everyone in and secured, then getting everyone out of each lock took time, about 30 minutes. We went through 6 of 'em.
|Locking through so we don't have to go over that!|
The process is this: You creep into the lock one at a time. The lockmaster has told you where he wants you, port or starboard side. You pull up to some line dangling high about you or a cable that's fixed to the wall. If it's a line, you wrap it on a cleat, and if it's a cable, you wrap a line around it that you then attached to a cleat. As the boat raises (in our case, anywhere from 30 to 35 feet each time), you managed line, making sure it doesn't get tangled or stuck. We have knives in our PFD vests ready to remedy any such issue. Once everyone is in they close the doors, fill the chamber, then open the doors on the other side and off we go, one at a time. Sounds easy. Between the turbulence in the chamber as it fills and the space you have before you bump the boat in front of, behind, or next to you, it's kinda tricky.
|So far the Erie Canal is quite lovely.|
Then after the long day we docked at a park in Scotia, just across the Mohawk from Schenectady. The current on the little spur was formidable. Thankfully we were the only boat there, but it took me 5 tries to get Cat-n-Dogs in a slip. Not something you want to do when you're both tired and hungry.
|Our dock in Scotia. Wonderful little park!|