Voyage of PAX
This is a Blog about helping Doug Thomas take his 46' Uniflite, "PAX", Through the Welland, Oswego, and Erie Canals to Kingston, New York, on the Hudson River.

Pax Sept 24 – Amsterdam to Waterford

This section is mostly along the Mohawk River, which runs wide, through mostly forested scenery. We have about 40 miles to Waterford, the eastern end of the Erie Canal. Waterford gets its name for a shallow area of the Hudson River, which allowed settlers to “ford” the “water”. After Waterford, we turn south on the Hudson. There is a lock on the Hudson,about a mile south at Troy (often called the “Federal” or “Government” lock, and from there on we are on the Hudson – no more locks. The Hudson is a tidal estuary, and, since it empties into the ocean, has 4’ tides twice a day. This means you have current with you and against you twice a day, also. I think the max current is around 2 kts both ways.

We will go through nine locks, including a “flight” of five locks at Waterford, lowering the vessel over 150’. They say this is the highest “rise” in the shortest distance in the world. Of course, by now the crew of PAX has over twenty locks under our belt, so we are “old hands”.  

Nothing much happened out of the ordinary, although there was more debris here in the locks and on the river. Not sure if there is an explanation.

Waterford has a great visitor’s center, bathrooms, showers, free overnight tie-up, and 30/50A power (now that I’m on a power boat I have to worry about things like 50A power). They charge you $10 if you hook up to their electricity, and it seems like everyone does.

There is a ship behind us that is a reproduction of the Dutch sailing vessel “Onrust” (English Translation: Restless). Onrust was built by Adriaen Block, a Dutch merchant captain, after his original vessel was been destroyed by fire in the winter of 1613. The Onrust was the first sailing vessel to be built in America, (not including anything the Indians built), and took four months to build. She was 44.5 feet long with a payload of 16 tons.

The replica was built to coincide with the 400th anniversary of New York. If you’d like to learn more about the Onrust Project, go to

In contrast, the ship in front of us was a 40’ trimaran, designed by Australian Tony Granger. His owner built her over a period of 20 years, using cedar strips with a fiberglass/carbon fiber and epoxy construction. It was a beautiful example of craftsmanship. This boat can easily sail at over 20 knots, and the two vessels represent both ends of 400 years of sailing technology.

We walked into town, a short three blocks to Broad street, where most of the shops and restaurants are located. We had a wonderful meal at McGreivey’s, an Irish Pub. After dinner, Doug and I walked over to view Lock 2 and got a different perspective. Looking down into the lock from up above, you can appreciate how far a 35-40’ drop really is!

Pax Sept 24 – Amsterdam to Waterford
The river is smooth as glass this morning at Amsterdam. Looking East - the direction of Waterford
PAX on the wall at Amsterdam
Islands along the Mohawk River
The Adirondack Power and Light Plant was originally a steam electric plant put into operation in 1922. Looks like it is abandoned now.  It is located at Lock #10
Approaching Lock #10 - lock is filled and, once the gates open, is ready to lower us 15'
This stretch of the canal is the Mohawk River, wide and picturesque
Exiting Lock #9.  That is "Golden Eye" behind us
Debris caught in the dam - we had to dodge logs and branches on the river
Camper on an island in the river
Old rotten trees along the river bank.  These may eventually break loose and become debris along the canal.
Schenectady - construction along the waterfront. Crane is rebuilding or adding new breakwall
Restaurant and other development along the river in Schenectady
Homes along the river in Schenectady
Remains from an early aquaduct from the Erie Canal.  Originally, the aquaduct carried the canal over the Mohawk River
Interesting rock formation along the canal
Part of the GE Research Complex is along the river.  Industrial spy poses as fisherman to check out plant.
Significant building overlooking the river.  I couldn't figure out what it was.  According to the NY Barge Canal Guide, "Modern architecture on a grand scale near Lock E7.
27' drop at Lock 7 by Schenectady. Hydroelectric plant on the far shore
Some marinas have natural breakwall to protect the boats - Crescent Boat Club, near Halfmoon Beach
Approaching Guard Gate #2 - this is normally left closed.  It is open for us.
We are on the "Waterford Flight" - the last 5 locks on the Erie Canal.  They lower the boat 150'. This is the largest drop over the shortest distance in the world.
PAX tied up behind a Tony Granger designed 40' trimaran. The owner built it himself - it took 20 years. He just finished in June. He was from Harbor Springs, Michigan, and was taking her down to the Carribean
The vessel behind us was the "Onrust" ("Restless"), originally built in 1614.  The Onrust was the first sailing vessel to be built in America,
The figurehead is a lion, common on Dutch ships of the period. Henry Hudson's "Half Moon," which sailed into New York in 1609,  also had a lion figurehead
Doug and I walk around to explore Lock #2, just a few hundred yards from the Visitor Center where we are docked.  This is "Upper" gate for lock #2. Water level is 34' above the lock chamber (which is empty).  This shows the gate's "miter-v" design, invented by Leonardo DaVinci around 1480
Looking at the back side of the upper gate of lock #2. Water seeps through the corner and center of the gate. Water pressure on the back of the gate holds it shut
Waterford in the background, past the bridge - Lock 2 Chamber at right
This photo from the gate at Lock#2 shows how big the lock really is. The drop in this lock is 34'.
These "Side Cut Locks" run parallel to Lock 2.  They were built for the Champlain Canal (running north from the Hudson River to Lake Champlain), to help bypass congestion at Waterford. They are used today to help control water levels between locks #2 to #6 on the Erie Canal
Old photo shows congestion at Waterford in early days of canal
We walked into town and selected McGreivey's among many restaurants and pubs. Food was excellent and they had a wide selection of beverages