Sept 26-27 – Kingston to Akron
I don’t know about you, but a queen-sized bed in the Comfort Inn was a pleasant change from my bunk bed on PAX. Also, no trains…it seems like Amsterdam, Ilion, St Johnsville, and other stops were located to be close to the trains.
Anyway, Coralee and I got up, had breakfast, and headed north. I thought it would be fun to visit some of the neater ports along the canal on our way home – and, of course, Coralee had visited some of these in 2006 when we brought “Island Girl” back via the canal.
We took I-87 north through Albany, and in some cases saw the same landmarks we saw on PAX, except from a different perspective. North of Albany we split off and took the back roads for our first stop, Waterford.
We got out and walked along the docks at the Waterford Visitor Center. Some of the boats were still there from the day before – like the “Onrust,” the trimaran, and others. Some were new and were preparing for the next leg of their journey.
From Waterford, we tried to take the back roads, along the New York Scenic Byways. These paralleled the canal and we drove past many of the locks and buildings we saw on the way down, but also wound past many old homes and buildings that were not visible from the canal. After about two hours, we got to Little Falls, a city we visited on “Island Girl” in 2006. It is a very neat town and worth the trip.
Since 1770, mills and factories have used the water power at Little Falls. During the Civil War, the mills worked round-the-clock to weave blue woolen cloth for the Union Army uniforms. They say that all the children at that time wore similar blue clothes, cast-off fabric from the mills. In the 1900’s, Little Falls was home to the world’s largest factories for tissue paper, hammers, bicycles, and for finishing calfskin.
After lunch in Little Falls, we headed for Sylvan Beach. PAX spent the previous Monday night there, but we didn’t stop in 2006. I wanted to show Coralee the town. We had dinner at the Canal View, and Coralee walked up and down the docks, and met a couple who were taking a trawler from Goderich to Florida (we visited Goderich, on Lake Huron, last summer).
We hoped to find a hotel along the way, then visit more canal ports on Sunday. Unfortunately, we didn’t know about Syracuse University Parent’s Weekend or a major Lacrosse Tournament. As a result, we had to drive past Rochester to find a motel, and that put us past most of the stops on the Erie Canal. As a result, we visited Niagara Falls, a place Coralee had been wanting to visit for a long time. The falls were impressive, and helped us appreciate the Welland Canal even more.
We had lunch at the falls, and then started to drive home along I-190, which runs north and south along the Niagara River and the Black Rock Canal, which boats planning to travel the Erie Canal use to avoid the strong currents in the Niagara River. Who should we see but “Halcyon”, a Lagoon 38 catamaran that was at Battery Park this season. The present owners sold her and new owners were taking her south. In another coincidence, Brian and Bev Boschen were also taking their 60 sailboat, “Resolution” south, and had docked next to “Halcyon” in Dunkirk, NY. Had Coralee and I been running a half-hour later, we would have seen “Resolution” in the Black Rock Canal.
That was about it for our return voyage. From here on out, we were off the back roads, and on the interstates, so there wasn’t much to see. As we drove west along I-90, though, we passed the exits for several of the stops we made on PAX: Erie, Pa; Geneva on the Lake; and Mentor. It’s hard to believe that my adventure, starting nearly three weeks ago, had come to a close.
We had a lot of fun on PAX, covering 650 miles in seventeen days. We visited many old ports, but quite a few new ones, as well. Outside of a few of my longer trips – North Channel, Georgian Bay, Lake Erie circumnavigation – this was one of the longest stretches I’ve spent on the water. It was great!
For me, it was a different type of boating adventure. I usually do the planning, navigation, watch the weather, and have the responsibility for the safety of the crew and the boat. In this case, I was just a “hired hand” (well, maybe not hired), so I was relieved of a lot of the responsibility. In some ways, that made it more fun.
Doug, Mary Jane, Dick and Linda have another 650 miles to go. They’ll visit a lot of new ports, and build another 3-4 weeks of great memories. We wish them a safe voyage, and more adventures in the days ahead!
As I type these last words, I am in Sandusky, Ohio, sitting on my own sail boat, “Island Girl”, with the wind gusting to 30 knots. I’ve got to start getting her ready for haul out – remove the dinghy and outboard, run messenger lines for the reefing lines and lazy jacks, winterize the engines and our water systems and head. Our haul-out date is in two weeks, just before the District Conference. I better stop writing and get to work!!