We landed in the land of red, white and blue. It took us just over 57 nautical miles, and a very roll-y ride, but we did it! We landed in Rochester, NY at the Rochester Yacht Club on November 6th. RYC is exactly what you picture when you envision a yacht club: warm, cozy, beautiful old wood, a glimmering trophy wall, a polished bar, and friendly and accommodating staff. What a great first night in the U.S.of A.
We checked in to customs using a dedicated video phone at one of the marinas (used to fulfill the face-to-face requirement of checking in to a new country), refuelled, purchased our cruising license, discovered plum sauce is NOT a thing over here (but raspberry is? Hello culture shock!) and started off along the coast toward Oswego, our port of entry into the Erie Canal.
We spent a single evening in Oswego, NY which is a shame as it is a neat and busy little port of call, but time was not on our side. Given that the Erie canal closed this year on November 20th (whether you're in it or not) we wanted to get underway a.s.a.p. We bought a 10-day canal cruising permit at our first lock, Lock 8 and began the canal system on November 8th - aka Super Tuesday, aka Election day.....
We transited 8 locks on our first day, no small feat! The lovely thing about the Erie canal is that there are marinas and tie ups all along the system so you can spend time exploring the little towns that call the canal home. The not so lovely thing about the canal in November is that most of these towns recognize the canal is dead at this time of year and consequently close their businesses down for the season. Also it gets dark. Early. And you kind of want power so you can have heat. So the first night we found ourselves a little public wall to tie off to and a light post with a 15 amp outlet on it (enough for our space heater) and settled in.
Having no US cell phone plan yet and being in the middle of nowhere (or Brewerton, NY - whichever you want to call it) we went to bed wondering what kind of country we'd wake up to in the morning. Some time the next day we discovered the (terrible) news. That it was going to be *Trumps* America. This not being a political blog, I won't get in to it, but it is worth noting that we were very disappointed at this outcome. Since we're Canadian though we rarely find ourselves pulled into a political chat unless we ask for it. *whew*
Our next few days continued much the same. Transit the canal. Cover a few locks. Search for a tie up with power in the evening. The canal does not have a ton to do at this time of year. Fair enough since we were looking to exit asap. The saving grace was certainly that the foliage was still in it's autumn apparel and more than breath-taking at this time of year. Otherwise the days were relatively uneventful (arguably a good thing when boating!). Over the next few days we settled into our liveaboard life a bit more. Got our bikes up and running and dealt with a few small projects.
One small issue that started to snowball was that we were running out of diesel. And everything was closed. We couldn't even find a gas station carrying diesel near the canal. We were also getting low on water. And we hadn't showered in a few days. Or done laundry in while. Oh, and a linkage in our gear let go on our third last day - so we had to 'drift' into our last lock and tie up for the day.
No worries. We spent half a day fixing the gear. We found diesel! We finished the locks on November 13th with the grand finale being the 'Waterford flight'. What a way to end the locks! The Waterford flight is a set of 5 locks (and 2 guard gates if you want to get technical) that are all in a row. There is no tying off between these locks so when you begin your transit through them, you have to be ready to finish them off. (You must begin transiting these locks 90 minutes prior to close). In the span of 2 very beautiful and sunny hours we descended approximately 170 feet in about 2 miles. It's quite amazing to look back and see where your started!
At the end of the Waterford flight is the town of (you guessed it) Waterford! While their visitor centre was closed for the season, we were able to tie off to their floating dock for a couple of days, plug in to power and water (hello boat showers!), get a free ride to a gas station for diesel (thank you locals!), finally get some laundry done and breath a little easier knowing that the 'timed' part of our voyage was over. Next stop - Catskill to have our 'sticks' put up!