Saturday, June 5, 2010

Adventures in Slowness

We have left the Erie Canal for a side branch. On Friday we travelled from Phoenix to Fulton on the Owsego Canal.

One theme of our journey is to learn about environmental issues wherever we are. We got a graphic demonstration when our propeller became fouled with water milfoil, an introduced and highly invasive species, just after we cleared the lock in Phoenix. We cut the engine and Bill pulled great clots of trailing, feathery, dark green weeds from the propeller, and from the cage-like housing that protects it.

From Phoenix to Fulton is 10 miles and we estimated that we had enough solar power to get there. However, just outside Fulton, the meter dropped from 70% to near zero. Bill shut down the electric system and we drifted, watching the meter as the panels slowly soaked up a bit more sun.

By goosing the motor and shutting down, goosing the motor and shutting down, we limped to the lock just below Fulton.

A boat was already in the lock, and when we hailed the locktender, he said he'd wait for us. But I'm sure he was rather surprised by how long it took us to traverse the last hundred yards and finally tie up.

We apologized profusely--and also to the waiting boat. But the captain was quite cheery. "No worries," he said. "I was picking up a friend who was in town, mowing grass--had to wait for him anyway."

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