WPSU

Monday, June 11, 2018

Tour du Boat

On the Erie Canal, eastbound toward lock 24
30 miles to go! Will we make it?
We spent Saturday night at the Lock 25 wall, in the middle of Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge. On Sunday we traveled east 31 miles to dock in Baldwinsville, at Lock 24.

Thirty-one miles in a single day on nuthin' but electric power is a new world record for SlowBoat. And we weren't even that slow . . . total run time about 6 hours. Give that Captain a round of applause!

First, The Travel Highlights


A few notes from our trip on Sunday and then (in case you haven't been aboard yet) a quick tour du boat.

Great blue heron on the Erie Canal, visiting our canal boat at Lock 24
Thought bubble over heron's head: "This boat appears to
have a river on its roof. Where are the fish?"
Montezuma is known as great place to bird watch. But we had no idea the birds would be so friendly. As soon as we docked, a great blue heron walked up to say hello.

Next morning we opened the stern doors to see a ruby-throated hummingbird hovering there, as if waiting for us.

Big Water on Cross Lake


One highlight of our cruise yesterday was crossing aptly named Cross Lake. (The lake runs north-south and the canal cuts east-west across its midsection.) 

"Big Water": Cross Lake
The first time we made the crossing, 8 years ago, I was terrified--it was the first time we'd been on "big water," or at least anything wider than a canal.  How my view has changed!

Another highlight was cruising past the ruins of the Richmond Aqueduct. It was completed in 1859 as part of a canal expansion and relocation, to carry the canal OVER the Seneca River.

Solar canal boat Dragonfly passing Richmond Aqueduct on the Erie Canal
Those arches supported the bottom of the canal as it passed
over the river.
 Just imagine what it would have been like as a passenger on a canal boat, moving along at that smooth, 4-mph mule-drawn pace, to glance out the window, and see, not forests or fields beyond, as you expected, but a river 40 feet below you!

Come Aboard for a Tour du Boat


And what would it be like to be a passenger on a canal boat today? Come aboard and we'll show you?

Seating space in the bow of solar canal boat Dragonfly (aka SlowBoat)
Let's start from the bow--the front of the boat.  Under that red canvas canopy we have a space that's like a little screened-in front porch. 

Two wide seats meet in a vee, with a little table. Nice for reading, or dining al fresco. Lockers under the seats are for storing gear. The screened windows have clear plastic covers (AND canvas covers) that can roll up and attach w velcro to keep out the rain and/or morning sunlight.

kitchen/salon on solar canal boat Dragonfly (AKA SlowBoat)

Boaters Call This "The Salon"


From the bow, it's a small step up into the main cabin--a combination kitchen/dining room/sitting room.

Bill built the dinette at left, elevating it on a platform so that when you are seated, you can still see out the window. (The platform hides two drawers, used to stow canned goods).



Kitchen on solar canal boat dragonfly
The kitchen is miniature but comprehensive: Double stainless steel sinks. Three-burner gas stove. Dorm-sized fridge . Shelves for dishes and glassware.

It would be hard to roast a turkey or make homemade apple strudel here. But pretty much anything else is fair game.


Are You Tired After Reading This? Me Too


And here's our cozy bunk. Because after all that birding, and boating, and baking, sometimes you really need a nap!

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