Wednesday, August 15, 2018

We Still Didn't Sink the Boat

Aren't they stylish? The locktender stations, which date to 1918, look like the flying bridge (steering station) on a tugboat. Wonder if that's on purpose? The rounded base points upstream, the better to withstand flooding.
We're on the Mohawk River, headed west. Stayed in Amsterdam, NY last night and transited Locks 11 and 12 today.

The river is high. Both locks are next to dams, and the New York State Power Authority (which now operates the Erie Canal), has some of the dam gates open, cleaning out debris and dumping excess water. This has led to some exciting moments.

Playing Dodge'em with Tree Trunks

The view from our stern deck this morning!
For one thing, the debris being dislodged from the dams includes giant trees! They come bobbing down at us in the current.

Feels like being back on the Mississippi River, where after one torrential rainstorm, we spent a day engaged in slow-motion dodge'em with giant floating tree trunks.

Our hull is steel, but run over one of those babies and good-bye prop!

Slow Churn

Schoharie Creek dumping a load into the Mohawk River.
The water is loaded with silt. So you can see the current, racing down the channel--it's easy to see the lines of brown scummy bubbles, racing faster than the eddies in shallow water at the river's edge.

Roaring at full power, Dragonfly made a mere 2.0 to 2.8 miles per hour against the current.  We tried edging cautiously outside the marked channel, so we could go a little faster with less current.

 But Hurricane Irene did a lot of rearranging of sediments last fall.  The channel doesn't seem to be as consistently deep as the charts show. So back to slogging against the tide.

Whirlpool Ahead

Sign says, "Danger."  Duh!
As we approached Lock 11, the radio crackled to life. "Stay to the left as you approach the lock, Captain," warned the locktender. "The current could push you into the wall on the right."

The dam gates FARTHEST from the lock were open, so you'd think the lock entrance would be placid. Or at least, a little more placid than the maelstrom on the far side of the river

But a promontory bounced the water pouring down from the dam back toward the dam, where it swirled toward the lock entrance, then bounced off the 6-foot-high, 100-foot long cement wall and swept back toward the far side of the dam. A veritable whirlpool.

High Five

This is us, YESTERDAY in Schenectady.
Little did we know what today would hold!
Cap asked for a little more juice, and Dragonfly, brave canal boat, dug in a little deeper.

 Her nose swung sickeningly toward the dam . . . then back.

After some excruciatingly slow progress, we were finally in the lock. Grabbed the lines and landed safe against the wall.

"You did a good job, Captain," said the locktender.

Our end-of-day toast is going to be particularly fervent tonite.


  1. Lots of adventure you two! We went over the Rideau canal on our way to Algonquin. It looked beautiful.

  2. So cool! It's mostly rivers and lakes. We met some nice young people who were canoeing it. Going through a lock in a canoe . . that's an adventure!