Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Ten Years Canallin'

It’s hard to believe, but true: We recently celebrated 10 years as “canawlers.” That’s the old-timey name for the owners and pilots of an Erie Canal boat. How does time fly away so fast?

Ten years ago, in August of 2009, we were kayakers. We had zero experience piloting a powerboat. 

Our adventure started when Cap, being a kind and thoughtful son, had the idea to rent a houseboat for a few days, to give his parents a nice little vacation on the Erie Canal. (Read the story here.)

Nine months later—the ordinary gestation time for a human infant, but extraordinarily fast preparation for a trip that most experienced boaters spend years planning—we owned that rental boat, a 14-ton, 41-foot-long, steel-hulled replica of an Erie Canal packet boat. 

Has it really been 10 years since we hoisted a glass of champage with Mid-Lakes Marina friends
before leaving on the Great Loop?
We’d outfitted her to travel on solar power. We’d taken an online boating class. And we were departing to travel the Great Loop, a 6,000-mile circumnavigation around eastern North America.

We Know Every Inch of the Way . . .

This summer’s cruise wasn’t quite so grand in scope. But it was satisfying in its own way. 

The Erie Canal runs from Albany to Buffalo. We’d cruised the eastern end of the canal from our home port in Macedon all the way to the canal’s terminus in Albany. But we’d never been all the way west, to Buffalo.

We’d also never explored the Cayuga-Seneca canal, though we’d cruised past the junction in the Montezuma marshes many a time. 

This branch canal takes you from the Erie all the way down 40-mile-long Cayuga Lake to Ithaca, New York . . . where Cap once taught at Cornell University.

So  . . . check! and check! We achieved our goals. And had a wonderful time doing it, with loads of boat visitors to share the fun.
We're so grateful to everyone who took the time to visit us this summer . . . we had a blast boating with you!
Not Newbies Anymore

It was a beautiful summer . . . 
 When we departed on our Great Loop Cruise, we were innocents abroad. Cheryl Strayed on a boat. Sure, we’d taken that online course, but we didn’t really know a whole lot about boating.

Everything was new and fresh and exciting: how do you go through a lock? Navigate out of sight of land? Set the anchor? Land at a dock when the wind is pushing you off? Handle your vessel in four-foot swells? Read a tide table?

It feels a little odd to realize how far we’ve come. Now we’re, um, sorta, experts. 

Cap has more hours at the tiller than some licensed captains. We’ve crossed the Gulf of Mexico, piloted the Mississippi, rescued other boats, rescued ourselves when the anchor line wrapped around the propeller or the bow bunny went overboard.

Hold that image . . .  till next summer!
It would be easy to feel jaded. But I’m working to hold to that sense of freshness and wonder, that every day brings something new.

This past weekend was the autumnal equinox. The days are getting shorter. This week we are stowing and cleaning, getting Dragonfly ready for winter storage. 

And the new adventures do keep coming. This winter, we’ll be working as ranger-naturalists in two national wildlife refuges in Texas.

Next summer on the canal? Stay tuned!

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