Northeast Cruise Log

Cutter Marine, Middle River,MD.

Larry and Sarah Putsavage drove us down to Cutter Marine, and we loaded everything on the boat.  Ellen and Drew were supposed to arrive at 1630  hrs. but got away late and hit much traffic, so didn’t arrive until 1830 hrs.  In the mean time Larry and Sarah and I went to get gas. When Drew and Ellen arrived we piled into the boat and cruised to an Italian restaurant that had been recommended to us and had quite a good meal.  Drew was very sneaky and managed to pay for all of us.  After eating we cruised back to Cutter, the others left, and Mary and I settled in for the night.    

Cutter Marine to All Seasons Marina, Marmora, NJ.

Left Cutter at 0635 hrs. in cool, wet, overcast, but clear weather.  It was quite rough leaving the Middle River, and we had to punch into 1-3’ waves as we headed into the channel.  When we turned NE to head up the bay, we were still heading into the waves and we had to hug the east shore to make the going easier. Mary made lunch as we passed through the C&D canal, which we cleared at about 1100 hrs. (about an hour more than on the last trip in 2003) and headed down the Delaware Bay.  At first the forecast (2-3’ waves) was accurate and we proceeded quite easily, quartering into the waves.  About a third of the way down it started to get really rough, with 4-6’ waves, and a few even bigger ones.  We were taking solid water over the port side of the boat, the port windows were leaking, and water was even coming in through the windshield wiper holes!  We were about 6 miles offshore in heavy rain with low visibility and we had seen no other craft since we left the canal. Mary got really scared, so we headed north into shore and found the going a lot easier about a quarter of a mile offshore.  When we came to the big bay on the Jersey shore at the southern end of the Bay, we decided to keep hugging the shore even though this would add several miles to the trip.  Just past the Maurice River, however, we found ourselves in very shallow water and I was concerned we might hit bottom in the trough of a wave.  We headed out again, and by the time we were in deeper water it was again very rough.  So we decided we had to head straight for the Cape May canal, a very rough crossing which was very tough on Mary.  We finally reached the USCG station at the canal after over 5 hours fighting the Delaware Bay, in marked contrast to the two and a half hours on both previous trips! The calm of the ICW was a welcome change. Mary tried to get us dried out a bit as we cruised through the rain and mist.  By the time we reached Marmora I was looking for gas and we stopped at the All Seasons Marina.  I made a hash of the landing, and bent the anchor roller on my first attempt. Unfortunately the marina was closed, and we chatted on the radio with a Tugboat USA captain who was moored nearby about other marinas in the area.  He gave us some phone numbers, but they were all closed, so we decided to stay put at the gas dock of the All Seasons Marina.  Mary made a delicious bean soup, and we went to bed exhausted after a harrowing and frightening day. 

All Seasons Marina, Marmora, NJ to North Cove Marina, New York, NY.

It was flat calm during the night, but a light northerly breeze came up in the early morning with occasional light rain.  We decided not to wait for the gas dock to open and left at 0700 hrs. heading for the Seaview Harbor Marina, where Bill McDonald and I had stopped on the way down, but we missed it somehow and ended at the Farley State marina in Atlantic City.  The tide was in and we had to ask both the Dorset Ave. and Beach Thorofare ("You want me to open for that little boat!?") swing bridges to open.  Mary was asking the gas attendant about buses to NYC, and he whispered in my ear that he thought she was about to jump ship.  But she stayed and we arrive at the Manasquan inlet to a NOAA forecast which included a small craft advisory for ocean waves. However, we saw a small Boston Whaler with three kids in it going out of the inlet, and decided to take a look outside anyway. We found 4-6’ swells, but with such a long period that we could comfortably cruise at 20-25 mph.  We decided to go for it, the sun came out, and we made excellent time to the Verrazano Narrows bridge, arriving at the North Cove marina at 1605 hrs. after an easy and enjoyable (even to Mary) trip up the coast. John Cameron had called that morning and we had told him we wouldn’t be there until 1630 hrs. at the earliest, but probably not until tomorrow because of the small craft advisory, but when he called again at 1620 hrs., there we were!  He came down to the marina and we had rusty nails on board and then walked around the tip of Manhattan to eat at the Bridge Café right next to the Brooklyn Bridge.  This is the second oldest restaurant in Manhattan and the food was great! John told us all about the Academy of Achievement 2005 Summit Meeting he had just been attending (see during which he and other young scholars joined hundreds of distinguished guests including heads of state, leaders of industry, foreign ministers, ministers of defense, military commanders and diplomats in an extraordinary series of symposia and roundtable discussions.

North Cove Marina, New York, NY.

Had coffee, bran muffins, and apple fritters for breakfast at a nearby Starbucks, then took a taxi up to Pier 83 to get tickets for the 1030 hrs. Circle Line tour of Manhattan.  John had particularly wanted to take this tour.  We got the tickets and waited and waited for John. Finally I went on board to save some seats.  John arrived at about 1025 hrs., but they kept boarding latecomers for another quarter of an hour anyway.  This was the three-hour tour completely around Manhattan, with a side trip to the Statue of Liberty, and even Mary and I enjoyed it.  The guide was excellent; he knew his stuff and presented it well, but he seemed sad and bleary, like an old, broken-down actor.  When we got back we walked up to Times Square, Rockefeller Center, St Patrick’s cathedral, and, after much back and forth and more walking, we finally had lunch at the Stage Deli. After lunch we taxied back to the North Cove Marina to be there in time for our friend Eliza Bates, who arrived a little after 1600 hrs. After Rusty Nails, we walked around the end of the island, then back to the C to pick up John’s luggage and deliver him to the subway.  Eliza, Mary, and I then walked miles in search of a place to have wine and a snack, but most places were closed and we finally ended up at the Millenium Hilton just opposite ground zero. Eliza told about a friend of a friend who was about to jump from a 90th floor window when the building collapsed, and rode all the way down standing in the window frame and SURVIVED! After saying goodnight to Eliza, we read the time-line for 9/11 and then walked back to the C and bed.

North Cove Marina, New York, NY to the Catskill Marina, Catskill, NY.

We left New York in hazy sunshine after another Starbucks breakfast.  The river was quite calm, but there was much debris to dodge all day, including some very big logs. We saw the sloop Clearwater as we passed West Point, and passed to the east of Polipel Island (slowly because it was quite shallow) to get a great view of the armory. After passing Poughkeepsie (no town dock!) we stopped at the Hyde Park Marina for gas and lunch at the Culinary Institute of America. The CIA is just a couple of miles from the marina, and we took a cab there and back.  We had an excellent light lunch at the Caterina d’Medici restaurant.  When we got back to the boat the sky had clouded over and become very threatening, and we learned that there was a tornado watch in effect!  We left anyway and were caught in a huge thunderstorm halfway to Catskill, with very high westerly winds, torrential rain, zero visibility, and LOTS of lightning all around us.  We hugged the western lee shore so the waves were not a problem, but the wind continuously tried to turn the boat, and we lost our CYC pennant, mast and all, and the US pennant was speared through by the top of its mast! Had we stayed at the marina we would have been exposed to the full brunt of the waves at the dock on the eastern weather shore. Mary was great, not scared at all and helping me with the chart to stay in deep water. When we arrived at the Catskill Marina the weather had cleared to light rain which soon stopped and we walked into town to visit Thomas Cole’s house (Cedar Grove) and then have margaritas and dinner at the Corca D’oro.

Catskill Marina, Catskill, NY to Mechanicville, NY.

We left Catskill Marina after light breakfast and wonderful showers, which we really needed after the lack of facilities in NYC, and stopped at Albany town dock to do some sightseeing. We visited the City Hall, the Capital Building (where we joined a tour for a bit), and then walked all the way to the General Schuyler House only to find it closed.  After stopping at Jack’s (we wish people could age as well as Jack’s!) for lunch, we returned to the C to find that the heat had caused the hydraulic fluid in the steering to expand and leak. Our first locking experience of the trip at the Troy lock wasn’t pretty.  I had chosen the East wall because of the NW wind, but since the dock was empty when we went in, the wind was caught at the top and actually curled down the wall and was pushing us off the wall at the bottom.  I finally caught the pipe on the 4th try!  The dock master yelled that I should have been on the other side, as if I didn’t know. We stopped at the floating dock for a Price Chopper market shortly after passing Waterford and got ice and supplies.  Then on up through Locks 1 and 2 of the Champlain Canal with no problems at all, finally stopping at the Mechanicville town dock just below Lock 3.  We walked into town for a while, then sat and had rusty nails while we watched some local boys jumping off the dock.  Mary cooked a light supper, and we were in bed by 2100 hrs.

Mechanicville, NY to the Chipman Point Marina, VT.

Left Mechanicville early and had the locks to ourselves until we finally met three boats heading south.  At Lock 6 we locked through under the gazes of a group of school children on a school outing. Most of the Champlain canal locks are in great shape, well maintained, and the staff are very friendly. Stopped at Whitehall just before lock 12 to uncouple the holding tank discharge hose.  Shortly thereafter the clouds stared to darken and, not wanting to repeat our experience a couple of days ago, we decided to put in early at the Chipman Point Marina rather than press on to where we had reservations at the foot of Lake Champlain.  In the end the thunderstorm was not that violent.  The marina was old ,charming, and inexpensive. The main building is a tall and narrow ex-warehouse, with a store on the 1st floor, showers and laundry on the 2nd floor, and the owner’s living quarters on the 3rd floor.  Not long after we arrived, a beautiful old wooden water taxi-like tour boat circled by.  We did a wash, Mary made another great supper, and we were early to bed again.

Chipman Point Marina, VT to St. Jean sur Richlieu, QE.

We got up early, took quick showers and breakfast, and were soon off to find gas on Lake Champlain.  Went into one marina on the Vermont side but found nobody, and finally were served at Van Sloofin’s gas dock on the New York side at 0820 hrs. by the owner who informed us he normally doesn’t open until 0900 hrs. We decided to stop in at Westport to have a look around, and took a nice walk along village streets. We came upon two men next to a car upon which a tree had fallen.  They were neighbors of the owner who was away, and they were debating who was to call him. After cruising up the lake into the Richlieu River and stopping at the Canadian immigration office to check in, we arrived at Lock 11 of the Chambly Canal at St. Jean sur Richlieu at 1350 hrs., only to find that, at this time of year, the Chambly Canal locks only open twice a day, at 0830 hrs. and 1230 hrs! We decided to stay there at the lock, and walked into town to the library for Mary to use the internet.  Unfortunately it was a Thursday and the library was closed, but we found an internet café, and I looked at our email while Mary worked for a couple of hours.  Back at the C we had hors douvres and rusty nails on the dock, then walked back in to Restaurant L’Impreon, where we had a really delicious meal. St. Jean sur Richlieu is a delightful town and, in the end, having to stay there for an afternoon was no hardship!

St. Jean sur Richlieu to Marina Saurel, Sorel-Tracy, QE.

We had breakfast, used the bathrooms at the lock – they had given us a key, but we were disturbed by a group of Canadian soldiers on some sort of morning exercise – and were ready when the lock opened.  There are several swing bridges between locks 11 and 10, and, as we proceeded down the canal, the same young woman opened them for us, driving between them and finally returning to Lock 11.  We got gas and had lunch in Chambli, where we bought two gaily decorated mirrors for Pine Tree Island.  Decided not to tour the castle in favor of making the final opening of the St Ours Lock at 1600 hrs. The St Ours lock is the first on this trip with floating docks inside the lock – love them! When we arrived at the Marina Saurel I had great difficulty in backing in to the mooring. After several attempts, one of which put a scrape on the side of the C, two boaters came to help and we finally made it. I was very embarrassed, but they were very understanding! After walking to a marine store to buy a Canadian pennant and a new mast for it, we found out that the Club Commodore’s beginning-of-the-season cocktail party, buffet, and dance was that evening and that we were invited.  We had a great time! We talked a lot to Luke, who drives for handicapped people, and his partner Elaine, who teaches music. Luke built a 42’ yacht which they live in during the summer.  Went to bed exhausted, happy, and wringing wet from perspiration!

Marina Saurel to Marina Port de Plaisance, Longeuil, QE.

After showers and a nice breakfast at the marina restaurant it was a leisurely cruise up the St Lawrence to the Marina Port de Plaisance opposite Montreal. We couldn’t get into the Old Port Marina until tomorrow night because Montreal was crowded with race fans for the Montreal Grand Prix on Sunday. We decided to walk to the nearest Metro stop rather than take the ferry and headed off in the direction we were told next to a busy dual lane highway.  We were trying to figure out exactly where to go when we met a couple of old ladies who took us to the station.  They were going to the casino to bet on the Belmont (only $2!). We got off at Peal St, had lunch nearby, and walked around downtown, both above and belowground.  Several streets were blocked off for racing car exhibits and entertainment.  I went to look at some cars while Mary shopped. On the way back we found a much nicer route from the station through the town of Longeuil, and stopped for beers at a little bistro where a drunken patron serenaded us. He actually had a great voice.  We sat in the back of the C for rusty nails and a light supper before bed.  The last couple of days have been so hot that the only way to get some sleep has been to lie naked without any covers, and with the hatch wide open.    

Marine Port de Plaisance to the Old Port Marina, Montreal, QE.

After a leisurely morning on the C, we left the Marina Port de Plaisance for the short trip over to the Old Port Marina.  I had to back in again, but there was a very polite young lady waiting for us at our mooring and she was a big help.  We had lunch at a small restaurant nearby which had a fairly large TV showing the Formula 1 race, and lingered over our beers until the end of the race. We then spent part of the afternoon wandering about Montreal’s Old City despite the heat and humidity, and had thought to see the Imax before supper but the timing was not right.  However, we noticed that the Cirque de Soleil was in town right next to the marina and saw that show instead.  After the show, which was excellent as usual, we just had time to walk up to the restaurant at the Hotel Bonaparte for a very nice meal.  Then back to the C to try to sleep in the heat and humidity.  We had the hatch wide open, and on one of my night walks I noticed an animal coming down the dock.  It was only when the animal put its forepaws up onto the C did I realize that it was a raccoon. I quickly closed the hatch, and eventually the raccoon left, but we slept the rest of the night with the hatch just cracked open.  Mary slept through all of this, but was horrified about how close we might have come to having a raccoon in bed with us.

Old Port Marina, Montreal, QE to Waddington, NY.

After some coffee and cereal on board, we showered in the marina’s portable shower cubicles, which were actually quite clean and acceptable even though just a little cramped. While we were settling our bill we told the attendants about the raccoon.  “Oh yes, we know about him. He lives under the main dock.  We’re waiting for an animal catcher to trap him.” We told them they had better hurry because, if he got on a boat, he could do a lot of damage to the boat and perhaps to the crew also. By 0900 hrs. we were waiting to enter Lock 1 of the Lachine canal, which starts only a few yards from the marina.  Once again we had the luxury of floating docks in the locks, and very nice young dock attendants, one of whom tried to teach me how to tie up without bending down by flipping the rope onto the cleat.  I wasn’t a very good student! The Lachine canal is a very pleasant alternative to the main canal around the Lachine rapids for small boats – 8’ maximum clearance.  By 1215 hrs. we were through the canal and across Lake St. Louis to the Lower Beauharnois lock, where we had to wait 1.5 hrs while a freighter came through the other way.  At the Snell lock we were lucky to be hailed by a man in a pickup who said the lock was ready and phoned in to have it opened.  We didn’t have to moor and went straight in.  This lock has floating bollards, which rather tower above a small boat like the C when the lock is empty.  So, instead of trying to loop our line over the bollard, I tied it to a smaller fitting level with the boat. Unfortunately the bollard is much lower when the lock is full, and I only just got the rope untied in time to prevent us being pulled down as we neared the top! We stopped for gas at Bainsville, Ontario, and stopped for the day at the town dock of Waddington, NY.  We had a pleasant dinner at a bar on the edge of town, but had to kill several dozen mosquitoes, which got into the boat with us before we could get to sleep.

Waddington to Pine Tree Island, NY.

After breakfast on board, we left Waddington at 0810 hrs. in good visibility, only to find quite heavy fog when we reached the main channel.  Waddington is hidden from the main channel by quite a big island, and the difference in visibility was remarkable.  We thought about turning back, but decided to proceed slowly just off the main channel so that at least we wouldn’t be run down by a freighter.  As we approached the Iroquois lock we passed quite close to a sailboat that appeared to be anchored within the main channel in the fog without lights! At the Iroquois lock we again had to wait more than an hour for a freighter coming the other way.  The Iroquois lock has a lift of only 10 to 20” depending on the time of year, and a small boat like the C doesn’t even have to tie up in the lock.  By the time one traverses the lock – having paid the $20 fee by placing it into a container on the end of a pole held out by the attendant – the other gate is already open and one motors on through. By the time we reached Brockville, the weather had improved greatly.  We had a very nice lunch at The Bistro, picked up some groceries, chatted with the captain of the tour boat that comes by our island everyday (“Hey, you’re the people with the great boat and the hot tub!”) and then called the Canadian customs to officially leave Canada.  We had been told when we entered Canada that we had to hand in some paperwork when we left, but the young lady on the phone didn’t know what I was talking about.  Finally, after consulting her boss, she said we could mail the form in when we got home!  We then crossed to Morristown to officially re-enter the US, only to find the video phone was broken. So I called in on the cell phone and was told “Oh yes, that’s been out of order for some time.  Just give me your names and birthdates, and the name of your boat, and you’re free to go.”  So much for homeland security on either side of the river.  We arrived at Pine Tree Island   at about 1530 hrs. only to find it covered with goose droppings, most of the grass dead, and the rest eaten so short one can brush it with a broom.  What a depressing end to a great trip.

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