Broad Picture and Plans of Attack!

We’re starting this  blog to facilitate sharing our latest adventure –the Attack of the Great Loop–with family, friends, and apparently strangers lurking on the internet (welcome, btw!). Out of the chute, it’s felt almost as nerve-wracking and strange as the locals must have felt as the Brits pressed in to their towns. But we’ll see how it goes and perhaps add other adventures on land too–hence the name of the blog! ONE IF BY LAND, TWO IF BY SEA.  (Well, technically anything involved with water will be under the “By Sea” category.) So tip of the hat to Longfellow for coining the phrase that we’ve picked for more trivial and fun communications than rebelling against taxation without representation.

For the current adventure, here’s the general map; however, we aren’t starting close to the main Loop route.  The prologue to The Loop for us is to approach it via the Ohio River (beginning at The Point in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania).  Well, actually we started a few miles up river.  (See Red Dot for starting point)   Hope you check in often and enjoy the posts! xo

MAP UPDATED::   JUNE 6. 2017  !!!!!!

THE GREAT LOOP: Over 5000 miles long (depending on side-trips…did you say Cuba?….well, we DID say it ( as well as the Bahamas!)….but that will have to be another trip!)

2017-6-6 best great loop pic map (3)_LI
We started Sept 3, 2016, just North of Pittsburgh on the Red Dot with a 922 mile prelude/side trip down the Ohio River  (all WHITE LINES ARE SIDETRIPS! — ie NOT technically part of the Great Loop) to get to our official beginning  start point on the Loop (Green Dot at Green Turtle Bay, Grand Rivers, Kentucky).    The GREEN LINE represents our Loop trip. In addition to the Ohio River prelude/side trip, other side trips (WHITE) were: A small leg  up and back the Tennessee River to Florence, Alabama;   leg up and back the Black Warrior River in Alabama past Tuscaloosa (and nearly to Birmingham);  up and back the Potomac to Washington DC; and up and back the Sassafras River (at the north end of Chesapeake Bay).  All DOTS represent times we’ve flown home for 10-18 days. As  of June 6, 2017 we have traveled 5,611 miles and are a stone’s throw from Quebec, Canada!        [Any route marks that are not GREEN or WHITE are simply the possible routes of “The Great Loop.”]
UPDATE (10-19-16) The  Second Leg:  We left Green Turtle Bay, Grand Rivers, Ky which is just east and south of Paducah on the map below (and marked w/ a big green oval dot on the map above). As of 10-19-16 we are at the top (north end) of the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway (in dark purple on the map) where it branches off of the Tennessee River (which flows downstream to Paducah/the Mississipii –hence we were going UPriver from Green Turtle Bay to the head of the Tenn-Tom Waterway…which will then be “DOWN-river”


UPDATE (9-19-16):   THE OHIO RIVER:  Which we have now completed as of Sept 15, 2016! 922.5 miles (We started just north of Pittsburgh on the Allegheny River and we did NOT go that tiny little end knob section to the Mississippi River but rather turned left (aka east) (towards Nashville up the Cumberland River)

UPDATE: (5-15-2017)  Chesapeake Bay Area.  By the way, Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in the USA….followed by Puget Sound, Washington.

chesapeake map (2)
The Red Line traces our route out of the ICW through Norfolk, Virginia and up to the Eastern Shore.  Stopped at Cape Charles, Va, Ohancock, Va and Crisfield, Md  Drove to the Red Dots on the Atlantic Coast: Assateague and Chincoteague.  Plan to hit the Orange Dots (and other tbd spots) within this next week: Smith Island, Tangiers…..and then Washington DC!


UPDATE:  JUNE 8, 2017:

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As of June 7, 2017 we were at the Schuyler Yacht Basin (Red Arrow).  Our route  will continue up the Champlain Canal, Champlain Lake and into Quebec, Canada to more canals and finally Lake Ontario, the Trent-Severin Waterway, and Georgia Bay on Lake Huron….following the green dash above. (but…..as you can see there are a lot of other canals and waterways that remain for future trips!)

At my request, Nick revised Longfellow’s The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere with a little artistic freedom to fit us:

LISTEN, my children, and you shall hear
Of the great boat trip that started this year,
On the fourth of September, in 2016;
Nick and Barb got on the Loop
Knowing not what to fear.

Nick said to Barb, “When running the river
Let’s look out for barges and whatever might be
Keeping red buoys to right while not missing greens,
Failure to do so will leave props obscene
And we’ll finish the trip by land not by sea.

Passing through locks with nary a shiver
Slowly but surely we’re learning the river.
Bollards are watched and lines always kept free
Passing through locks with nary a shiver 
Slowly but surely we’re learning the river.

For the original see:  http://poetry.eserver.org/paul-revere.html      or  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U4hUMQG3MI8     for a live reading and cool old prints

Jun 22/23, Days 206/7 Lockin’, Dockin’ & Rockin’


6-23 mont
Sunset on the St Lawrence. The current is ripping through here at 6 knots morning, noon and night!

We left Montreal early to fill up the “gaz” as they say here and still make a 10AM lock opening with a gaggle of other boats transiting at the same time. Hitting that timing was important as the locks on the St Lawrence are commercially focused and the lockmasters have no problem with pleasure boaters waiting 5 to 6 hours to pass when there’s commercial traffic.

6-23 lock6
We all waited at the “staging” dock for the lockmaster to give us the green light.

Our relatively large group and light commercial demand meant we “sped” (the term is used loosely here as there is a SIX knot speed limit over the 9 miles between locks) through the two big locks.

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Green light on and we headed in. N likes the Sabre there in front of us.
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Here we are rafted with our friends Margot and Jerry from Tennessee!

Between waiting, locking and transiting the whole ordeal took about 4 hours. What the heck, it was sunny and we were boatin’! There are worse things in life!

After the second lock we took a right out of the commercial zone and back into the recreational boating arena as we headed out of the St Lawrence and into the Ottawa River via yet ANOTHER lock.

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There’s B lost but not forgotten amongst the fiberglass!

We decided to stop on the free wall for the night just before the St Anne lock. Very cool little town with a great boardwalk and tons of little restaurants along the lock channel.

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Very peaceful evening “on the wall” at St Anne.

Today, we roared off at 11AM in hot pursuit of a group that had left at 9AM. We had our first experience rafting with French Canadians in the lock. Communication was fine as B used her Sprench and N spoke slowly and loudly! The Canadians were amazed we’d coaxed our boat 6,000 miles around the loop so far (that’s right we have officially cleared the 6,000-mile mark!).


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Here’s where we were the last two nights on our way to Ottawa.


Nothing like 25mph+ when trying to catch trawlers! We caught ‘em and passed ‘em and shared the next lift at the Carillon Lock and Dam.


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OK, so the crew was not as excited about playing catch-up, but they hung in there over some rough patches in “Lac du Deux Montagnes”.



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Last off the dock…. first to the lock! You go Bayliner.


At 65′, the Carillon Lock has the biggest lift in Canada (it does in one chamber the work of 8 earlier locks…yay!) and is the only lock in North America where the lock doors go up and down versus swinging open and shut. The thing is a cavern!


6-23 lock8
The lock is WAY deeper than anything thing we’ve seen recently, but notice all we had to do was tie-up to a floating dock and then float up with it.


From the lock we headed up to Le Chateau Montebello, which happens to be in the town of Montebello; the site of Canada’s biggest annual rock festival (which we learned was underway as we came up the river). Not the kind you throw, but the kind you attend in a black t-shirt, piercings, and boots. This little town of 1,200 has 80,000 to 100,000 people in it! There were tents all over the place and lots of LOUD music.


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Dude! We were stoked! Unbelievable people watching as we walked around town sticking out like sore thumbs with our light colored boating attire.


Seems like everyone’s got a black t-shirt on and they’re listening to bands like Wu Tang Clan sing songs the extent of which are lyrics like “M…’fer, uh huh, uh huh” while prancing around on stage! Those are the ONLY lyrics! Sorry, what IS that? Oh wait, our age is showing.


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Fortunately we stayed at the marina associated with this hotel. B observed it was thataway to the lounge and a peaceful after dinner glass of port.



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A nice redoubt after a day on the water and afternoon rockin’.



6-23 beaver
Evidence of Canada’s initial raison d’etre…. there’s beaver amongst them thar’ trees!


OK, won’t bore you here with the travails of internet and Verizon’s definition of “unlimited” data in Canada, but suffice it to say we gotta’ post when we have Wi-Fi, or it isn’t getting done.


June  19 -21; Days 203–205  Dilemma in Montreal

We left St Ours’ Lock and Dock fairly early in the morning after spending the night there and enjoying the little park.

2017-6-21 st ours canal dock
Spent the afternoon and evening chatting  (in a mix of Frenglish, English, French and Spench) with some Quebecoan (?) boaters and helping solve /provide tools for their shifter problem. Yay for N who has acquired a growing encyclopedia of mechanical problem- solving skills!



2017-6-21 cornfields
Would never have guessed there were fields and fields of corn if we hadn’t walked across the little street from St Ours Lock! I kind of doubt they go by the saying: Knee high by the 4th of July, right? 


We pushed through some rain dumps and thunderstorm threats, hit the St Lawrence Seaway and made the 42 miles to Montreal!


2017-6-21 enter st Lawrence
Exciting to hit the St Lawrence milestone… but at the same time disheartening to say goodbye to the peaceful countryside and be greeted by these behemoths.


Wow….we really are in another country!  It’s a weird feeling when you boat only 30 or 40 miles and things change so much–usually it takes hours on a plane to get to such a “foreign land”….well, not counting South Tacoma Way!

2017-6-21 harbor panoGreat location at the Montreal Yacht Club…right at the foot of Old Montreal


2017-6-21 old montreal
Feels like Europe, right?!


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This Ol’ Beaut looms over us at the marina!

Spent time getting the broad lay of the land with the “on- off” bus (which we love!), walking tons of kilometers, shopping for Cuban cigars, eating tons of good food (and not so good-for-you food— smoked deli meat sandwiches and poutine– French fries covered with gravy and cheese curds!), drinking micro brews, hanging w/ other boaters, laundry, provisioning and vidage des eaux usées ….oh which reminds me! Time for:

French Fun 401: So this french here is way more difficult than French from France…but then I am older now, so who knows who is more difficult (or why)!  It is still fun though to explore the language so I have to share a couple of things! Hope you enjoy!

Pas de Vague = No Wake Zone  I just like the way that sounds and actually had no idea that the english word vague meant wave in French….so being vague must mean having wavy thoughts, right ?!

La bord= port while la tribord=starboard   Ok, I already thought starboard in english was weird (I mean, what does a star have to do with it ?)  so now what does a  tri / three have to do with it in French? Etymology experts, pls chime in…my internet is too slow to do the research!

And back to what got me sidetracked to that language section:

Vidange des eaux usées = emptying of used waters (aka pump out!)  Ok ok, back to our sophomoric interest in bodily functions….but gee whiz, it sounds so pretty in French !  (clearly not the same sophomoric impact as Reader Henry’s comment a post or two ago tho)  Not to mention how cool to have all those vowels working to agree in gender and plurality!

Ok back to our tourism:


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2 Tacomans in Montreal: Nick right up there with Dale Chihuly!



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Gay Village section of town (seriously that’s its name on the map… and also originally  accurately represented the general population base)


2017-6-21 colorful road.jpg
A different part of town, but still a cheery road!  Not sure how they highlight this when covered with 6 feet of snow for 4 months of the year!


2017-6-21 trio bldgsNot quite as colorful and as cheery…but still a bunch of neat grey buildings. Third largest basilica in the world there at bottom left.

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Life imitates art: regardless of gender, appears everyone likes some good gossip time.

Since there are Aton of native English speakers here as well as substantial bilinguals, the big dilemma here is whether to speak/ greet in English or attempt some French or just simply some muffled greeting that could pass as a French “halo” or English “hello.”  This fun boat name seems to describe the situation perfectly with its bilingual play on sounds:


2017-6-21 lady lema
Lady Lema (remember to pronounce the first word with a soft ‘a’ /french accent) (and if  you really give up…look at the title to today’s post for an extra clue)


Heading northward toward Ottawa in the morning!


Jun 17/18, Days 201/202 You Lockin’ Me Crazy

Bonjour mes amis! Comment allez vous? Yes, greetings from French-speaking Canada. After more than 5,800 mile We have now entered the reputational “money shot” part of our Loop – the part everyone says is the BEST! After two nights at Gaines Marina enduring occasional rain squalls and up to 40 mph winds (a 40’ sailboat was blown ashore overnight), we steamed out under fair skies and headed three miles north to the Canadian Border en route to the Chambly Canal.


6-18 border
So this is the border with Canada. It’s a very small wall….basically a floating stick! You’ve go to be pretty incompetent to not get around it. Canadian customs only concern was whether we were carrying guns, mace, pepper spray, knives or other forms of offensive or defensive weaponry (our Swiss Army knife was allowed).  


Once through the border we headed up the Chambly Canal, the entirety of which is a national historic site. The canal covers only 19km (OK we’re switching to euro measures…… aaagghh can’t do it, I meant approximately 12 miles!) with an 80’ drop, but includes nine locks, multiple swing and drawbridges and requires about four hours to transit (in part because the max speed limit is 10kph).


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B getting our permits from the lockmasters at the first of nine locks we transited on the day.



6-18 canal 3
Are you kidding me!!? N on phone to Bank of America fraud squad explaining the bank’s inability to process a Visa charge is holding up Canadian shipping (we were in the lock at the time pending the payment getting processed). We now have a “hot line” to the bank on these issues so no more phone trees of obnoxious questions.


At one point we went through three locks structured like stairs for a total drop of 30’. We literally exited one lock directly into the next and then into the next. Tons of people watching, so we worked hard to look like we knew what we were doing! You might think the whole process would be maddening, but it was fun. What a completely different boating experience. This waterway handles up to 150,000 boats per season, but fortunately we’re here pretty early so we “zipped” right through.


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Coming out of one lock directly into another and there was another after this one!


The canal was built in the early 19th century to increase trade by linking Montreal and New York.


6-17 canal
Believe me, there was no overnight delivery from NY to Montreal using this route! Cool though. Cars to port, runners and cyclists to starboard!


The locks themselves opened in 1843 and remain basically as they were originally built. The lock chambers are small (could only handle our 30’ boat and our friends 44’ at the same time), have small lifts and drops and are manually operated by literally cranking on a hand crank to open and shut the doors.   


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In the lock with our friends. They let us pass after this lock so we didn’t have to eat diesel fumes for the next 4 hours.



6-18 canal 6
How about this for a summer job? Crankin’ lock handles in 90 degrees all summer long!




6-18 canal 2
The lockmasters and bridge guys call ahead so each spot is ready for you when you arrive. This bridge was going up for us as we cane around the bend. In this case, the same guy then jumped in his car and drove ahead to open the next bridge (we saw him go by us on the road!).


Of course, the most interesting part of the experience is dealing with the language (“ecluse” is French for lock) when approaching the lock…. I mean ecluse. N simply speaks English slowly whereas B likes to chatter along with the lock operators in her Franco-Spanish. Unfortunately for N, he’s the only one willing to go on the radio!


6-17 map
Whoa, we have seriously run aground! Nope, we’re on the Chambly Canal route rocking along at 7.8kmph!



6-18 canal 4
These were the first series of locks where N had to get involved with the lines (except cutting them that one time) rather than barking orders from the bridge. The latter role was left to Z.


The good news for us is Canada is celebrating 150 years of lock and canal operation this summer so all our lockage is free and a permit allowing us unlimited mooring at state parks was only $200. By comparison, that cost could have easily been $40/night! 


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By the time we reached Chambly we were so hungry we could “eat a horse”…. no wait… I thought it was a figure of speech! Bienvenue au Canada!!!

So we are really on the international leg of our journey now. The St Laurence Seaway and Montreal will be next up. A toute a l’heure!!!    


June 14- 16; Days 198-200  Weather or not: We’re ready for L’Unifolie!

Experienced lifers know there are always two sides to every story and often an epilogue too. Based on the number of comments in the last post, apparently  Z-Bedspread (NOT to be read with a French accent…yet!)  story piqued some level of interest. So, Dear Readers, here is that other side: while B was in HER bathroom shouting for N and Z to stop overly rough-housing on the bed (aka: remember when your older brother would relentlessly tickle you?? Did he ever blow in your fuzzy ear nonstop!?!) perhaps a half -thimble full escaped from Z (I mean she weighs all of 11 pounds, her bladder is probably smaller than a thimble, in fact!)  But  N would have NO thoughts of B washing it out and saving the blanket.  AND the epilogue and always sunny side of things??!?!!::  Until now we have really generally been surprised at how deeply and well we sleep on board, but now we are getting even better nights’ sleep because the new blanket is all cotton/natural and the perfect weight. SO…Z opened our eyes to an even greater life!

2017-6-16 z potty mat
Proof that Ziggy has no problem doing her business when offered—even at anchor!
2017-6-16 N Z trio deep bay
Additional Epilogue: someone loves someone…and I think it’s mutual!
2017-6-16 N hero sunset log
Sunset  at North Hero, Vt—  Perhaps too many sunset pix on the blog…but the beauty and peaceful feeling never cease to bring me joy. Plus the logs reminded me of the NW!

As we exited North Hero Marina, we passed some more railroad remnants described in the last post.

2017-6-16 RR remnant
Actually pretty good weather blocks/marina zones behind these.   These RR remnants are all over the place.  Probably major environmental impact.
2017-6-16 beaver
This usually evasive beaver guy/gal was a fun surprise…not as shy as the sasquatches that I know are lurking around.

A short ride to Deep Bay at Point Au Roche State Park, NY. We only scratched the surface of all the trails here. N has been randomly throwing out all sorts of french sentences getting our minds prepped for Quebec and even more so during our long walks: “Vous avez des yeux verts”, for example, which only laughingly infuriates B….doesn’t he know by now that we are, after 47 years, on the informal TU basis!!!??!?

2017-6-16 bn selfie walk beach
There are 3 bays with long peninsulas abutting each side so lots of vista points and loop trails.  Minimal bugs too! Yay!
2017-6-19 dinghy dock n z
We were the only ones here overnight and only visited by a few small boaters casting lines during the day.
2017-6-16 deep bay eve adirondacks
 A different mooring ball system for us—the stick pokes up off the little buoy, you grab that little stick- if you can ! (B used our boat hook due to the height of our big Bayliner) and then Voila’ :  a loop for the bow cleat. That leaves the stick and little buoy to hang in the air off the bow. 



2017 6-16 sunset deep bay
Deep Bay sunset  with the Adirondacks (and sasquatches)  in the background .  If you look carefully (and prior photo too) you’ll see some of the 49 mooring balls here.  The other 2 bays are anchor-only.

After a morning loop hike (and temporarily getting lost), we set off for a quick trip up to Alburgh anchorage/beach for a picnic and exploration.

2017-6-16 b swim
This is where Benedict Arnold anchored his fleet before the battle for Lake Champlain. Here’s B re-enacting a battle ship.  71 degrees on the top 3” surface  but 50 degrees at 24” below the surface. Air temp: 84 — perfect! (In the winter, the entire lake freezes over to more than 3 feet deep of ice.)

Captains always have to be prepared to take on new jobs; in this case: pizza delivery!

2017-6-16 pizza delivery
First pizza for us this whole trip! Joined after dinner for some chat time by 2 other Looper couples (Arizona and Colorado) as well as an Alaskan family doing a mini NE Loop (they trailered their 24’ Hewes to the Erie Canal). Yay for the west!

We knew (well, we actually didn’t believe the forecast given the unbelievable day we had just experienced) weather was moving in and decided to play the departure and final push into Canada by ear.  Around midnight, the wind hit 40+ mph (accompanied by buckets of rain) and didn’t drop to 20 mph (in the harbor) til late morning. Still after lunch as I write this there are gusts hitting 30mph. A high of 62. Quite the dramatic change from the last few days.

Killing time on our 200th DAY of this journey  (wow !!)  (which looks to be another night by the time I am posting this) at our last US pit stop — Gaines Marina, Rouses Point, NY– eating, doing laundry,  streaming TV shows, walks during rain breaks and even some time at the library across the street from the marina. Dominoes with Margot and Jerry is on our busy docket while waiting out the weather.

2017 6-16 cornbread
Cheesy corn bread pot pie invention in the omni oven– perfect treat for the “Fall weather day”  –especially since we are out of veggies under our Canadian customs preparations!
2016-6-16 duo weather gaines marina
N, the ever-ready Captain, has us all set with 4 flags: the Looper Burgee on the bow, Ol’ Glory on the stern, and on the ‘radar arch’ tattered Washington State accompanied by L’Unifolie (= “One Leafed”  but for most, simply: The Maple Leaf)

Prochain Arret: Quebec, Canada!

June 10-13, Days 194-197 Headin’ North in Freshies with Frenchies

We were starting a leisurely breakfast on board when N spotted some friends of ours across the lake steaming northward…. OK, they were going about 10mph, but that’s steaming in a trawler! We’d gotten ahead of them a few days before and planned to meet up in Burlington, VT about 30 miles up the lake, but since we go closer to 30mph there was no rush; drink coffee, do some laundry, chit chat on the dock and then power up about 11:30 and still nearly beat them there!


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OK, this was actually the evening before, but N spotted our friends on that far shore the following morning


Lake Champlain is a mammoth lake separating NY and VT. The north end of the lake has NY’s Adirondack mountains on one side and Vermont’s Green mountains (home of the Green Mountain Boys of revolutionary war fame). As a North westerner you gotta call these things HILLS rather than mountains, but it’s nice to see some elevation and they are very pretty on both sides of the lake. Of course, we’re totally in all fresh water now, but while its super clear, it’s also super cold so no swimming for us.


6-13 lake
A view to NY from Burlington


It turned out last weekend was the Burlington Jazz Festival so there was a lot of live music around and the docks were packed; so crowded we had to take a mooring ball on Saturday night rather than tie to the dock.


6-13 street
All sorts of little bars, restaurants and shop on this walking street. Burlington is home to the University of Vermont so plenty of breweries around too!


Interestingly, much of the crowd on the water was Canadian and French-speaking Canadians at that. Sacrebleau! We’ll need to brush up on our high school French to get through these locks coming up…. We have to translate boat names now too.  


6-13 dock
Sunday at 9AM the marina wasn’t sure they’d have room for us at the dock that day. This was the scene by noon! Yeah, there was space!



6-13 golf
N got a chance to play some golf. He characterized his game as having flashes of brilliance within a round of abject mediocrity.



Again, we found ourselves in a largish town, reasonable marina, and NO internet. What is up with that!? We’ve consumed all our 4G data on our phones and jet pack hence the blog delay. It is painful to do this stuff at slow data speeds! C’est la vie…. Whoa, the conversion is on!


6-13 ding
When you’re on a mooring ball you need to dinghy to shore. Not sure why our friends left a banana on our seat… maybe they were glad to see us… or at least the dinghy!


We left Burlington on Monday to explore some islands on the lake and get ourselves staged for a border run this weekend (we need to consume some of our alcohol to meet the limits into Canada).


6-13 inlet
There were several of these artificial peninsulas running parallel to the lake. Turns out they used to be railway bed now converted to private use.


First stop was for an overnight at a state park on Burton Island. The park had slips for 100 boats! The ranger told us they fill up on summer holiday weekends including many French Canadians enjoying “le weekend” as one says a bit further north. As it turns out there were only four other boats when we were there.


6-13 sign
Of course Z is delighted to be off leash and running wild…….



6-13 walk
….. N maybe not so much!



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We did have a nice walk around the circumference of the island.



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Z enjoyed running this strip!



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Sunset at the dock



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… had a cocktail, opened the wine and things got hazy!


Next day we were off to explore multiple little islands and possible anchorage spots. Of course, ANY stop must be a “Z-certified access” pee stop (although B has had some recent success with Z peeing on the mat on the swim step) so not every spot is good after closer inspection.


6-13 hero
We stopped at the Hero Island general store for a sandwich. It’s called Hero Island because the land had once all been given out in 60 acre parcels to individual Green Mountain Boys as compensation for their fighting during Revolutionary War.  



6-13 bed
Faithful readers might wonder what happened to our red bedspread. Well, Z peed on it!!!!! N refused to sleep on it again even if it got washed, so we found a new cover at the General Store….. and we take no more chances on bladder control. 


We had every intention of anchoring tonight and found several nice spots along the way, but rolled the dice one too many times as the last place we checked out just was not going to work for Z so to the nearby marina we went.   


6-13 hero2
OK, so the North Hero Marina is perfectly great and we’re here for the night.


June  7-9; Days 192-193 New York on the left; Vermont on the right; Canada straight ahead!

UPDATED ROUTE MAP ON HOME PAGE as well as an enlarged section of the Champlain and Canada areas

Although still in New York State, the hustle and bustle of the City and the East coast in general seems to be melting away….it certainly should with all the rain we’ve had. Luckily we’ve had a bit of a break with two days in a row of nice sun—haven’t had that for several months!

We’ve continued north up the Champlain Canal enjoying the water, the green, the small little towns/hamlets and relative solitude. Most Loopers have turned left to head up the Erie Canal (only to be stuck for days with flooding and closed/damaged locks); but there are apparently about 5 of us on this route sprinkled among even fewer Canadian sailboats returning north for the summer and handfuls of fisherpeople playing hooky in their little skiffs.   So overall very quiet boating!


2017-6-9 kill switch hope not dam
Random thought: Hoping the kill switch doesn’t malfunction…
2017-6-9 floating barn
This was easier to spot and avoid than some of jetsam and flotsam after all the rains.  Had to get the  classic New England barn pic…just from a different angle, right?
2017-6-9 dam champlain canal
Damn handy dam to slow the water and catch debris



Arrived in the afternoon at Fort Edward for a free night “on the wall.”  All of these little towns are struggling to find a reason to exist  (for now, anyway, we don’t need to worry about being invaded by Canadians….)  Even their fort is so old it’s existence is merely marked with a big boulder.

2017-6-9 boy and his dog
A boy and his dog:  Much to N’s feigned chagrin, he has a constant pal at his side.  And look: we got our fed-exed renewed boat tabs just in time before entering Canada! Love these easy boat projects where you can lay down on the job!
2017-6-9 ft edward cemetery
There’s just something compelling about old cemeteries…one of those things like taxes and death?


2017-6-9 leaving ft edward
That’s our last glimpse in the background of the Hudson River as we enter the final stages of the man-made canal and locks to Lake Champlain. (Photo Cred:Jonathon of C-Dory Salty (in the background) 


We made it to Whitehall and again “stayed on the wall” for free! Yummy bakery across the street too. ….but more exciting was the random discovery of the Elks Club just 2 blocks away!

2017-6-9 Elks N
Yes, N is a member (turns out it is a good deal at the golf course at home) — and that  means B is some sort of elkette  or something (sounds better than a cow!). So we went in for a beer and were pleasantly treated to drinks, lots of chatting and welcoming smiles.  Pretty fun!
2017-6-9 white hall wall cropped
Only us and C-Dory Salty’s nice Looper couple with whom we’ve crossed paths off and on since Hamilton, Virginia.  Their little fun 22’ long and 6’ high boat makes the Bayliner look like something Bill Gates would own….ok, ok, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration!

Looming over the wall where we were tied up for the night is the picturesque, mega-big, 1872 Skene mansion (nicely restored on the exterior…interior might be another story!)– now historical tea room/museum type thing with minimal hours:

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Yes, N willingly went uphill to take a look…motivating factor probably was the cannon to see that was on the way.



2017-6-9 pano double NNice leg stretch up.  Cool thing about these pano pix is that B can get 2 N’s for the price of one! Bonus points if you can spot our boat below!


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So actually besides the Northern California to British Columbia sasquatch territory, the second largest zone is here in the Adirondacks! Yay! Hoping for a siting…may need to anchor out, right?

Whitehall, NY makes claim to being the home of the US Navy  (as do at least 5 other towns). It is clear that the first American naval battle did occur here. Sticklers (ie those from the other 5 contenders) claim that the US government had not “commissioned” the boats before the battle.  Just a small detail as far as I am concerned!

2017-6-9 old ticonderoga
The salvaged hull of the Ticonderoga ship– among the fleet that was purposefully sacrificed and sunk under orders by Benedict Arnold to stall the Brits and thus give the colonists time in Saratoga to mount a defense that actually resulted in a win that changed the course of history (France joined our ranks as a result of that win). 

In fact, Benedict Arnold had many other great successes (and severe injuries) while fighting for the Americans; but other men, including Ethan Allen, took  much of his credit. As a result, Arnold was overlooked when it came to a promotion—perhaps compounded by a charge of minor corruption (unproven) for which he was found not guilty (maybe a story planted by other jealous competitors?). As a result of that treatment, the embittered Arnold turned to the Brits and offered his services…..and the rest is history.

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Upstate Hot Rod Lincoln!?!
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Onto Lake Champlain and out of the canal.  In the last 4 days we’ve cleared 11 locks (the last 2 were going down stream!)

We stopped for lunch at a little boat launch (but failed to get around to eating!) and left on a long trek to visit Fort Ticonderoga– a reconstructed, privately run fort (read: expensive to get in—even with our Triple A discount!).  It was neat and good way to get a lot of the history from the French-Indian vs American- Brits War, the Revolutionary War, fur trading, settlement life, etc. This trip seems to be one long middle school field trip!

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From the entry gate, we still had another mile or more to go! Believe me, N was certainly thinking enviously of those Harley’s behind us as we continued traipsing up the road.
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Sweeping views northward were insufficient to solve for the vantage point of Mount Defiance (right/background) from whence the Brits made their cannon attack and successful invasion.
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The refurbished fort was in top shape with various reenactments (including lighting the cannon!)  Cool powder horns carved with “diary” entries.  Lots more history here at Fort Ticonderoga; however, I’ll leave it to your own inquiring minds and google searches!


Lake Champlain straddles Canada and US.  We’ve got a few more days in the USA  while we dust up on our high school French for the locks, docks and eats!

A night at Port Henry Marina:

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Nice little marina—great bathrooms and wifi with an abutting park
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We took an evening stroll up to town (yes, more hill climbing!)  As with the other towns we’ve passed since leaving New York City, it seems to be struggling ..the only difference here is that it has some pig iron ore history in its background.  At least six churches in the six square blocks. ( Note to selves: do not go out at dusk in bug territory!)



June 5/6, Days 190/191 Albanian Rain Game


So, some Albanian (isn’t that what you call someone from Albany?) comes up to me on the dock and says “gee, doesn’t it rain a lot in Seattle?” I said, “Whaddaya talkin’ about!? The rain here has been relentless!” The only bright spot is B discovered a heretofore unrealized electrical engineering skill; her careful placement of sponges in combination with our newly re-waterproofed bimini top has kept all our power on throughout the deluge. We used to trip out the breakers on one side of the boat after about 30 minutes of rain while at the dock, but no more (touch wood). That’s the good news. We still have mysterious leaks we have yet to figure out, but at least they don’t impact general operations, other than the occasional drop on N’s side of the bed! Still can’t figure out how that can possibly happen!

After a day of errands (and watching streaming video on blisteringly fast internet… yes there was some redemption) in rainy Albany we were up early and headed north on the Hudson under once more leaden skies.

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Going crazy on the dock! This looks wet, but we were dry under our freshly waterproofed top. I guess we could have driven from inside too.

The Weather Channel app’s radar seems to be remarkably accurate around here so we knew it was going to rain before we got to our next destination, but gee, you gotta’ keep moving.

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This would look so much nicer in sunshine, but we are now getting into NY banjo country!

There are a few big course decisions you make when doing this Loop. Stuff like taking the Mississippi versus the Tom Bigbee Waterway (we did the latter), or crossing Florida at Lake Okeechobee versus rounding Key West (we did the latter) and now we have another; taking the Erie Canal to Lake Erie and points west, or heading north through Lake Champlain to Montreal (we’re doing the latter). The Big Y was ahead of us today (it’s the header photo for this post). Most bigger boats take the Erie because of the 17’ air draft limit on the Champlain route, but we laugh at 17’ and only begin to slow when we see 14’ clearance.

6-6 dinghy
Did I say most “big” boats do the Erie? We finally ran into “Dinghy Dave”. He’s doing the entire loop in THIS boat! He started in Grand Haven, Michigan so he’s nearly done. It’s a super nice inflatable, but it’s still basically a dinghy!

All this rain impacted the canal system as well and parts of the Erie are closed for a few days so several large boats were tied to the wall at the entrance to the first lock on the Erie. As for us, we were onto the unaffected Champlain route and back to rockin’ and lockin’ up the canal…. and there are a lot of locks; we had to clear four over about 5 miles to get to our next stop in Schuylerville, NY.

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B gettin’ her lock on. We bought some gloves at Home Depot after reading these canal locks are kind of “gooey” and get your lines all gross.


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Here’s the approach to one of the locks…..


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…oh wait, did I say it was raining?!!! Put the camera outside the window!


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Rain or shine, you cannot keep B down! And she was doing all the outside work. Notice how the boat is secured to the lock wall by running a line around a fixed cable. Something new! B has a life jacket on here versus shot above after realizing how slippery decks were with all this rain (nearly fell in at one point).

The good news is the lockmasters radio ahead so each lock is prepared for your arrival and there’s not a lot of waiting around. Also, this year the NY and Canadian canal systems are celebrating 200 years of canal operation so all our locking is going to be FREE on these upcoming legs. BTW, while these canals were originally for commercial traffic (the kind that traveled by barge pulled by a horse on the shore), these locks are nothing like the locks on the bigger rivers today. Traffic is primarily pleasure boats and/or much smaller barges.

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Red arrow marks where we are and the green line shows where we’re going over the two months or so.


6-6 dock
After a wet and cold ride it was nice to tie up. Oh yeah, and we’d been running on fumes so it was good to find some gas too! Gotta’ be more careful with fuel monitoring as there are fewer and fewer marinas along the way.


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Despite sustaining a nasty bruise/cut nearly falling off the boat, B still whipped up some tasty warm food when we hit the dock.


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Z was also delighted to be inside!


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Not the canal we’re actually traveling on, but the old canal with the horse track next to it.


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…but lo’ there is HOPE on the horizon… well at least two days worth!


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It’s a UFO! No wait, it’s the SUN…. we’re off today in sunshine!