On Monday, the 26th, we received the news that locks 24 – 28B, would be opening up again at noon. We rallied and washed the boat down, got organized above and below deck and we were on our way. It was a beautiful, sunny day and we were so happy to be moving with the sun on us.
Initially, the water was high, but not at its banks and there was not too much debris. We passed through Lock 23 at the west end of Brewerton and Lock 24 at Baldwinsville. Since we had been stalled for a full week we decided early in the day we would travel until sunset.
After Baldwinsville, we crossed a beautiful fresh water lake, Cross Lake- Then through a long stretch of the canal that is within the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge. While the natural beauty was incredible with eagles, herons, fish jumping around us and more, here the water was extremely high and well above its banks. We saw many campsites and docks submerged and properties that had been damaged by the heavy rains the week before 🙏🏽.
Around 8:00PM we made it to the wall at Lock 25 and tied up for the night. We were ambushed by hungry mosquitoes and ducked inside as fast as we could. It was humid and we started the generator BUT it didn’t put out any power! Before we began this journey we’d been advised to never rush to “worst case scenarios” by a marine repair person in Florida. “Start with the most obvious, simple possible cause.” It took us all night, but we figured it out! There’s a second breaker for the generator down below on top of it. It was shut off when they were serving her in Brewerton and simply hadn’t been switched back on. Damn. We had a moment.
Tuesday morning we got going early and decided we would travel through all the open locks and stop near or at Lock 29 in Palmyra. It looked like we had another beautiful travel day and made it through five locks. It felt like we had the entire canal to ourselves. We passed a couple of boats and went through 4 of the 5 locks alone.
Around 11:00 the forecast changed to powerful storms passing over Buffalo and Rochester and we decided that if there was any space on the public docks in Newark, NY, just after Lock 28B, we would stop and tie up. The winds were increasing and the sky was black. The lock master at 28B told us he believed there was one space on the side of the canal that has power, just below in the Port of Newark. He was correct, but it was sooooo small. Luckily, a group of angels were walking on the dock as if they were waiting for us. David got us close and they all said, “there’s plenty of space”. I threw bow a line to angel Annie and a stern line to angel Steve. We literally had a couple of feet on either end, but we were safely tied up with the nicest neighbors. Annie and her husband had been stuck in Newark for 30 days! We counted our blessings one more time. The word on the wall was that Locks 29 & 30 may be reopening before the weekend to shallow draft vessels. (They we’re closed due to reconstruction and had to be refilled.)
We could not have been more fortunate. The Port of Newark is a city park and the wall, electric, laundry, showers and trash removal are free! They love boaters and one section of the literature we received upon arrival said, “If not for the Erie Canal, our city would not exist”. The generosity of spirit did not end there. (Angel) Annie and her husband let us borrow their truck to get groceries (way beyond the provisions I can carry on my scooter)! Folks gathered on the park swings and in the gazebo to talk with one another and offer insight from their experiences about our future destinations. In fact, after hearing from others and not being sure about the two closed locks, I decided to change my outbound flight to St. Thomas to leave from Buffalo. This diminished our sense of urgency by a lot. Right after I’d made the change, we got word that the locks would open on Thursday. I took a sunset scooter ride down the canal trail and a fawn jumped in front of me! (I’m taking it as a loving sign of good things ahead!)
Keeping in mind there were a lot of boats backed up between all the little towns and locks that are also looking to get past 29 & 30, we decided to not depart with everyone in Newark and our friends back in Lyon, on Thursday and opted for a Friday morning departure. That’s tomorrow folks. Today’s work is watching the parade of boats as they make their way west while we cheer them on look forward to the road ahead.