And we’re off…The Champlain Canal is OPEN!! After a spring full of flooding, waters are still high, but we’re assured we can make it through the canal to the Lake. 😬 June 10 – 22, 2019

Shady Harbor is always a great stop in the northern Hudson , and as hard as it was to leave the comfort and convenience of their marina, it was time to head north.  The Champlain Canal opened the week before we would venture there, but waters were still high from spring rains and snow melt, and there were reports of a lot of debris in the water.  Thankfully, it was a beautiful day, and we knew that despite the hassles and challenges, this trip is spectacular, and worth the effort! 

This time, we were ready for the Troy Federal Lock just north of Albany.  

Last summer, after traversing the Champlain Canal south, we completely forgot that this was a lock where we had to secure a line around a pipe in the lock wall, as opposed to grabbing the supplied lines in the lock chamber we had been dealing with all day.  We learned our lesson, as Nancy nearly went overboard in the lock scrambling for a line on that one! And the best part of this lock passage was despite Nancy’s foot situation, we did a great job locking through…phew, we didn’t forget!!

Once you pass the Troy Lock, there’s a decision to make….well, for us it’s already been made.  Towards Waterford and the Erie Canal or Champlain Canal?  Lake Champlain, Justin, Bryan, Madison, Elly and Arthur…here we come!!

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Our destination was up the Champlain Canal to Mechanicville, N.Y., where there is a free wall with free water, electricity and clean bath/showers.  When we got there, we met a couple of familiar faces, and met some new “Loopers”. We met David and Claudia Fuller aboard Stillwaters II back in October 2017 in Cape May, NJ, when we were taking Misty to Portsmouth, VA for the winter, and here they were on the wall in Mechanicville, NY nearly two years later!  There were a few other “Loopers” tied up there, and we were all hosted by David and Barbara aboard Miss My Money, with David and Claudia from Stillwaters II and Steve and Jill from Wild Goose.  We enjoyed supplied nibbles from all and hamburgers from our hosts!  It was a very rainy night (not something we wanted with the already high waters!), so it was nice to get together and share stories during the storm.

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Free wall in Mechanicville, a stormy night!

The fixed railroad bridge after Lock #3 in Mechanicville is pretty notorious because it’s the lowest bridge on the Champlain Canal (normally at a 15’5″ clearance!).  The good news is that the water levels can be controlled by the lock masters, and they’re really great about communicating heights and changes.  So, at 8:30 am, we set off, after being told that there was a 17′ clearance for the bridge.  Stillwaters II bravely took the lead, followed by us, then Miss My Money, and Wild Goose. It was great to have a group to communicate with and assure each other of our clearances as we proceeded up the very swollen Canal. 

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Misty heading towards the Mechnicville Bridge, biting our nails!

After the rains of the previous night, we couldn’t have asked for better weather for our journey up the canal.  With all of the rain and flooding, everything was lush and green, and we had a bright sunny day to enjoy it.  The canal is lined with lovely homes, farms and a lot of nothing…except cows!

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While there was some debris in the water, it was not as bad as we anticipated, so we were relieved! We enjoyed a peaceful journey to ourselves, as our neighbors in Mechanicville spun off to a marina in Fort Henry,  NY, while we continued on to the free wall in Whitehall, NY.  Many of the bridges in the Champlain Canal are low, and while we were told that the lowest clearance was 17′, we were not convinced!  

Scary Champlain Canal Bridges

Arriving at Whitehall is a relief, as it marks the near end of the canal, with only one lock and bridge to go until entering Lake Champlain.  After a long day of locking, we enjoyed a quiet evening with the beautiful view of Skene Manor high on the hill overlooking  town, and dinner aboard. We literally never left the boat!

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View from the Whitehall, NY free wall, Skene Manor

Nancy is excited, as she finally took the plunge and purchased a camera to document this amazing journey.  While the Samsung 9 has done an admiral job thus far, it stinks at zoom shots, and well, lots of other stuff.  This trip up the Hudson has been the initiation of the new Nikon D3500 with various lenses, including a zoom.  When we took this trip last year, we twice saw Bald Eagles just north of the final Champlain Canal Lock in Whitehall, NY, so we were on the lookout.  We were not disappointed! We spotted this majestic Eagle just after passing the Whitehall Lock.

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We were soon among the familiar sights of Lake Champlain:  Fort Ticonderoga, Crown Point, the Adirondacks and Green Mountains, The Inn at Shelburne Farms, Mount Mansfield, the islands, and beautiful Burlington!

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Fort Ticonderoga

Champlain scenes

Crown Point

Just past Crown Point, entrance to Bulwagga Bay

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Beautiful Burlington

The high waters continued to impact our journey, as the Marinas in Lake Champlain have been greatly affected by the flooding.  The Ferry Dock Marina spent the off season expanding, but as we approached our arrival date, they were still without electricity.  So, we changed our plans and headed further north a bit to Burlington Harbor Marina.

The newly renovated and expanded Ferry Dock Marina

Burlington Harbor is right on the bike path, and offers great views of the lake and the city. However, they are FAR from having all of their facilities built and running.  We did stay there, with water and electric, but nothing else.  Bathrooms and office are still in trailers (nice ones, but still trailers, and the office wouldn’t give us a key because we were transients), no services are yet available, and they’re charging more that any of the other marinas in town.  So…we decided move to the Burlington Community Boathouse Marina, as it was the only marina in town up and running.

 But before we moved, we enjoyed a beautiful evening aboard Misty, with burgers and a sunset with Justin, Bryan and Madison!

Great evening and sunset at Burlington Harbor Marina

We had all good intentions of going out for an overnight anchorage in the lake, but the weather just wasn’t on our side.  It was cloudy with spotty rain, but the wind was the killer.  So, we instead packed up, left Misty locked up at Burlington Community Boathouse Marinacamped out at the boys house, and helped them with their major landscaping project.  The were so fortunate to purchase a home that had been completely remodeled, top to bottom, but it unfortuately had no landscaping.  Other than their neighbors bordering trees and shrubs, there was little other than the transplants I brought up from our home at 10 Farrow Lane.  So, we were all on a mission!

The developing gardens at 160 Greenwood Drive

Since we would not be together for Justin’s July 26th birthday, we had an early celebration at one of our favorite Burlington restaurants, A Single Pebble. As is our habit, we ordered the Chef’s Selection for the evening, relaxed and enjoyed their meal choices!

When we were in town at both marinas, we enjoyed the bike paths along the lake and our proximity to town.  The boys took us out to dinner at a new favorite spot, Istanbul House, to celebrate Mother’s/Father’s Day.  It was a great evening of wonderful company with our boys, delicious food and great service on their rooftop dining deck.

Fabulous dinner at Istanbul Kebab House

We ended up liking Burlington Community Boathouse, as we were not docked around the restaurant deck, and the staff was very helpful.  Mostly, it’s proximity to the heart of town is great.  We enjoyed a gloomy day, our last in town, on the boat with Madison onboard with us, and Justin came over after work for dinner, as Bryan was off to Florida on business.

Gloomy day on board

We were somewhat grateful for the rain, to both cool the weather, and wash some of the accumulating pollen off the boat!

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Yup, that’s pollen on the water!

We were all set to leave on the 20th for an anchorage at beautiful Valcour Island, despite the overcast day, which was probably going to get worse.  We set out around 9:20, and immediately noticed that the engines sounded different.  Rob realized that the water pump for the starboard engine was off, and we needed to replace the impeller.  We had a spare, but wanted some guidance with the replacement.  The marinas in the area were swamped due to the flooding and late season, and couldn’t help us for days, so we were getting desperate.  On a whim, Rob went to the marina office, they suggested talking to the staff of the Ethan Allen, the dining lake cruise that runs out of the marina.  Sure enough, the Captain was free due to the weather canceling their cruises, and he came over and helped Rob get the job done in 20 minutes!

With this hiccup and the increasingly bad weather, we stayed in Burlington until the 21st. We wanted to anchor in the Inland Sea in the northeastern part of the lake, as we had tried to go there last summer, but we had a snafu with our depth finder.  There’s a “skinny” access to this part of the lake through an area called “the Gut”.  Since the lake was high, and our depth finder was working, we decided to give it a go.  

The narrow passage into “The Gut”

We went out around Burton Island State Park for a bit, but it was windy, and the anchorage there is pretty exposed.  

Burton Island State Park

So, instead of dropping there, we tucked into a beautiful spot in the Gut, had the place to ourselves, and enjoyed a beautiful afternoon, followed by a gorgeous sunset, made particularly special because of the beautiful clouds.

Lazy afternoon in “The Gut”

Beautiful Clouds before a beautiful sunset

And the beautiful sunset

The next day…drum roll…we’ll hit the Canadian Border 🇨🇦🇨🇦🇨🇦!!  Stay tuned for our next adventures…more to come!

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