"Well, well. Jack Sparrow is it?" The question is directed to the pirate we all aspire to be... we all do, right? Well, in any event, the proper response is, of course, "CAPTAIN Jack Sparrow, if you please." A certain devotion to the movie and its lead character eventually gave rise to pirate-themed mission trips, as oxymoronic as that may be. My name being Jack and the destination being the Dominican Republic sort of made that inevitable. Oh, how I relished that first time when I could stand there in the airport in Santiago and say to the crew, "Welcome to the Caribbean, luv!"
Pirate's quarters in the Dominican Republic
"Where's the Erie Canal link?" I can hear you ask. Desperately. Well after years of being accepted as "Captain Jack" by my very tolerant team mates (these were MISSION trips, so I suppose they didn’t have much choice), it finally became official at 2:00 p.m. on board the Erie Canal packet boat Onondaga. Captain Jack. Snicker all you want, but I have photographic proof:
Call me Jack, Captain Jack...
Our canal cruise started with a shakedown run out of the Mid Lakes Navigation marina in Macedon, NY. Steve was on board to watch as I navigated the boat out of the marina and towards the lock less than a mile to the east. And to jump to the tiller in case I did something "incredibly stupid." First, he had me do a U-turn in the canal then we sailed (dieseled I guess is more accurate though not nearly so romantic) up to the lock. I called the lockmaster who informed me he'd soon have everything ready for me and I could come in when I saw the green light. I maneuvered in and up to the wall where Shirley could grab hold of one of the lines. We were lowered about 40 feet, motored out of the lock and let Steve off to make his way back to the marina. We were now working without a net. With Captain Jack at the tiller, The Great Erie Canal Tour of 2010 was underway.
The scenery took your breath away, not with a sudden gasp, but a gentle sigh. Serenity on the quiet waters framed with blue skies and a soft lining of trees leaning out over the banks, dipping their branches down to the surface of the canal. Blue herons and black and white kingfishers provided moving highlights. It was nice. Just. Plain. Nice.
The Onondaga is capable of a top speed of maybe 10 mph. Keeping the engine at the recommended maximum of 2300 rpm pushed it along at about 7.5 mph. A comfortable speed that provided a cooling breeze, something we appreciated each day. Cruising for about another hour, we locked through a second time and soon pulled into the port of Newark, NY. While I gained confidence in maneuvering the boat, Shirley became the expert with the lines (there are no ropes on a boat, Steve told us), both in the locks and at the town walls where we tied up for the evenings.
Here are some pictures from our first day on the canal:
Galley (aka kitchen)
In our first lock
Ready to leave
It's tough being captain
Our first port
Tied up on the north wall in Newark
Serenity on the Erie Canal