Morning on the Erie Canal. The water is undisturbed - no wind, no boats, no visible current. We know the water is murky with a latte hue. But in the still of the morning it was like a mirror, reflecting green and blue, its calmness allowing it to take on an identity borrowed from earth and sky.
And all of this in Newark. With apologies to the good people of New Jersey, but Newark I do not associate with the type of pastoral scene laid out before me. But, of course, it is not THAT Newark. Rather a small town in New York state with very accommodating facilities for us seafaring types.
Up early, I lit the burner on the propane stove and got started making coffee in the rather large percolator sitting over the flame. It's been a while since I perked coffee and even longer (as in maybe never) with a simple pot over a direct flame. It struck me that the cruise reminded me of a combination of a bicycle tour and a mission trip. Newark is a pleasant town that is much different than I expected, which was a tourist focused collection of shops and restaurants and coffee houses lined up along a bustling waterfront. Instead, it is a quiet place with a pleasant residential area just a few blocks off of the canal. We visited the public library which housed a fairly interesting clock museum. The curator was especially proud of the organ clock he had restored. The clock part wasn't too hard, he said, but it was real challenge getting the little pipe organ playing. He treated us to a short performance. This is like a lot of the towns we end up in at the end of a day of riding on a tour.
The mission trip part? That would be the cold shower. After working for every bit of two minutes, we lost hot water in the shower. Oh well, this wasn't going to throw cold water on the trip.
After the morning walkabout, we returned to the boat, brought in the lines and headed east. Just out of the Port of Newark, we entered lock 28B and were soon dropped about 16 feet and sent on our way. We were cruising in another tree-lined section of the canal and were the only boat in sight. A bit after noon, I brought the Onandaga to a stop in the middle of the canal and we ate lunch listening to the quiet, interrupted only occasionally by a car going by on Highway 31. I didn't have to do a thing; the boat just sat still on the water, the current so gentle that we didn’t move ten feet.
A bit later we went through locks 28A and 27 in rapid succession, the latter being in the town of Lyons. This is where we planned to spend the night, as the canal guide informed us that shore power hookups were available. But first, we would go through to Clyde and see what this small town had to offer. When I radioed the lockmaster at Lyons, he asked about our plans. When I told him we would be coming back to spend the night tied up at the town wall, he said I should know that the shore power was not available due to renovation of the facilities. Hmmm... Did I mention that having the air-conditioner running at night was a good thing?
So, we decided we would just come through Lyons and go back to Newark for the night. We sailed on a bit then decided to turn around and dock at Lyons for a visit instead of taking the time to go all the way to Clyde. We tied up at the south wall just below the lock and I decided that, since the lockmaster seemed interested in our plans, I'd call him and let him know we would be in Lyons for a couple of hours then intended to lock through westbound for our return to Newark. That's when he informed me that I needed to watch the time, as the last locking was at 5 p.m. NOT what we heard when we left Macedon!
A quick check of the time and I knew we wouldn't be able to spend more than about 1/2 an hour in Lyons. So, we walked up a grassy rise to a McDonald's, got ourselves some chocolate milkshakes, sat on the grass while we enjoyed them, then set out for Newark. We went through lock 28B in Newark at about 4:30 and nudged up against the dock a few minutes later. This time, a very helpful gentleman was working at the visitor center. He took the lines and connected the shore power. He also said we could get a key for the restrooms and shower facilities at the dock. "Just sign the log book and put the keys in the drop box before you leave," he told us. Hot showers. This was going to be OK.
I don't really know much about the other Newark. But THIS ONE, I like!
Here are few pictures from day 2 of the cruise:
Organ clock in the Newark museum
Where are we?
We learned navigation on the canal pretty quickly. Let's face it, it would take a lot of talent to get lost here. Among other things, like it's a canal without any side streets to wander down, there are these channel markers. Green on one side, red on the other, each with a number. We were told to remember "red right return." This meaning: red markers on your right side when you are returning (i.e. going upstream or west). The canal guide we had showed the markers on the maps, so we always knew just where we were.
First mate has the helm
Turnaround point east of Lyons
Brief stop at Lyons
Preparing the lock for us to enter
Visitor center at Newark
This two-story building had a chamber of commerce office and visitor center above and facilities for boaters at dock level. You could sign out for a key at the office, but if there was no one in the office, you could call the police officer on duty and he would bring you a key. Really. I am not making this up. Anyway, the key got you into a large room with restroom and shower facilities and a washer and dryer for you to use at no charge. A very hospitable place.
Trompe l'oeil at the bridge near our mooring site