Canada, eh?

For the past two weeks we deliberated where to go next when we emerged from the Erie Canal at Oswego, NY. Our initial plan was to go west to Lake Erie, see family  and friends, then up through Detroit and on to Lake Michigan.

But then we heard from other boaters that the Trent-Severn Waterway and the Georgian Bay in Canada were renowned for their beauty and should not be missed. We were so torn…

After much thought (and sadness that we’ll miss family on Lake Erie), we decided to make a run to Canada. We hope my cousins and uncle will visit us again in other locations!

We are now in Trenton, Ontario after cruising 10 hours across Lake Ontario. Captain Craig chose a splendid day for the crossing and the lake was smooth as glass…no seasickness for Niki or the kitties 😀

After we cleared customs (just a quick phone call) we took down the yellow quarantine flag and raised the Canadian courtesy flag. Our big American flag still flies at the stern (back of the boat).

If you’ve never heard of the Trent-Severn before (join the club!), here is a Google map. It’s a continuous waterway that consists of lakes, rivers and 45 locks and connects Lake Ontario to the Georgian Bay and Lake Huron. (Didn’t think you’d be getting a geography lesson, did ya?)

After the Georgian Bay (rumored to be glorious) and the North Channel, we’ll skip over to Mackinac Island in northern Michigan. At that point we’ll be just a hop away from Craig’s home state of Wisconsin where we plan to hang out for a month or so.

We welcome visitors anywhere along this route. Come see us and take a cruise on Joy Girl!

We’ve Got It Locked Up

We received a few inquiries about how we are faring in the Erie Canal, so we apologize for the delay in this post. After a full day of locks we were just too tired to write!

Leaving Waterford, NY the first day, Captain Craig was nervous for Joy Girl as we heard horror stories of out-of-control boats ramming others, hull scratches from the lock walls, locks breaking, etc. But we’ve had great neighbor boats, the locks are not too turbulent so it’s fairly easy to keep Joy Girl steady, and things have run smoothly.

Here’s the drill: we drive through the narrow lock gate, secure Joy Girl by either grabbing a line that drops down from the top or wrap a line around a cable that extends the length of the wall, then hang on, keeping the boat near the wall. The lock then slowly fills with water. The tallest lock lifted us up 40 feet.

One afternoon – while Niki took a nap out of sheer exhaustion – Craig toured the hundred year old Lock #14 (the canal was begun in 1817). The very friendly and informative lock master named Chris took him on an extensive tour of the lock’s inner workings and mechanisms. While they were talking, a tug boat came into the lock and, under careful supervision, Craig was allowed to open the valves and run the lock. Many captains go through the locks but not many are privileged to operate them!

We have been through 23 locks so far…whew! Since First Mate Niki does most of the line handling, she is now pooped (although not too pooped to party!)

About the canal itself…it’s pretty, filled with Cottonwoods and deciduous trees. But if I am brutally honest, I was spoiled by the East Coast. After a day of travel, it was wonderful to visit world-class cities like Charleston, Annapolis and New York City. Upstate New York is a quieter, country atmosphere and, unfortunately, there is not a lot of money or industry here anymore and the towns are struggling.

We have nine more locks to go before we arrive in Oswego, NY, located on Lake Ontario and the end of the New York state canal system for us. For now, we are taking a much needed three day break in Brewerton, NY in a sweet marina called Ess-Kay Yards.

Tomorrow, we do not travel…ahhhhh!

The Hudson River Line

I’m taking a Greyhound on the Hudson River Line. I’m in a New York state of mindBilly Joel

As we traverse up the Hudson River we haven’t seen any buses but, to Craig’s joy, we have seen many Hudson Line trains, both passenger and cargo. River traffic is light with only a few enormous barges quietly sliding by. Old lighthouses pepper the landscape.

There is a deep peace that settles on the Hudson after the high paced energy of New York City. It doesn’t take long for the millions of people, the noise and the lights to fade away into stillness, mist and greenery.

Coolest thing for me, after singing Billy Joel songs all week – we met the couple who now lives on the Florida Bay Coaster that Billy Joel owned called “Red Head”.  Got to tour the boat, which was 1,400 square feet and built like iron box!  Billy used to have 2 Harley’s on it which could be lifted out with the crane at the front of the boat. No frills for Billy, just a tough, almost commercial level, motor vessel.

We are now in Waterford, NY, at the beginning of the Erie Canal. Successfully went through our first lock today but no photos since we were pretty nervous, will take some soon! Should take us a few days to get to Oswego, NY on Lake Ontario…

I Love New York!

I haven’t been to New York since my teenage years. I loved it then but I wondered if my taste or the city had changed after all those many (!) decades.

But, no. It’s still absolutely amazing and was worth every hour of that icky open ocean ride we had to endure to get here.

What a thrill to drive Joy Girl into New York Harbor! We expected hundreds of huge commercial ships to terrify us but, surprisingly, only a few large barges were anchored out and a few ferries and tour boats passed us. We motored past Lady Liberty, Manhattan, up the East River and under the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges, then into the Hudson. It was a glorious day for photos!

We docked Joy Girl at the 79th Street Boat Basin on the Hudson river. Right next to beautiful Riverside Drive and just west of Central Park, this marina was a fabulous location to launch into the city.

We pedaled, walked and metro’d through NYC for two days and crammed in as much city as possible. We saw the Broadway theaters, Times Square, 9/11 memorial, the financial district, Battery Park, the government district, Chinatown, Little Italy, SoHo, Grants Tomb, and the never ending stream of breathtaking residential architecture that graces the streets.

I loved it all. Craig isn’t a city guy so he wasn’t so thrilled, and we both agree NYC is not as bike friendly as we’d hoped. But I loved walking around, absorbing all I could. There is still so much more to see, but that just means we’ll have to go back to visit again!

And now we go up the Hudson River toward Albany, NY…

 

New York State Of Mind

Today we successfully made the ocean run from Atlantic City to New York…11 hours on swells, waves, and fog, traversing the Jersey Shore. We couldn’t travel through the New Jersey ICW (Intracoastal Waterway) because it hasn’t been maintained and it’s too shallow for Joy Girl. So, to the ocean we went…

We don’t like to be negative but we would never recommend Atlantic City to anyone…such a surreal place with unkempt casinos and scary slums just one street away from the boardwalk. We won’t return there.

Atlantic City

For tonight, we congratulated ourselves on a tough day at Cole’s Dockside Restaurant on Staten Island:

Tomorrow: New York City! I found out that New York is very bike friendly so we’ll be cycling through the Big Apple. Billy Joel is running through my mind…

Another bit a good news: I’ve trained the kitties to know that when we stop for the day, they get…TREATS! The minute we stopped the boat today, they ran downstairs (instead of being frozen in fear) to get their kibble. We were happy to see them so lively the minute we stopped for the day.

Happy weekend to you!

 

Supreme Commander Scully: “Let’s Go!”

Friday we made it down the Delaware Bay to the picturesque seaside town of Cape May, NJ.  The original plan was for one night here, two at most.  Then weather got involved, and of course the beach called to Niki:IMG_20180526_151919_1 crif.jpg

With the exception of a few years of discord between two series of American open wheel racing, Craig has attended every Indianapolis 500 since 1986.  This year he had to settle for watching it on TV, which we did at Delaney’s Irish Pub, (dressed in an Indianapolis Motor Speedway shirt, of course):IMG_20180527_104258 crif.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Along the way to and from the town (the entirety of which is a National Historic Landmark), Niki found plenty of gorgeous homes to photograph; here is but one of the many we passed:

 

 

Through all of this, however, Supreme Commander Scully and Admiral Roswell were wondering why, for now four days, their ship was not moving.  Taking matters into her own paws, Scully pulled out a copy of Chapman’s Piloting & Seamanship, along with the Waterway Guide book, studied them, and commanded her crew, “Let’s get going, you two!”20180528_091807 crif.jpg

And so, once this morning’s dense fog lifts, the Captain and Mate will do their best to follow her orders…

The Sailing Capital: Annapolis

Did you know Annapolis, Maryland, is considered the Sailing Capital of the World? We’ve never seen so many sailboats, thousands of them lined the channels! This is a typical marina – mostly sailboats and only a few power boats. Joy Girl was lonely for her kind.

Last week in Virginia we saw Jamestown (the first English settlement) and Yorktown (where the final battle for our independence was won). Our American history tour continued in Maryland, which was home to four signers of the Declaration of Independence, plus George Washington resigned his commander in chief commission in Annapolis after the war. This was very significant because it was thought he might retain his power and rule like a king but, instead, he laid his military authority down to Congress and the American people and therefore solidified the foundation of freedom for our new nation.

A beautiful metal sculpture stands where they believed he retired and returned to private life. They still have his handwritten speech…it was quite moving to see such humility in the man who was to become our first President.

It was Commissioning (graduation) weekend at the Naval Academy so white-uniformed midshipmen were everywhere and we were excited to see their beautiful chapel, visit the museum and eat lunch at the Academy Drydock restaurant.

Because it was commissioning weekend, the Blue Angels performed over Annapolis! Joy Girl, along with hundreds of other boats, anchored at the mouth of the Severn River to watch the show. Unfortunately, Niki’s tummy was extremely unhappy for several hours as we bobbed around like a cork while boats of every size and shape wrestled for a spot to anchor. But after everyone settled down, the water was fine and the Angels screamed overhead.

This port of call was made even better by a visit from my old friend, Maureen McAuliffe, who drove down from DC to see us. We had wonderful dinner on the waterfront.

This afternoon we plan to arrive in Cape May, New Jersey!

Naval Norfolk

Cruising up the Elizabeth River into Norfolk, Virginia our mouths dropped open as we gazed up in awe at the enormous Norfolk Naval Shipyard. One of the oldest and largest shipyards in the world, it specializes in repairing, overhauling and modernizing ships and subs. The Yard stretches on for miles and miles, one huge warship after another. Joy Girl felt like a pipsqueak beside them.

We had the privilege of boarding one of these military marvels as the USS Wisconsin has been retired, is open for tours, and was moored a short walk from our marina. This gigantic girl, nicknamed Wisky, is 887 feet long, 108 feet wide and was crewed by as many as 2,800 men. She had nine 16 inch guns that fired 2,700 pound shells. She fought in WW II, Korea and in Operation Desert Storm – an epic battleship.

Norfolk made us glad that these warships are on our side! Waterside Marina was smack dab in the midst of downtown, in the epicenter of everything, and surrounded by military might. It was quite the visit!

First Flight, Great Light

As Joy Girl, her feline officers, and human crew continue to make their way northward, it would only be appropriate for a man with 35 years of flying to visit Kitty Hawk, NC.  As you may well know, this is the site of the first powered, manned flight in history.  On that glorious December 17 way back in 1903, Orville and Wilbur Wright’s years of research, dreams, and efforts finally came to fruition in a short 12 second, 120 foot long flight along the windswept sands.DSC04861 crif

In addition to the life size recreation of the famous (and I believe only) photo of the historic event, the National Park Service Wright Memorial includes a placard at the very spot from which their aircraft first became airborne, reconstruction of their 1903 workshop, living quarters, and hangar, as well as a full scale model of the rail from which they launched their flyer.20180511_135341

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Out in the distance, 4 stones mark the landing points of each of their successively longer four flights that day.  This is picture shows Craig at the touch down spot of the famous first flight, with the landings of flights 2, 3, and 4 behind me:DSC04847 crif.jpg

Several years ago while touring the Boeing factory in Everett, WA, I recall them saying that the fuselage of a 747 is so large in both length and breadth that the Wrights could have completed their entire flight inside of the jumbo jet!  A lesser known fact is that enhanced images of that flight suggest that pilot Orville may well have been wearing a hat from the vessel Joy Girl:20180511_144256 crif.jpg

While we were out and about, we took our rental car down to Cape Hatteras to visit the iconic lighthouse.20180511_160517_001 crif.jpg  Built in 1870, 20 years ago the famous brick tower was in danger of being reclaimed by the sea.  The shore, once 1500 feet way, had eroded to within 150 feet of the lighthouse, so they moved it!  After digging down around the foundation, they actually jacked the entire structure up a bit at a time, got it onto a rail system, and moved the nearly 200 foot high lighthouse 2900 feet inland.

Climbing the light involves 258 steps, roughly the equivalent of going up a twelve story building, in a dizzying spiral around the perfectly cylindrical interior of the tower (the cylinder, inside the conical exterior, is some of what gives the lighthouse its strength).  It took some breathing to get our aging bodies up there, but the view from the top, well, it took our breath away and was definitely worth the effort.  No picture can do it justice, of course, but we’ll leave you with this shot looking out over the tip of Cape Hatteras and hope that someday you will be able to take in this view in person:DSC04884 crif.jpg

Where Is Joy Girl?

For our friends and family who wonder “Where are those crazy Kozaks now?” we’ve created a Travel Map that displays our past route and current location. You can always find it by clicking the link “Where is Joy Girl?” at the top of our blog and you can view it here now:

https://joygirladventures.travelmap.net/

We also get a lot of questions about the kitties and are happy to report that they are adjusting well and now sleep soundly through calm waters and no longer freak out in rougher seas. They are doing great!

Today we plan to harbor at Manteo, Roanoke Island then rent a car and drive over to the Outer Banks to see Kitty Hawk, the Wright Brothers Memorial, Nags Head and Cape Hatterus. We’re very excited to see those historic locations!