July 21, 2007

Ship's Log - Medina


Elisa Nelson has been with the schooner from the beginning in 2001. She worked throughout the construction of Lois McClure in Burlington as lead interpreter and volunteer coordinator. She was our Homeport Logistics Officer on our Grand Journey down the Hudson, and continues in that role for our Grand Canal Journey. She resides with her husband, also involved with the schooner as a volunteer, in Burlington, VT.

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Photo by Kerry Batdorf
Guard Gates

We left the friendly town of Pittsford, NY early on Thursday July 19th. Some of the ladies that had provided delicious desserts came by to wave us off and to watch us go through Lock #32.

Lock #33, many lift bridges and several guard gates later we pulled into Brockport, just for the night. The nice folks at the Welcome Center acquainted us with their facilities. Showers, laundry facilities and e-mail access beckoned the crew off the Lois. Over half the crew jumped at the chance to explore the area on the center's fleet of free bicycles. We made a quick trip down the tow path, heading west, until we had a minor mishap. My bicycle seemed to work quite well and I was leading our little pack. I decided to slow down to let the others catch up and didn't realize that Tom was about to pass me. I drifted left and he avoided me and made a valiant and miraculous effort to avoid falling into the canal (with his laptop in his backpack), which ended in a slide in the dirt and some bumps and abrasions, but amazingly little damage. The crew decided to see the rest of the towpath by canal boat.

Mule Team Tows Canal Boat Into Medina!

Photo by Kerry Batdorf
Reb and Yank Leaning Into the Tow

Friday morning we continued our journey west headed for Medina. No locks today, just 7 lift bridges and an appointment with a team of mules. Around 2:30PM we tied up along the side of the canal. Shortly, our hogees, Ron and Nancy McCarty rounded the bend with Yank and Reb trotting along nicely. Hogee is the term used for mule drivers in this area. It is possibly derived from the terms haw and gee which are verbal commands for left and right given to the mules. It is pronounced hoa-gie.

Roger, Erick, and Len had brushed up on Frank Godfrey's notes and illustrations of how to tow a canal boat with mules. A towing line was rigged from forward of amidships to the waiting team. Another line (a spring line) was rigged through the port bow chock, around the tow line and back to the starboard windlass. The mules could pull us along and the spring line could be used to adjust the angles so we would tow away from the wall; not too close and not too far.

When everything was set the lines to shore were cast off, Len and Erick used our push poles to shove us off the wall, and the mules took up the slack in the tow line. One quick pull and we were moving! This team of mules had pulled boats before, but it had been ten years ago and never with the hitch setup that we were using. These mules previously pulled a wagon and the tow line was tied to the wagon. We were using a traditional ground driving configuration, something this team had never done. With a wagon tow, the mules would feel the weight of the wagon and then feel the pull from the boat which would mean a more constant weight load. In our hitch system, the weight came up to the mules suddenly and they had to work hard. Unfortunately when Reb felt the weight, he thought someone had set the brake, so he stopped. Yank was ready to work, but Reb just didn't understand the program, so he balked every time the weight came on. The towing part was working fine so we finished our trial run and Ron and Nancy went off to explain things to Reb and make sure he was ready for the main event.

In the meantime, several gentlemen from the Masonic Lodge arrived to whisk most of the crew off to dinner. Fresh corn on the cob, beef on wec (a local favorite of sliced beef on caraway and salt rolls), fresh vegetables, and scrumptious desserts filled the crew to the brim and we were afraid we wouldn't fit into our re-enactors clothing! Even the crew left behind to tend the Lois, had a feast delivered right on board! Bags of cookies were given to each crew member as we departed. Wow!

But now, back to work. Back on the schooner we traded shorts and t-shirts for skirts, blouses, dresses, britches with suspenders, hats, and snoods!

Ron, Nancy, Yank, and Reb returned for the main event and were ready for the show. As Len and Erick nudged us off the shore, Yank worked hard to take up the slack and start us off. Reb figured out the job and joined in for the pull. Roger steered us down the canal and headed for the turning basin. We had a bit of excitement when our tow rope got caught on the canal wall, but a fast reacting, and fast moving, Ron saved the day and we towed on.

Photo by Elisa Nelson
Medina Welcome Party

Under the bridge and around the bend and there it was. Medina, a little town of around 6,000 had turned out in droves to watch our arrival. Our little flotilla was greeted as celebrities by waving and cheering crowds. The mules had done their job and had delivered us safely to the boat basin. They unhitched from our tow line and headed back to the barn. They deserved a nice bucket of carrots for a job well done.

Photo by Kerry Batdorf
John Callaghan, Special Assistant to the Director of NYS Canal Corporation, speaks at the Medina Sandstone Society Ceremony

Saturday was Medina's 175th Anniversary. As a part of the festivities, over 1,450 people toured the schooner. In the evening the Mayor presented Roger with a piece of Medina sandstone engraved as a gift to fellow 175th anniversary city Buffalo, NY. The sandstone, a gift of the Medina Sandstone Society, will be transported aboard the Schooner Lois mcClure and will be presented to the Mayor of Buffalo upon our arrival.

Generosity Abounds!

Thank You !

James Hancock, Marty Busch and all their associates on the Medina Canal Task Force, Mayor Clayton G. Ehrenreich III and the Village of Medina, for all your efforts in making this event a huge success.

Village of Medina - Tourism for the Pizza.

Ginny Kroopf, Mr. and Mrs. Orren roberts and the Medina Masons for the wonderful supper of fresh corn on the cob, beef on wec, desserts and the Crew Cookies to take 'home' with us.

Robert C. Wood, Middleport, NY for the meticulously crafted Schooner Lois McClure Ship In a Bottle.

Nancy and Ron McCartey at the Medina StoneFarm for the very compfortable Bed and Breakfast accommodations.

Pat and Bob Fox at the Garden View Bed and Breakfast for the very relaxing accomodations.

Case-Nic Cookies for the yummy supply of cookies.

Hans Rosentretter for the fresh, open-fire baked blueberry and apple pies.

Marty Busch for the huge box of fresh cherries.

Shirt Factory Cafe for the fresh coffee and pastries in the morning.

Phone: 802-475-2022