September 13, 2007

Ship's Log - Mechanicville-Schuylerville


Leo Straight - I was born in Keene Valley, NY and moved to Marshfield, Vermont in 1994. I have been fascinated with sailing vessels for most of my life and try to sail regularly on the windjammer fleet from Camden, Maine.

When I learned of the "Burlington Schooner Project" I went to check it out and have been as involved as I could be in my spare time. I volunteered some time during construction, crewed during the Grand Journey to New York, helped with scraping & painting during the 2006 haulout, crewed on the Plattsburgh tour in 2006, as well as other weekends throughout the season, and of course during the '07 journey. I enjoy being a part of the journeys and learning more as I teach others about how these boats and the canal (not to mention the people who made it all work) shaped the country around us. I look forward to my next trip on the Lois and more in the years to come.

Quick Links...


Photo by Leo Straight
The Tug Crow

Tuesday, September 11, 2007
I arrived at Erastus Corning Riverfront Preserve in Albany during a pouring rain. Upon my arrival, provisions were moved from the van to the boat quickly due to the downpour. This included a new battery for The C.L.Churchill.

Thursday, September 13, 2007
A colorful sunrise was accentuated by the reflection off the old D & H Railroad building adjacent to the park. (Ironically, they were the "enemy") We have a breakfast of bagels, cream cheese & donuts provided by Art Cohn's cousin and then begin the familiar task of dismantling and stowing the gangway aboard and making ready to cast off. After our traditional morning meeting on deck we did cast off and were underway at 9:10 AM and pointed the bow North.

We passed the Tug Crow pushing a barge downstream and a short time later passed the Tug W.O. Decker. Complimentary blasts of horns were exchanged. It was easy cruising to the Federal Lock. We arrive at 10:51 AM, clear the lock and get underway again by 11:12 AM. We could tell that not many big boats travel this canal anymore by observing the three pleasure boats that were vying for position upstream of the locks. They parted to make plenty of room when the gates opened and they saw how big we were. Just more than an hour later we cleared lock C-1 and continued upstream. An hour later, we were through lock C-2 with the Oocher standing by in case the current gave us a problem, but no incidents. Another flawless locking was performed by Roger and Erick, with Art on the Churchill, and Kerry and Adam in the Oocher.

We arrived in Mechanicville with spectators on the dock. With the bow line secure we proceeded to detach the Churchill from portside and move to starboard. In the midst of this maneuver, the Lois' stern lines and spring lines were secured to the dock, and we were ready to begin the setup that is reminiscent of a traveling circus. Gangway run out, banners placed and all modern conveniences disguised; to convert once more to 1862.

With music and refreshments on shore, we welcomed a steady flow of visitors throughout the afternoon and evening. Barbara Bartley's brother paid us a visit. Since we were welcoming visitors till 7:00 PM this particular evening, we appreciated the dinner that was provided for us from Faldoni's Restaurant. Portions were plentiful, and I think all but Adam and Lenny had leftovers for lunch the next day.

Photo by Barbara Batdorf
Mechanicville Sunrise

Friday, September 14, 2007
We had another great sunrise, which I watched with coffee in one hand and camera in the other. Kathleen made a breakfast of French Toast Bagels. Tasty, and always a surprise, as you were not sure what flavor you would get. Could be Garlic, could be an Everything bagel. I think this may become regular breakfast fare onboard. After breakfast the gangway was stowed and it's time to cast off once again. A group of women were there to watch us as we left. We were underway at 9:30 AM and right away preparing for Lock C-3 with a steady wind astern as we approached the lock. Who was there to greet us, but the women from the dock. They jokingly called out, "What took you so long?" We were in C-3 and rising by 9:48 AM.

Upstream there was a bridge with questionable clearance, so Erick perched on top of the C.L. Churchill's pilothouse to check the clearance, and there was room to spare.

We had a steady crosswind on the starboard side throughout the day as we chugged along up the canal and through Lock C-4 in Stillwater. Just after 1:00 PM our last lock for the day came into view, C-5 in Schuylerville. We were through and secure to the wall upstream at 1:45 PM. I go below deck and bring out the Cajun seasoning made by a friend of mine and use it as a dry rub to season the pork chops for tonight's dinner. Back above it is time to set up again. Gangway, retail tent, and banners were out already. The crew works like a well oiled machine. It is routine after doing it all summer long.

Photo by Leo Straight
Transition Lock Gate

Now, there is time to walk and explore part of the old canal and towpath that are still here, including a transition lock minus the gates. They are on shore, unfortunately deteriorating, but visible. They are much smaller than today's locks.

After a walk, I fire up the grill and cook the Cajun pork chops while Dave and Diane make a salad and slice some fresh tomatoes given to us by Denise. Thank you Denise, they were great !

Evening had a warm breeze, almost tropical which brought rain about 2:00 AM and grew heavier around 5:00 AM.

Saturday, September 15, 2007
It stopped raining by sunrise, but it was foggy and wet to begin The Hudson Crossing Fest, however, it was quite well attended. We were fortunate to not have to prepare meals for the day, as a breakfast of pancakes & bacon, hot dog lunch, and chicken barbeque dinner were provided to the crew of The Lois McClure. Thank you !! I wish we could have the "secret sauce" for the chicken BBQ. All I can say is WOW!

While in Schuylerville we had many visitors aboard. Some knew little about the canal and its history, others had ancestors who worked in some way or another with the canal. They came aboard saying a grandfather, or maybe uncle or some relative had worked the canal in some way or another. This was nice, as they may know the history and stories or even have pictures of an ancestor working. But, to actually set foot aboard an 1862 canal boat brings it all together and makes it more real for them. They get a better picture of what it was like for their ancestors who lived this life.

One case was a lock keeper at C-5 who mentioned that his in-laws were descendants of The Chubb family, who partnered with Theodore Bartley. I encouraged him to come aboard and talk with Barbara, which he did. Both parties enjoyed the exchange.

Photo by Kerry Batdorf
Foggy Morning

Sunday, September 16,2007
The morning was chilly and foggy. It was a great morning for an oatmeal breakfast. We hosted a group from a local historical society before they took a trip on the Caldwell Belle. Then we opened for a steady flow of visitors through the day.
In all our ports there were many generosities, whether it be a restroom, shower facilities or meals, not to mention dock space. Thank you all! Your hospitality is much appreciated.

Generosity Abounds!

Thank You!

Mechanicville Police Station for opening their restroom facilities.

Mechanicville Fire Station for the use of their restroom and show facilities.

City of Mechanicville for providing the Dinner from Faldoni's Restaurant.

Marlene Bissell and Hudson Crossing for the Pancake Breakfast, Hotdog Lunch and Chicken Barbque Dinner.

Schuylerville Old Saratoga Motor Inn for 2 rooms for 2 nights.

Phone: 802-475-2022