Erick Tichonuk, Canajoharie, NY
To say that putting an 88’ wooden canal boat into a lock while the Mohawk River’s flow rate is up thanks to heavy rains is a bit “squirrelly” may be a bit of an understatement. Fortunately our trusty tug C.L. Churchill and our inflatable bow thruster Oocher with the 50hp Honda are just the vessels to get the job done. It’s a bit of an odd arrangement to not be completely controlling the tow (Lois) strictly from the tug, however Churchill’s low wheelhouse doesn’t afford good visibility so most of the steering is done from the canal boat. The tug has far superior capability to turn the package of vessels quickly, so it’s a common phrase to hear “Art, half right” over the radio, meaning I’ve just asked Art at the helm of the tug to turn the rudder half to full over right. The results of the request are rapid and definitive. The tug also controls the forward or astern propulsion, so it’s like telegraphing to an engine room to make requests except via a radio. After thirteen years of working together and with Captain Roger Taylor we really have evolved our system and have a good feel for how things react. The strong currents keep us on our toes, so you’ll frequently see us with binoculars to our faces trying our best to “read” the currents and eddies in an attempt to anticipate which way we’ll be set.
So with squirrelly currents we made our way to Canajoharie. It was with great excitement we touched down on their riverfront park, complete with the Village Police to greet us (no we hadn’t done anything wrong in Amsterdam). Each time we come to port the crew is busy putting away modern intrusions to make the visitor experience better. Today was no exception to the clean-up but it was accompanied with an air of excitement to this three hour stop. We had been coordinating with the Arkell Museum and the Village who were expecting the arrival of Cycle the Erie , an annual event that draws over 650 cyclists who bike from Buffalo to Albany. The crowd was steady and appreciative. Our crew enjoyed tours of the Arkell Museum during breaks from interpreting.
As curtains closed on our public boarding hours volunteer Churchill Hindes went to work making some magic happen in the limited galley facilities of Lois McClure. Our hats off to Church, for so willingly and enthusiastically embracing our desire to consume good food. He and his son Jeff, a history teacher and captain, have been frequent volunteers on “Camp Lois,” as they call it. They’re part of what makes our program so special. We extend our sincerest thanks to volunteers like Churchill and Jeff and all the folks in the communities we visit. Special thanks to the Arkell Museum and Village of Canajoharie for a wonderful visit. And the next time you’re visiting the Arkell check out the spiffy white oak tree in their yard.