by Art Cohn
If you are a follower of our blog, then you know we were delayed in our quest westward two weeks ago by a rain storm event. After our layover in Waterford, we struck out on June 24th and ended the night about twenty-miles west of Waterford and so close to the Rexford Aqueduct that we were able to put a bow-line to it. We were poised to continue our travels west today (Thursday June 27) so that we might bring the story of the war in 1813, the canals that were built in their wake and raise awareness about shipwrecks, many reflecting on the War of 1812. However, the weather forecast began to talk about another storm-event with potentially significant amounts of rain on the horizon. Like Bill Murray in the movie “Groundhog Day”, we again began to think about safe harbor, delay and rescheduling. Fortunately for us, our partners at the New York State Canal Corporation have been taking great care of us and the other boaters on the system and contacted us to talk over what was coming and the options they were developing to deal with it.
Waking up to a beautiful summer morning its was hard to image that such heavy weather was supposed to engulf us later, but a quick check of the morning NOAA forecast confirmed that this was no dream and that a significant rain event was on its way. Just how much rain seems to be the question. As I write this update I am waiting to hear from our contacts at the Canal Corps so we can get the latest thinking about what may be actually coming and the best place for us to be when it hits. At the moment we are guests of our friends at the Schenectady Yacht Club who have gone out of their way to make us welcome.
We stopped here in 2007 and 2010, and have fond memories of this marina on the north side of the Mohawk River but built right on the site of the old Erie Canal. The site contains the northern end of the Rexford stone aqueduct, remnants of Locks 21 and 22, of which the stone walls are still used by a travel-lift to launch and retrieve boats from the old Erie Canal channel. The Schenectady Yacht Clubhouse is the old M. Travis Canal Store which in bygone days sat right on Lock 22 the tops of whose stone wall can still be seen on the edge of the parking lot. This is the perfect spot for an 1860’s replica canal boat to sit as all this infrastructure was designed to handle boats like the Lois McClure.
So it was with some degree of interest that our Captain Roger Taylor was walking near the Clubhouse when he saw an anchor leaning up against the back of the building. A conversation with Clark Farnsworth, the venerable former operator of the marina, suggested that the anchor was destined to be a lawn ornament but that if Captain Roger thought it could be used to help the Lois McClure we should take it with us. A series of phone calls between Commodore Dick Mason and other Club members enthusiastically endorsed the idea of our using the anchor and soon the period correct, 75 pound “Old Style” Wilcox and Crittenden anchor came aboard to replace our modern Danforth anchor. The Danforth was moved to the tugboat to be available when needed and with the swap completed, he fore-deck of the Lois took on a much more authentic look as we chronicled one more example of the community’s “act of kindness” to help us achieve our mission and take care of the crew.
All that goodwill and karma was a welcome reprieve from the storm clouds expected from the west. The folks at the National Weather Center were very gracious in talking to us and providing their best forecasts of what was to come. The Canal Corporation is working overtime to apply the models to the river flow and design a strategy to protect the community and their just repaired system. Aboard the Lois McClure we have made preparations to leave this exposed historic channel if need be and seek a safer harbor. As soon as this event is over I will provide you with a look what happened and how we rode it out…but until then, it will be all hands on deck.
Special Thanks to: