by Tom Larsen
September 6, 2011
The trip from Shoreham to Whitehall was an experience in opposites. The weather threatened to be seriously stormy the whole trip, but despite this we saw some of the most variety of birds so far in the season – osprey, cormorants, bald eagles, kingfishers, the ever present gulls. Signs of Irene abounded as well – hay bales alongside the channel, large pieces of debris pulled to the side, sections of the shore slumping into the lake. We even came across a cruiser working as a tug, pulling a section of floating dock that had escaped!
Once we arrived at Whitehall, we were able to lock through into the canal and tie up at our usual place, right alongside the Skenesborough Museum. We have now been open in Whitehall 5 years out of 7 that the Lois has been touring, and it’s always nice to come back to such a historic place. Home of the construction site of the first American fleet on Lake Champlain, the resting place of much of the American fleet from the war of 1812, the start of the canal system, home of Cora Archambault (a woman whom has told us a large amount about firsthand life aboard canal boats, having grown up on one – she is 107 this year); the history in this area runs deep. Being able to dock in an area so steeped in history is wonderful.
Shortly after we arrived at Whitehall, the Champlain Canal was closed at Lock 12 (the one we had just gone through) and from Lock 7 to Lock 2 – the entire Hudson Valley side of the canal. This was in preparation for the upcoming rain event. After our public day in Whitehall (coinciding with the Farmer’s Market), we moved down to just below Lock 8 on the canal by Fort Edward. The canal then closed for three days straight as yet more water came down from the sky onto already saturated ground. Communities that were already reeling from Irene were hammered with weather yet again. Safe at Lock 8, we rode things out thankfully without incident. After the weather passed, we started hearing about how hard the Upper Hudson and Mohawk Valley got hit. Consultation with the NYS Canal Corporation showed that us leaving the Champlain Canal was not an option. We decided to make the best of it, and the schedule underwent a major change.