THEY SAY IT WILL ALL BE WORTH IT.
I just realized I have not written anything since before we got to Erie so here is a recap.
We spent two days and three nights in Erie at the Commodore Perry Yacht club. A very friendly club that is member run. They only have one employee and everything else is done by volunteers.
I don’t know why but sailors are a different breed. They seem to need to make things difficult and then enjoy overcoming the hardships. They are generous with information, like what marinas they stayed at that they liked, always a warm hello and generous with their belongings. Thursday when we arrived in Erie, we were offered a car to go to the grocery store and accepted. True the boat we left behind was worth more than the car – the owner had no fear that we would take off; but still a very generous offer. I remember when we sailed with the girls when they were little the same was true – but then I thought people just felt sorry for us with two small children in tow.
There was a family picnic day at the club which we enjoyed - $12 each for all the food and beer you could consume (Noon to 10:00 PM). Live music, games for the kids – a great way to wait out 25-30 knot winds. Thank you to the Browns and Ashpis/Dormans who brought an electrical cord to Erie!
Then we were off to Buffalo – stayed at the Erie Basin Marina – a public marina something like 55th street. A small cruise ship was docked there which was taking 80 guests from Chicago to Rhode Island. An interesting group of older people from Oregon.
The two days in buffalo were a bit brutal. We had to take off the sails and rigging, build supports for the mast and get over to RCR for them to take the mast down. Boy did I under estimate how much time and effort that would take. But it is done. We are now a floating, power driven mast mover.
We are blessed to have wonderful cousins in Buffalo – Randy and Ruth Spivack who helped us tremendously the last few days. We used their car and they fed us when our personal tanks were very low. We hope to be able to meet up with them again in Florida and perhaps points beyond.
Can’t say enough good about the people at RCR. Chris helped us redesign our supports adding a third middle support and tying everything down in multiple directions to help prevent any issues for us when crossing the Oneida Lake. He took great care in setting the mast down just right so that even picky B. Allenick was pleased. Darren, the yard manager, gave us a ride back to the Erie Basin Marina where we had left the car that cousins Randy and Ruth let us borrow and gave us a free night dockage, albeit without electricity, because they finished the job so late in the day. They really took good care of us – and the price was not out of line.
Our journey to the canal was uneventful – we were impressed with the current in the Niagara River which allowed us to go 7.1 knots with very little engine power. We went through our first lock at Black Rock all by ourselves. It was about a five foot drop and we held on to ropes lowered from the lock wall. No biggie.
Only one not so great experience so far from a people perspective. We stopped at Wardell’s Marina at the entrance to the canal to fill our diesel tank. At first they refused to sell us fuel because we had taken down our mast elsewhere. We understood that Wardell’s also did de-masting, but RCR had come very highly recommended (Thanks Dan Elliott from Ullman Sails). It never occurred to us that someone would refuse to serve us when they had the fuel – after we explained our ignorance of the local customs, he did relent.
Wardell's - boo
So here we sit in the Erie Canal, Tonawanda, NY, docked at Gateway Park. We were originally going to head right out to Lockport today. But last night I realized that there was no need to rush and there was plenty to do in Tonawanda. There is a gentle breeze and kayakers and boaters passing by providing an endless variety of scenery. We are about to go and explore. There is a free concert tonight and many boats are here for the concert.
Finally we are getting a glimpse of what the next several weeks will be like. For me it will take a while for the exhaustion from de-masting to fade from memory – but they say it will all be worth it and even though I miss family and friends I feel truly blessed and relaxed for the first time since we left.