OUR INTRODUCTION TO THE CANAL
North Tonawanda (note there are two cities, Tonawanda and North Tonawanda and the people are very particular about which one you reference) is at the easterly most part of the canal. It is a cute town and happened to have two live bands playing in the central park area the night we were there. We walked to Topps (did some grocery shopping) and the post office and then had dinner on the boat before the Spivacks joined us to hear the music and people watch.
We left somewhat early the next morning for Lockport – there we encountered locks 35 and 34 which dropped us about 50 feet in total. We went through the locks – which have long cables running down the walls – with no problem. We went through the locks with a large (40-50 passenger) tourist cruise boat and a small private power boat. I was very proud of our technique, which we adapted from “Skipper Bob” – a short line from the mid-ship cleat around the cable and then back to the boat – held by Bob and both of us with boat hooks to push off the wall as needed.
After the locks we went on a tour of the Lockport Caves. We were closed out of the 3:00 pm tour so we had to wait for 4:00. We were concerned about getting to our next destination before dark/rain but did not want to pass up the tour. – I begged/whined to have them include us in the 3:00 pm tour to no avail. I think I am losing my touch.
The tour was fascinating and I recommend it. Ingersoll Holley holds more patents than anyone else other than Edison and built the cave over a 12 year period to generate hydro-mechanical power to serve factories in Lockport. He took the water from the upper side of the locks ran it through the cave with various exit points and then returned the water at the other side of the canal. Hundreds of Irish immigrants and their children were the laborers. The cave goes 900 feet into the earth. The tour ended with a short boat ride – the tour guide used an electric motor which was very quiet and contributed to the dark quiet milieu of the cave but he was a terrible driver and kept hitting the walls of the cave. He tried to sell it as a bumper boat but we weren’t buying it.
After the tour we returned to the boat and made it to Gasport (about 24 miles for the day) before the sky opened up. It rained most of the night. I slept like a baby – love that pitter patter of the rain on the deck. We discovered one leak – the mast of the boat went through the deck and sat on the keel – so the mast when it is up goes through the cabin. The boat now has a whole in the deck where the mast was which is covered with a piece of wood and a rubber gasket. Unfortunately, the gasket was not a real tight seal so we got a few drips of water coming in. A black plastic bag and gorilla tape took care of that!!!
Gasport is probably typical of small town America. Very friendly people, in fact the bridge tender, Travis, who runs between multiple lift bridges was incredibly helpful. The town is really two streets and the main attraction is Ace Hardware that has just about anything you could possibly want – except maybe underwear. I didn’t look for any but that is my guess. The store occupies an old manufacturing facility as well as a home – and the wood charm of the home can still be seen throughout the store. They have a countdown till Christmas even now and the entire second floor is devoted to Christmas related items.
Fast forward to Friday – after our short walk around Gasport we motored up to Middletown and tied up because of pending rain. We have been here all day and I am loving not going anywhere. We had coffee at the “Alternative Grounds Café” a sweet little gem of a place and walked around town.
We found a church with numerous Jewish Stars in the windows. I asked a guy driving by if the building had always been a church and he said yes – who knows??? I will try to do some research on it when we get in to a WiFi area.
Things I didn’t know or expect
I would get emotional about not being with family and friends
There would be so few sailboats (NONE) going in the same direction, at least not yet
A rain day would feel like a long sigh – a relaxing exhale.
The boat would feel so cozy
I would have times when I just was not hungry – eat your heart out weight watchers
I would feel a little less brave than I expected.