ONEIDA LAKE - MUCH A DO ABOUT NOTHING
We left B’ville (this is what locals call Baldwinsville) and traveled about 20 miles to Brewerton. We stayed at the free dock which had no water or electricity – but since it was free and only one night we were not complaining. Lots of seagull remains on the dock – they are a very messy bird. We are going to have to get used to relying on the resources of the boat when we anchor out anyway – so this was a good start. Upon arrival I started talking to a family that had arrived on a pontoon boat from across Lake Oneida and they immediately offered me a mimosa which I gladly accepted.
After a short walk to see what was in the area – not much of anything - we landed on the porch of a restaurant facing the canal for a few beers and onion rings. There was a folk singer playing, who was singing the same songs Bob used to play on his guitar in his heyday. The four of us enjoyed singing along. We then went back to the boat, had salmon for dinner and then went over to Trekker to play Bananagrams. This was a new game for Karen and Hugh. They promised to teach us how to play euchre.
Monday morning 8/14 we got up early and started the Lake Oneida crossing.
Lighthouse at the east end of Oneida Lake
Hugh and Karen went back to Winter Harbor Marina to buy fuel and pump out, which we had done the day before - so we got a jump on them crossing the lake. The forecast for the day was cool and very light winds, so when we stated off wrapped in our foul weather gear with white caps on the water - we were a bit surprised. I was a little nervous as we had been advised that the east end of the lake can get very wild if it is windy with 5-6 foot waves. We didn’t know exactly what the wind was blowing because our wind instrument that sits atop the mast can’t work when the mast is sitting across the deck – but it wasn’t the 2-4 knots we were expecting. Thankfully, as we progressed across the lake, the wind did die down and so did the lake and it was a very uneventful trip. There were some green markers that were not where the map indicated they should be, but we had set a course from one waypoint to another and stayed on course the entire trip.
As you come to the other side of the lake, a white light house indicates that you are close to Sylvan Beach and ready to reenter the canal. Sylvan Beach is a vacation spot that features a small amusement park – we didn’t stop. Coming back into the canal felt like a warm hug after the openness of the lake.
Sylvan Beach east end of Oneida Lake
However, the scenery started to change once back in the canal. The once windy path became very straight with trees on both sides and fewer homes or docks along the way; a bit less interesting. Lots of tree limbs were floating in the water both near the shore and frequently out in the middle. Trees that had fallen some years ago were also laying along the shores some creating very unusual formations. There were sections of the canal where the perfume of honey suckles was very strong – at least I thought that was what it was. It smelled great. The debris in the water requires a constant lookout so we don’t hit something.
The goal was to get to Utica (49 nautical miles), where we were expecting to find Utica Historical Marina, which is owned by the city. Skipper Bob provided a picture of the Marina – so we knew we were at the right place - but what we found was a dock not in the best of shape with room for two boats in a very isolated area next to a restaurant and party center that was closed on Monday. There was water and electric, and since there was no one to collect the $1/foot fee – it was free. Had a delicious steak dinner – we deserved it after the long day – and then watched some mindless TV – what a pleasure!!!
The next morning I hiked to the Utica Train Station that was designed by the same architect that did Grand Central Station in NY City. It was beautiful and well worth the walk. It is located in an area that is being re-gentrified with art studios and hip housing.
Train Station at Utica
This morning (Tuesday) we took off for Little Falls – which some cruisers say is one of the nicest stops on the canal. The scenery started to change again as the closer we got to Little Falls the more we saw hills/mountains off in the distance. We were entering the foothills of the Adirondacks.
I can say that the Harbor Master here is the nicest we have met so far. He took us for a half hour tour around town in his own car and offered to not only take us to the grocery store tomorrow but pick us up as well. The Harbor Master’s office boasts washer/dryers, nice showers and a living room like set up with TV and couches. We will meet Karen and Hugh there later tonight to play cards – How nice is that?? Enough for now.
Little Falls visitor center - Thank you Mark!