The Champlain Canal
With the mast securely lashed to the deck, we leave Catskill and head for Albany, where the canal begins. The weather had been hazy and overcast most of the way up the Hudson, but we left Catskill under a bright sun and the blueist skies we'd seen in days.
Lake Champlain is almost 200 feet above sea level, so we had to go through 12 locks, each one raising us from 15 to 20 feet. It's like an elevator for boats. You go in one side, they close the gate behind you, fill the lock with water, and the boats float up to the next level. When the lock is full, the other gate opens and you continue on to the next lock. Locks on the Champlain Canal are spaced so that you can get through all 12 of them in one long day, even in a slow boat.
One of the more unusual dining establishments we found was an old blue cabin cruiser that had been turned into a Bar and Grill. The kitchen was forward, in the hollowed-out cabin, the bartender was stationed inside the cockpit. Customers sat outside the boat (but inside the add-on structure), bellied up to the gunwales.
Typical of the towns along the canal is Coxsackie, a quaint little town full of pleasant and helpful people. Coxsackie's waterfront park was completely destroyed a couple of years ago during a particularly brutal winter. An iceberg broke loose up-river and hit the park doing an alleged 6 knots. It must have been one hell of an ice cube because it not only destroyed the docks, it took out quite a chunk of realestate too.
We entered the lake at Whitehall, New York, birthplace of the U.S.Navy. Yes, dear friends, this is the spot from where Benedict Arnold did all those great naval things. But he pissed off a lot of people when he switched sides. Now he's known for being a bloody british butt-wipe... and of course for his famous Eggs Benedict.
After sailing past Fort Ticonderoga, we anchored for the night.
I had promised a friend that I'd make an offering of cold beer to thank Neptune for safe passage. HE got the Coors Light, I kept the Sam Adams for myself (lets be realistic here). Jim and friends came aboard for the last day-sail and Theresa and I took the car and went pub crawling in the Vermont mountains. We had run out of good beer early on and went in search of.......... Good beer is hard to find, and after much searching, we found a place that had one of our favorites, "Old Speckled Hen". They also had one I'd not heard of before called "Brains", a traditional Welch Ale. Dangerously smooooth stuffff. It has since become our favorite. We slept on the boat the last night, drove to Albany the next day and flew back to Florida. I expected the New York City to Lake Champlain leg of the trip to be the best part, and I was not disappointed. Up-State New York was fabulous.