We brought Loki from Whitby to New Bedford in June. Details of the trip follow the pictures. A more technical description of the trip can be found on the Erie Canal page.

The Erie Canal

In Phoenix, N.Y., waiting for Customs to give us a sticker. Note that the mast is down, secured to the rail. The boom with the mainsail, is on the forward deck.

Amelia having fun with the washdown hose. Oswego Lock 1, in Phoenix, is in the background.


When you're done for the day, you just grab the wall near a lock. In front of Loki is a barge.

All of the locks are 43.5 feet wide by 300 feet long, but the "lift" varies. Lock 17 is the highest, with a 41 foot lift (or fall, in our case).  We started up at the top, and ...

 ... ten minutes later, we were in a cave!

Several days later, with the mast up, we're around New York City.

Loki was built in Whitby, which is a suburb of Toronto, Ontario, and we are keeping her in New Bedford, MA. Since she is much too wide (18 feet!) to get on a truck, she must be sailed out. The most direct route is across Lake Ontario (125 miles), into the Erie Canal system at Oswego, NY, through the canal and out near Troy NY (186 miles), down the Hudson River to New York City (160 miles), around the Battery and through Hell Gate to Long Island Sound, and up the Sound to New Bedford (165 miles).

We had hoped to get a professional delivery for at least the first part of the trip. However, all of the possibilities seemed to evaporate, so we decided to do it ourselves. Claudia and I, along with our almost four year-old daughter Amelia, went up to Toronto for the third time in six months. Normally the Lake Ontario crossing is done as an overnight, so as to arrive in Oswego in the morning, but at departure time a front was still passing with rain and heavy wind, so we went to Plan B: Get up at 4:30 AM and hope to get across before dark. As it turned out, the wind and waves built during the morning so that we had 20-25 knot winds and 4-6 foot seas, fortunately behind us. Occasionally, we had sets of 8-10 foot swells that Loki could surf at 13+ knots! We did 50 nautical miles in the first 6 hours.

During the entire crossing we saw no evidence of life, other than one bird. There were no buoys, no lobster pots or fishing gear, no boats, nothing. A light haze kept the shoreline almost out of sight. It was the most isolated I've ever felt on a boat.

Shortly after noon, the "troubles" began. One of the engines started to loose RPMs. I tried shutting it down, checked the belts, fluids, etc. It would work for a bit, then start to loose again. When the other engine start to slow, I called the PDQ factory on the cell phone; they advised me on bleeding air bubbles, and suspected clogged anti-syphon valves. Most of the afternoon I went from one engine to the other, fidgeting with the bleed pumps and somehow keeping at least one engine running. One engine died three times, the other twice.

When we finally made it into Oswego, we spotted another PDQ 36, Someday Soon, and pulled in right behind her. Bill and Carolyn Bartholet we taking Someday Soon on a "circumnavigation" of the East Coast, and gave us a lot of pointers on handling the PDQ, especially in the locks.

That night the mechanics from the Oswego Marina determined that the anti-syphon valves on the fuel tank were hopelessly clogged, presumably with dirt left over from manufacture, and should be replaced with straight through fittings. (Although required by law, they aren't really needed on a diesel. Once several tanks of fuel have been run through the fuel filters, most of the "new tank" crud will be cleaned out and the valves could be put back in.) The next morning, they put in the new fittings, and suctioned all the lines to make sure there were no other problems. We were off to the locks by noon.

(Update: When we changed the fuel filter, there were a lot of large particles in the bowl.  Later in the Summer, the starboard engine started blowing black smoke, a sign of sticking injectors. We sent them out for a rebuild - we were told they looked "seven years old.")

There are 29 locks on the part of the canal we were using, plus one on the Hudson. The first nine are up, the next 21 are down. Each lock is 42 feet wide by 300 long, the "lift" varies from 8 feet to 41 feet. The boat was prepared with four large fenders, plus a 2x4 over the middle fenders that rubs against the wall. We would drive into a lock, grab two of the lines hanging down, and gently fend off the wall while being raised or lowered. Going up is harder, because there is more turbulence, and the boat is pushed into the wall. Going down is just like being on a large elevator. Other than a few minor mishaps, like the fenders popping out, or finding an engine still in gear just as I reached for a line, there were no problems.

Much of the canal system follows rivers (Oswego River, Mohawk River) but parts are straight cuts. The scenery is lush, and varies from rural, to residential, to industrial. Most is quite pleasant. Each night we simply tied up to the wall near a lock; one night was in "downtown" Phoenix, the other two nights were in "the middle of nowhere."  We saw very little traffic until the weekend fishermen. Most of the boats we encountered were megayachts headed the other way, presumably Chicago, etc. We didn't share the first 23 locks we went through; on the last day we had one small boat with us.

After the first lock, most were boring, but several bear special mention. Lock 17 has the largest fall, 41 feet. The canal leading to it seems perched above the town of Little Falls, NY. Its very strange to be looking down to the cheerleaders on the football field! The last five locks on the Erie Canal, the Waterford Flight, are each 35 feet and are spaced about 1/4 mile apart. The cumulative fall is about twice the height of the Panama Canal. Shortly after that is the Federal Lock on the Hudson at Troy, NY. This we shared with eight other boats - each boat being assigned one "post" to tie a line around at midship. 

After the last lock we were in tidal water - there are 4 foot tides all the way up to Troy, but by the time its high water in Troy, its past low water in New York City. On the weekend there were a lot of large sportfishing boats and lots of jet skis, but during the week there was virtually no traffic.

About 30 miles down the Hudson we pulled in Riverview Marina in Catskill, NY and were met by Claudia's parents. Claudia and Amelia had to leave to get back to work, and Claudia's father, Davis, signed on to help bring Loki to New Bedford. Also, since the are no low bridges remaining on the trip, the mast was raised and the sails rigged. Loki was a sailboat again!

The trip down the Hudson was uneventful. The weather was near perfect, though the wind was generally light and "on the nose" so we powered the entire way. Scenery varied from woods, to power plants, West Point, fancy estates, the Palisades, to New York City. 

We stayed in Tarrytown Marina the first night, so that we would go around the city and through Hell Gate at slack tide. As it turned out, we got there early, and killed time by viewing the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Unfortunately, the currents plus the numerous tour boats and ferries made the water very choppy, so we went up the East river and waited about an hour for slack. Listening to marine radio channel 13, we could hear the barges lining up in preparation for slack. We let several go in front of us, then joined the parade. The only problem is that the barges tend to slow down at unpredictable (to us, at least) times. We finally got past them by going to the North of a small island near Flushing, when they went South. Soon, we were under the Throg's Neck Bridge and into Long Island Sound.

More uneventful sailing - well - mostly powering with occasional help from the wind. We stayed in Norwalk that night and Noank the next. The next day we came into New Bedford with the first good wind of the trip. Our slip (actually the "face" dock opposite the commercial fishing boats) was waiting for us. Dave got a bus back to Waterbury, I got one to Boston.


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