The Rhythm of the Erie Canal

We have found a way to survive the Erie Canal. But it came at a cost: another sinking of our dinghy Salty II when we tried to tow it sideways into a lock, scratches and yellow paint marks on Ginger Lee’s port side from a particularly turbulent lock when we got knocked sideways into the wall, and a bruised ego from not foreseeing such easily avoidable events.

Entering Lock 17 where we will be lifted up over 40 feet.

But we have learned from these mistakes, and have adopted a new rhythm to not only our boating style, but to our lifestyle as well.
The Erie has many locks–35 in all–and after a while, we enter them not with more confidence, but with more of an understanding of what could go wrong in a confined space with swirling currents.

The XO in her “lock seat.”

The same applies to our lives. Our lifestyle has dramatically changed. I knew it would. Gosh, we’re living on a 32 foot boat, where a workable day-to-day rhythm of life must be attained.
“Where’s my phone charger”? the XO asks.
“I don’t know”, I answer, “but it can’t be more than 32 feet away.”

Docked at Canajoharie, NY.

We travel slowly along this bucolic waterway for miles. It’s warm and sunny, everything is green and growing, birds sing, flowers bloom, bees buzz, butterflies flit, and nature rejoices. Then you encounter a lock. Suddenly life is not so great anymore. The potential for disaster is wicked high. It’s dark, and deep, and a bit frightening. But you must keep going. You just want to get through it and continue unscathed along the nice part. It’s a metaphor of life. SOCOBO 8/25/17

4 thoughts on “The Rhythm of the Erie Canal

  1. Do you think the lock operator went a little rough on ya… ?
    Filling / draining the lock too fast, to make some kind of point, or was just inconsiderate or not paying attention…?
    Or, is it just an unavoidable aspect of dealing with locks, no matter how gentle the operator fills & drains it..?

    • The lock operators are all very nice. Once they turn the valve, the process is completely automatic. The lockmaster came out to help us and said his lock is more turbulent than the others.

  2. Those Locks sound sketchy! I’m surprised there’s not more technology to keep things a bit more stable. Do you have have to constantly maneuver and compensate while in the lock? I bet you’re relieved when the lock door opens to the new level!

    • The locks were built in 1918. They still use the same machinery! It’s the lock keepers job to keep everything greased up and painted. They also mow the grass.
      We shut off our engines once we grab the ropes hanging down the side so there’s no maneuvering. We put out plenty of fenders and hang on. The boat swings away from the wall and back and forth. If it’s a deep lock it’s worse. There are lots of scary noises, banging and creaking. It’s a crypt!
      Finally the doors open and you’re free.

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