May 31, 2011

Heading north to Oswego and the blue waters of Lake Ontario

PHOENIXVILLE, New York, USA - The motoryacht Ziggy just transited lock No. 1 on the Oswego-Lake Ontario canal, with the goal of getting into Lake Ontario Wednesday morning.

The canal system is similar to the main channel of the Erie Canal, but the debris  (big logs, brush, old docks) have all but disappeared.

In fact, this canal seems to be mostly dotted with expensive homes,  fine boats and big expanses of forest.
Looking for some waterside property?

Perhaps the most amazing part so far has been the weather. It's gorgeous. The temperatures are in the 80s, very light winds, and about as nice as it ever gets in New York in the summer. And the water temperature in the canal is in the 70s - not that it looks particularly inviting for a swim.

Tonight's goal is to be at a marina within easy reach of Lake Ontario. Then Wednesday we will make a jump through Lake Ontario to the Welland Canal so we can get into Lake Erie.

Tiki Bar on the canal
Brother Dan Schwartz - who drove us to St. Johnsville where Admiral Fox and I jumped aboard the boat -  did another trip Monday to bring us our passports. Part of this journey takes us through Canadian waters and we were going to have to hide in the engine room if we didn't have our papers.

That didn't sound very inviting,  though the engine room on this yacht is the size of my office in Watkins Glen.

Adm. Fox and Captain Elizabeth went provisioning this morning and came back with sufficient supplies to get us to Bay City, Michigan (the end of our journey). In fact, the hard part is staying away from the goodies.

Five more locks to before Oswego... Hmmm... How many more chocolate-chip and oatmeal raisin cookies will be eaten by then?

Scenic spot to watch the boats go by

May 29, 2011

Aboard the motoryacht Ziggy in the Erie Canal

ST. JOHNSVILLE, New York, USA - Admiral Fox and I jumped aboard the motoryacht Ziggy this afternoon. We are crew  and will  help move the vessel from here in Central New York to Bay City, Michigan.

It might be called Brrr City, Michigan, too.

It's our first trip on the canal, and on this rig, we have air conditioning, a full refrigerator, and Internet access. Yup, we have Internet access, which is how this is being posted.

We arrived an hour or so before Ziggy made it here - thanks to Brother Dan's assistance driving us from Valois.

Dan drove his Prius as we chased along the canal until we landed here in St. Johnsville, a wide spot in the canal, but with a very nice sidetie for the boat.

A few hours later - and one injector repair completed - we are ready to rock 'n roll tomorrow morning for a run to Brewerton, where we have reservations for the night and Captain Elizabeth takes control.

The Ziggy is a 72-foot Hatteras and is quite well appointed. It's one of bigger boats to arrive here in awhile, the harbormaster told us.

And the cost for overnight here? $1 per foot... which includes power and water.

May 23, 2011

Valois Point Yacht Club opens, can summer be far behind?

VALOIS, Hector Township, New York, USA - The answer to that headline is yes, it can be far behind, as June sometimes can be a frosty time here at Latitude 42.

But at least for this past Saturday, and parts of today (Monday) it seems like there will be a summer, the lake water will recede far enough to launch all my various vessels and we will be able to swim off the end of the VPYC dock and float around in inner tubes.

That last one might be a little while coming. The lake temperature has barely crested 50 degrees, I'm told.

Erik and Tina Hazlitt cruise into the VPYC
The reopening of the VPYC became official Saturday at about 7 p.m. with the arrival - by boat - of Eric and Tina Hazlitt in their Feathercraft aluminum skiff. The boat is a sistership to the Feathercraft I had when I was 10-years-old.

Their vessel is a little more upscale than the boat I piloted: they have a steering wheel and remote controls.

But still, it was amazing to see a circa 1957 aluminum boat still out there on the waterways. Maybe I should be looking for one of those instead of a Glaspar G-3 to add to our powerboat fleet.

Last week, Admiral Fox and I celebrated our 21st wedding anniversary with a trip to nearby Canandaigua, where she played her fiddle with a group of musicians. We stayed at the Miami Motel. The only thing particularly Miami about it was the name, and perhaps the in-room jacuzzi tub in the corner.

Captain and Admiral at Two Goats Brewery
We did have dinner in town at a waterfront pub before the music started. I had a 22-ounce Brooklyn ale - a damn fine beer, with, of course, an equally fine name.

The Miami Motel trip was actually the day before our anniversary. The day of, we made our way to Two Goats Brewery in Hector (a few miles south of the Valois Point Yacht Club) where Cousin Brett Beardslee was playing.

After two tall glasses of Blue Point, I was about ready to do some singing myself. Probably just as good my ukulele was home safe in its case. Otherwise, there might have been a reprise of Rodney Carrington's 'Dancing With A Man,' a standard played by The Four Headlamps when we can get the band together. (LINK: The Four Headlamps sing "Dancin With a Man'

Rasta Ranch on NY State Highway 414
Brett's tunes at Two Goats were much easier to listen to.

Late this afternoon, Brett will be playing again, this time at Rasta Ranch Vineyards and Winery, perched partway between the VPYC and Two Goats Brewery.

(Is there a theme going on here?)

Brett and his wife Jesse decided that Monday nights needed some livening up in this slice of upstate New York, and so they talked Jesse's parents into opening the winery from 5-8 p.m. for music and wine.

Adm. Fox and are will likely head up there and check things out.

Here's a short promo video I posted on Facebook today, to shake out some of the locals to come hear Brett tonight.

May 17, 2011

You Google, I Google - but why are the results sooooo different?

WATKINS GLEN, New York, USA - The chatter around Facebook and in various publications for the past few weeks has been about how the Internet might not be connecting us all (remember the Global Village?), but in fact might be isolating.

This TED talk (Technology, Entertainment & Design) gets at that point very well.

And for those people concerned about privacy issues, the impact of media, and, well, the big D - democracy, you should watch this piece all the way through.

Then go buy a newspaper out a newspaper rack.

May 8, 2011

This video reminds that Mexico has a bureaucracy to behold

WATKINS GLEN, New York, USA - An amiga in Mexico sent along the video below, a showdown between someone trying to file papers and a Mexican bureaucrat intent on not letting that happen.

It's called various things in Mexico. I used to call it the Mexican Merry Go Round. But if it was you trying to renew a visa, pay your taxes, pay a traffic fine, or simply even send money somewhere, it wasn't a fun ride.

Unfortunately, it's a little too common - especially in the Mexican court system.

But that rant will come at another time.

Just enjoy this piece.

May 6, 2011

With all the rain, comes near-record lake levels - hoo-boy!!!!

SENECA LAKE, New York, USA - The sun finally came out yesterday, but the creeks are still sending water into Seneca Lake at alarming levels.

And all the neighboring lakes and rivers are filled to overflowing, too.

But maybe it means we will have a better boating season.


Here's a short video with pix of the high water around Hector and in Watkins Glen.

May 4, 2011

Plenty of water in Seneca Lake for boating this year - plenty

VALOIS, New York, USA - The daily rains (even if only for an hour or two) have been adding up since I arrived April 2.

The creeks and streams have kept flowing (great for trout fishing, of course) and even the secondary springs are pouring out enough water to give most California water officials wet dreams.

The Valois Point YC rowboats are safe, unless it keeps raining
But a by-product of all of this precipitation has been that the level of Seneca Lake has been inching up - higher for this time of the year than normal. Way higher, it seems. When I arrived, I thought the lake was out-of-control high. It was six inches lower then.

Lots of water is a good thing, in one way. It means our waterfront might be really clean, as the high water could be carrying off all the debris and sending it to some other person's lakefront. Or, I suppose, it could be dumping it squarely on our little stretch of the lake where I will have to rake it up and burn it - if it ever dries out.

All of the lakes in Central New York are filled to overflowing. Nearby Cayuga Lake (which has the city of Ithaca at its southern end) actually has a flood warning all along the shore. Many of the lake house there are built closer than Seneca.

And the rivers?

Well, the kayaking right now would be whitewater work in many places. Hmmm, whitewater might not be the right term. Brownwater rafting would be closer, given that the streams and rivers are as muddy as an upstate New York kindergartener's boots.

Lots of dock repairs when the water recedes - if the docks are still there

Rain or shine, boaters are getting their rigs ready for the water, no matter how high the lake level is. At the marina in Watkins Glen, dozens of sailboats are already uncovered, masts rigged for sailing and probably in the next few weeks, the slips will fill up.

So when is the first sailboat race?

This morning a well-maintained old woodie was being launched by Guy Schamel at the marina. The water in the launch channel was so high it could have almost been slid off a trailer.

It didn't dampen the enthusiasm of the owner though.

No sailing today, but soon

Valois Point Yacht Club dock