Thursday, October 30, 2014

After Jay returned for a week to close down the house, the Ruzaks are back on the road returning to Sandy Hook NJ oddly enough on the two year anniversary of the day hurricane Sandy hit the east coast. Several of the marinas along the Hudson River and beyond are no longer in business because of the damage that storm caused.
 Prior to departing some of the patio furniture brought indoors turned a birdbath into a resting place for a completely different species.
On our first day we voted the Ohio Turnpike service areas some of the best anywhere, and took this photo so Jay's sister in California could see the proof of that claim as Jay was on the phone with her as we stopped.   
 Then it was on to Brookville , PA - a quaint river town near Puksatawny Phil's home where we dined at the Courthouse Pub and Jay indulged in an amazing Italian "Pittsburgh" sandwich where some of the fries are imbedded into the sandwich, and yes he ate it all!!!

Monday, October 20, 2014

We entered NY harbor today from the Hudson River to these spectacular views and symbols of America.

The sun came out just in time. After the downtown show Jeff and I continued through the narrows to lower bay bad to Sandy Hook with a 20 knot wind pushing the Balia to 12 MPH. Also had to dock in those conditions at Atlantic Highlands marina. Tomorrow we move to  mooring and Tues start the drive home. Love to all.  Jay


Saturday, October 18, 2014

 We finished our week on the Erie Canal in Schenectady, NY at the Yacht Club in full view of one of the many aqueducts and old bridges we have seen
 on Oct. 13th where Cindy rented a car to drive back to Buffalo with the cats en cage to pick up the truck and then continue on back to Traverse City with an overnight in Port Huron (cats really enjoyed the hotel room and as usual used their own means to open the bathroom levered door into the main bedroom) to run the inn for the rest of the week. On the way she and cousin Jeff passed each other at mile marker 284 on I-90 as Jeff joined Jay on the boat for a week.

  Jeff and Jay finished the Erie the next day traversing down the “Waterfall” , a set of 5 locks in a row dropping a total of more than 125 ft. Then it was on to the Hudson River heading south toward NYC. Their first stop was to put the mast back up turning the Balia back into a sailboat finally. In the first four days they have passed beautiful scenery, quaint towns, West Point,  and dealt with wind and currents testing their docking skills. Jay has indicated Jeff prefers to steer but yesterday he asked Jeff to jump to the dock where the wind was pushing them off, and Jeff said something to the effect of “are you crazy, we are still 12 ft away” (no wonder he wants to be at the helm!).
Today was put the sails on day as the wind died down some. Sunday they will push on past NY Harbor to Sandy Hook NJ and then return to Schenectady to pick up rental car 1 that was left at the Schenectady Yacht Club and then home. Thank you Jeff!!!

 Here are some additional photos they took along the Hudson in the past few days.


Sunday, October 12, 2014

Days 4 and 5 experiences

 And just when we had a perfect day going with no problems, Murphy’s law caught up with us again Saturday night.. Such is life in the fast cruising lanes. After traversing Lake St. Clair, so nice to see open water again,
we stopped up river .

 Our stay at Bellamy Park near where the Mohawk joins the Erie near Ft. Stanix proved eventful as our inverter blew a breaker so until we could find the problem we had no heat as the temp pummeted to 32 degrees. Nothing like waking up to the sight of your own breath under the covers. Then as we left the dock the depth went from 10 to 2 ft in less than the length of the dock, which we now realized were unmarked shoals from the dam. However, it provided yet another stressful learning curve with just one cup of coffee under our belts at 8a. However, the scenery as we progress east is fantastic
with fall color and hills that are the Mohawk River Valley and passed General Herkemer’s mansion ( trivia question for the day, answer to follow).

 We descended the largest drop of any north American, and perhaps the world, lock at lock 17 of 40 ft. Amazing.

 Upon arriving in St. Johnsville Marina Bernie got an electrician to meet us at the doc, Marcel, who diagnosed our inverter issue and we are not warm again and off for dinner at Cosmos - good Cuban sandwiches and personally sliced potatoes for chips.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Days three and four on the Erie

Having learned to pay better attention to contradictory and sometimes minimal navigation aids we stopped for a pump out and diesel in a fairly narrow channel but managed to spin the boat in reverse into the dock without hitting anything. I did fail to previously mention one of our scarier pump outs and diesel ups at Waddels in Tonawanda where depth perception prevented us from realizing that his dock was in a ‘u shaped’ trough with a floating boathouse behind us and pylons for a bridge in front. Adding in the 30 knot winds forcing us on the dock and a right handed prop that pulls us left in reverse, we had an extremely exciting time de-docking and came within two feet of creating a new window for the houseboat.

  Then while we arrived late in Baldwinsville Friday night, we met some nice local folks on the dock in a trawler (Captain Mike and Admiral Becky) who helped with our docking lines and then we had a terrific dinner at the Lock 24 Grill just a short distance from the dock, and then this morning a true experience at the B’ville Diner
. One of the things we have noticed is the generally reasonable prices at restaurants (a surprise for us considering it is ‘east coast’), which has made us realize how expensive a tourist town we live in of Traverse City. But as before quality consistency is minimal as the diner was a unique place but served boring breads and the hash browns were prepackaged squares like MacDonalds, thus relying obviously on their “cute factor” rather than food quality. It is the first time that Jay has not even eaten one bite of the potatoes, and neither did Cindy. Even the eggs were bland. But the Lock 24 Grill did all very well – one of the best cheeseburgers I have ever had and one of the few restaurants that still serves a salad with a main entrĂ©e at no additional charge.  So okay we are foodies and that is what we write about.       

After crossing Lake Oneida, which reminded us of Lake Geneva in Wisconsin, and experiencing our only two ascending locks of the trip east on the Erie we have arrived in Rome, NY.
This is the site of the beginning of the Erie Canal construction and Ft. Stanix, but at a mile away from the canal we could not visit and really could have used bikes; but made the decision not to bring them thinking there would be rentals available all along the canal since there are significant lengths of original towpath that are now bikes trails , however, that is not the case. Something to think about adding next time or on our return.

 So tonight a quiet evening along the canal with train whistles frequently heard, but no electric for heat.  Patches and Pounce are into their routines, he sleeps all day on the warm but engine vibrating steps and she loves our bed.
The weather has been wonderful with crisp fall days and little rain so our luck holds so far.

Friday, October 10, 2014

First 4 days on the Erie Learning Curve

The beauty of the Canal is amazing with many quaint towns and restaurants catering to the boating crowds but others that are obviously struggling to survive and do not seem to care about the quality of the town/restaurant experience. So far the Galley in Spencerport is one of our favorites, especially after meeting the owners Ross and Gail, however, the Pony in Middleport where we had fun reminiscing with Cindy's friend Bob Cryor but other than the buffalo wings the food was not even close to tolerable although Cindy finally met a class of wine she couldn't finish (it was served in a 12 oz water glass to the brim for $3 and Chablis as the high point of the 3 wine list).

  Our learning curve of new boating experiences has been very sharp as the list of potential calamities has been 1) first night Cindy slips on wet dock and gracefully falls into the dodger window ripping out the seams (see later for importance of this occurrence in Patches escape) but Jay is now repairing as best he can with thread and needle.
2) first two locks the equipment to grab onto was flat on the wall and so low to our high freeboard that we missed holding onto the lines immediately and turned a bit sideways in the lock, which was compounded by a 30 knot wind; however, we have adjusted our technique and successfully have transversed 10 more locks.Patches then figured out how to squirm her way under the canvas so when we checked outside under the canvas covered cockpit she was outside on the deck in the rain. 4) On our first docking along the stone walls of the canal we underestimated the height of our freeboard and the current drift with strong winds so the bow came in a bit more than expected and making our first scratch of the trip. We now have 4 bumpers at different levels to accommodate the docks on the canal. And 5) most entertainingly, and hard as it may be to believe we actually took a wrong turn on the canal into a much wider body of water (the cutoff was unmarked and almost a creek) and ended up hitting shallow water. We retreated and successfully regained the appropriate canal. That's what happens when you try to eat lunch and navigate at the same time and have gotten into a drone pattern of red, green straight ahead. All good lessons learned and we are fine with minimal damages so far.
  It's now on to dinner, a shower since last night we had no heat or water facilities nearby.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Winter Cruise Underway

After 2 weeks of fall sailing up Lake Michigan, Down Huron and over on Erie we have arrived at the Erie Canal with both cats safely aboard, although Patches has already learned how to jump off the boat to shore. Our first full day on the Canal provided beautiful pastoral scenes going through 2 locks and 3 lift bridges to our first overnight on the wall in Middleport, NY.
Pounce seems content at times to stare at the shoreline but at others prefers to be on the companionway steps safely braced on the slant to the stairs