How lucky are we that we are traveling during the 200th anniversary of the Erie Canal! It took 8 years to build and it took us 8 days to traverse. There are 2 routes and due to our height we had to take the eastern route which would put us in Lake Ontario. The other route comes out around Buffalo on Lake Erie. What this means to all boaters on the Erie Canal this year is that all costs are free so we saved close to $200 in fees. Additionally, many towns are planning Canal Days celebrations.
Travel on the Erie Canal is slow due to speed limits and the amount of locks. We did 30 locks and a typical day was comprised of about 6 locks. This is “small town America”, for sure. There are no big marinas and the appeal is really having “no plan” and just stopping when you feel like it. Each town around the locks have walls with the ability to tie up your boat. Some of the walls have electric and water and others have none. Loopers love this part of the trip because not only are we not burning much fuel, we are not incurring marina charges. Some towns will have a payment system that could be something like $30 to cover the electric. Not only is it an enjoyable trip it is less costly!
What we enjoyed about the Erie Canal is that wherever we stopped we had instant friends because other Loopers were either already on the wall or they arrived after we got there. One day we were around Lock 14 and the town of Canajoharie (where?) and we tied up at the last place along the wall. Before we knew it other boats also were stopping there so we double rafted everyone up. A funny thing that happened is that the Lock Master for Lock 14 actually walked down to all of us to ask why no one was coming through his lock. Our answer was “We’re done for the day!”. Additionally, the local people commented that they had never seen so many boats there at one time and wanted to know what was going on. It was just “Docktails, of course”! Read more
It is not as if we are traveling at a fast pace, but we do move along nearly every day to a new location. It is mostly about the timing to hit Canada and northern Michigan in the summer when the weather is the nicest. We realized that we had not been able to anchor out since Georgia and we really thought that we would have done this more. We are somewhat restricted on anchoring because we have not been able to train Jazzy to go on the bow of the boat and we would need to dinghy to shore. That means two things that we would be concerned with: Is the weather nice to get us in the dinghy and, is there an actual place to get the dinghy into? We were dying to slow down the pace with some nights “on hook” and the Hudson would be the perfect place.
From my previous blogs you might gather that a lot of the month of May was chilly, windy and rainy. Who wants to get in a dingy in those conditions? It is much easier to dock somewhere. But, once we left New York City we finally found Summer! We also did some sightseeing and other fun things.
We anchored out along the Hudson River and explored with our dinghy. This was great fun and so peaceful. We used Active Captain to locate some good areas along with the Waterway Guide. One time we anchored off of a state park which gave us some good dog walking with Jazzy. The second time we saw fireworks and a beautiful moonrise, but when we went ashore there was mostly brush and not good dog walking. We really enjoyed this time with the warm weather. Steve had been dying to hit golf balls from the bow of the boat so he got out the “doggie artificial turf” and had a blast!
Leaving that area we met up with 18 other Loopers at a place called Shady Harbor for 3 days. They hosted a pig roast with entertainment to show their appreciation. The weather was beautiful and everyone took advantage of it to clean their boats! Read more
It was our desire to take in some of the City so we planned to stay in the area for 3 days. I say, “in the area” because no one docks in New York City. Many stay over in New Jersey at Liberty Landing, which we have done before, but it was not on “our nickel”. Marina dockage is expensive. A big perk of being part of the Looper’s Association is that we get discounts at marinas and fuel. Many choose to stay at Great Kills on Staten Island. There are anchorages there, but then the problem can be transportation with their dinghy.
I took this picture of the harbor one morning the fog that turned out pretty cool. We were able to dock at Great Kills Yacht Club due to our Harbor Host establishing the relationship. Their members were so welcoming to all of us that pass through there. We walked to restaurants, a bagel shop and an Italian Market.
Once again it continued to be highs in the 50’s and rainy, but we were definitely going to spend 2 days in the City. We knew that we could take the Staten Island Ferry over and that was free and there was also a free train to take to the Ferry. That involved a one mile walk. The other option was an Express Bus. The advantage there was that it was less walking and dropped us off where we wanted to go. I won’t bore you with all the details, but it probably was a two hour trip before we got anywhere that we wanted to go and we also used the Hop On/ Hop Off Bus and the Subway. So much easier to get around by boat! Read more
If you are a boater that is living vicariously through our Blog you might consider joining the America’s Great Loop Cruisers Association. They are offering a 20% discount on their memberships through June 30th. The coupon code is FeelingLoopy. Also, please tell them Steve & Debbie Russell referred you.
We have found their information invaluable. Lots of info on the routes and Podcasts on relevant topics. Plus, the members forum is something that you will find informative as questions are posed and the members respond. AGLCA offers a lot of member benefits and one of those benefits is Great Loop Radio. Each week Kim Russo, AGLCA executive director, talks with guests that have valuable information pertaining to boating and the Great Loop. These 30-minute shows air every Friday morning at 10 am eastern or you can listen to them on demand at a time that suits you. Each show topic is announced in the discussion forum 1 or 2 days before the show and on the homepage every Friday morning. You can access recent podcasts in the Documents Library from the Member Resources menu on the website or the entire archive of over 300 episodes. There are also a Rendezvous twice a year that you can attend to get you from the Dreaming Stage to that Planning Stage.
This will truly inspire you while you are in the “Planning Stage”.
http://www.greatloop.org is their site.
Put the Loop on your Bucket List Boaters!
We decided that it was important to “be some place” for Memorial Day as that it the official Day of Summer for everyone up north. All of the crazy boaters tend to be out to so our plan was to be sitting at a dock. We selected Cape May since this is a vacation destination place. It was a good choice and while we were there the marina hosted a free barbeque and free beer. A nice perk!
Our Looper organization has people that volunteer as Harbor Hosts at places throughout the Loop. They are people that offer to help boaters in many situations. While we were in Cape May we needed a diver to take off a rope around one of the props. They were able to recommend someone at a reasonable price. They also had a spare truck that they left at the marina for our use. We were able to do a lot of running around grocery shopping etc. It is just really nice to have someone local that can be called in a pinch. Many are people that have completed the Loop, but there are others that are planning the Loop and enjoy being part of the group by helping out. Our Harbor Hosts in Cape May were particularly nice and helpful.
Cape May has many Victorian homes that we enjoyed photographing. The other thing I remember about Cape May is the number of ice cream places. Boaters often sit in Cape May waiting for weather to clear. The next run is outside on the ocean to New Jersey. All boaters are cautioned not to take the Intracoastal in New Jersey since Hurricane Sandi. Many boats ground out or hit unseen obstructions. It is better to wait for good seas than risk something bad happening. Here is our boat leaving the Cape May Inlet and the ocean is flat, so flat this is how Steve spent his time! Jazzy wants to know who is driving!
Luckily for us, the day that we planned to go was perfect. We had been in Cape May 5 days. We had a good ocean run and we docked by 1:30 at the Golden Nugget. Neither of us had ever been to the Boardwalk so we took an Uber there with Jazzy. I was not very impressed. I like ours in Hollywood Beach, FL much better. However, we like to try to see or do something that we had not done before.
We were only there for one night so we did hit the casino. Woo woo! We came out $100 winners at Blackjack. Our plan was not to get greedy and give it all back so we walked away.
When we left New Jersey, we had another good day on the ocean up to Great Kills on Staten Island. New York City – here we come!
“With a little love and luck, you’ll get by”……..Jimmy Buffett
Recently, we were asked “What is your biggest surprise?” Both Steve and I took some time to think about this before we answered, “Just how much we like this lifestyle”. It is true. We do love living on Gypsies Palace and do not regret a thing. We don’t miss our house, yardwork, Home Depot or any of the other routine tasks that were part of our life. Not too long ago, we needed to rent a car and drive back to Florida. We felt the tension from the traffic pace and just the amount of cars on the highway. Now this is somewhat ironic for me since I was driving 30,000 miles a year in my job and faced this routinely. Right now what we love most of all is being a Looper and taking the journey with others and the slower pace at 10 mph.
I have to apologize as there is a big gap in my timeline of where we have been and what we have been doing. May was basically a miserable weather month for us Floridians. We were in Maryland and it was highs in the 50’s, rainy, windy and just plain bone chilling cold to us. Thankfully, the boat has heat! Maybe that is another big surprise: how cold it has been. Notwithstanding, we did some really fun things though. Read more