It was a chilly, rainy, stay-in-bed kind of morning.
A morning most loopers would look outside, turn over and pull the covers up tight.
But, of course, we are not most loopers!
Having a schedule is not a good thing while looping but we learned this way too late.
We are trying to get to Pirate’s Cove Marina to catch a flight out of Syracuse in a few short days.
So we get up at 5:30 a.m. so we can leave at 6:30 and get to the first lock by 7 when they open.
We had had a really fun time the night before with the crew of Independence and we were the only two boats tied up in front of AquaVino Marina/Restaurant.
Right on schedule, we pull away from the dock.
Sam gets us turned around and heads for the very narrow channel.
I wave “good-bye” to those on the Independence who had gotten up early and we were off.
Not So Fast
About 50 feet in front of AquaVino, I noticed that Sam was still headed for the bank on the other side instead of heading down the center of the channel.
In my unusually calm voice over the headsets, I comment, “Honey, I think you are supposed to be headed that way.”
And I point down the Erie Canal in the direction I thought we were going.
You know, just to be helpful.
Here’s what I hear.
I’ve lost steering.
Just that calm.
No yelling. No screaming. No panic.
said screamed, “What do you mean???”
Sam: The steering wheel is just spinning like a roulette wheel.
So we head back to the dock.
I yell out to the crew of Independence and they jump into action!
Now, I don’t know how you turn a giant, 50.000-pound boat around without steering and not hit the million dollar boat that is parked right next door, but Sam does.
Jamie, Larry and Owen helped us tie up right back where we were.
Down But Not Out
Larry and Owen got on board and helped Sam troubleshoot the problem.
The problem required Uber rides to three different stores for parts and this.
Owen and Larry came back on board after Sam returned and fixed our steering issue.
I don’t want to know what we would have done if Independence had not docked next to us in Utica.
We will be forever grateful.
Here We Go
After all the drama, we were ready to leave. Again.
By now the rain had stopped.
But so did the autopilot.
Sam would have to manually steer us all the way to Sylvan Beach.
Thankfully, Independence was ready to leave and we followed them.
What was different about this morning on the Erie was the amount of traffic that we had to maneuver around.
We did not fully appreciate all the other rides down the canal where we commonly saw a boat in front of us or behind us but only a couple of times where a boat passed us going the opposite direction.
This morning was nuts!
We saw tugs and barges and boats.
We are from Dallas and used to traffic on the highway but this???
And why did our first day like this have to be without the autopilot?
I couldn’t watch several times so I would go to the back deck area or down below just so I didn’t have to see the close calls.
I was a wreck!
We had three locks to go through to get to our destination.
The first was Lock 20 and like all the other locks before, we started at a lower elevation and then moved us to a higher one.
Where the Skies Were All Cloudy All Day…
Most of the time the skies were gray.
Every now and then we would see a little blue sky pop out.
But not for long.
So Locks 21 and 22 and are the first locks where we start at a higher elevation and then travel down.
I don’t really use the boat hook/pole much but when the ropes are down low, you have to be able to hook one to grab.
It was easier than I thought it would be.
When the water started going out it didn’t seem like the current was as strong as the locks going up.
Just like letting the stopper out of the bathtub, we sunk slowly.
Go or No Go
Once we got to Sylvan Beach the sky started spitting rain.
Sylvan Beach has a free dock where you can tie up but there is no power.
We decided that we would push it and go on across Oneida Lake and get to a marina just in case we had more issues.
The Here’s To Us!! had been leaking hydraulic fluid the entire way but didn’t know if we had a leak or it was residual fluid from the leak.
Also, even though it was raining a bit, the winds were good and the next day even though it was going to be sunny, the winds were high.
So we went on.
We arrived at Winter Harbor Marina outside of Brewerton, New York at about 4:30.
It had been a very long day.
The manager heard about our day and gave us a beautiful loaf of Italian bread from a local baker.
Wasn’t that nice?
It was delicious.
Lessons of the Day
People are awesome.
Do whatever you have to do to get your autopilot fixed.