8/31/17 – 9/3/17: Today will be our last day travelling the Erie Canal. We will be in Waterford this afternoon, which is the eastern most town along the canal. We cannot believe how fast this journey has gone; it seems only yesterday that we left Buffalo, but it was almost 3 weeks ago!
On today’s journey we will be passing through 6 locks. The final 5 are called “The Waterford Flight”. These last locks are interconnected; as you pass out of one you immediately enter the next. They are all within the final mile of the canal and must be traversed at one time. It can take anywhere from 1.5 to 4.5 hours to lock through all five. They each drop (or lift) between 33 and 35 feet for a whopping 165 feet of elevation change. They form the largest lift (or drop) in the shortest distance on any canal system in the world.
The trip from Schenectady to Waterford was more populated than any stretch we’d done previously. It was mostly homes along the shore with lots of docks and motor boats. There aren’t many sailboats on the canal due to the low bridges; most of them are like us, travellers from one end to the other carrying their masts on deck. As we left the yacht club, we passed through a long section of sheer slate walls about 100 feet high. It was was very pretty but hard to capture on film (we tried). This part of the Mohawk River is also very wide. It was a nice change from the extremely narrow canal that we grew accustomed to in the past couple weeks.
As we approached the first Waterford lock, it was ready for us, and we were able to transit all five in about an hour and a half. As the final gate opened, we were in Waterford. As we motored past the final gate, we were filled with a sense of relief, but also sadness. We were relieved that we had no issues locking through, that our engine had not died since Fairport, and that we didn’t have to worry about shallow depths, high walls, and busy town docks. But we were also sad because our canal journey was now over, and we would soon be saying good-bye to some newfound friends. We all had different destinations and soon those paths would once again diverge and we would all be going our separate ways.
We tied up at the docks in Waterford, and planned to spend all of Labor Day weekend here. On Labor Day we will leave here for Riverview Marina in Catskill, NY, to have our mast put back up. We plan to explore Waterford over the next few days, relax, and visit with our friends. All told, we have now added another 306 miles to our summer journey, bringing our total to 1,374. We are a long way from home.