We now have a full crew of six on board the Independence. Jim and Julia Lennon have flown in from Oakland, CA to join us in Albany, NY for part of the Erie Canal experience. We are so happy to have them with us not only for their great company but for the security of the extra hands on deck. We depart Albany on a beautiful morning and have a nice and very short transit up to Waterford (8NM). We only had one low railroad bridge and one lock - The Troy Lock.
Completed in 1825, the Erie Canal was the brain-child of then New York Governor Dewitt Clinton. According to the ‘Cruising Guide to the New York Canal System - 2006’ the citizens of the day called the idea ‘Clinton’s Folly’ and later ‘Clinton’s Ditch’. Clinton convinced the State Legislature to authorize $7 million for the construction of a 363 miles long canal. He envisioned a way to transit the timber, minerals, grains and goods from the Northwest Territories on this canal system saving transit time and money and making New York the busiest port in America. The Canal did exactly that. Opening in 1825 it caused an explosion of trade moving tonnages of goods greater than Boston, Baltimore and New Orleans combined. The Canal tolls recouped the cost of construction with in nine years. The Canal system has been enlarged and updated many times to allow for progressively larger ships and increased traffic. By 1929 commercial traffic on The Canal System had declined due to competition from highways and railroads. Now the waterway is renamed the New York Canal System and in 2001 designated as the nation’s 23rd National Heritage Corridor. Tourism and recreation are the primary uses of the Canal System now. It is currently free of charge to transit and is an engineering marvel when you consider there were no schools of engineering when the system was originally conceived and built. Thank you Governor DeWitt Clinton!
Day two of the Erie Canal brings us through Locks 2,3,4,5,6 & 7 to Schenectady (17NM). It is a busy two hours for the crew as we handle lines and ropes, shift fenders and push off of the lock walls trying to keep the Independence from harm. Larry has the intense job of jockeying the boat into position on the wall, avoiding other boats and then holding her in-line against the wall while the massive doors of the lock close and water rushes in causing swirling eddies of confused currents. We are rewarded at the Mohawk Harbor Marina with the great news that the Albany Symphony will be playing a free concert in the park directly in front of our slip. To top off the evening they even threw in some fire works!