Boatel Cruise – Oswego to New York City

Crusing in the canalIt’s Thursday October 16th, although none of the crew can seem to keep track of the days. We are now on the mighty Hudson River heading towards New York City. We spent three and a half days doing 30 locks. Some of you may not know how these locks work because it was new to me too. Ted carefully drives the boat into the lock and gets the boat as close to the wall as he can so that the crew can reach over with a long pole called a boat hook and grab a rope that is hanging down from the top of the lock wall. There’s a lot of communication needed so that everyone knows what’s happening. Sometime Ted has to go backwards or forward to make sure that Murdoch has a rope to hold onto at the side deck at the bow and Melody has one on the swim platform at the stern. Diane just moves around wherever she is needed and oversees the whole process.  Sometimes the water fills or empties really fast causing a lot of turbulence and other times the boat moves up and down just inches from the wall really smoothly.

The first two days were great and the crew did an amazing job under the watchful eye of the first mate Diane. Man can she move fast when she needs to, I was getting tired just watching them. I stayed at the helm with Captain Ted and just stayed out of the way when he spun the wheel to port and then starboard, that’s nautical talk that I’ve been learning. He would just kissed the dock and made it look so easy, just like Captain Ron. On the third day we had problems with the bow thruster – it started making a clunking noise when we were in one of the locks. The cap (that’s short for captain) thought we might have picked something up in the lock like a rope or a branch or something.  Diane says it easier to go into an empty lock then a full lock because there is more protection from the wind. Luckily we didn’t have much wind but with a sick bow thruster it was a bit challenging for the crew but they did an awesome job and got safely tied up every time.

A few times Diane had to jump Bridge clearanceonto the dock to grab the ropes because the lock walls are so low and they are on an angle which makes it really hard on the Boatel to grab them. They all talked to each other on headphone call Yapalongs but I do have a pair so I am only hearing the cap’s conversation. Some of the bridges that we go under are low that Diane stands on a ladder and spots the bridges to make sure we can get under them. Sometimes it looks really close but we have a couple of feet.

It was really pretty sitting in the flybridge with the Captain watching the fall colours. We went through lots of small towns in upstate NY like Rome, Amsterdam and Scotia – I almost thought I was in Europe for awhile. We went past Fonda which is where the Henry Fonda clan is from. We stopped in St. Johnsville where we picked up 720 US gallons of diesel – woo wee! The price was  $3.56 which was the lowest price in the entire NY Canal and the cap says it’s a very good price because that would covert to $1.05 Canadian per litre. We won’t get fuel again until we get to Virginia and then again at the Florida/Georgia border. The Captain did his research so he knows where all the cheap gas is.

In one of the locks Melody spotted a frog swimming in a frenzy trying to climb up the slippery wall as the lock was filling with water. They said it seemed like he was in distressed trying to keep his little head above the water level. Diane grabbed one of the boat hooks and reached out and put it under the little frog. Well wouldn’t you know it that little frog just held on and Diane lifted him to safety and placed him on the top of the lock wall. He didn’t move right away but Melody figured that he was just recovering from the trauma of being stuck in the lock. Diane was looking around for the lock master to ask him to keep an eye on the little guy in case he needed CPR but that’s kind silly – who ever heard of giving a frog CPR? Diane even felt guilty that maybe the little frog didn’t want to be rescued, and preferred to be in the water instead of on land but Murdoch convince her that she had done the right thing my rescuing him.

Won’t you know it, it happened again in lock 4 except this time Melody said the little frog seemed to be doing just fine going with the water level. The next thing the little guy swam over to the swim platform and looked like he trying to get onto some leaves that were floating. Melody bent down and what do you know he just crawl into Melody’s open hand. He didn’t like being held that tight and he was slippery in her gloved hands so she put him down on the swim platform. I wasn’t really was interested in having him for lunch because I am a vegetarian and Melody made friends with him.  She was even talking to him, I think she said she speaks fluent frog because she works with so many languages. The little frog just sat there on the swim platform for at least three locks and finally plop in Waterford he was gone. He was grateful for the ride but he wasn’t interested in going any further south. Murdoch thought that maybe he had cousins in Waterford that he wanted to visit so he was just hitching a ride. Once we get past Waterford then we are in a combination of salt and fresh water that they call brackish.

Most evenings were spent with the crew playing cards but my post was at helm keeping a watch over the boat at night. This morning Ted double checked the bow thruster and found the problem with a couple of loose bolts on the motor mounting bracket which he was able to tighten up and the problem with the bow thruster was solved. There seem to be a lot of discussion which I was not privy too, but all I know is Diane’s going to get a IPAD – ofcourse the cap keeps saying “sure I’ll get you an eye patch” but I think he is joking. Melody and Murdoch love to sing and they even made up a song for them “If I had an IPAd….” (from the tune Fiddler on the Roof) which is pretty funny. Diane’s birthday is in November and she has been dropping some hints (wink).

We had a first night of rain last night so things were wet this morning but the crew donned their raingear and finished the last 6 locks. Too bad we didn’t have bright sunshine to really show you how beautiful these colours are.  All through our trip through the canal we kept trying to get some good pictures but it was a bit overcast but trust me – it’s pretty.

The call it the mighty Hudson River because the tides flows from New York Harbour all the way up the river to Troy, NY where we finished the last lock. We were lucky we caught the flow going south and instead of doing 8.2 to 8.5 knots we’ll be doing 9.2 to 10 knot.  The Hudson is Diane’s favorite part of the trip because it is so beautiful with the castles and light houses like the one in this picture, we even saw a couple of pirateTrip southToronto to NY Diane phone (13) ships. We stopped at a marina at Rogers Point and were welcomed by some of the local boaters. In the middle of the night a big ship went by and we felt it  – it woke up the whole boat including me. The next night we were in a peaceful anchorage in Haverstraw Bay, which is about a couple of hours from New York City. We got there about noon and everyone just relaxed for the afternoon and they had a nice dinner. They even invite me to play cards with them.  Haverstraw Bay is the widest point of the Hudson River – about 3 miles across and it was so beautiful just swaying on the anchor.   Tomorrow New York City – the big smoke, the grand Kahuna, the big apple… I’m excited!

Till next time,


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About Diane Greene

Diane Greene stepped off the corporate treadmill in 2004 for pursue a life of traveling and adventure. 10 years later she is still operating Toronto's only Boat Bed and Breakfast and travelling with her husband on Boatel, their 65 foot trawler in the US and Bahamas during the winter. Diane has three wonderful children and 3 grandbabies. Diane loves photography, travel and scuba diving.

2 thoughts on “Boatel Cruise – Oswego to New York City

  1. Looking forward to meeting you all in Little River. I enjoyed your description of the locks and your trip on the Hudson. Over the years, I have crossed the Hudson many time on bridges. From your description of the Hudson and the trip through the Eire Canal, we need to add this trip to our Bucket List.

    I am going to do some research on the Eire Canal to see if I can find any references to anyone from my family who worked on the system. Most of my family came into the United States during the late 1700s and 1800s.
    Connie and Larry

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