Lock CS1 - Gateway to the Finger Lakes
As we traveled south on the C&S we noticed a very gradual increase in the height of the eastern bank. It continues to rise to form the eastern shore of Cayuga Lake, turning into high bluffs about a mile past the lock.
By contrast, the western bank remained low. We were riding along the eastern edge of the Montezuma Swamp.
We slowed our speed as a courtesy to the owners of the boat docks. We hadn't seen boats at private docks for miles!
Almost the Village of Cayuga
The Village of Cayuga is actually a mile and a half farther south, but everyone refers to it when they talk about the junction of the CS Canal and the northern shore of Cayuga Lake. We planned to venture out onto the lake in the next day or two, but for now needed to get to Seneca Falls, our destination for the night.
The turn onto the Seneca River is populated by a number of red bouys that seemed to be placed at random. As we got closer, we saw that one of them was a green-over-red junction bouy, and a lone green bouy (not seen in this photo) marks the south side of the river channel.
The dredging operation was for channel depth, but weed control is also an ongoing task in this area. Immediately after we made the turn the port prop became fouled on some weeds, causing a nasty vibration. The rudder was probably dragging a bundle as well, but there was no drag on the wheel because No Losses has hydraulic steering. I shifted into reverse and gunned the engine a couple of times to clear the prop and rudder.
After we locked through CS1 we turned west to head toward Seneca Falls. We were saving our trip to Cayuga Lake for sometime in the next couple of days.
Cottages on the CS Canal
The south shore is lined with cottages and boat docks. I smiled when I saw them. It reminded me of the fun I had as a kid when my family would rent a vacation cottage for a week or two every summer.
The north shore is an uninhabited, natural, incredibly beautiful swamp. I fully expected to see an alligator, but Mia informed me that they don't live this far north.
Admiring the beauty was a short-lived pleasure. We were moving at idle speed and it soon became frustrating.
It would be at least another hour before we could tie up for the night in Seneca Falls. We were hungry. Fender T. Dog hadn't been for a walk in nearly four hours.
Locks CS2 and CS3
Coming around the bend and seeing the water management structure at the east end of Van Cleef Lake was the light at the end of the tunnel! We were now only minutes from the docks at Seneca Falls!
Fender T. Dog could sense it too. He was dancing! (Or, maybe he was dancing because his bladder was close to bursting!)
Locks CS2 and CS3 are back-to-back with a total rise of 49 feet. The lock operator had it all set for us and was opening the gates as we approached. Still, it was the longest ten minutes of the trip so far.
They say that boaters are some of the friendliest people on the planet, and in more than 50 years on the water I have never met a boater who contradicted that statement. That is, until we arrived at the wall at Seneca Falls.
We arrived to find the docks with power completely full. One boat, a 29-footer from Florida, had tied her lines to the wall 20 feet fore and aft to ward off any close neighbors. She was consuming 70 feet of frontage.
As we reconnoitered, No Losses crabbed toward the shore. The harbormaster's phone number was on the door, but even using binocluars neither of us could read it. The door opened and a woman came out of the building. I asked her if she could read the harbomaster's phone number to me. She asked why. I said we needed to ask him to move the 29-footer forward so we could dock for the night. She said she was the owner of that boat and she would do no such thing. What happened next didn't make me angry; it made me sorry for those two people on that boat.
Finally, after five minutes or so, a very angry man climbed out of the cabin and screamed bloody murder at his wife. With help from some other boaters, they proceeded to move their boat forward just enough so No Losses could tie to the wall.
No Losses' swim platform was only inches from the steel piling that suppported the floating docks, so I used a spring line to make sure she couldn't drift backwards.
The woman continued to complain and kept telling me there was no power. We were tied right next to a tower with two 30-amp feeds and two 20-amp feeds. With water.
I made it a point to walk over and apologize to the woman for raising my voice. She responded, "We're from Chesapeake. If you pulled that crap on anyone there you would have been shot." She got back on her boat, entered the cabin, and slammed the cabin door. Neither she nor her husband showed themselves for the rest of the night, and they were gone when we woke up the next morning.
Two of the other boaters who had helped me tie off commented. One said he had never seen such nastiness. The other said the harbormaster would indeed have made her move.
END OF DAY 3
Mia and Fender T. Dog immediately went to find a doggie walk as I connected shore power and water, and wrapped things up on the flybridge for the overnight stay.
Plans for the next day were loose, but we wanted to head into Cayuga Lake and see if No Losses would stay on the hook at the sand bar. Fender T. Dog liked to swim at the sand bar. (The sand bar is a large shallow area at the north end of the lake where the locals raft and party.)
By the time Mia and Fender T. Dog returned I was relaxing on the aft deck pretending I was busy writing in my log and downloading the day's camera footage to the laptop. In reality, it was just an excuse to crack open a few cold beers.
After such a long day we had a quick dinner of sausage with peppers & onions, watched some reruns of Family Guy streaming on the laptop, and hit the sack around 10.
After we locked through CS1 we turned west to head toward Seneca Falls. We were saving our trip to Cayuga Lake for sometime in the next couple of days.
Day 4: Coffee Quest
Mia was still sleeping when Fender T. Dog and I got back from his morning constitutional. I stealthed to the galley and had a look at the used coffee grounds in the garbage pail. They were still intact in the coffeemaker's used filter, and except for a few chunks of uneaten dog food they were mostly uncontaminated. For a few seconds I wondered if they would yield just one more cup. Fortunately common sense won out over the caffeine monkey. I decided to see if there was a store within walking distance.
I met a local on the dock who told me there was a supermarket five miles away, and convenience store about a mile away.
However, he said the breakfast joint on the main drag served coffee to go. He pointed to the rear entrance. It was fifty feet away.
When I returned with four large to-go cups ($5 including $1 tip) Mia was up. Interestingly, she was looking in the garbage pail.
The coffee was actually pretty good, which belied the condition of the rear entrance and the convoluted path upstairs to the main (street) level.
I told her about the little restaurant: As I waited at the counter for coffee I noticed a sign on the wall: "Best Breakfast In Town!". We decided to see if that was true.
After four cups of coffee and a military Triple-S (to which Mia finally admitted on behalf of all women), we went to breakfast.
I've always loved small-town breakfast joints. The kind of place where you have to wipe the silverware with napkins that rip apart as you pull them from the side of a spring-loaded black metal dispenser. Where you have to scrape the crystallized sugar off the stainless steel top of its glass jar before it will yield a stream of sweetness into a bottomless cup of coffee.
The kind of place that still has a coin-op Wall-O-Matic tableside jukebox at every booth.
It's not about the food. The food is adequately edible. The real treat is to take in all of the surroundings.
The blended aromas of bacon, coffee, and something burning on the griddle.
The regulars who meet every morning at 9 a.m. and drink coffee at the counter for two hours while they argue about politics, sports, and the weather forecast.
The short-order cook behind the counter who wears the same tee-shirt everyday, and launders it once a week whether it needs it or not.
The joint in Seneca Falls is that place. It's been there forever under several different owners and several different names. When we were there it was called Jeremy's, named for the new owner's 10-year-old son.
Taken on the way to breakfast, the video is proof that I am not lying.
Through the door, up the stairs, past the restrooms and storage, up the stairs, and finally into the restaurant.
We got back aboard No Losses around 11:45, and the decision to cancel our trip to Cayuga Lake was made for us. NOAA Weather Radio had a severe T-storm watch for the entire area, coming from the west and due to hit Seneca Falls at noon.
The skies were ominous, and the winds picked up in a hurry. NOAA reported gusts of 60mph! I added some fenders and dock lines and stowed anything that could blow away.
Around noon a most amazing thing happened: The approaching clouds -- which carried hail, lightning, damaging winds, and ear-shattering thunder -- split into two cells and passed by to the north and south of Seneca Harbor. Although the winds were heavy at times, we could have caught rays in the narrow band of blue sky that was directly above us. After 20 minutes the storms had moved on and the clouds gave way to clear skies, but the wind was still too strong for a trip to the lake.
We decided to go into town, continue our quest for coffee, and take in some of the local attractions. Seneca Falls is the birthplace of Women's Rights. It is the model on which the town of Bedford Falls was patterned for the movie, It's a Wonderful Life. The town also has an important place in the history of New York state's waterways. All three are remembered with separate museums.
We figured the pharmacy had to sell coffee. They had racks of laundry detergent, a rack of snacks, and for some reason, a wall of sporting goods. But no coffee.
No Dial Tone
The pics may look like No Losses, but it's actually a vessel named No Dial Tone that arrived while we were gone. Danny & Betsy were locals and their boat's marina was at Almost the Village of Cayuga. They told us they had intended to head out on to Cayuga Lake but turned back because of the windy conditions and instead decided to take a day trip to Seneca Falls. Nice people. We traded boat tours, had a couple of pops, and told stories.
When we got back to No Losses I discovered that the aft head's sink faucet was leaking. It wouldn't turn off. I removed the strainer, stuffed some electrical tape inside it to act as a stopper, and screwed it back on. It worked. I moved my shaving and teeth-cleaning gear to the forward head.
I also noticed that the under-cabinet light above the stove was intermittent. After emptying the cabinet above and removing its floor, I found a loose splice in the wiring.
Mia, Fender T. Dog, and Cappy Rick spent the rest of the day relaxing, talking, and just enjoying each others' company. Tomorrow we planned to set out early for Seneca Lake and spend the night at the Geneva public docks.
Day 5: There And Back Again (Seneca Lake and Geneva)
We wanted to get an early start, but not this early. Play the video and you'll see what woke us up at dawn.
I made a coffee run to the breakfast joint while Mia took Fender T. Dog for a walk. We used the wonderfully maintained boater's facilities at Seneca Falls for Triple-S's, had a nice (home-cooked) breakfast by Chef Mia, checked all the systems, pumped out the holding tanks, and left for Seneca Lake around 11.
Maybe I was just cranky because of the rude awakening this morning. My logs clearly represent my cynical state of mind about this day. I'll spare you the detailed, verbatim transcript and instead consolidate this part of the trip into one large section.
Suffice to say that Geneva was a complete waste of time: 5 hours there and back on the CS canal, and three hours wasted at the city docks. We should have continued down the lake to Watkins Glen, or maybe gone to the sand bar on Cayuga Lake. After all, we had to start heading back to Tie-One-Onda on Day 6 (the next day).
But ... here it is, in condensed format:
The trip itself was very pleasant. The CS Canal meanders along the path of the Seneca River, and although most of the waterway cuts through rural areas, there are some sights to see.
We passed a replica of the African Queen from the Bogart/Hepburn movie. Waterloo has a nice little marina. Lock CS4, the last lock in the canal, had a backup of downbound pontoon boats coming from the other direction so we had to wait nearly 30 minutes to continue upbound. Since there is no place to tie off and the light winds wanted to beach the boat, we couldn't shut off the engines.
We stopped at Inland Harbor Marina for gas (50 gallons in each tank at $4.55, which was the cheapest around). As the canal gave way to the lake, we saw several nice-looking and nicely-maintained marinas on the eastern shore -- including the marina at Seneca Lake State Park.
It had been awhile since No Losses' had run at full throttle, so I decided to open her up for the final jump across the lake to Geneva. She got up on plane and topped out at nearly 28 mph! But her port engine temp gauge climbed to above 160, which was 20 degrees higher than it should be, so I backed her down after a couple of minutes.
The wind was out of the southwest as we arrived at the cheesy floating docks at Geneva. There were two 28-footers tied off to the dock and their owners helped us squeeze into the 40 or so remaining feet. The rest of the dock spaces are small and will accommodate boats no larger than about 22 feet.
There are two power towers, both with water spigots. However, nothing worked. Everything on that dock had been vandalized so many times that the city had decided to shut it all off. Same with the remnants of the pumpout, which at the time of our visit was missing its suction hose and coin box, and had a broken pipe that was back-feeding waste from shore into the lake.
The dock height was only a foot off the water, so we had to rig a sling out of bath towels to lower Fender T. Dog onto the dock. He didn't like that at all, and neither did we.
We took a quick walk so Fender T. Dog could relieve himself. I don't know why we bothered to pick up after he did his business. It was obvious that no one else did.
The City of Geneva's web site touts boater facilities (and a new Ramada), but in reality there are only two restrooms. They are open to the public and attached to a building that houses an ice cream stand. (Wait, did someone say there's a Ramada here?!?) The entire place was so filthy that I wouldn't even wash my hands in the rest room. As the photo shows, even grass won't grow here. (Hey -- that is a Ramada! But don't think about going there unless you're a guest.)
When the two boats who were tied with us prepared to leave, one of the owners came over and said, "There's safety in numbers, but we're leaving. I suggest you do the same."
We arrived back in Seneca Falls around 7pm to find all of the powered spaces taken. Oh, well. Let's see how No Losses survives overnight on batteries.
The workers needed to start at dawn, I guess. This video was shot a few hours later just before we left for Geneva. The noise was non-stop and they were still going at dusk.
Day 6: Headed for Home
The batteries lasted just long enough to keep the food cold overnight. By 7:30 the house bank had 10.7 volts. Next season I'll add a series-wired pair of 6-volt golf cart batteries to increase capacity. The starting battery was unaffected and the engines cranked up with no problems. A pair of boats had left sometime last night, and there was some space with power on the wall. Mia and I moved No Losses fifty feet forward.
I made one last trip to the breakfast joint for coffees to go. Mia took Fender T. Dog for a walk. They were gone for over an hour.
I parked myself on the aft deck to write in my log. A man approached and introduced himself as Alan. We chatted for a few minutes. He was a local. He asked if he could have a cup of coffee. I told him that we didn't have any because we couldn't get to a store. He offered to drive us to the supermarket "after I get out of my anger management counseling session." I gratefully declined, and he continued to the next boat up the line.
Alan was on his third boat when Mia and Fender T. Dog returned with a can of coffee! Mia said she decided to walk to the convenience store -- a two-mile round trip (uphill both ways!).
The last thing I did before waving a fond and heartfelt farewell to Seneca Falls was visit the facilities for a shower. As I came out of the shower room into the lobby, I saw an older gentleman seated in a chair. He introduced himself as Tim from Ohio and told me he was 78 years old. He was waiting for his wife to come out of the Ladies' shower. We chatted. He and his wife were on their way home to Cleveland on their 30-footer.
As I shook his hand and wished him safe journey he said, "I want to leave you with something that is both a blessing and a curse, and how you perceive it depends only on you: May all of your days be challenges."