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Baltic 42 in the Erie Canal – Scraping By!

Jul 27, 2019

Author: Fin

Fintan Hartnett is the Principal and Chief Instructor at Topmast Maritime Training and an RYA Yachtmaster Instructor as well as Sail Canada and ASA instructor.

This spring I was fortunate to spend some time with Erin and Marie on their Baltic 42. We had a great sail from Rhode Island to New York city where I jumped-off and Erin and Marie carried on up the Erie canal to Lake Erie. One of the concerns was the 2m keel and whether or not depth was going to be an issue. If you’re planning a trip along the Erie canal then the following is an excerpt from an email Erin sent me after their trip and I thought it makes some good reading:

We made it home on June 28th.   It was an expedition for sure.

We stayed the weekend in Port Washington and then headed for New York city on Monday.  It was a driving rain storm as we went through Hells Gate and around Manhattan.   We could barely see the city due to all the rain.  A helicopter crashed that day on a skycraper and the pilot was killed due to the rain.

We dragged the keel in the canal about four or five places on the canal, and even got stuck for about 15 minutes where the Gennese River crosses the canal but luckily a rowing team’s coach boat (with a 9.9 hp engine) was able to pull us sideways a little bit to get the current to swing our bow and we broke free.   No harm done.   The low points were always where a creek or river entered or left the canal, leaving some silt.

Our alternator failed, and for $250 USD, we had it rebuilt in a little town along the way.   North Star Auto Electric are stars.  They did it while we waited, and now it looks like and performes like new.   New bearings, brushes, slider rings, rectifiers etc.   That cost us about a little more than half a day.  The big issue however was that our dripless seal turned into a pissing seal, at the rate of about two gallons per hour, so we had to fix that.   We hauled out on the east side of lake Onieda at a place called Ess Kay (or something similar) and changed it there.   They were competent, and we worked hand in hand and got it done, but they ripped us off.   They charge $175 for the haulout, which was OK, but then charged for three guys labour, and $95 per hour, to do the haul out.  Double dipping!    Oh well, we got the job done and got home.  That was a day’s delay.

The stepping and un-stepping of the mast was not as big of a job as I thought, and we got that done without much trouble.   The throttle/gear shifter however is still an issue, trying to find neutral.  In the locks, that resulted in me driving the top of the mast into the wall  on one occaision, breaking our anchor light, but no other troubles.   Those locks are sure a challenge.  I’d recommend three people for that trip.  One on the helm, and one each at the bow and the stern grabbing the lines that are hanging in the locks.   The other recommendation is to ask the lock masters to throttle back the filling of the locks.   The first night we were blown off the lock wall twice as they filled it at full rate, and the current that was created was too much for us to handle.  I had to drop my stern line, return to the helm, and drive the boat back to the wall, twice, while that lock was filling.  Most of the lock masters can slow the fill rate, and when they do so, the locks become easier to manage.

Once in the canal, almost every town had free mooring along their walls, most with water, electricity and showers.  That was much appreciated.

Attached is a picture of our first night, past the first lock, on our way up the canal, at Waterford.

The boat is now in Leamington, and we’re having fun with it there.   If you get down here to the south end of the province, we’ll go for a sail.

Next on the list….install that new gear shift cable, fix the winches that are siezed, try out a few of the other sails (mylars + 135 genoa).   Also found two other leaks, so now the bilge is dry!    The front head was back flowing into the sink, and then into the shower pan, when we are healed to starboard.  As that shower is on the same drain and pump as the aft head, that is why the aft head floor was wet on port heals.   It moved from the front head to the rear when we healed from starboard to port.   We closed that front head seacock, and solved that problem.    Also, the sea water intake for the heads  and sinks comes through a seacock near the keel, and then goes to a manifold that supplies the heads, and sinks.  The stainless steel pipe has some pin holes in it, on the bottom side of course, so that you can’t easily find them.   That is next to fix.  That seacock is also closed now, and hence the dry bilge, and now need to pull that stainless manifold and get my plumber sailing buddy to help me with a solution.  Dry boats are nice!

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