A sailboat without her mast and sails is kind of a sad thing to look at. But we didn't have to go farther than the familiar refrain from the Erie Canal song ("Low bridge, everybody down") to know we wouldn't do any sailing on this waterway. As a matter of fact, the bridges on the western part of the canal are so low, that many power boats have to strip their upper decks and flybridges to make it under. So, rather than haul a 25 ft aluminum albatross along with us, we wisely decided to leave it behind in Va. With no mast, there were other things Jr no longer needs. Certainly don't need a boom. Or sails. We could offload the stackpack and gin pole. And traveling down a narrow canal, there isn't much need for a dinghy. So the Portabote got jettisoned, along with its outboard. The boat should certainly be lighter now.
Even a sailboat turned power boat can't completely abandon the need for a mast. The mast holds up some important stuff – like a VHF antenna and an anchor/steaming light. What to do about those?
Unfortunately, the bracket for the light did not survive the road trip north. And the Windex had fallen off over a year ago. So, we needed a new solution. Using some 1" aluminum stock from the hardware store, Dave bent it to fashion a new mount that would fit either mast, supporting the all-around light and our new Windex. He decided to stick with the 2" PVC for the support, capping the top to prevent water intrusion and adding a T at the bottom and eye-bolts for shrouds at the top to give it some stability fore and aft and side-to-side. With the wires running down the inside and out one of the legs, the antenna and light would simply plug into the sockets already in place in the deck. Pretty slick.
And, after all, every power boat needs a reliable engine.
To get back on the road, we needed to get the trailer licensed and inspected in Virginia, which required moving it for the first time in 6 weeks. To travel on the canal, we needed to write to NY State to get a canal permit, which added to the colorful range of stickers on Orion Jr's bow. (This one's blue.) Can't forget the truck, which also needed its annual inspection. We ordered canal guides, subscribed to the NY State Canal authority's notice to mariners and plotted lots of routes. Dave discovered that many sections that don't follow a natural waterway ( and therefore have no marks) aren't even charted.
We volunteered to be zone captains for a small section of the Hampton River near Joy's Marina. Leading a small crew of boaters from the marina, we hauled out bits of trash and managed to accumulate 12 bags of garbage. There was a lot of debris we could see, but not get to, but we managed to get quite a bit out of the water. As an unexpected treat, Taylor and Troy stayed with us the night before and were able to join us and do their bit in the clean-up. Afterwards, we celebrated with other volunteers with some good food and good company at one of the one leader's home.
We met up with Bonnie and the kids at Busch Gardens for a beautiful day that let us explore the park with few lines and cooler weather. The kids came back to the boat with us and spent their first night on the boat, which was a treat for all of us. As we enjoyed the party after the bay clean-up, they were surprised to look up and see mom and dad in their fishing boat pull up to the dock at the house. By the time the day was over, kids and grandparents were ready to crash, but it was a happy exhaustion.
Ready to Move
So, we're just about ready to head out. We just need to pack our stuff up from Orion and get it ready to put on Jr. Just before leaving, Cathy managed, with Dave's help, to squeeze in the construction of a stackpack for another friend on the dock . There's more work when she returns, but for now that's on hold as we travel.