I had all good intentions, after getting up thirty minutes before the birds sleeping under the Oneida Lake Marina’s club house, of hitting the water at 6 am today. I’d been told about the weather that can whip up without notice on Oneida Lake (pronounced O-NEI-DA. Yesterday I paddled into the lake from the canal, having passed through lock 22, and enjoyed the steep chop and open waters-so freeing after the confines of the canal. Woohoo!! But after discussion with Lindsy about the days events, it seems that there is no need to blast out of here at 6…which of course won’t happen now that it’s already past 7:00!
A few miles into the long, 18 mile wind tunnel stretch between lock 20 and 21, I plowed my poor canoe into a rock. Usually I stroke deeper than my rudder and catch ground or rocks before the long, fixed rudder does, but not this time. Wham! Hitting a rock even 5-6 mph like that does some damage. My poor Pueo suffered a nasty little crack an inch back from the rudder port.
Immediately I called Lindsy, as we have a roll of gorilla tape in the car -my bad for not taking a section of it with me! Lucky for me, while I was on the phone trying to figure a meeting place to grab the tape, a guy named Ed and his dog, who were motoring down the canal in one of the very few boats I’d seen, had some gorilla tape. Thank goodness it seems no boater here leaves home without it. John Vargo, of “Boating in the Hudson and Beyond,” plugs this product is a “must have” in one’s on board repair kit and it seems everyone keeps it on board.
A quick wipe down of the boat with a sock that Ed had on deck, a spot of tape, and I was good to go not more than 15 minutes after hitting the rock and with minimal water intake (I know how much water an get in a boat, having paddled with a crack for 85 miles in the Gulf of Mexico). Am hoping the tape holds until I can get the West System epoxy that John Vargo suggested I use to make this repair. It’s so awesome to be able to call him and pick his brains for advice! How lucky am I?? For sure, not lucky to run into a rock but lucky to have instant help from a total stranger. And actually, now I know Ed and his dog!
Once back beating my head against the wind in the wind tunnel/canal, I glanced back to see a tug and barge slowly making way behind me. Once they overtook me I surfed the low bumps for about a mile or so, definitely improving on my pace. That little boost was all I need and before I knew it I was radioing in to lockmaster 21 to see if I could share the space with the Syracuse. To my surprise a woman’s voice crackled over the VHF (marine radio) giving me approval to share the lock. So we shared the next lock, too! Good thing I’m finally doing the locks the “right” way (funny video to come – ” right v wrong way to transit a lock in an OC1″).
I love it when I get to meet women in “non traditional” roles. To date, she is the third or fourth boat captain I’ve met. Here’s a little blog that a buddy of mine has been sharing that talks about her and her awesome tug-http://www.tug44.org/erie.canal/lock-23/
Today I’m heading to Pirates Cove Marina from here on the other side at the wonderful Oneida Lake Marina. Ron Renslow and Chrissy Loomis let Lindsy and I crash the club house, along with my trusty Pueo. There is nothing better than waking up on the water close to one’s boat. I’m also thankful that this isn’t a ” self-supported” journey, which, given the nature of this paddle’s “mission” for clean water and healthy ocean, kinda requires a team coordinator and partner, because we could drive into town and soak up the local vibes and eat awesome (and reasonably priced!) food. Strong Heart Cafe could totally switch me over to vegetarianism or even- shudder the thought-veganism. They even accommodated my desire for a sautéed jalapeño pepper in their garlic-and-I- forget what all else it is sandwich. PLUS I picked up the MOST awesome coffee I’ve had yet on this trip- Recess Coffee. OMG. I’m drinking Austin’s Blend and am thinking that a visit back to Syracuse to do a hash run is TOTALLY in order! Between the people and the food and Oneida Lake, well, hell, this has been one amazing stop. Carol Mone, a friend and native of Syracuse was right, this IS a special place.