Friday, March 16, 2018

Oh Canada - Loop II/Part 1 continued

We left this narrative with our visit to Phi, Montreal’s amazing virtual reality experience, and we’ll pick up the story from there.
When we’d had all the virtual reality we could handle, we meandered the streets of Old Town Montréal, and Mike took some great shots of the sights we saw...

...the spiral staircase in a First Nation art gallery, a colorful horse and buggy, and a street performer who looked like a palace guard, until he opened his coat to reveal a flesh colored unitard.  We were flashed.  

During our stay at the Montreal Yacht Club, we enjoyed two spectacular fireworks shows, one put on by Sweden and the other by the good old USA.  We have to admit that Sweden’s was better. The shows were even better because they were set to music that boaters could hear on their radios – and some of the boats in the marina had awesome sound systems.

It’s difficult to describe Montréal. It’s about walking beautiful streets and listening to its sounds. It’s about walking up on street musicians. Montréal is about great restaurants and wonderful food, especially restaurants with outside tables, where Midas could wait just on the other side of a fence.   We loved the Jacques Cartier Market, with shops, places to eat, street performers, and a friendly person who took our picture. 

So many of the people we met – on the street, at the marina, in restaurants – recommended visiting Quebec City that we decided to rent a car and drive east. (We would have had a favorable current in Midas Touch from Montreal to Quebec City, but it’s a long, slow push against the current to get back.) The great staff at the marina agreed to take Midas for a mid-day “get busy” walk, even texting us to let us know he’d had his walk and was back on the boat.  
Thanks to Uber, Wednesday morning we were at the car rental office when it opened.  Navigating out of the city, where streets we closed due to construction in preparation for Canada’s upcoming 150th birthday in 2017, was a challenge, but we managed.

Our first stop in Quebec City, after finding a place to park, was the Visitor Center, where we wisely decided on a guided walking tour, led by a fantastic guide who imparted her knowledge of the city with zest.  

Jeannette - our terrific
tour guide
The newer part of Quebec City sits on a bluff high above the St. Lawrence Seaway, while the older part is just above the water.  It’s like visiting an old town in France – narrow cobblestone streets, lots of small shops and restaurants, and an old building with a colorful mural on its side, depicting the history of the town.

Jeannette, our tour guide, was a walking encyclopedia of Quebec City history, and she had a great sense of humor.  Like most residents of Ontario, she is bilingual – fluent in both French and English and able to switch from one to the other with ease.  She ended the tour by telling us “Go have fun and get in trouble.”

Part of the charm of the old buildings is the distinctive style and character of each one.  Just imagine a cushioned window seat in the bay windows that extend from this building, where you could curl up with a good book while watching the world go by. 

Quebec City has many beautiful churches, and Notre-Dame de Québec Basilica-Cathedral is just one of them.  According to our tour guide, when the faithful pray at the altar accessed from outside through a door with a carving of Christ, all sins are forgiven and washed away.  With the Presidential campaign in full swing in July 2016, Marian left a prayer card asking for the safety of our country. Learn more at this link:

Above, Marian is second from left in the green shirt.  The Holy Door is on the right.  Below, a view of the St. Lawrence Seaway from the bluff.   

Right, the plaza outside the Basilica-Cathedral.

After our walking tour, which included a ride in a funicular to the street above, we found a place for lunch in the Old Town .  Mike had poutine, the signature dish of Ontario.  Wondering exactly what poutine is and why anyone would eat it?  Basically, it’s French fries covered in gravy and cheese curds – tasty and filling.

Le Chateau Frontenac is the jewel in Quebec City’s crown.  It’s one of the Canadian Pacific Railway’s signature hotels and has quite a history:
Below is another view of the magnificent hotel, taken from the broad pedestrian walkway that overlooks the St. Lawrence.

Our guide also recommended a particularly good local liqueur, which we located in a very nice restaurant bar on the way back to the car.  One day was not enough to see all of Quebec City; we’ll be back, and maybe we’ll splurge on a stay at Chateau Frontenac. 

Navigating the narrow streets of Old Town Montreal in a semi can’t be fun for a truck driver, especially when there’s construction going on.  It took about 10 minutes for this truck to make the turn.

Thursday was our final day in Montreal – more random wandering and a chance reunion with a Gold Looper couple we had met in Marathon during Loop I. We joined them for a provisioning trip to an excellent downtown IGA grocery store hidden inside an office building.  We wished we’d had more refrigerator, freezer, and cabinet space, but we could buy only a small supply of tempting items.  (Unlike supermarkets in the states, Canadian grocery stores sell groceries.  You won’t find shampoo, bath soap, or other toiletries.  Look for a pharmacy, similar to a CVS or Walgreens, to find those necessities.)

Wayne and Vicki’s daughter, son-in-law, and grandson arrived on Thursday, bringing a Verizon Jetpack to replace the one we had that does not work outside the U.S. Verizon can’t ship “overseas,” but Leslie graciously agreed to have it delivered to her home and bring it to us.  And that in itself is another story too long and involved for this blog. Lesson learned:  if you plan to travel outside the U.S. and take a hotspot so you’ll have Wifi, be sure to get the right hotspot and activate it before you leave.

Friday, thanks to more help from Wayne and Vicki, we were prepared for the first of two locks we’d have to transit on the St. Lawrence.  These locks were built to accommodate ocean-going freighters, and like the locks on the inland rivers of the U.S., commercial vessels have priority.  We hadn’t realized that these commercials locks charge about $25 and had not obtained our tickets in advance.  Fortunately, Cocomo was equipped with a printer, and Wayne graciously helped us purchase and print the “tickets” we’d need for the very large St. Lambert and St. Catherine locks while we waited almost two hours for a large freighter to go through the St. Lambert lock.  (The locks have a dock where waiting boats can tie up, much better than having to hover before the lock.) We were tied up on the St. Anne-de-Bellevue wall before 6:00, giving us plenty of time to explore the town and have a yummy dinner at Klondike.  The town, with shops and restaurants, is on the other side of the restaurants that are adjacent to the wall.  After dinner, we strolled along the walkway to a bridge and a look at the St. Catherine lock. 

For no reason that we can remember, we didn't take pictures of the town or waterfront, but Mike found these three on line.  Above, the free wall where we tied up; fortunately we didn't have to raft to another boat.  Right, a view on the main street. Below, another view of the waterfront.

Saturday morning, we found a great breakfast restaurant, checked out the farmers’ market – more goodies than we could store on the boat, and found a barbershop where Mike got a haircut.  We were off the dock at 10:25, ready to enter the lock, but it took until 11:15 to get through because of some kind of transaction problem with another boat.  Apparently they didn’t know they would have to pay.  Once we were through the lock, we headed for the Hawkesbury Wall, where we would meet our Canadian friends Francis & Hélène.  The Ottawa River widens at this point, and we dodged Waverunners zooming back and forth, cutting closer to the boat than we liked, but no close calls.  The Waverunners of course wanted to jump the Midas Touch’s wake.  After a while we found ourselves approaching a narrow point in the river, and just about then, Francis called to warn us about an approaching squall line.  We could see it heading our way...

Mike told Marian that there was no time or place to bring the boat into to tie down. A trawler is a slow boat, so we couldn’t outrun the storm.  We’d be better off to turn around and head back into the open water, hold our position, and put her nose into the storm.  Mike got back out into the wide water just as the storm hit us. Now we were in total whiteout conditions. With our Bimini top and side curtains closed, the Midas Touch has a lot of windage, and we’re talking very high winds—50 or 60 mph. The storm kept turning us away from the wind—not a good idea, and all Mike could do was turn her back into the wind. With whiteout conditions--high winds, lightning, and rain so heavy that we could see only a short distance ahead—there is no land reference to aim for, so we were totally dependent on our radar and Garmin chartplotter to determine where the shallow water and land are.  The storm felt like it would last forever, but in reality it was over in a few minutes.  Midas appreciated his anxiety bandana during this short interval, and we were relieved and exhausted when it was over and could continue toward Hawkesbury.

We had no trouble finding the free wall, where Francis and Hélène were waiting.  They helped us tie up, and Wayne & Vicki soon joined us. Our Canadian friends had brought dinner – fresh salmon – and we enjoyed a convivial evening with them, including plenty of wine. 

There was also plenty of room for Midas to run, and he made friends with a Doberman the next morning. (He had been friends with Chloe, a Doberman in our therapy dog group, and he seemed to think every Doberman he met might be his friend.) For the first time in several years, Midas decided it was time to play run and chase, and we enjoyed watching him have a good time.  After breakfast, we untied the boats and followed Miss Jazz to Francis and Hélène’s home on Baie de la Pentecôte, a short tributary of the Ottawa River.  We spent five days there, and our stay will begin the next chapter.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Oh, Canada! Canals and Capitols (Past and Present)

Our last installment was long, with more narrative and fewer pictures.  This one will tell the story with more pictures and fewer words. We cleared Canadian customs with ease, and when we reached the free dock at St. Jean de Richelieu, we tied up even though it was only about 1:00.  The next good stop was too far away, and we enjoyed exploring the town. Wayne and Vicki went one way, and Mike, Midas, and Marian went another. It was a HOT July day, so we looked for shops with air-conditioning. We're not really shoppers, and when we found a doggy boutique, we hung out there until time to return to the boat and meet Wayne and Vicki for dinner.  Midas made himself right at home and quickly learned where to get treats.  The friendly manager even allowed us to use their grooming facility to trim Midas's toenails, then did another of the visiting dogs.                                                 

The next day was windy again, and getting tied up to the lock walls was a real challenge for Cocomo.  Wayne and Vicki always entered the lock first and took the port side, although the wind was blowing them away from the wall. The Parks Canada lockhands are friendly and helpful. At several locks, we had to tie up to the wall and wait, as shown below, and since Wayne and Vicki and perfected the skill of snagging a cleat, they would tie up, then come back to help us.  THANK YOU MORE THAN WE CAN SAY! 

Most of the Richelieu Canal is a narrow ditch that runs parallel to the Richelieu River.
Thunderstorms are followed by beautiful rainbows, like this one at Sorel, on the St. Lawrence River.


Our second stop on the Richelieu was the town of Chambly, with the marina located at the bottom of three contiguous locks.  Start through, and you have to finish.  We had to wait on the south side of a bridge for a thunderstorm to pass, and we were the last boats to lock through that day.  The marina is at the bottom of the locks, to the right in the photo above.
Wayne (and Mike) enjoyed one of the local craft beers at the restaurant where we had dinner in Chambly.  Mike had duck poutine - french fries covered in gravy, cheese curds.
Canadian towns along the canals are always full of pedestrians.  Like many towns, Chambly has ice cream parlors, and we indulged.

North of Lake Chambly and the Chambly Canal you'll see Mont St. Hilaire to starboard.  According to the Waterway Guide, it's a relative newcomer at only 125 million years old. It's the result of volcanic activity and the source of more than 250 different minerals.  It is clearly visible from Montreal.

Left, approaching Montreal, about 45 against the current miles from Sorel, with wind creating a chop on the St. Lawrence.
Cocomo led the way past the sight of the Montreal World's Fair to the Montreal Yacht Club, where we were lucky to get dock space.  The municipal marina was closed due to a strike by many city employees, but the Marina Manager Debbie checked with a couple of their slip holders and found they would be leaving, making room for us.
We followed Cocomo to Montreal Yacht Club, passing the site of the 1967 Montreal Expo along the way.

The interior of the cathedral is more beautiful than
the exterior, and even non-churchgoers like us 
were overwhelmed by a feeling of reverence, plus
total admiration for the workmanship of the
craftsmen who built this amazing expression of 
Right, the imposing edifice of the Cathedral de Notre Dame, a beautiful church in the heart of Old Town Montreal.    

Above, a friendly local took this picture of us enjoying Place Jacques Cartier, lined with restaurants, stalls, and shops and buskers to provide free entertainment.
Below, Old Montreal's streets are narrow, but this semi managed to make a right turn from this tight spot, with construction (in preparation for Canada's upcoming 2017 150th Birthday) taking place all over Montreal. We watched the maneuver until we knew the truck would make the turn.  

Below, Montreal's portal to its past, the Chateau Ramezaywas built in the18th century as a prestigious residence.  It was the first building in Quebec to be classified a historic monument.  
 The exterior garden is more impressive than the front facade, and the rooms were lovely.   
This guy, who looked imposing and official, really suckered us in.  When we moved closer after he spoke to us, he flashed us - sort ot.  He was wearing a flesh colored unitard under the kilt and jacket, but it took a moment to realize that.  Out of sight was a film crew, recording us in a Canadian version of Candid Camera.

We turned to the modern side of Montreal when we visited Phi, a virtual reality experience that left us both open-mouthed. Below, Marian is wearing goggles with a smart phone screen that engulfed her in a vivid world of bright pastel scenes - hot pink, turquoise, yellow, and orange. It's the story of a little girl and her imaginary monster. As the beast walks up behind her, you can feel his large, heavy feet shaking the ground with every step.  


Below, the sound and scent drawer; we had to sign a waiver to confirm we're not claustrophobic before we could lie on the table and be rolled into a box that felt like a drawer in the morgue.  Marian chose Dallas, and she heard and smelled the assassination of JFK, including the aroma of Jacqueline Kennedy's perfume.  

Mike chose Houston, thinking he would experience the town.  Instead, he heard Whitney Houston's final minutes, including the splash of water in her bathtub and the scent of her bubblebath.

August 20, 2017 - we're back in the USA:

We're inexcusably behind with our Loop II blog, and there's more to tell about Montreal, our visit to Canadian Looper friends Francis and Hélène, then Ottawa - another amazing city - and our trip down the Rideau Canal.  No excuses - just a heartfelt plea for understanding.  WIFI got sporadic at best, Marian got lazy, and we just let it drop.  
Today - counting travel time from Dahlonega to Clayton, NY and prep work on the boat after it went back in the water - we're two months into Loop II/Part 2.  Eventually, we'll finish this blog, and we appreciate your understanding while we continue to cruise down Lake Michigan, through Chicago, and the Illinois, Mississippi, Ohio and Tennesee Rivers to Hales Bar Marina near Chattanooga.  Meanwhile, feel free to follow us on Facebook. 

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Annapolis to Lake Champlain

When we pulled the anchor on Sunday, June 12, we broke one of our rules, but rules are made to be broken, right?  The rule?  Never travel on a weekend, especially in an area sure to be chock full of boaters who believe they own the waterways, don't have a clue about who has the right of way in any given situation, or how to use their VHF radio.  We'd been anchored out for two nights and had explored as much of the Wye River and Dividing Creek as we wanted to, so we headed west, back across the Chesapeake to the Western Shore and the city of Annapolis, capital of Maryland and home of Chick 'n Ruth's Delly - and yes, that's the way they spell it.  Check it out here: Chick 'n Ruth's Delly.
We were underway at 7:37, and it was a beautiful day - blue skies and breezy, and not too hot - at first.  The breeze was refreshing as the temperature rose, but it created waves that were two feet plus for part of the journey.  We were glad to reach Annapolis Harbor just before noon and glad the water had smoothed out.  The Annapolis City Dock is just beyond the Naval Academy, and dock space is first-come, first-served.  We had called ahead to make sure there would be space for our 38' boat, and as always, we said, "We're a single engine, no bow thruster trawler, so if you have someone to catch a line, we'd sure appreciate it."  
They assured us there was room and gave us specific approach instructions. Spa Creek was crowded, the City Dock looked crowded, and we had a stiff breeze blowing us away from the dock.  As you can see in the photo, the inlet is narrow, so Captain Mike
was approaching the sharp turn to starboard slowly and cautiously, allowing plenty of room between us and the boats already tied up.  Admiral Marian, as usual, was on the bow, ready to toss a line to the waiting dockhand, when two large fast cruisers zoomed up on the starboard side, between us and the bulkhead, then cut to port across our bow and made a U-turn to tie up at a restaurant on the other side of the inlet.  Then a sailboat began its slow exit from the dock, just barely squeezing between us and the very nice yacht docked on the opposite wall. The final challenge - the one that made both of us lose our religion -  was a flotilla of twelve or so rented kayaks, paddling out from the launch point at the end of the small docking area. Marian yelled "Stay back!!  Stay back!!" and Mike blew the horn at them, but the kids, most of them not wearing their life jackets, were oblivious.  They came close enough to the boat to push off the hull, not realizing that if a strong gust caught us before we could get docked, they would be sandwiched between our 22-ton boat and the even larger boat beside us (visions of Kayak Flat Bread here). Marian's line toss hit the dockhand on the first try, and he quickly secured the bow, then dashed back to catch the stern line.  n most marinas, we leave the windows and shades open, but not here.  It was HOT, and the area was crawling with tourists, families out for a Sunday stroll, young couples in love, old couples in love, and every imaginable variation of humanity.  With the shades up, they could peer into our salon, and we didn't want to be on display.  Once we had all the dock lines secured and the shore power connected, we closed the windows, lowered the shades, and turned on the AC, then Marian set out to find a place for Midas to "get busy" (a real challenge in this area) while Mike went to check in and talk with the Harbormaster about the kayaks.  "Not much we can do about it.  We don't control the rental company," he shrugged. 
Annapolis City  Dock -
Midas Touch on Left
Chick 'n Ruth's
Monday morning, it was breakfast at Chick n Ruth's, and we decided to take Midas along since we knew there would be a spot where he could curl up on the sidewalk.  We were just finishing a fabulous breakfast - no need for lunch - when we heard a commotion just outside, with Midas yelping in pain, the sound of the sign dragging, and yelps.  
Marian was first out the door, quickly followed by Mike.  A passerby, with his dog on a leash, had lost control when the dog lunged for Midas for no apparent reason.  Midas had been curled up next to the wall with his head turned toward the wall.  
We managed to separate them after Midas had pulled the sign two car lengths down the sidewalk, and much to our later regret, we did not get the man's name or contact information.  Mike yelled at him to get his dog away from there and threatened to call the police.  A very nice pedestrian had witnessed the entire incident and assured us that Midas had done nothing to provoke the other dog.  It didn't appear - at first - that our baby was injured; it was only later that we found blood oozing from the inside of his left ear.  We went back to the City Dock to get the name of a local vet, and at the recommendation of another kind bystander, we took Midas to Anne Arundel Emergency Veterinary Clinic, where he received excellent care.  Because the attack dog had bit into the cartilage, the vet had to sedate Midas to repair the damage, so we reluctantly left him there. He also received a rabies shot since we had no information on the other dog, and in Maryland, the shot is good for three years.  
Stained Glass in USNA Chapel
Midshipmen keep their rooms NEAT!

American Naval Hero
John Paul Jones

We Ubered back to the boat, then walked over to the Naval Academy for a very interesting tour.  We were thrilled to get a call from the vet later Monday afternoon, telling us that Midas had come through fine and would be ready to leave by the time we got there.  Another Uber ride to the clinic and back, and a quiet evening on board.  Midas was still a bit woozy when we reached the boat, and negotiating the short drop from the sidewalk edge into the salon was a challenge.  Mike had made a ramp with our Little Giant Ladder laid flat from the gunwale to the sidewalk, and with the help of another kind lady nearby, Marian was able to help him aboard.  As it turned out, the lady's daughter-in-law works at the clinic, and she was a dog lover herself.  By the time we had dinner and returned, Midas was awake and ready for one last trip ashore before settling in for the night.  Although we loved Annapolis, we won't be going back with Midas anytime soon.   
Tomb of  John Paul Jones
Naval Academy Chapel
Chapel Dome

Tuesday morning, we were up early and off
the Annapolis City Dock at 5:47 for the long 
run up the Chesapeake and through the C&D
Canal to Delaware City Marina, a favorite stop
from our first Loop.  Tim, owner/dockmaster, is
a consummate professional, and his daily
briefings on tide, wind, and currents forecast 
for the next day on Delaware Bay are spot-on.
When boaters arrive, following the buoys 
carefully to avoi d shoaling, he or one of his skilled
staff memberscatch the lines from the starboard side of
the boat, then immediately flip it around for a 
port side tie-up.  Why?
The marina is on the narrow old canal, and it 
has a strong current.  There's little room to turn
around near the marina, and you definitely 
want to be pointed toward Delaware Bay when
you leave.
We spent two nights in Delaware City, did laundry, and met fellow Loopers Phil and Pam Eastman from Flowery Branch. They live not far from Mike's son Dave and his family, and they joined us for dinner on our second night.  
We got a late - for us - start when we left Delaware City; we needed to fuel up, which meant waiting for the fuel truck to arrive. It was time for an oil change, and Mike made good use of the hour or so after breakfast to get that done.  Disposing of used oil is sometimes an issue, but Delaware City Marina can accommodate that project.  
While you're changing the oil, you
might as well tighten the packing
around the cutless bearing.
We were off the dock at 9:50, and the ten-hour ride down Delaware Bay to Lewes was rough and uncomfortable.  Phil and Pam had left earlier, and Inspiration cruises faster than Midas Touch, but they promised to wait for us to reach the Lewes City Dock and catch our lines. 
Apparently, they got too hungry to wait, and by the time we finally reached the dock, they were not there.  It took Marian several tries to snag a cleat, contending with a swift current and brisk wind, and it was not pretty.  Why didn't one or more of the people walking near the dock come to offer a helping hand?  We'll never know.  We finally secured the boat, and an elderly man came by to tell us that he really admired the way we had neatly coiled our dock lines. 
Lewes: flowers and a lovely gazebo near the town dock

We enjoyed talking with him, and his praise somewhat softened our
chagrin at our poor docking.  
It was all worth it because the town of Lewes is truly charming.  We found a great place to have coffee and breakfast, explored the small downtown shopping area, and found a local bakery where we indulged in two "ooey-gooeys," worth every calorie and fat gram.  We spent part of the afternoon at the city dock office, taking advantage of the internet to catch up on email, then met Debbie Cutler, one of Marian's colleagues from her insurance days, and Debbie's wife Lynda.  Debbie had to meet her manager for dinner, but she and Lynda enjoyed adult beverages at an excellent Italian restaurant while we ate dinner.  They went back to the boat with us to meet Midas, who of course made friends immediately, and we all enjoyed the evening so much that we forgot to take pictures of Debbie and Lynda. 
Lewes is on the south side of the wide mouth of Delaware Bay, which meant our cruise north along the New Jersey coast would take three days instead of two and that our first stop would have to be Atlantic City, a nine-hour run.  Once again, we were traveling on a weekend, and not just any weekend.  It was Father's Day weekend, and what seemed like hundreds of boats entering and leaving Absecon Inlet made reaching our marina a real challenge.  If you stay in the channel, there's plenty of water.  Stray outside just a few yards, and you'll run aground, which is exactly what we did.  We radioed the marina to tell them we were stuck, and they offered to send SeaTow to help.  No thanks, because by this time we had perfected using the dinghy to push us free.  We donned our headsets, known to Loopers as marriage savers, and with Mike in the dinghy to push on the bow and Marian at the helm, we were able to wriggle off the sandbar and make our way to Farley State Marina.  Not one of the dozens of boats that went by us offered to help, buy hey, we were in New Jersey. It was Saturday afternoon, and the band playing on the large deck of the Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino was so LOUD that we could barely hear the dockhand telling us where to check in. Crowds, crowds, crowds and noise, noise, noise, plus a fairly long walk to the restroom and showers told us that this was not our kind of place.  We had a pretty good dinner, including - surprise - really good collard greens, at the casino buffet, then made our way back to the relative quiet of the boat. 
Night view from our boat

Bye, bye Atlantic City
Once again, we were off the dock at 5:45 on Father's Day Sunday. Backing out of the slip was tricky, but with the help of two early-rising boaters, we were able to do it without hitting anything, and leaving the inlet was easier than arriving.  We were happy to look back as we turned north to see the tallest buildings on the Jersey coast. Almost nine hours later, we reached Manasquan Inlet.  The Atlantic was smooth, and on the way, we spotted two whales and many dolphins off Beach Haven.  The current at the Brielle Yacht Club Marina was swift, but once again with the help of a couple of semi-competent dockhands, we got tied up.  The locals in Brielle were friendlier than those in Atlantic City, and we had an enjoyable stay.
Good morning, ocean 

The next stop was Liberty Landing Marina in Jersey City, just north of the Statue of Liberty. Once again, we were off to an early (5:12 am) start, with a smooth undocking, helped by favorable current and wind; with excellent help from the Liberty Landing dockhands, we were tied up before noon. 
What to do first?  We knew we wanted to see a Broadway show, and we knew we didn't want to spend more money than we had to, so we took advantage of the ferry from Liberty Landing to the terminal near the World Trade Center.  From there, we made our way to one of the discount ticket locations, using Google and Mike's cell phone for walking directions. (Never let it be said that we plan and prepare in advance.  We seem to do just fine when we ad-lib.)  With many theaters are dark on Monday, and the discount tickets, still pretty pricey, good only for that day's shows, we had fewer choices.  After some discussion and lots of help from the friendly TKTS guy at the South Street Seaport location, we decided on Something Rotten, "an irreverent valentine to the Broadway musical."  From a comment following this YouTube video of the opening number:  There are over twenty references to other musicals, all set to a kinda-sorta making fun of musicals tone. Watch the Tony Award's performance of "A Musical" basically roasting the idea of a musical, while simultaneously mentioning or playing short melody pieces of at least twenty different musicals. This play was hilarious. Here's the link:

Enjoy "Welcome to the Renaissance," the first of many great songs. When this show comes to Atlanta in April 2018, we'll be at the Fox to watch it again.
Ellis Island - on our way to
Liberty Landing Marina

Once we purchased our tickets, we took the subway to Times Square and the Theater District and had dinner at Guy's American Kitchen and Bar, just a few doors away from the St. James Theater. Although it was Monday night, the streets and sidewalks were very crowded, with construction blocking some of the sidewalks.
After the show, we had at least a twenty-minute walk back to the Times Square subway station, then a fifteen-minute ride back to the Port Authority Terminal where we had arrived. The marina ferry service doesn't run at night, so we took PATH (Port Authority Trans-Hudson) back to the Grove Street stop in Jersey City, then a cab back to the marina. Unfortunately, the cab driver didn't seem to know exactly where to drop us off at the marina, and as soon as we saw a gate to Liberty Park, we got out. It was a long walk from the westernmost end of the marina to our boat, where Midas was more than ready for his dinner and a walk. Bless his heart, he had waited patiently for our return. Had we realized before we caught the ferry that we would be staying in Manhattan to see the show, we would have arranged for one of the dockhands to feed Midas and take him for a walk, with a tip, of course. At $4.50/foot, it seems that's the least we should expect.
Traveling with Midas entails constraints, and we didn't want to leave him aboard at Liberty Landing while we toured more of Manhattan the next day.
We don't think this one flies.
Instead, we used the marina's very nice showers Tuesday morning, then headed up the Hudson to Half Moon Bay Marina, one of our favorite stops from Loop I. Manager-dockmaster Steve welcomed us back when we arrived at 1:00 PM, helping us tie up and connect shore power for a five-day stay. When we called to confirm our reservation and ask if he could recommend a vet nearby, Steve told us that one of the marina customers has his veterinarian office within easy walking distance. After spending a long, boring day on the boat at Liberty Landing and enduring a choppy ride up the Hudson, Midas was happy to stretch his legs so that his stitches could come out. We all enjoyed the walk to and from the vet. Getting to shore and back to the boat was the only tough part. Even with a breakwater wall on the north and west sides of the marina, the waves still get through the openings, making the dock very unstable. The wall is not solid; it consists of vertical planks set on alternating sides of the horizontal supports and underwater pilings. According to Steve, the EPA, which approves permits for docks and structures along the river, a solid wall would prevent fish from swimming freely up and down the Hudson. Jeeeshh!!
Beautiful cruise up the Hudson

We were delighted to see our Solomons Island friends Steve and Kathleen arrive and dock nearby, and we invited them to join us to visit the CIA - Culinary Institute of America. Enterprise has an office a short walk from the marina, and the four of us set off Thursday morning for a lovely drive along the west side of the Hudson to Hyde Park, a guided tour of the school, where we watched chefs in training through large windows and marveled at the multi-tiered cake on display behind a window in the main hallway. The picture doesn't do it justice. The sugar amethyst crystals look real. Caution if you plan to go - and we strongly recommend that you do: make reservations at one of the outstanding restaurants well in advance of your visit so that you can choose among cuisines: American Bounty for farm to table, Ristorante Caterina de Medici if you crave Italian cuisine, or Le Bocuse for the finest French cuisine. There's also the Apple Pie Bakery Cafe for a more casual experience, with no reservations required. We had an outstanding meal at Le Bocuse, and Steve treated us to an excellent wine since we had paid for the rental car. The CIA is housed in a former Jesuit monastery, and the campus is beautiful.
This chef in training was focused on sifting and weighing cocoa; our guide explained that weighing dry ingredients is much more accurate that measuring. The students all went about their tasks without paying any attention to the visitors staring at them through the windows.  If one happened to catch our eyes, they smiled but didn't stop. 
The school has a great collection of vintage kitchen appliances like this stand mixer on display.  The large wire whisk would make great meringue or whipped cream.  Below is part of the prep area for the Apple Pie Bakery Cafe.  We bought pastry for Friday's breakfast.

 Steve selected a terrific wine to accompany our gourmet lunch.

The main building is impressive, and the inside is equally beautiful.  We left the gift shop with another ball cap for Mike, a towel that now hangs in our kitchen, a cooking fork that won't harm our nonstick skillet, and a book on bread baking.    
Marian, Mike, Kathleen & Steve
Ready for fine dining 
The entrees were works of art...                          

... almost too beautiful to eat -- but we did!

Marian & Kathleen

Our Monday visit to Manhattan just whetted our appetite for more, and Steve and Kathleen graciously allowed us to tag along on Friday. We caught the commuter train to Grand Central Station, then on to the Empire State Building. Our boat neighbor at Half Moon Bay was the SeaTow captain, and Midas had already met his young yellow Lab Molly. Walter graciously offered to take Midas ashore when he came back to his summer live-aboard home for lunch, and the two dogs had a great time. Walter even texted a photo of the two friends taking it easy ashore and told us that when they went back to our boat, Molly jumped right aboard and took a tour. Just one more example of the way that boaters automatically help one another out, and we felt much better knowing that Midas would have a mid-day break while we explored New York.

Empire State Building - sidewalk view
Grand Central Station - you could probably spend a
day here.

Grand Central - fancy, huh? 
Steve and Kathleen - ready to hit the sidewalks

Empire State Building Lobby - get your tickets here
View from the top - looking south 
Kathleen wanted to ride bikes in Central Park, so back to the subway for the 27-minute trip to Central Park West, where Kathleen thought we could rent bikes. Wrong. We decided to explore the park on foot until it was time for Steve and Kathleen to meet one of her former co-workers for dinner. We headed off to find the John Lennon memorial, Strawberry Fields. It's just across Central Park West near the Dakota, where Lennon and Yoko Ono lived until he was killed.
People surrounded this mosaic in the Strawberry Fields area
of the park. One man was singing, and he was good, but 
not John Lennon good

From some areas of Central Park, it seems
like you're in the country.

Marian's favorite color, blooming just for her.

We visited the building below, the first stop to visit Belvedere Castle.
Above, one of the peaceful paths.
Below, the crowd in Strawberry Fields.

Last look at Grand Central Station 

After Strawberry Fields, we were both ready to return to Half Moon Bay, so we found the subway station that connected with Grand Central. Friendly folks along the way happily explained which color line to catch and where the station was. And luck was with us. As the train approached the end of the line at Croton on Hudson, we struck up a conversation with a woman who was obviously dressed for the office, including spike heels. Ouch! She and her husband used to live in the Half Moon Bay condos, and he was picking her up. They dropped us off at the marina, the end of a long but enjoyable day.
Saturday was clean the boat inside day for Marian, while Mike biked to a shoe store we had seen on our walk to Shop-Rite, hoping to find a new pair of shoes to replace the too-small ones that had been waiting for us when we reached the marina. No luck; we'll keep looking.
From Half Moon Bay to Hyde Park Landing, a small mooring field right in the strong north-flowing Hudson River current. After Marian's three unsuccessful tries to snag the mooring ball's heavy chain, which was hanging below the ball - a unique configuration - and Mike's equally fruitless tries, we launched the dinghy. Mike grabbed our mooring line, already secured with its eye loop around the Sampson post, as he passed beside the bow, then motored over to the mooring ball, where he was able to reach under it to grab the heavy chain, then bring it back to the boat. Marian deftly maneuvered Midas Touch as Mike piloted the dinghy, grabbed the mooring ball, then brought the line back to the boat. By that point, Marian had put the boat in neutral and rushed to the bow to grab the line and wrap it around the Sampson post. We were set for the night, and Marian and Midas joined Mike in the dinghy to go ashore. We had to cross a railroad track, then couldn't figure out how to open the gate from the launch area. Luckily for us, a friendly guy sitting on his upstairs porch saw us and called over to tell us how to work the latch. We ended up spending a couple of pleasant hours on his porch, where he had a large kiddie pool filled with water so he could cool off at will on a very warm afternoon. He offered us a beer, which Mike accepted, and Midas enjoyed meeting his dog and exploring the yard. The next morning, we meet the "marina" manager Pete when we took Midas ashore before beginning our cruise to the next stop, Shady Harbor Marina, on the west bank of the Hudson. Looper friends Burke and Stel from our first trip had recommended it, and they were right. The Tohatsu had been running rough, and Shady Harbor had a mechanic who was able to smooth it out. More helpful, friendly boaters; one of the locals drove Marian to WalMart in the nearby town of New Baltimore, NY. We also met a fellow Looper, who was single-handing (with his Golden Retriever) and had an enjoyable visit the afternoon we arrived. Not only does Shady Harbor have excellent docks, a great on-site restaurant, and skilled mechanics, the ship's store offers more than chips and cookies. The frozen food case stocked awesome stuffed pork chops, huge hamburger patties. We took advantage of the large gas grills on the boaters' patio to grill a couple of the pork chops.

Somewhere before Croton-on-Hudson, Marian lost her fixed bridge while flossing. It would need a dentist to re-seat it, and we knew just whom to call. Two years earlier, Mike had lost a crown when he bit into a Tootsie Roll at the Waterford Visitor Center, just before the beginning of the Erie Canal. We knew just the dentist to call, and made an appointment with the same dentist who had re-attached Mike's crown. Because our visit to Troy coincided with the antique steamboat festival, the Waterford Visitor Center was closed to all other boats, and due to damage from Hurricane Matthew, the Troy Municipal Docks, while open, did not have shore power. Why pay to stay at a dock when it lacks the main amenity? We found an alternate, the Starbuck Island Boat Club, on the west side of the Hudson. This marina consists of an old barge, secured to land with sturdy lines and a ramp. It has a roof, a couple of refrigerators for the "members' beer," and a courtesy car, which we were able to use to go to dinner our first night and to the dentist the next day, including a side trip to the Visitor Center to check out the antique steamboats. Starbuck Island Boat Club lacks a restroom and showers, but $1.50/foot is a bargain for New York, and the locals who hang out there made us welcome. (Marian is now Facebook friends with a couple of them.) One of the regulars caught our lines, helped us secure the boat, and connect to shore power. Midas had a challenge climbing the steps from dock level to the barge; they're metal grates, the kind you'd find in a factory. With his boots, Midas handled them with ease. He also made another friend, Dummy. According to his owner, the dog has another name, but he only answers to Dummy. Midas soon felt right at home, so much so that when he and Marian made a quick trip to the boat, he got tired of waiting for her, jumped off, and returned to the fun and his new friends.
That's Dummy sitting to Midas's left, and he wasn't dumb at all.  

The view from MIdas Touch toward the "clubhouse" area where the locals hang out. Check out the grated walkway from the dock to the stairs.

The Champlain Canal locks begin just north of Troy, and the day was cool and breezy. The breeze became strong gusts, which makes locks a real challenge, especially in the first lock, which has no trees to break the wind. Both Mike and Marian managed to drop a boat hook as we tried to grab the lines attached to the top of the lock wall, including our new, expensive one that has a mechanism to grab a cleat or the loop of a mooring ball. The lockmaster was able to retrieve it, and we proceeded north. The wind was so strong at Lock 5 that we got turned sideways, but we were able to straighten out and go through, only to run aground waiting at Lock 6. This time, we had to use both the dinghy and a spare anchor to pull ourselves off. Instead of asking the lockmaster to wait, we told him to go ahead and let the other boater through. A bit later, the boater radioed us to say "thank you." By this time, there were two other smaller cruisers in the canal; we would end up in the locks together, they'd zoom ahead of us, and we'd find them waiting at the next lock.

When we reached Lock 7 late in the afternoon, the lockmaster told us that instead of locking through, we should go past the lock on the left and tie up at the free wall in Fort Edward for the night. That's exactly what we did, and the cruisers were waiting to help us tie up with our bow even with the bottom step of a wide staircase. Perfect - no ladder to try to help MIdas negotiate, and better yet, the free dock had shore power pedestals and water. Fort Edwards is a neat little town, which we enjoyed exploring after having a tasty home-style dinner at a local restaurant. We returned there for breakfast before slipping our lines to return to the canal and north to Whitehall, the town which marks the end of the Champlain Canal.
Instead of the free wall above the lock, we needed to stay at a marina in Whitehall to do laundry, and as it turned out, we had only one choice, the New Whitehall Marina. The second marina had closed, but New Whitehall turned out to be a good stop. The washer & dryer were almost new and free, the showers were decent, and we met some great people. The husband and wife team who manage the marina couldn't have been more helpful, and Marty, a tile setter from New Jersey, took us to a local grocery/deli for great sandwiches since the marina's restaurant was closed. (That's a "whole 'nother story, too long to tell here.) We also met Jim and Molly, a friendly couple from Burlington, VT who insisted that we call them when we got that far north. We're at opposite ends of the political spectrum, but we still enjoyed chatting with them one evening and reconnecting with them when we reached Burlington. Whitehall has a small museum, where we learned about the birth of the U.S. Navy under the leadership of Benedict Arnold, who oversaw the building of several boats.
 The museum has a wedding dress on display from the early 20th century as well as lots of other interesting items from earlier times, when Whitehall was a thriving town. Sadly, it's now a dying town, with more vacant stores on its two-block main street than open ones. One bright spot was an excellent restaurant in a former bank building, where we could stay cool and take advantage of their wi-fi. We were disappointed that there was no local Independence Day celebration; the folks in Whitehall all go to Clemons, a short distance away.

We were off the dock in Whitehall at 9:05 for a short cruise to Fort Ticonderoga, on the western shore of Lake Champlain at its south end. We were securely anchored by 12:30, in an area of the lake with all kinds of vegetation growing from the bottom. We learned that an unusually dry summer, causing low water levels, meant an unusually high level of aquatic plants. After a careful study of BlueChart Mobile and Active Captain, we made our way up the LaChute River to a beautiful waterfall, a town park, and the town of Ticonderoga, where we had a late lunch before doing some shopping. At the local hardware store, we found two folding lightweight tables for the aft deck, and a block or so farther, we found a home decor shop with perfect place mats. We called a taxi to take us to the fort, but by now it was too late in the afternoon, so we decided to save the for until the next morning. The dingy ride back to our anchorage seemed much shorter than the ride to town, partly because we were familiar with the shallow, weedy river and could travel much faster. At the boat, Marian decided to read and relax while Midas and Mike went ashore for a refreshing swim. When the sun set, the breeze died, the mosquitoes arrived, and it was HOT! We taped the gaps in the sliding salon windows, secured the screen over the hatch to the aft deck, and ran the generator so that we could, in turn, use the fan; the air conditioner requires more power than the generator can produce. By bedtime, it was comfortable, and we slept well.
We saw Champ, legendary Lake Champlain monster, on our way from Whitehall to Fort Ticonderoga.  Want more info?  Check him out:

 Midas and Marian checked out the waterfall at the end of the La Chute River.

We had to cross this covered bridge to get from a small dinghy dock at the foot of the waterfall to the town of Ticonderoga.
Above, the fort, from the upper helm of
Midas Touch; right, Midas Touch as seen
from the fort.

The fife and drum corps kicked off the guided tour of the fort; we had time to explore the battlements that protected the fort from an attack from the south before the tour.


Thursday morning, we took the dinghy around the point to the ferry landing, where we could tie up. The walk to Fort Ticonderoga was about a mile, fortunately over level ground, and the tour was very informative. We all enjoyed the fife & drum performance at the beginning of the tour, but Midas made it quite clear that he required a potty break. He and Marian stayed in the shady picnic area while Mike, who really enjoys military history, completed the tour. We then had great salads and even better pie (mixed berry for Marian and apple for Mike) for lunch in the gift shop/cafe. The walk back to the dinghy and the dinghy ride to the boat got us there just before a sudden strong sqaull arrived. While Mike closed the hatch and salon windows, Marian secured the skylight cover over the forward berths. It had been holding on by one snap! We had to sacrifice the cushiony mat that we used to give Midas more secure footing when he had to board the boat from the port side. We can get another one at any Walmart.
Next stop - Burlington, or technically Malletts Bay and Colchester, VT. Our friends Jim and Molly had called to check on us; we opted not to stay at their marina since it has no laundry. Instead, we stayed at Champlain Marina, just north. The entrance to Malletts Bay is shallow, rocky, and required careful navigation, but we made it without a mishap. Champlain Marina is owned by the people who keep their boats there, and we were lucky that one of them had taken off for a weekend cruise. The folks in the adjacent slip assured us that we could use their boarding steps, which MIdas mastered easily. Jim and Molly picked us up Saturday for a trip to Walmart - new watchband for Marian and a pair of shorts - and a tour of Burlington. It was a rainy day, but we still saw a beautiful lakefront city and enjoyed a hearty lunch at an Irish pub in Church Street Marketplace, a three-block area with very limited vehicle access. Molly told us this was one of Bernie Sanders' accomplishments.
We enjoyed a semi-leisurely Sunday morning at the marina while Marian caught up on laundry. Loopers know that you wash when you can, and this marina had good machines and a large book swap. Once done, we were preparing to get underway when the dockmaster came to tell us that the slip owners would be arriving soon, meaning we would have to move to a different slip. "No problem. We're getting ready to leave in a few minutes." He stayed to help us back out of the slip, avoiding the posts at the outside end. Three hours later, we were anchored back on the New York side, at Cumberland Bay State Park. We always like anchorages near a boat dock, which makes it easy to tie up and get to land. Midas was so eager to get ashore that he attempted to jump from the dock to the bulkhead as we tied the dinghy, and he nearly slid back into the narrow space between them. We grabbed him, then directed him around the corner by the boat ramp and to land.
Monday morning, when we took Midas ashore before our short trip to Rouse's Point, last stop in the U.S., he quickly took care of business and then trotted directly to an elderly gentleman sitting in a folding chair on the bank. Mike rushed over, thinking Midas might disturb him, but Jerry Leonard was delighted to see him. He smiled shyly and asked if it was OK to pet our dog. "Of course. That's his job." Mr. Leonard then told us that he'd lost his Golden almost a year before, and he really enjoyed having Midas lean against him. Midas, of course, enjoyed the attention, and he was in no hurry to leave. Fortunately, we had another short cruise to reach Rouse's Point.

We had been in touch with Wayne and Vicki Bernhardt on Cocomo throughout our trip. They're fellow Gold Loopers, returning to their Holland, Michigan home after crossing their wake in Florida. We had planned to stay at another marina in Rouse's Point, and in fact, we had arranged for a letter and a small package to be sent there. After stopping at Gaine's Marina to fill our diesel tank before entering Canada - at 27 cents less/gallon than our original choice and meeting Wayne at the dock, we decided to stay there. Why undock and dock again when we had already reached a great spot with a wonderful staff. After settling in to our assigned slip and paying for fuel, the four of us made our way to Dollar General for miscellaneous items, then a light dinner at the local deli. While Vicki and Marian shopped, Mike and Wayne walked on to the alternate marina to pick up the mail. One of the two items had arrived just that morning, and the owner still charged us $20!! (There went part of our fuel savings.) Tuesday - boat cleaning inside and out, and Wednesday? We entered Canada, cruised one mile and went under one bridge just north of our location. Our maple leaf flag was flying from one of the radio antennas, with our yellow quarantine flag, indicating we had not cleared customs, on the other. Clearing customs was easy: we tied to the Border Patrol dock, greeted the friendly officers, and handed them a pocket folder with our passports, Midas's vaccination records, and the Certificate of Documentation for the boat. All was in order, and we were soon on our way.

Stay tuned for the next installment - the Richelieu Canal, Chambly Canal, Sorel, Montreal and Ottowa, Rideau Canal, Kingston, the Thousand Islands and back to the U.S.A.

If you've enjoyed reading this very long installment, please let us know. You can comment below, or email us: if you have questions. We'd love to hear from you.