New York’s Canals : Getting to know the crew … : Part II

May 20th, 2012 § 1 comment § permalink

On the way from Lake Chapmplain to New York City, we went through a series of 12 locks that are a part of the NY State Canal System.

Champlain Canal - First Lock

I never appreciated the role these canals have played in the development of New York, but they are absolutely responsible for making it the Empire State. When it was built, the Erie Canal connected New York harbor to the great lakes (Chicago) and the Mississippi enabled America’s western expansion, brought many goods from the mainland to market, and made New York City the economic epicenter of the country.

The canals were also massive feats of engineering, perhaps even more so that the panama canal, though not as cool as:

Nowadays the canal’s main value is historical, symbolic and recreational. It costs $100M to maintain and collects $200k in toll revenue per year. Just consider, we paid 15$ to take our boat through 11 locks of the Champlain Canal. We were the only boat in every lock crossing. In total, we were singlehandedly responsible for the displacement of over 15 million gallons of water and untold quantities of electricity to move the massive lock doors.

A night on the docks:

Night on the Canal

Along the route we got a few lessons in American history. We passed Fort Ticonderoga, the scene of one of the first American victory of the Revolutionary War where a Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys conquered an English fort in 1775. (The more I learn about Ethan Allen, the more I regret not having hung out with him.)

We passed an elaborate but crumbling castle structure at Bannerman’s Island Arsenal, which I did not get to photograph since we were sailing through a storm.

And then immediately afterwards, the Army’s elite academy presides majestically over a narrow S-curved bend in the Hudson 40 miles north of NYC. From the river, we first realized it was West Point by the sign on their mess hall roof boldly proclaiming “BEAT AIRFORCE” their main rival.

West Point

On a previous trip to NY, I met a few cadets in Brighton Beach engaging in some teamwork and Russian language study.


Our crew mate Lindsey Annison hails from Appleby, Cumbria, England.  She let her house for a year and came to the US to speak at a rural fiber optics conference where Tim invited her to join our little adventure. The more I learn about her, the more amazes me. Including:

  • Lindsay tweets with her MP Rory Stewart, who happens to be among my personal heroes ever since I read this book The Places In Between
    Here they are digging optical fiber into the rural north of England:
  • … knows the people who made one of my favorite YouTube video “Extreme Shepherding
  • … is a biological anomaly. Lindsay, a mother of two girls, who were born on the same day, but were conceived a month a part. This is called Superfetation.
  • and there is so much more …

Sailing Down the Hudson … and then some : Part I

May 10th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

For the next few weeks, I’ll be sailing down the East Coast. We’re starting inland at Lake Champlain and will first navigate a series of 20 locks to get out into the Hudson.

We’ll have our masts stepped up near New York City, where we’ll sail out the harbor, then back into Chesepeake Bay and into the intra-coastal water way … and then as far as we can get before time runs out.

Our boat is a “sloop rigged catch” which means a double masted ship with a single jib in front. It also has a “bilge keel” which is an unusual configuration of two keels sticking out from the side. One advantage is that if the tide runs off from under you, the boat will remain upright.  For example:


The boat is a Westerly 33″ Ketch named “Borka” (which if you pronounce the “r” in a soft rolling way, is the diminutive of Boris though the origin of the name is different. I’ll write about that later)

Borka and Tim

Tim Nulty is our captain. Crew is Louisa Bukiet and Lindsay (who was visiting Tim from England when he offered her to hop aboard) and me.


I’ll write more soon, but in the meanwhile, you should read about two fascinating sailing misadventures: