89 Vergennes, VT to Reedy, Island DE

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Small branches of red and yellow leaves smudged to pastel shades by early morning fog added a tiny touch of color to the fog-faded green along shore. It was the first and only splash of early fall color to be seen. The quiet of Vergennes with it’s old buildings, interesting library and hilly walks changed to pleasant fond memories as we slowly worked our way seven miles down Otter Creek back toward Lake Champlain. We’d left at first light with just enough visibility to comfortably see shore and upcoming bends in the narrow creek. Radar provided backup for those few instances when we disappeared into thicker patches and visibility shrank to just being able to see the bow. A bay just to the north of the creek became our temporary anchorage as we tucked in to let lake fog lift while we enjoyed a breakfast of pancakes with Vermont maple syrup, a fitting end to our days in Vermont.

Lake Champlain despite its name resembles a narrow river at its south end. We threaded our way past a number of water-born weed whackers trying to keep the now narrow lake open. The Champlain Canal starts at Whitehall. Once prosperous but now tired Whitehall works hard to recover its past and attract tourists. An active players’ group uses a unique location. The Bridge Theater a now enclosed bridge over the canal is used for a play about the town past. The Canal Authority is helping by building a huge welcome complex along the canal edge. One day, the empty stores facing the canal may again be back in business.

Ed, a resident of Fort Edward volunteered to give us a ride to the grocery store. Returning after our shopping was done he gave us an impromptu tour of the area, explained town history and current politics. It made our stay in Fort Edward with its free dock, electricity and water all that much more enjoyable. The old feeder canal, now a linear park, winds a pleasant eight miles to Glenns Falls. It made for a great bike ride. Stopping along the route to talk with a park volunteer and answer a survey, we purchased a copy of the feeder canal history. Later we discovered we had been talking with the author. We were more alert at the new historic center. There we met the man who had built the models of the old fort on display and enjoyed learning more about the area.

The lock tender at Waterford was hard at work painting gate machinery Erie Canal blue as we squeezed by heading for the walkway across the lock gate to the other side. Bob and Marge from Sea Turtle joined us as we headed out along a pleasant wooded path to find the waterfall at Cohoes. Later that evening after a delicious dinner on Sea Turtle, Tom and Lorraine, Albany, NY friends of Bob and Marge gave us all a ride to see the falls we hadn’t found. Parking their van on a modest street, they led us in front of tired apartments and around back. The huge falls were missing because there was no water. Instead a trickle, probably from a leak in the power dam upstream gave a hint of how grand the falls would look if the water weren’t diverted to make electricity.

Odyssey spent a week resting on the Hudson while we traveled by rental car back for one more visit with the kids. Changes in the two months we’d been gone were impressive. Cindy and Mike’s future home last seen as a basement with first floor sub-floor now has walls and part of the roof. There’s still a long way to go, but progress has been steady. We only wish we could have been there when a neighbor Mike had never met, introduced himself and gave Mike a bucket of frogs for the pond (Lake Mike) in front of their future house.

Debbie and Jeff had been telling us Danielle was almost crawling. As we watched one afternoon she finally figured it out and managed to make a couple of feet forward before falling over. Now she crawls like crazy, and Debbie and Jeff are working hard to baby-proof the house.

Linda and Steve’s ever-changing home continues to fascinate us. The bathroom has been reworked and is quite “happening” with unique cork floors, a new fancy shower and custom paneling. Linda installed her just-completed wood carving in the library area on the second floor. It adds another eye-catching touch of class to an already classy area.

Mixed emotions accompanied us as we headed back to Odyssey. We loved the warmth and comfort of being with our family, but we longed to be back aboard Odyssey and on the water again. First light found us heading down the Hudson as wisps of morning fog lifted off the water.

Pollepel Island with its castle ruin marks the north end of one of the most scenic stretches of the Hudson River. Swinging at anchor, tucked in behind the island, we watched our own slow motion light show as the late afternoon sun rearranged shadows on the ruin before disappearing behind the mountains. Morning fog patches along the water and mountain ridges added gray then sun-bleached white accents to the landscape as the sun worked its way above the mountains behind us. We lingered watching colors reappear and darken as sun beams worked their way down the opposite mountain side, across the river and finally shown on our castle ruin. With our water stage now fully lit, we started down the Hudson again.

Manhattan passed by on our left. Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty with a variety of tour boats circulating at her feet passed by on our right. New York Harbor filled with anchored freighters, tug boats, barges, ferryboats, tour boats, and pleasure boats all moving in random directions opened before us. We threaded our way through the confusion and accompanying boat wake chop and under the Verrazano Narrows Bridge.

Fine weather, calm seas and the joy of being on open water again kept us moving. Sandy Hook, once our potential anchorage for the evening was left close to starboard as we headed for the Atlantic. Calm ocean conditions made for a pleasant passage to Manasquan, NJ. The dock at the Shrimp Box is free if you eat dinner there. We rafted off Winnie the Pooh a sailboat converted to a trawler and headed for a great dinner and then a walk on the boardwalk. At first light we were on the move again. Taking advantage of the weather we stayed on the Ocean and easily made Cape May and anchored for a bumpy night due to boat wakes off the Coast Guard station.

After three days of pushing we treated ourselves to an easy day. Ruth made me a morning cup of coffee as we headed out the Cape May Canal. A bumpy Delaware Bay slowly calmed as morning changed from a gray fog to just a hot, hazy, humid day. Near the top of the bay our route joined the freighter channel, and we enjoyed the passing parade of huge ships. Around noon at the top of the bay we tucked ourselves in behind Reedy Island, dropped the anchor, took showers and settled in to read and watch boats arriving to anchor. We’d covered 328 miles in 3.5 days and had our potential weather-window-constraint passages behind us.

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