Cruising Easy


Launch: Seneca Lake State Park, Geneva, NY. Good ramp and security patrols the parked truck and trailer. Access to the Finger Lakes, and near the midpoint of the Erie Canal.

Nearby campsites:Sampson Lake State Park, south on Seneca Lake. It also has a ramp but is a distance from the canals.

Comments: Prepare for a leisurely trip through beautiful countryside, friendly towns, and American history.


Too Many Candies

---- We were swinging on a hook in LeGates Cove, on the Tred Avon River off Chesapeake Bay. It was early June and it was already hotter than the hinges in Maryland. "Too hot here," El mused. "And humid, too." We pondered the research studies substantiating global warming, after a string of record hot days on the Eastern Shore. That discussion soon lead to thoughts of escape from the heat, and a little more distance from 'inside the beltway.'

---- -"Let's head north. But wheree?" I queried.

---- -"We could cruise the North CChannel of Lake Huron. That should be plenty cool, and it's beautiful rocky island scenery," El suggested. "Or, maybe back up the Trent Severn, that's a glory in early summer." Her brow furrowed in that pondering look I know so well. "Then, there's the coast of Maine ... Narragansett Bay ... the Erie Canal ... Lake Champlain ... or the north shore of Lake Superior ... or ..."

---- -Life is full of choices, and some of them are delicious. We were faced with such a delightful choice now. "We don't have to choose right away," I interrupted. "Let's savor different ideas and see which percolates to the top."

---- -We continued our cruising of the Eastern Shore until it simply became too warm for us. We were back in Chestertown, and ready to head down the Chester River and pull out down at Langford Bay. We were still debating all those pretty wrappings at what we consider the candy counter of life.

---- -Oftentimes in life we think we haave choices, and then a decisive event occurs that quickly restricts the field. A few years ago we were pulling Halcyon from a ramp in Kentucky, ready to begin a trailer trip to the navigation head of the Arkansas River for a fall cruise, when El slipped on the slimy ramp and she was in the emergency room of a hospital. The next few months we became content residents of Kentucky.

---- -Serendipity -- sometimes good andd sometimes bad. Well, we had a decisive event that morning in Chestertown. After our leisurely ritual of morning coffee, we dropped the outboard engines and turned the key. After the starboard engine was purring, and El was on the dock untying lines, I turned the key for the port engine. Nothing! Not even a click. A hasty check of the electrical system showed she had full power. "That's why we have two engines," El chuckled. "One engine is fine for cruising the Chester down to the ramp."

---- -A few days later, an outboard mecchanic took a quick look at the port engine and with a grimace declared, "Dead on arrival."

---- -"No hope?," El said witth a frown.

---- -"Major surgery required, andd chance of long term survival is small," the boat doc said. "You have 2,000 hours on that Jesse. The commercial guys around here figure a major overhaul or a trade-in at 1,000 hours."

---- -"Well, it's always been faitthful. It served us well and took us to many beautiful places. Time to say good-bye," I said in requiem.

---- -We called various Honda dealers aand soon discovered that Honda had not imported enough our size engines to supply the demand. Apparently the increased fuel costs pushed more folks into buying smaller engines and they were out of stock -- until late August, and this was mid-June!

---- -That evening watching the shadowss lengthen across the farm fields beside our friend's house, El said, "Well, that solves our decision of where to cruise. With one engine, we can't cruise any big water. There's a 10 mph speed limit on most of the Erie Canal -- let's head there and we can cruise to our heart's content on the surviving engine."

---- -"Done," was my quick reply.

---- -As we pondered a cruise on the Erie Canal, it quickly became obvious that there were still choices. We could launch into the canal from the east, as we have done before, and cruise westerly. Or, launch at Buffalo and head to the east. "Let's launch in the middle, and then we can go either way," El suggested.

---- -And so we did. We launched at Senneca Lake, just south of the midpoint of the Erie Canal.


---- -The Erie Canal is but one of four canals in the New York State Canal System -- the Erie Canal is 338 miles long and connects the Hudson River to Lake Erie; the Champlain Canal is 60 miles long and connects the Hudson River and Lake Champlain; the Oswego Canal is 24 miles long and connects the Erie Canal with Lake Ontario; and the Cayuga-Seneca Canal, whose 12 miles length connects two of the Finger Lakes, Cayuga and Seneca, with the Erie Canal.

---- -Seneca Lake State Park has a good launch ramp and parking facilities, but no camping, so we launched and headed easterly on the Cayuga-Seneca Canal toward Seneca Falls.


Low Bridges; Coast Guard Aux Flotilla 4-7; the Cayuga-Seneca Canal


The Waterloo Lock (Lock 4, with Guard Gate); Memorial to Women's Rights; Welcome to Seneca Falls

---- -El's middle name is Cady, her mother's surname. As we cruised into Seneca Falls, it was not the first time a Cady had come to this town. The name, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, a distant relative of El, is indelibly associated with Seneca Falls.

---- -Elizabeth Cady, daughter of a prominent Upstate New York lawyer, was involved as a young woman with Antislavery, Temperance, and Women's Rights organizations. She met her husband, Henry Stanton, through this common concern. They were married in 1840, and the word "obey" was dropped from the ceremony, and El has continued the Cady tradition.

---- -Henry was a delegate to the World Antislavery Convention in London that same year. Elizabeth was outraged when she and her friend, the Quaker activist Lucretia Mott and all women delegates were refused seats at the convention. There, in London, she and Mott discussed the need for a convention for women's rights.

---- -In the summer of 1848, Stanton and Mott met with other women activists, including Amelia Jenks Bloomer, the feminist best remembered for her Turkish-style trousers, which became known as "bloomers." Together they planned the first Women's Rights Convention. It was held that July in Seneca Falls.

---- -Stanton delivered a stirring address to the convention. " We have met here today to discuss our rights and wrongs, civil and political," ... "The right is ours. Have it, we must. Use it, we will."... "In every generation God calls some men and women for the utterance of truth, a heroic action, and our work today is the fulfilling of what has long since been foretold..."

---- -She co-authored that meeting's Declaration of Sentiments, modeled on the Declaration of Independence. She also introduced the most radical demand -- for woman suffrage. This convention initiated the Woman's Rights Movement in the U.S. and Stanton remained the Nineteenth Century's most prominent proponent of women's legal and social equality.


---- -That evening, after a visit to the National Woman's Hall of Fame, we toasted to El's distant cousin, in deference to her temperance beliefs, with a double dip coffee chip cone-- a great woman who changed the world.

---- -Seneca Falls is today home for about 6,900 folk. Fortunately for you, if you twitched your back at the boat launch, Seneca Falls is the home of the New York Chiropractic College. In the 2000 census, the town's median income was about $5,000 below the national average, probably reflecting the closure of the Seneca Knitting Mills factory which had been active here for 155 years.

Seneca Knitting Mills

--- -There is a well-lit town dock right in front of the ice cream parlor, and the town kindly provides electricity and water for transient cruisers.

--- -A Cady Returns To Seneca Falls

--- -As luck would have it, a distant relative of mine was also active in Seneca Falls. Wilhelmus Mynderse and his wife Hannah donated land for the use of the town library and for the public high school, known as the Mynderse Academy.

--- -The next morning we were off to the east on the Cayuga-Seneca Canal. We cruised past one of the most photographed sites on the canal -- Trinity Episcopal Church. Soon, we were stepping down the double locks just east of town.


Finished Lock 2; Dropping Down Lock 3; Penny Relaxed on Wanderer, Leaving the Double Lock Behind

--- -Beyond the locks, the Canal enters the northern end of Cayuga Lake, one of the many Finger Lakes. These lakes were formed by glacial scour, more than ten thousand years ago. Since that time, the lowlands at the northern and southern ends of the lakes developed extensive marshes. These marshes were used by Algonquin and later Cayuga Indians of the Iroquois Nation for harvesting rice and waterbirds. The Cayuga tribe has been involved in a long-litigated claim for their ancestral land.

--- -In 1806, a local man named his nearby hilltop home 'Montezuma' after the palace of the Aztec Emperor. This name became associated with the a local town and tmarsh.


Montezuma Marsh, now Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge

--- -Construction of the Cayuga-Seneca Canal, to link the Finger Lakes with the Erie Canal, began in 1818 and by 1828 boats passed from Geneva to the Erie Canal at Montezuma. One of the most difficult construction sections of both the feeder canals and the adjacent Erie Canal was the Montezuma Marsh. So many workers, many of them Irish immigrants, became ill from insect bites in the Montezuma Marsh that it was difficult to hire enough replacements to continue canal construction.

--- -In 1910, during widening and reconstruction of the Cayuga-Seneca Canal, the Mud Lock and dam were built at the north end of Cayuga Lake. Below the dam, the river level dropped about ten feet draining much of the marshland.


The Workboat, Seneca and Zebra Mussels, at Mud Lock


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