First of All –
- First locks and miles traveled on the Champlain Canal
- First white birch and white pine seen on the cruise
- First worrisome call from home
- Fort Edward
- Fort Ann
- Miles Cruised today: Power: 34; Sail: NA
- Total Miles Cruised to date: 5,176
- Hours Underway: 6
- Fuel: NA
- Morning House Battery Reading: 12.8
- Wind Speed: 10 ; Wind Direction: NW
- Daily High Temperature: 74
- Water Temperature: 71
Undertaking an extended cruise which is expected to take more than a year to complete exposes one to many uncertainties and vulnerabilities. Family situations, financial issues, problems associated with dealing with one’s home while gone, mechanical problems with the boat, health issues, and even world events beyond all control — all can intervene to disrupt the cruise. Lots of things can happen over the course of a year. One of those things which in the back of our minds we’ve most worried about, materialized today. Sandy’s mom is 87 years old, and both of my parents are 91. At their ages, something can go wrong at virtually any time. Yet, none of them would want us to put our lives and plans on hold while awaiting a medical emergency on their part. So, we took off on this Great Loop cruise, hoping that we would not receive that ominous phone call, notifying us that one of our parents had serious problems. Well, that call was received today. Messages from siblings relayed the unwelcome news that my 91 year old father has been diagnosed with lung cancer. Both mom and dad sound good, and have reassured us that this is not an immenent emergency, and that we should not alter our immediate plans. It’s so typical of them that, with this dire news, their first thoughts would be about us. With roughly 1200 miles to go, at a speed of 6 mph, we’re 3 months away from being able to complete our journey on the preplanned schedule. Obviously, if dad’s condition progresses rapidly, all considerations of boat cruise will be on hold and we’ll be flying home to be with him and mom. It will make the coming months difficult as we try to monitor his condition from long distance phone calls and attempt to make prudent decisions on how to proceed on the water. Dad hasn’t smoked since 1962, but his doctor says that’s probably the explanation for his cancer. Word to the wise for those reading this who puff.
Otherwise, things should be great. The boat is performing well, the scenery in this part of New York is fabulous, and the weather is finally close to perfect. Sandy is feeling good, however, I’m now experiencing a frustrating problem. The sciatic nerve in my left leg is giving me fits. It all started a few weeks ago with pain at night, but in the last several days the pain has gone from hip to knee and it bothers me throughout the day as well as at night. I’m taking maximum ibuprofen, which helps some, but it’s still not good. It’s painful when sitting, standing, or lying down. Walking seems to help a bit, but that’s hard on a little boat. I called my doctor back home and got a prescription for some steroids which will hopefully allow things to settle down. It’s frustrating to be in the midst of what should be the most enjoyable phase of the cruise and be bothered by this nagging pain in the butt. I had this happen once before, 3 years back, and it went away of its own accord. I’m hoping that will be the case this time too, and sooner the better.
Despite these problems, today’s cruise up the Champlain Canal takes us through some delightful country. Beautiful deciduous forest, rich farmland, friendly lockmasters all combine to make this a wonderful place to visit. We pause at Schuylerville for lunch, but decide to proceed on to Whitehall, in hopes that a medical clinic will be able to see me about my leg pain. We reach Whitehall around 4:30pm and tie up at the free town dock. In addition to a long tie up wall, they provide free electricity, water, restrooms and showers here. It’s amazing how friendly they are to boaters here. The library even has a free, unsecured wifi connection. The town is beautiful, and we look across at the dramatic Skene Manor Mansion, built into the hillside to our east. This town regards itself as the birthplace of the American Navy, because it was the site, in 1776, of the construction of a fleet of gunboats which contested the advance of the British down Lake Champlain in the fall of that year. Benedict Arnold supervised the construction of that fleet here, taking advantage of the sawmill which was located here. With his hastily constructed fleet he boldly led his ragtag fleet northward and fought a heroic delaying action against the superior British fleet, thereby delaying their advance for a full year, and helping set the stage for the American victory at Saratoga in the following year.