The Great Lake

September 20-21, 2010

We awoke early Monday morning. After a cup of coffee with friends and a final check to be sure everything was ship shape, it was time to set sail.

With the winds coming in from the northeast, we prepared ourselves for a long motor across the lake. Our goal was to make it across Lake Erie in one go, 290 nautical miles nonstop. The lake was choppy with the wind and waves coming directly at the boat. We rocked up and down, up and down. The chop finally settled down around 6 o’clock and a nearly full moon rose to light the way. But the calm was not to last. The winds shifted slowly to the south, but this brought waves to us from the starboard side. Now the boat rocked side to side! We put up the staysail to steady us, but the incessant rocking continued.

Just after dawn, we decided it was time to raise the rest of the sails. This steadied us a great deal, and we began to surf the unusually large lake waves. We road the wind and the waves into Buffalo around 1 o’clock Tuesday afternoon. We had made it! Everyone, especially Spinny, was relieved to take a break from our rocking and rolling and stretch our legs.

Buffalo in sight

We continued on down the Black Rock Canal, where we came upon our first lock. A new experience for us all, we had Kris scaling the outer lock wall, everyone looking around like fools, and a smaller sail boat passing us up. We made it into the lock and successfully conquered it, our hands slimy from gripping the lock wall lines. Now we’re rearing and ready for the locks of the Erie Canal.

The second day came to a close when we pulled into the Wardel Boat Yard on the Niagara River. This is where our masts would be taken down in preparation for our adventure down the canal. After a walk and dinner in Tonawanda (apparently this is where the canal starts, not in Buffalo, as the famous song would suggest), we were all ready for a good night’s rest!

Horizons docked at Wardell's

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