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Call it a reverse-Santa Claus, maybe.  In the wee hours of Halloween some unseen force snatched bowsprite and me from the sidewalks of Manhattan, peopled with sexy vampires and horrendous-but-benign ghouls, stuffed us into a dark bag, and deposited us here at daylight, where Issuma appeared and offered assistance.

Gates dominated the place–birth canal of the sixth boro … to be sure, looming huge and forbidding, yet with

passageways to somewhere, beckoning curious adventurers.

You know the story of Alice finding a bottle labeled “drink me” and then she shrank to a rabbit-hole size, . . .   well, this place had a lock master who manipulated controls like this to

bizarre circuitry

that made the icy waters boil and swirl

and levitate Issuma and all her crew, without effort.

so quickly that we surfaced only because of quick work by the captain.

It happened so quickly that I felt pinned to the deck even after we surfaced.

Atop, the lock master told us we were headed the wrong way.

“Turn back.  Return south,” he warned each of us.

But onward we went, past other vessels headed . . .  you guessed it . . .

southward, crewed by folks who had a single message:  “This is not the time for the North Country.”

Not Issuma.  Even bandstands where invisible musicians played complex chords in minor keys failed to daunt us.

Billboard-size signs with explicit messages . . .  no deterrence there.

Gates like guillotines . . .

we continued, Richard said Issuma was prepared for everything, no matter how dark the sky at noon.

There were patches of blue sky but walling off the place of sunshine stood cataracts, like sentinels.

We passed ruins of previous generations

more gates operated by lock masters who repeated the warnings “Turn back.”  But by now, dark clouds were spitting out ice (hail, sleet, flurries, something from another dimension?), and

these clouds were behind us as well as ahead.  So onward we went until night fell on us near Caughnawaga.  And we felt safe to go ashore and find food, drink, and shelter.

And when morning came, Issuma had traveled farther north without us, and a bright dawn left us with this twisty map of the previous day’s journey.  Mysteriously, my camera worked again.

Well, that’s the story I’m sticking by.

All fotos by bowsprite whose camera worked fine although seemed somewhat affected by the force field we’d journeyed through.

If you scroll back through Issuma‘s blog, you’ll see late summer found it in Baffin Island, and last winter had it  in southern South America.

For a different interpretation of the landmarks along the east end of the Canal, see Fred’s tug44.

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