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By 3:00 pm, the deck of Wards Island was at capacity with buoys.  It was time to head back west to a scow on the wall in Brewerton, an accidental destination for

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Champlain almost exactly 400 years ago.  Champlain was a gallivanter extraordinaire, crossing the Atlantic about 25 times in those days, and  a guy even better at negotiation and diplomacy than he was at traveling.  But I digress.

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Since there are two bridges between the Lake and the scow, the boom had been lowered and now it’s raised for the job.  Attached to the scow is the larger tender known not by a number but as Dana.

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It’s clearly November when 4:30 looks like this.

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Boom is lowered for the several miles back to Lock 23, where a surprise

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awaits me.  I had assumed that only the stern propellor on Wards Island was operational, but after Syracuse uncoupled and we started the rotation to tie up,

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there was prop wash from under the bow, just as you would expect from a double-ender ferry.

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In order to spin the boat 180 degrees without having to make a 36-point turn, Syracuse put some pressure on the bow,

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and by 5:40 we were all fast. Then it was time to

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put the power of Wards Island to sleep.   Below deck there were a bunch more surprises, like these port lights as seen from within and the rivets.

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And two spacious accommodations, one on each side of the vessel.

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Two engines, although only the Cat D353 Series E runs.

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A Frankenstein knife switch board.

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And mentioned in this post last year, Wards Island began life as a ferry in 1929, looking like her twin . . . Tenkenas, there were more surprises like

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this speaking tube and behind it,

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this brass builders plate.

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All color photos here are by Will Van Dorp.  I’m not sure of the source, the date,or the location of the b/w photo of Tenkenas above, although I know where and where else I might find more.

Many thanks to the NYS Canal Corp and its floating plant for permission to do this series.

Unrelated and sad news:  I learned yesterday that John Skelson has passed.  RIP, John. Click here for some of the many posts I credited to him in the past years.

These photos were taken November 16, 2015, with temperatures in the 50s and no wind.  Obviously, mid-November is not always so ideal for this operation.  In fact, photos on the boat showed this work being done in 1992, with buoys heavily ice and snow covered.

Here one crewman–let’s call him the signaler– radios the tug instructions for the approach to the buoy.

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Once within two yards of so, another crewman captures the buoy with a boat hook.

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Besides the VHF, the signaler uses hand signals for the crane operator, who hoists the hooked buoy as high as a connector link,  which gets cleated to the boat while

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the cotter pin connected to the shackle gets cut.

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The crane operator relies entirely on signals from the signaler.

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Once the summer buoy is lifted away, the anchor chain is attached to the spar buoy, which is then

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pushed overboard, where it’ll stay until the reverse process in the spring.

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Meanwhile, the beacon is removed from each buoy.

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Oneida Lake has floating and fixed nav aids.  This is Messenger Shoals, a fixed nav aid on a concrete island poured into sheet piling.  To the left of the aid in Blind Island, and as little as a foot of water.

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The aid here–113–is called a cabinet.

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The large size–about 6′ high–used to hold batteries.

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The entire cabinet is lifted off for the winter.

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On the north side of the lake is a village called Cleveland, once important for supplying passing commercial canal traffic and glass making.  Now it may go out of existence.

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When the foredeck is full and late autumn sun starts to go down, we headed to the west side of the lake to offload today’s work and prep the boat for tomorrow.

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And that will be tomorrow’s post.

Again, many thanks to NYS Canal Corp for permission to do this story and to the crews of Wards Island and Syracuse for helping me out.

Oswego is one terminus in the NYS Canal system that sees regular calls from non-US ships, like Stephen B. Roman, named for this mining engineer.   I wish a shiptrafficwatcher would start an Oswego-focused blog.

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A joy of traveling the Canal system is seeing the craftsmanship  . . . of all sorts;  this building and its neighbor

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date to one of the first families of the Oswego area.

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Innovative solutions intrigue me.  Look closely at this dock . . .

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Here’s a whole new opportunity for recycling  . . . Gypsum Express style. For updates on the ways in which the Canal corridor is attempting to rediscover the spirit it once had–that’s a whole ‘nother subject–check this site.

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This boathouse near the west end of Oneida Lake conjures up a past age . . .

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Roman Holiday, a 1939 Elco built in Bayonne (ex-Unicorn and Nancy) is an example of the surprises that may pass you on the Canal.

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Nietverdient . . . in Dutch the name means “un earned”  . . . at this point has traveled from Minnesota.

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Here’s another classic . . . a 1969 Trumpy named Angelus, ex-Showtime, I think.

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A different form of craft . . . markers along the Canal to ease resetting of navigation buoys.

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A row of trawlers set out westward across Oneida . . . from near to far, it’s Don Mariner, Symmetry II, and Deju Vu.

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Here’s a totally homebuilt interpretation of a cruising barge . . . Eriecuse.

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And finally . . . since most of these photos were taken in the vicinity of Oneida Lake, there is the craftsmanship hidden and disintegrating beneath its waters . . . like Thomas H, whose existence I learned about from a passing stranger to whom I am grateful.

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All photos by Will Van Dorp.

 

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