Renssalaer


by Tom Larsen

The morning we left Half Moon, the Oocher decided it had done enough for the season, and refused to start. No amount of convincing would get it running, and the few times it did cough, gasoline came out of the exhaust. Not a good sign.

The Oocher hard at work in Carillon lock.

The Oocher hard at work in Carillon lock (photo: Tom Larsen)

The Oocher is a key component of how the Lois moves through locks. Since she is so long and narrow, the Lois doesn’t like turning in small spaces. Unfortunately for her, canals by default are small spaces. To make things more complicated, part of the travel on this particular day was traversing the flight of locks leading down to Waterford. It was going to be an interesting trip.

Roger took the helm, and we got underway. With some creative use of spring lines (the dock lines that run from one end of the boat towards the other), the Lois warped off the dock, and was able to be convinced to turn around in the channel, despite not having her bow thruster. Roger stayed on the helm for the trip down the flight of locks, and watching him reminded me how much I have to learn still. The term delicate isn’t often applied to large boats, but Roger made each locking look effortless, giving the roving fenders an easy job of it. I can only aspire to have that much composure and skill.

This trip was my first experience on the Hudson river proper. Every other trip I’ve been on with the Lois, we’ve always turned directly out of the Champlain Canal system into the Erie or vice versa. Taking a right hand turn out of the Erie and heading south was a new experience for me. The Hudson River valley is a beautiful area to travel in, especially by boat.

Docking in Renssalaer was another testament to Roger’s skill. The dock at Riverfront Park was just under the length of the Lois, and looked a bit fragile from the water. Roger decided to pass by it first, and we docked temporarily at Albany Yacht Club, one of our partners for our stay in Renssalaer. Roger gently set the Lois on their docks with no fuss at all. A quick look at the arrangement in Riverfront Park reassured us that it was solidly anchored to shore and very sturdily built. In short order, the Lois was spun around and moved up river to dock there. All this without an Oocher! Like I said, I’ve got a lot to learn.

The Oocher being towed to the Albany Yacht Club

The Oocher being towed to the Albany Yacht Club (photo: Kathleen Carney)

That afternoon, we towed the Oocher over to the Albany Yacht Club for a closer look. Ian Montgomery got the honor of using a personal watercraft as the tow vehicle, which made for quite an interesting visual.

While at the Albany Yacht Club, one of the club members took a look at the motor, and we realized in short order that it needed to go to a shop for some professional attention. Will O’Leary, the Vice Commodore of the yacht club, quickly volunteered his truck and procured a trailer that we could borrow, and in no time at all, the Oocher was out of the water, and on its way to Yankee Boating Center in Schenectady for an overhaul. Thank you Will, for all of your help with this!

Drama with the Oocher wasn’t the only thing that happened in Renssalaer. We also were graced with groups of students from two different schools in the morning. There was a great amphitheater for a place to do an introduction, and despite the construction on the bridge up river from the Lois, the kids all were very focused and attentive. It’s amazing to see the differences in learning styles come through outside of a classroom. Some students even were able to convince their parents to come back and visit in the evening!

The next morning, we headed back upriver without our Oocher, bound for Waterford.

Special Thanks to:

Tom Larsen
First Mate

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About Lake Champlain Maritime Museum

The Lake Champlain Maritime Museum is a private non-profit museum located on the shores of Lake Champlain, just seven miles from Vergennes, Vermont. Our mission since our opening in 1985 is to share the rich history and archaeology of Lake Champlain and its surrounding region. We accomplish that through exhibits, education programs, special events, on-water activities, replica vessels, nautical archaeology research, and so much more. Learn more & get involved by visiting our website: www.lcmm.org.
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