The Schooner Sara B Log

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September 08, 2020     Post 58
Postscript: The Delivery

Sara B leaves her mooring for the last time
After various delays related to COVID and other factors, along about mid August the new owners decided to take up Chris’s offer to transport Sara B via the NYS canal system to tidal water. They would then take her the rest of the way by sea to Norfolk, VA over Labor Day weekend. Oh and by the way, we would be responsible for taking masts down and re-rigging the boat on the Hudson though the owners would pay marina fees.

With the help of cousin Debra Rose who would drive the car to Kingston to pick us up and John Pupparo who would join the crew and help us get through the canal, we set off after down rigging on a blazing hot afternoon from the Oswego Marina. We had expected a bit more traffic on the canal, thanks to its COVID delayed August opening, but in fact the whole week long trip was completed on largely empty waters. We saw a few big powerboats, some local traffic including a couple of hard paddling canoe racers who stayed right with us as we chugged along at 4.5 knots near Schenectady. But most of the time we were the only boat in a given lock.

Down-rigged at Oswego
Our weather was mixed. After a near ninety degree day, a cold front brought heavy rains and lightning and we remembered that Sara B still has some deck leaks, mostly associated with hatches. We waited out an afternoon of strong winds on Oneida Lake, endured cold, rain, fog and a grounding, and put up with sticky warm nights augmented by a hot diesel. But we persevered. As did the Thornycroft.

Eagles, soaring ospreys and spectacular cloud shows prevailed overhead. Dense mats of water chestnut oozed over the water and at one point seriously fouled our prop just as we began the five lock “flight” descent at Waterford. (John went over the side and cleared the weeds after we tied up at the canal center). We took a bad wake near Fonda and the forward mast support assumed an alarming angle but then jammed against the cabin front and held the 600 plus pounds of spars aloft. We figured out a way to dry soggy sneakers on the still warm motor at the end of the day after rains. We divided cooking chores and we executed more than two dozen successful locking experiences with surprisingly little damage to Sara B’s topsides.

Carrying out the anchor at Frankfort
Most of our overnight canal stays were at lock walls. No services here, but we had our trusty composting toilet, three jerry jugs of water and lots of food in our pantry. Often we fell asleep to the sound of falling water rushing over a nearby dam. More than once thunder sounded and lightning flashed. In Crescent on the east end of the Mohawk we were lucky to miss a nearby tornado. (Though we forgot to put the mosquito screens up, much to our regret that night.) And at Frankfort just off the town park and launch ramp we ran aground next to a buoy with a sign declaring five foot draft. Since Sara B draws five feet we felt some indignation and sense of betrayal as we glared at the sign and pondered our options.

They were few. Wait and see if the rain raises the river enough to float us off? Hope that guy with the empty trailer in the parking lot shows up soon to haul his motorboat out? Call Towboat? This last option seemed unlikely to succeed. What kind of idiot runs aground on the canal? If a Towboat franchise was based in Albany this would be a pretty pricey option at the going 200 dollars an hour rate. After discussion over lunch sandwiches, the rain let up and we decided to try the self rescue option. Thanks to John’s strong arms we were able to kedge off using the windlass after I scrambled up a bank slick with mud with the Danforth to wrap its chain rode around a tree.

Approaching Little Falls

At last, after a week of chugging, we reached tidal water at Troy. A pair of eagles supervised the process of passing through the federal lock. For the first time in 16 years Sara B floated with the ebb tide downriver. We restored her rig at the same marina that we used on Titania’s trip twenty years before. Mike, the owner, now 69, seeks to sell his boatyard but he provided the cheerful service we remembered from 2000 as he converted yet another motorboat into a sailboat.

We left our little ship in Kingston NY, ending our association with her to the tune of a Stan Roger’s rendition of “Leave her Johnny leave her”. Now we have our memories. "What are we going to do with all this future?" asks the graffiti on the Kingston Bridge. I guess we’ll think of something, hopefully involving our 23 footer.

Locking through

Sara B was in pretty tough shape when we first saw her back in October 2004. With her rotting decks and gribble nibbles back aft she was afloat only because of the help of a bilge pump and a shore side power connection. Looking back on this sale to new owners, I realize just how fortunate Sara B was in coming to the little backwater harbor of Fair Haven where we had done business for years with Titania. No one here refused us service unlike Long Island. The three marina owners who housed our schooner asked no questions, did not demand proof of insurance, and simply took us at our word that we would take care of the battered old boat. Then a few years later, hotel owners ‘adopted’ her as a mascot of sorts as she swung to the summer breezes on their mooring. Such trust between a small business and its customers is not so common these days.

Waiting for the gate to open at top of the Flight
Times change, though. Businesses change as do owners and policies. A Facebook “fan” wrote that Sara B spread joy wherever she went. Perhaps she did, if you weren’t wrestling a new plank into place or sinking three gallons of caulk into her seams. But, I think in this last post, we must salute the business owners of our little backwater for the part they played in making her run with us possible. Bob Shon. Tim Feagans, H and Bonnie Scoville, Rick Durocher and Scott Nash- and your workers too, too- thanks for the memories. We couldn’t have done it without you.

Up-rigging at Riverview - 1 stick in

Leaving her in Kingston

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