Saturday, June 4, 2011

The eMail that Sparked the "Great Erie Canal Summit of 2011"

Big news from our stranded sailors aboard the s/v Tessa.  While being held up in Baldwinsville, NY along with a dozen other boaters for well over a week, Lori Milson sent the following email to the head of the NY Canal System.  This email made an impact that initiated a direct meeting from the BIG KAHUNA himself that will go down in the history books as the "Great Erie Canal Summit of 2011".

Dear Sir,

I am one of a dozen boats stranded at Lock 24 on the Erie Canal. We all planned to enter the canal May 1st, as we do each year,heading westbound to return to our home ports for the summer. News of the delay of opening was accepted, as it was apparent Mother Nature was not cooperating! We needed to be patient.

Several of us waited together in Castleton, then Waterford. As soon as the canal opened in Waterford, we breathed a sigh of relief began our journey. My husband and I had committed to being back to work at our summer jobs back in Port Clinton and Put-in-Bay Ohio by MAY 15. We explained the circustances to our employers, who sympathized with our plight and agreed to hold our jobs for us. Our season officially opens Memorial Day Weekend. Surely we would be back by then?????

We then spent 10 days at Sylvan Beach, on the lock wall with no power or water, waiting for news that Locks 24-26 were opening. We kept the canal website up on our laptop and began the ritual of checking it starting at 7:00 a.m., then a couple more times throughout the day until "business hours" closed at 5:00 p.m. Other stranded boaters called the lockmasters for updates.

"WE HAVE AN UPDATE!" my husband announced on May 19. But excitement faded into disappointment as he read it out loud to me. The update told us nothing more than we should stay tuned for another update early the next week. We each made a call to work. We couldn't promise anything but there was still a chance we could make it home by Memorial Day.

On May 26, the website advised that E-23 was open. We were desperate to make any level of progress, so we departed Sylvan Beach, crossed Oneida Lake, and arrived in Baldwinsville at E-24. We were all trying to stay positive and enjoy the holiday weekend. Gary and I silently worried about our positions slowly slipping away. We all sympathized with our fellow boaters who had booked and paid for a vacation beginning June 3. There was still a slim chance they could make it. We all agreed that SURELY Tuesday morning, you all would come to work, assess the situation, and off we would go.

Tuesday our ritual changed. We now check the website every half hour or so, just in case there is an update. We take turns asking Andy, the sympathetic Lockmaster, if he has any news. I could swear he was almost near tears yesterday as he shrugged his shoulders in defeat. He wants to help but can't make promises he has no power to keep. Some boaters have started calling anyone in a position to tell us anything, throw us a bone, give us some hope.

I am writing to you to ask for reassurance that SOMEONE is feeling the same sense of urgency that we are. It is my hope that you will log on and read the notice to mariners and put yourself in our shoes to understand our frustrations. Trust me, we all understand that you can't fight Mother Nature. We are all experienced cruisers who understand her powers all to well!!

Please help in any way you can. Even if it is not good news, any news is better than being in limbo like this. I can be reached at this email address or by phone at 419-341-****.

Best Regards,

Lori Milson