Voyage From Canajoharie - October 4th-6th, 1992

At mid-day on October 4th, 1992, with the produce collected by Canajoharie area school children on board, the batteau "Discovery" raised the sail in a slight Indian Summer breeze, and sailed out of the harbor into the Mohawk River toward its home port of Schenectady.

The intent was to tie off to the canal buoy tender again and take a tow back, but the breeze was constant, the sun was warm, the leaves were just starting to turn colors... the crew looked at the full sail above us, looked at each other, and said "Let's do it!"

And so began the first natural voyage of "Discovery" - a sail down river with the sun and light breeze behind attempt to make a suitable landing by nightfall, as far downriver as we could get.

Click on any image to enlarge
Leaving the Canajoharie harbor At noon on the last day of the program, the batteau sailed out of the harbor for home.

"Discovery" was built to replicate a "3-handed batteau" (two in the bow running oars or poles and one in the stern to steer). It was 3-handed as it left Canajoharie to make the run downriver (Bob Mulligan and John Anson in the bow; Phil Lord in the stern). For those of us who sailed that stretch of river from Canajoharie to Fultonville that Indian Summer afternoon, it was truly one of the most memorable experiences of our lives.

Under sail heading downriver Leaving the harbor at Canajoharie behind, we found a light breeze from the west, and decided to sail back to Schenectady on our own power. This would also permit testing the boat under sail over a range of real river conditions.
Sailing east on the Mohawk With the Mohawk River stretching out before us, and the sail full, we settled down to enjoy a voyage into the unknown - How would the boat handle? Would the breeze hold? How far could we go today?
Relaxing on the sail back At first it seemed that all we had to do was settle back and enjoy the ride. The breeze was light, but fairly steady, as we left the mouth of Canajoharie Creek far behind.
Working the sail We soon learned, however, that while the square sail worked fine with a following breeze, it took constant action on the lines to keep it filled enough to stay under way as the river channel twisted and turned.
The crew takes a break With the batteau running under wind power, the oarsmen could take a break from their stations in the bow, and just enjoy the ride.
Passing through The Noses The high point of the voyage home was passing through The Noses, a landmark for early navigators, and to do so under sail.
Some of the cargo for Schenectady We were all aware of the precious cargo of produce we carried from the children of Canajoharie, and what this jumble of sacks and boxes would mean to the school children awaiting at Schenectady.
The icy dock at Fultonville The second day started with ice on the dock and a cold breeze coming along the river at The Poplars in Fultonville - our landing point just before dark the night before.
Waiting for the wind to rise As the wind failed, we took up our tow again, reluctantly, and spent a chilly night at a campsite in Rotterdam. The next morning we would reach the home port.


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