Tie-walls, just before or just after a lock, can be a great place to spend the night. It doesn’t have all the freedoms of an anchorage, but it is free, and often there’s an electric post available to plug into. And, being securely tied has its advantages; no need to worry about the anchor dragging, no oozy mud or seaweed balls to clear from the anchor (more about this in another post), and no need to worry about the anchor being stuck in a hidden rock crevice or irretrievably caught in a sunken tree. But if you’re not worrying about those things, just what will you worry about?
In the end, we prefer anchoring. We like the freedom. We like the motion of the Traveler when she is tethered. We like finding protected coves to duck into when the weather warrants a safe harbor. We like the mathematics of anchoring. We like being securely grounded to the earth while yet afloat and free to swing with the wind. And the view of nature is spectacular from the hook. It’s camping on water with fewer mosquitos and for the most part, you stay dry.
On the planned last night of our journey with Carl and Ann, we tied to the wall at the top of Lock 21. The next morning we would be dropping through two locks toward Lake Oneida and then crossing the lake to Brewerton, NY. At 0800 we entered the lock and then motored on to Lock 22, the last lock on this part of the trip. At both locks we saw significant damage from the tornado that came through the area a few days before.
The weather forecast was for thunderstorms and westerly winds across the lake; we were heading west, into the wind and waves. Recent lightning strikes affecting boats had us wary of storms on these waters and as we crossed the lake, we decided to find a safe anchorage to ride out the storm. We threaded the shoals and entered Fisher’s Bay on the south shore of Lake Oneida. There, at 1100, we anchored in 12 feet of water with plenty of room to swing.
Another storm was behind the first one so we decided to stay the night in Fisher’s Bay. The bulk of the storms eventually tracked to the north of us but we were being prudent. While surviving storms and winds and waves at sea makes for a great story and a fantastic blog post, in the end, you risk boat damage and a seasick crew. We wanted none of that.
As a reward for the conservative choices, we received a gracious sunrise and a calm lake to finish the crossing. And we got to play an extra day on the water!