Stranded boaters give city high marks


Recorder News Staff

Dam destruction from last week's rainstorm has trapped Galen Dunmire on his boat, Mooring Dove, in Lock 11 for 13 days, without a definite release time. Still, Dunmire said if he had to be stranded anywhere, "this is a good place."

Lock E-8 in Scotia to Lock E-15 in Fort Plain has been closed by the Canal Corporation pending repairs, enclosing five boats and their occupants at the Amsterdam port.

"Canal Corporation employees have been working around the clock to adjust water levels and repair damage incurred during last week's storms," Brian Stratton, director of the NYS Canal Corporation, said in a statement. "As of this morning, a vast majority of the system is open to boaters ... and we will open this remaining section as soon as possible."

Dunmire, and his wife Becky aren't distraught, however.

"Life is so good," Dunmire, of West Virginia, said. "What is there to complain about? You might say this is a little change of plans, but we're used to adjusting. What do you do when the rain comes and there's floods? You just got to handle it. We're not in distress in any manner."

The people of Amsterdam, Dunmire said, have a huge part in his and the other visitors' comfort level.

"We have just been amazed with the people and how they have received us here," Dunmire said. "Everyone has been great to us. The Canal has been great to us. We've been as comfortable as we can be, except we're stuck."

When the dams are repaired and the boats are able to travel through the locks, Dunmire and his wife will continue on their trip -- the Great Loop -- for the second time. His neighbors in the lock, Rhonda and Wayne McNanus, are participating in the same trip, but seem more worried about the time constraints.

"We want to be moving," Rhonda McNanus, of Alabama, said. "On this trip we're doing, you've got to get out of Chicago by early September. Otherwise, everything freezes up and you're trapped. So, this is definitely slowing down some of the sightseeing that we might not get to do now."

The Great Loop allows travelers to see the Eastern United States and parts of Canada. It is a continuous waterway that connects rivers with the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway and the Great Lakes.

"You start at the Gulf Coast and you go all the way around Florida, then you come up the East Coast of the United States," McNanus explained. "Then, at New York, you get into the Hudson River and then you stay on until you get to Oswego and you go into Canada. Then once you're in Canada, it takes you back into Michigan and then you go back to the start.

"People take usually about a year. Now, you're not traveling every single day. In the winter time, people usually stay in Florida for a couple of months. But you've got to travel this part in the summer time and the fall, so you don't get frozen."

McNanus and her husband have been on the water since 2008, after he retired, though they stayed in a marina in Galveston, Texas, for two years. This stretch of their trip, on their trawler "Help Me Rhonda," started in November and McNanus said she predicts it will take them another four or five months to get back home to Alabama.

While they've been stuck in the lock, they've enjoyed Riverlink Park, where they anchored before being moved to Lock 11, and some local restaurants.

"We've gone to Russo's," McNanus said. "We've rode our bikes. Some people who live here have taken us to the grocery store."

McNanus said locals have dropped by to bring them ice and even treats for another stranded traveler's boat dog, Mellow.

"It's such a great town," Ken Price, Mellow's owner, said. "People have been wonderful. It's the best of a bad situation. [The Canal Corporation] kept us safe and I think that was the first and most important thing."

Price, of Ontario, Canada, said he was only planning to spend a night in Amsterdam, shipping out the following morning, but he's enjoyed meeting people, both from the city and on the boats.

"It's a way to see the country and experience the U.S.," Price said. "It forces you to slow down and look around. Weather stops you, this kind of thing stops you, so you meet the people."

Price said he might join his fellow boaters in the Great Loop, but he hasn't decided yet.

"Like my wife says, 'The plans are drawn in the sand and subject to the tide,'" Price said. "It's an easier going lifestyle."

Price, who has been traveling on boats since he was 12, said he won't be stopping any time soon.

"It's a tremendous feeling of freedom," Price said. "The ability to go whatever direction you want or feel to go in, that's the beauty of it. To be on the ocean, Mother Ocean, it embraces you. It's like being able to move your neighborhood around. If you like it, you stay, if you don't, you move on. "

While the Canal Corporation wouldn't offer an exact date of when those stranded in Lock 11 would be able to continue on their journeys, some of the boat attendants said the corporation told them they should be finished by Wednesday or Thursday of next week.

Keep up with the McNanus' travels in a blog they post to regularly at