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The smell of feces

June 20, 2011

June 13, Whitehall

During the night at lock 7, I was woken up by the stench of feces. The stench of human waste was so severe and inescapable, it almost made me sick. Maybe this warning is unnecessary but I do recommend avoiding swimming in the Hudson.

Contrary to all the pomp about the Hudson getting cleaner, I fear that present day’s abuses still compete with the worse industrial pollution of days gone by. While the Hudson water may be a little cleaner than the juice found at the bottom of a busy restaurant’s dumpster or Bangkok’s waterway, it isn’t clean. Once in a while you’d almost be fooled. For instance, the pleasant sight of numerous snapping turtles swimming in circle seemed as bucolic as some kitsch velour painting scene until I noticed that they were frolicking at the mouth of a steaming stream that came from a nearby factory. I was later told that everything was in controlled since the factories pay to pollute. I guess that if you cannot beat it, tax it. You’d just wish the local government would have this nonchalant attitude with issues like drugs or jaywalking instead of pollution.

industrial waste

Lock 7 was not the highest point of the lock system but it still marked the end of the current. I still did not have any wind to help me along but at least I knew I would now hold a steady 3 miles per hour if no wind or current helped me. Lock 12, the end of the canal system, was 22 miles away.

I pedaled and pedaled going from lock to lock. The longest distance between locks was 9 miles. The air was motionless all day except for the end of the day. This north wind was in the forecast for the following two days.

crumbling barn wasting away on the edge of the canal

Lock 12 is in Whitehall. Whitehall is a ghost town. There are numerous stores, bars, restaurants and marinas but they’re mostly closed. Only one bar was open on Monday night. I had to walk to the outskirts of town to a China Wok chain restaurant to get something to eat. A lot of the buildings appeared to be crumbling from neglect. Many for sale signs were visible. It would be tempting to get a canal front house if the town’s taxes were not so high.

Fortunately, the town has great welcome center with showers. Boater can dock along the walls all across town for free. It’s really a wonder how a place with so much potential can be so dead.

June 14, Whitehall

I stayed in Whitehall as the north wind blew. I spent the day walking around amongst the boarded up buildings. The only action was along route 22, where three chain restaurants, a CVS and Dollars stores (two of them) battled for the business from passing traffic.

It’s difficult not to marvel at the old marketing efforts from some better period.


I met Jason, a guy from Montreal. He’s 22 year old and owns a Beneteau 47 that’s less than 10 years old. He charters it in the Bahamas in the winter and on Lake Champlain in the summer. He said his experience taking it around the Caribbean and Open Ocean was a difficult one since he was single handed. He found the solitude of the open water a bit too boring. I simply marvel at the fact that he can maneuver that behemoth by himself!

  1. Kevin Potvin permalink

    R U sure U didn’t drop a load in your sleeping bag ? Chinese food will do that sometimes. K.P.

  2. steves permalink

    awesome pix and writeup. Love the pic of your boat and tent in front of those old buildings. good on ya! how much farther to go?

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