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Old 08-03-2014, 10:54 AM   #21
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As you get west, air draft may be a more limiting factor.

I've done almost all of that part of New York via automobile, love the landscape and towns. Doing it, especially including the Finger Lakes on a "right sized" boat is a boating bucket list item for us.
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Old 08-03-2014, 11:28 AM   #22
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FWIW I was on a friend's 45' CHB trawler for the trip and we were by far the biggest boat I saw tied up at the free docks. With the possible exception of the Canajoharie floating dock (and there was another 150' of wall around the corner from it) there was plenty of room at all free docks, even including the party town of Sylvan Beach, for a 50-60' trawler.

That is actually the problem I discussed. The Erie Canal boating traffic is way down. All of the lock keepers said that traffic dropped a few years ago when fuel prices went up. I don't necessarily think that was the biggest cause. The last recession was a bigger cause.

The lowest air draft we saw on the eastern stretch was 20'. We don't have a radar mast, so we got through easily with the VHF layed down.

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Old 08-03-2014, 12:32 PM   #23
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Tugboats, Trawlers, Boats, Ships - Photos Lots of canal info here!
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Old 08-03-2014, 12:37 PM   #24
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> I'm curious how you got along with such a "large boat" on the Erie.

Out arch folds although it takes 3-4 guys to do it. We took care of that at Shady Harbor on the Hudson. They built some basic blocking for it along with a zipperable shrinkwrap cover because there were areas that would get direct rain that typically don't get that wet. We had Rich's Marine in Buffalo help to put it back together. That part was all quite simple and inexpensive.

We got down to 14'8". The lowest bridge is about 15' although the lockmasters can give you another couple of inches.

We draw 6'. Depth was never an issue. ActiveCaptain had one shoaling hazard on the western side. I removed it when we went through because there was 11'. NYS confirmed that they had dredged it in spring 2013.

We were the largest boat we saw on the western side. It's what helped to bring out townspeople every night wondering how we did it.


> I'm concerned about the availability of suitably sized docks given
> there are no anchorages, was this an issue and did it necessitate
> having to bypass some stops?

Space was never a problem and I was never concerned about it. I think our longest day on the western side was about 15 miles so if something didn't work out, there was always time to go to the next town. Only in Macdeon did we have an issue. We had met a couple of people at the town prior who invited us to Macedon. They have no town dock but there's a few hundred feet of lock wall at their lock. We got past the lock to see a few people waiting to say hello but they didn't realize that there were only 2 tug rings about 200 feet apart with no other way to tie our boat. We tried to figure out a way but couldn't. We went 5 miles further to Fairport. The Macedon people beat us there and grabbed our lines. That was our biggest "problem" day.

I had a few emails with the Macedon town officials over the last year. They supposedly got permission from the NY Thruway to put in about 8 new cleats to handle 60' and smaller boats. It's a lovely town and perhaps now it's yet another destination there. There are dozens of additional towns and walls possible with just a little expansion like that.

Bottom line: there are a lot of walls and locks and docks where you can spend the night. We never even thought about it.


> I'm also concerned with our windage and squeezing in among a
> raft of smaller boats. Did you find this to be a concern, ie: lock
> masters loaded appropriately? (we do not have thrusters)

While on the Erie Canal, Karen and I kept saying, "Every day is a boating day on the Erie Canal." There was not one day where we were delayed for weather. If we planned to spend 4 days in Lyons, on day 5, we left. The weather was always fine. The entire canal is very protected. There were some misty days and some rain. But the winds were never an issue for any day at all.

We never were in a situation where we needed to squeeze past other boats. Think of a nice canal opening into a wider section for a town with long walls on both sides. That's a lot of the configuration of each town. It's all the easiest side-to docking possible. I don't think we were in a real slip on the canal at all except maybe at Ess-Kay Marina (who had a courtesy car to allow us to provision up).

Lock loading is always done in the order of arrival. The lockmaster might arrange which sides the different boats go on but that's about it. The locks are all the same and after a couple, you'll be quite familiar with them. We always ran them with my wife amidships using a single line. I stayed at the controls to help maneuver the boat if needed.

I've posted this before but here's the first 9 locks in time lapse heading west - so it's the easternmost part of the canal:
http://youtu.be/fU0LKx6ewYs?list=UU0...ksSkRrDv4J7oxw

I'll also paste my favorite picture of our boat on the canal. It was just leaving Lyons. One of the townspeople were waiting at an overpass bridge and snapped the picture as we floated by. It perfectly captures the feeling of being on the Erie Canal. It also shows the configuration of our trawler with the arch down.
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Old 08-03-2014, 12:41 PM   #25
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You've heard the term "different strokes for different folks"? I think that applies here. Although I have no plans to visit that part of the country, I have read many accounts of the trip and most folks seem to enjoy it. That doesn't mean you are somehow wrong if you didn't, it just means that some people like different things than other people.

As for the finances, I think Mule and BandB covered it pretty well above so there's no sens in rehashing it.
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Old 08-03-2014, 03:24 PM   #26
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Jeffrey, many thanks for the detailed post! I'm certain it will be of great interest to others as well. I think I'm out of luck however. I'll have to check again but I believe I'm around 18 or 19ft arch down. I don't understand how yours could be so much lower. My decks are sunk approx 30" into the hull, ie: the decks are 30" lower than the gunwales thereby greatly reducing the overall height.

Given you were gutsy enough to shoe horn a 14'8 high boat under a 15ft bridge I take it there must be hardly any current preventing one to go under at a dead crawl.

Very disappointing as part of the purchasing decision of this boat was it's low profile versus length. My own fault for not checking height restrictions first.

B.P. Great link, thanks. Appears to be rather redundant for me now
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Old 08-03-2014, 03:59 PM   #27
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If you really check your height, you might be surprised what you'll find. Looking at your tiny avatar photo, your bow is 30 pixels off the water. I guessed that the bimini can be removed along with most of the chocks for the dinghy and the electronics arch. That would make the flybridge brow about the highest point. That's about 44 pixels off the water.

Again, this is pretty rough - you'd need to make the real calculations with something better than a small picture. But if your bow is 10 feet off the water (which sounds too high to me looking at it) then your brow is at 44 * 10 / 30 = 14.6 feet. Every foot your bow is lower to the water gives you 1.33 feet more height to keep the chocks and arch up or laid down. Ultimately, stick a long pole out the side of your boat at its highest point and measure that to the water. Then you'll know.

There is no perceived current on the canal. There are lists of every bridge on the canal so you know when you're coming up to a low one (there's a website that lists them all too - just sayin').

We added some plastic floppy pieces to a boathook at the exact height + 6" of our highest point when the boathook was placed on our bow. When we approached a very low bridge, we'd be completely stopped at the bow. My wife would hold the boathook at the bow as we slowly inched under the bridge. If the plastic on the boathook didn't touch, nothing would touch on the boat. There is only one very low 15' bridge and a couple at 15.5'. The rest weren't even close to being issues. I think the water level was 4-6" lower for us giving us even more space when we went through it all.

And again, if you got really stuck, the lockmasters can lower the water level a few inches over a day.

Oh...one more thing. Don't forget that your boat will sit lower in fresh water than salt water if you're used to being in salt water. We got an extra 1/2" from that because we measured in salt water. We also kept full of fuel and water to give us less height.
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Old 08-03-2014, 10:09 PM   #28
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We did the Erie Canal this spring and loved it. We also wondered how long the state of NY could keep it going with the few boats we saw. Granted it was early in the season. Not every port was a home run but all in all we considered it on par with the Canadian canals which we loved as well. The price was certainly right. What we didn't pay in dockage we tried to use in the towns for dinner and supplies. We also loved our side trip to Lake Seneca and Watkins Glen. Here is our blog if you're interested: Travel Blog: The Great Meander on the Little Loop (part 2)
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Old 08-04-2014, 10:17 AM   #29
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Jeffery S really hit on what a canal cruise is about and that is stopping in these towns and meeting people, they all have a great memory of the history of the area in it's day, it is like walking back in time, something you can't get at Disney World. I agree the cost of operating the system is more then taken in, thankfully they are not looking to make a profit, also found all the lock tenders exceptionally nice.
If you have done the Erie of Champlain canals you really need to put it on your MUST to do list.
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Old 08-04-2014, 10:47 AM   #30
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I'm also concerned with our windage and squeezing in among a
> raft of smaller boats. Did you find this to be a concern, ie: lock
> masters loaded appropriately? (we do not have thrusters)


The only place that ever really gets a crowd , so the boats have to be carefully packed in is in Canada with their historic tiny locks.

The Lock Master is in charge , and usually clears the biggest boat to come into HIS lock first.

We were at 50 ft usually the biggest boat and much to the delight of the gaggle of smaller cruisers preferred to tie to the LEFT side of the lock.

The US locks are huge in comparison , so never a problem.

If you will be going on to do the Loop, having a big 12-16 inch midship cleat will allow a single point tie.

Almost no work or effort at all.
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Old 08-04-2014, 11:05 AM   #31
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One thing about the lock funding, etc...

All 33 locks and the canal itself are managed by the NYS Thruway department. The entire canal operations take 3% of their budget. I don't think it generates much revenue - it's not even enough to get to 1% to show up on their balance sheet.

But having the canal is a great marketing move for the Thruway. That large highway takes tourism away from so many of the small towns in upstate NY. The canal system gives them something to show toward giving back to the communities. It provides wonderful exposure and great PR for 3%.

It's one of the few, outstanding deals for boaters.
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Old 08-04-2014, 12:01 PM   #32
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Thumbs up

We finished a 9 day, 100 miles each way, trip on July 5th. We (the admiral and myself) loved it. We started at the western end in Tonawanda, and headed a little past Rochester, NY (Pittsford). With the exception of one town, there were free docks with free 30 amp power, restrooms, showers and restaurants in easy walking distance. The one dock that we had to pay for was $8. What really surprised me was how beautiful, convenient, and inexpensive it all was and how few boaters take advantage of it. We, also, saw very few boats along the way. I've done the Trent Severn 3 times, but this was my first trip to the Erie Canal. I am looking forward to planning another trip back to do the parts east from where we turned back this trip. The people we met along the way could not have been more friendly. In one town, I inquired at the boaters welcome center, where I might be able to buy a NY fishing license. The gentleman said he didn't know, but would find out. About an hour later, the gentleman found us eating in one of the town's restaurants. He told me that I could get a license at Walmart. He told me that when we were done eating, to come back to the welcome center, and he'd give me a ride up to the Walmart - about 5 miles away. Granted, it's not for everybody, but, if you enjoy a liesurley pace, friendly people, small towns, etc. the Erie Canal can't be beat.
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Old 08-05-2014, 05:38 PM   #33
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We just came back from 5 weeks on the canal, from Tonawanda to Oswego and back. Had a great time, loved meeting the locals and exploring. Even met up with Loafs and Fishes mid way through. Bicycles are a big plus for getting to laundry and grocery stores. Air draft is less the further west you go. 15 feet should be safe, but expect less in periods of heavy rain. There most definitely is a current on the canal, some places more than others. Each docking is different, so we usually just put the trannys in neutral and watch what happens before making an approach to a dock. We have extensive pictures and articles on our blog and facebook sites for viewing. We plan to go back next year and catch all the places we had to miss due to time constraints. The majority of towns we tied up to were free, with water and electric at the dock, heads and showers nearby (usually). We feel it is some of the best cruising available in the US!
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Old 08-13-2014, 09:28 PM   #34
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WOW! I am envious of you. I ran beside the Erie and Champlain canals for 10 years on The Amtrak as a Conductor. It was a rare occasion to see a pleasure boat and when we did the Engineer would always call back "look out on the North Side. Nice Boat." I carried many people who dropped boats along the way and heard many many stories from passengers about the canal. Some of my regulars were decendents of cannalers and they themselves worked on tugs up and down the Hudson and East Coast. Once and a while one of the Pilots from Yonkers jumped aboard after piloting a ship up the Hudson to Alabany. Lets hope the State of NY keeps the canal system open before money dries up because of entitlement programs. I'm hoping to do the canal system due North to Montreal, with a return out the St Lawrence, stopping in the Bay Des Chaleurs and then down the coast. Hope to see you along the way....
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Old 08-14-2014, 07:58 AM   #35
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Originally Posted by loafs and fishes View Post
We finished a 9 day, 100 miles each way, trip on July 5th. We (the admiral and myself) loved it. We started at the western end in Tonawanda, and headed a little past Rochester, NY (Pittsford). With the exception of one town, there were free docks with free 30 amp power, restrooms, showers and restaurants in easy walking distance. The one dock that we had to pay for was $8. What really surprised me was how beautiful, convenient, and inexpensive it all was and how few boaters take advantage of it. We, also, saw very few boats along the way. I've done the Trent Severn 3 times, but this was my first trip to the Erie Canal. I am looking forward to planning another trip back to do the parts east from where we turned back this trip. The people we met along the way could not have been more friendly. In one town, I inquired at the boaters welcome center, where I might be able to buy a NY fishing license. The gentleman said he didn't know, but would find out. About an hour later, the gentleman found us eating in one of the town's restaurants. He told me that I could get a license at Walmart. He told me that when we were done eating, to come back to the welcome center, and he'd give me a ride up to the Walmart - about 5 miles away. Granted, it's not for everybody, but, if you enjoy a liesurley pace, friendly people, small towns, etc. the Erie Canal can't be beat.
Glad you enjoyed your trip, I heard you met up with an old boating friend of mine!
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Old 08-14-2014, 10:28 AM   #36
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We've found that anywhere you cruise you can find some special people and some special things to see and do. But then every town you ever go to has that. We always have fun because we look for the best a place has to offer. We'll look back at this thread and books we've read before we go up the Erie. In fact, we have documents on which we regularly copy and save new comments and add places we don't want to miss or things we want to be sure we see. It's really the same on land. Every city, every town has some beauty. They all have some ugly too but that's not the part we seek in our travels. And if we see a bit of that as well, we put that out of our minds and concentrate on the beauty. I love these travelogue type threads on various areas as they just build to our excitement for the future.

The Erie canal didn't start out top on our list but the more we learn the more we look forward to it. That's much like Alaska was. There was a time that we had no real interest in seeing it. The main thing we thought of when you mentioned Alaska was "Cold". And we're not cold weather fans. But we started thinking about it. Reading about it. Learning more. The more we did the more excited we got. Soon we had lists of all the places and things we wanted to see. Far more than was possible so we selected. We just completed the most wonderful trip through Alaska and only brushed the surface.

I would encourage any of you to make your lists, starting now. Everytime someone mentions something about a place that sounds good, add it. Also look at sites like Trip Advisor. That way you won't just end up in a place wondering what there is there. You'll look at your list of all you want to do and see before you go and then you'll see how much time you're planning there and choose a few and feel bad you can't see it all. My wife says I'll make spreadsheets on anything. Well, true. But we don't end up in an area with nothing that interests us. We always have things we look forward to. Seldom are we disappointed. Only once in two years and we realized it was us. It was toward the end of a trip and we just weren't into this particular city and cut it short. But we decided when we flew back to the boat to head there again. We did and loved it. I'm glad we realized it wasn't the city, but it was us the first time.
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Old 08-18-2014, 09:21 PM   #37
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Glad you enjoyed your trip, I heard you met up with an old boating friend of mine!
Thanks, Ron. Yes, we met up with your friends, Rob and Marie, and traveled with them for the last part of our trip. Also, the lock operator in Lockport knew you, too. Thanks again for the itinerary you sent. We got a late start on day one leaving Michigan and weren't able to quite keep up with it. We did, however, head up the Genesee river and had lunch at the Dinosaur BBQ. It was delicious!! Thanks for that tip. Loved the canal and can't wait to go back. I believe it was someone in this thread that said the Erie Canal was the best cruising in the U.S.. I would believe it.
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Old 08-18-2014, 09:44 PM   #38
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I've been lurking around this thread.The Erie Cannal is one thing I plan to do.I have only traveled the SE US so I feel that traveling the EC will be enlightening for me.There's more of our country's history there than where I live in SC.
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Old 08-19-2014, 06:46 AM   #39
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Thanks, Ron. Yes, we met up with your friends, Rob and Marie, and traveled with them for the last part of our trip. Also, the lock operator in Lockport knew you, too. Thanks again for the itinerary you sent. We got a late start on day one leaving Michigan and weren't able to quite keep up with it. We did, however, head up the Genesee river and had lunch at the Dinosaur BBQ. It was delicious!! Thanks for that tip. Loved the canal and can't wait to go back. I believe it was someone in this thread that said the Erie Canal was the best cruising in the U.S.. I would believe it.
Maybe we will catch up with you next year if you decide to return. If things work out, we will be living on our boat next summer full time with plenty of time to cruise the canal.
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Old 08-19-2014, 10:57 AM   #40
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I'm from the greater PNW.

Probably why I love these Erie Canal pictures. Exotic views.
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