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Western Erie Canal - round trip?
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little wing



Joined: 21 Sep 2016
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 15, 2018 11:29 am    Post subject: Western Erie Canal - round trip? Reply with quote

We will be touring the Erie Canal this year, probably in early June to beat the heat. We have two weeks max. It seems every canal trip accounting I've read so far consists of a one way cruise with the truck and trailer parked at one end and a car or train ride to or from the tow rig.

My plan is a round trip. Launch in Tonawanda, park the truck and trailer, then head east. Cruise for roughly 7 days, turn around, and head back. I'm thinking we might make it as far as Watkins Glen or Ithaca. With our penchant to keep moving and the abundance of small towns along the route, I think this could work well for us.

Has anyone cruised the canal this way and would you do it again if you had a do-over?

Bruce
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journey on



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PostPosted: Thu Feb 15, 2018 12:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

We took our sailboat through, as described here: Through the Eire Canal. It's been ~15 years and I still remember the trip fondly. I do have some comments, as follows.

The Eire Canal is one of the great trips in the world. I feel it's largely ignored, but it's still a great trip. The canal is wonderful as a canal and the towns are great. You also get to meet the nicest people in the world. It's where the Industrial Revolution started in the USA; all gone now, but the history remains. There are museums along the way, take the time to see them. Especially the one at Rome, it tells the canal history and has a section of the old canal. See if it's open.

June may be a little early. We spent a couple of weeks waiting at Waterford for the river and locks to drain and be passable. Check the state of the canal before leaving on the trip; you may be fine.

Going back and picking up the truck means you can do the complete canal, from Waterford to Tonawanda, or vice versa. Since the canal and railroad run parallel, I assume the truck/trailer pick up trip is fairly easy. One week doesn't do the canal justice. However, spreading the trip out over several years may be OK.

A C-Dory of whatever persuasion is the perfect boat to do the trip. Our sailboat had a draft of 6'. You will have no problems locking through or going under the bridges, just take lots of dock lines.

Boris
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Robert H. Wilkinson



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PostPosted: Thu Feb 15, 2018 8:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bruce, I havn't done the Erie yet but several (4) trips on the Trent. We didn't want to rush it so we started in the middle and went both ways. First time we launched our boat in Bobcaygeon and went as far east as Lakefield then back to Bobcaygeon. Next time we launched again in Bobcaygeon and went west to Port Severn and back. Last time we launched in Lakefield and went east to Campbellford.

We enjoyed this back and forth travel as you always see a different perspective from the other side. It also gives you the opportunity to scope out different mooring spots for the return journey.

Enjoy!

Rob

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LesR



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PostPosted: Thu Feb 15, 2018 11:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

We did the Erie Canal from Buffalo to Albany in 14 days in 2013, which included a side excursion to Seneca Falls and Ithaca. We enjoyed the trip, and found the Western section the most interesting. I think your approach would work well. We skipped several places that would have been interesting. If doing an out-and-back your return leg could include stops that you skipped on the outbound leg. Ithaca or Watkins Glen seems realistic for the turn-around point.

We spent nights at Gasport, Holley, Palmyra, Newark, Seneca Falls, and Ithaca. All were nice stops, but we would also liked to have spent time in Brockport, Fairport, and Lockport. We brought bicycles and took turns driving the boat and riding bikes along the towpath that accompanies most of the western section.

Les
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Wayne McCown



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PostPosted: Fri Feb 16, 2018 4:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

We live in Rochester, and have a cottage in Barker (both close to the canal, and Barker is not far from Tonawanda). We regularly cruise parts of your planned route.

[i]Intuition [/i]has some good suggestions: plan to stop (and overnight) at different villages each way. We have folding bikes (see photo in our album), and use them to ride the towpath.

The C-Dory is a perfect boat for the canal. Maximum speed is 10 mph. I run ours up to ca. 12 mph, to get up on plane, then back off to 10 mph. The bridge tenders know how many minutes it takes to get from bridge; if you speed, they will make you wait it out. So relax and take your time!

It is essential to have a radio (Channel 13), to raise the bridges and navigate the locks. A depth finder is not necessary, but helpful in some places: the canal is not deep (I think the average is ca. 8'), and sometimes less than 5' along the sides.

You will want to have plenty of fenders for navigating the locks. Usually you stay to the right, but the lock masters can put you on the left. I have side boards on each side (which hang above the water line), and then hang 2 fenders to the front and back of the side boards on each side...before entering the lock. (It can get dicey if you are trying to move fenders from one side to the other once you get inside the lock.)

I also have long lines (ropes) running from the prow down the sides of the boat to the cockpit, and (shorter) lines on each of the stern corners. The locks have long lines (some fixed, some loosely hung; I prefer fixed) that hang down the sidewalls of the lock. As you approach the spot where you will stop, you have to grab these lines: I pass the line from the prow behind one of the lock lines, while my wife in the cockpit does similarly with a stern line. Then, while the water in the lock is rising or falling (and it can get quite turbulent), I step into the cockpit right behind the cabin, where I can manage both lines. This process works very well.

ENJOY!
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little wing



Joined: 21 Sep 2016
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 16, 2018 6:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Boris: I've read your trip report before and will surely read it again. It's a good accounting. I've thought of putting the trip off until September when water levels are stable, less floating debris and the temps are cooler. I still work and need to plan my vacations, so we'll see. It just seems like a long time to wait for our major summer outing.

Rob and Les: That was my thought process regarding overnight stops. Hit some going east, hit the others going west.

Wayne: Thanks for the tips. In the lock, when passing the bow line behind the forward lock line, I imagine you are doing that through the cabin window while you maintain control at the helm?

bruce
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JamesTXSD



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PostPosted: Fri Feb 16, 2018 7:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Bruce,

What we found to be the most efficient way for us when locking through: my wife would go to the bow and wrap a line behind the lock line or cable; I would move from the helm to the cockpit and wrap a line there. That way, we had positive control at either end of the boat. When it was time to depart the lock, I would release the stern first and go to the helm; once there, Joan would release the bow line, give a little push with the boat pole, and we'd be off.

Speaking of the boat pole - a necessity; you'll also want a pair of gloves for anyone handling the lines... cables/lines in the locks can be slimy.

We truly enjoyed our time on the Erie Canal; a pair of folding bikes made our land exploring easier, as well.

Enjoy!
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Wayne McCown



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PostPosted: Fri Feb 16, 2018 9:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bruce: [i]Wild Blue [/i]is correct re the gloves and pole. Yes, I wrap my line behind the lock line from the helm window. Wayne
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ken35216



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PostPosted: Fri Feb 16, 2018 10:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

LesR wrote:
We brought bicycles and took turns driving the boat and riding bikes along the towpath that accompanies most of the western section.

Les


That is smart and cool!

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Wayne McCown



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PostPosted: Fri Feb 16, 2018 12:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Les: Are yours full-size bikes? How do you carry them on board? As I said above, we have used folding bikes, strapped to the rails upfront above the berth (see photo in album). But my wife does not like the small (20") wheels!
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little wing



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PostPosted: Fri Feb 16, 2018 4:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote


Taking bikes sounds great to me as well. Unfortunately I don't own folding bikes, nor am i sized right for them. Sticking our full sized bikes on the roof like Les did looks like a job for a young un.
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Water Bill



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PostPosted: Fri Feb 16, 2018 7:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wayne,

Thanks for all the canal tips. I am thinking of doing the Erie Canal at some point this summer. More then likely I will being doing it by myself.

I am a little confused on how you get the bow line to the cockpit after you reach out the helm window and slip it behind the hanging lock line.

The way I understand it you are using two different lock lines. One for the bow line and one for the stern line. Am I correct on that?

Do you have a better way of handling things if you are the only one on the boat.

Bill

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RichardM



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PostPosted: Fri Feb 16, 2018 8:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've been toying with the idea of a similar trip and thinking the same way about car and trailer issues. Friends who have done the canal loved it. A boating contact near Buffalo (thanks, US Power Squadron) says the section from Buffalo to Rochester is flat and rural and, in his opinion, the most boring section of the canal. He suggests starting in Rochester and going east. Just a thought. He also points out that the lock at Little Falls, with a 49 foot drop, is pretty awesome. That's way east past Utica, but it does sound amazing.

I'll keep following this thread.
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Wayne McCown



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PostPosted: Sat Feb 17, 2018 12:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

OK, I will respond to both Bill and Richard here.

Bill: My bow line is 30' in length. (So, when I retrieve the C-Dory onto the trailer, I can walk all the way to my PU, step into the bed, and pull the boat straight onto the trailer from a safe standing place!)

Back to a Canal lock...I hand the bow line to my wife, who is standing at the wall of the cabin, with the stern line already wrapped around another lock line. Then I step back and take her place. Since we are wrapped around two lock lines, one near the front of the boat and another near the stern, I am able to manage/hold the boat pretty well, even if the waters get turbulent.

Richard: I have never gone through a lock single-handed. But I think I could.

One would almost have to grab a lock line from the helm window, and wrap the bow line around it first. Then, I suppose, get back to the cockpit ASAP and grab by hand another lock line, then wrap an at-the-ready stern line behind it.

It is true that there are no locks between Lockport and Rochester; lots of small villages and bridges though. Pretty countryside; leisurely boating.

Since our cottage is nearby, we often put our C-Dory into the Canal at Lockport. There is a good launch (and free parking) on the west side of Lockport at a place called Widewaters. One can also dock overnight there (showers included) for a modest fee; there are picnic tables in a park area alongside the Canal and a hamburger joint across the street.

Lockport has a double lock; it lies immediately east of the launch. Cruise ships start from this spot, because (from the launch) you immediately raise two bridges and then enter the locks, all within less than a mile. Turn around and come back, and you get the whole Canal experience in a few hours!

If you put in at Tonawanda, you will pass through Lockport going west. Beyond that, you will be cruising the "flat part" of the Canal on to Rochester. The cruise through Rochester (where we have a home) is both interesting and beautiful. The Canal passes through a large park: a number of the bridges here (which do not need to be raised) were designed by Olmstead.

On the east side of Rochester, having passed through Lock 32, you come to a delightful little village called Fairport. A nice place to tie up and stay overnight; there are several nice restaurants here. Cruise ships also use Fairport as a starting point, going east through Rochester and return.

ENJOY!
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little wing



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PostPosted: Sat Feb 17, 2018 8:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wayne,

Corn Hill Landing: Would you recommend a visit or overnight here? Does it get crowded on the wall? Too noisy, too busy, etc? I imagine it could be like Tonawanda on a Friday night.
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