ERIE CANAL UPDATE
The New York Canal System, through which many southbound cruisers pass every season, has announced it will close its regular operations more than a month earlier this fall, on October 11.
Canal representatives Jeffrey Gritsavage and Steve Gosset say the new closure reflects the period of highest use for the canal, and that very few boats pass through between that time and the usual mid-november closing date. Gritsavage says, “Our new parent agency analyzed traffic, and it is too low to fully staff the canal past that date.”
However, cruisers wishing or needing to pass through after October 11 can purchase a commercial pass for $325, which will permit passage. Gritsavage and Gosset indicate that the canal authority would, if there were enough demand, consider a group purchase where several boats moving together could travel under one pass, thus saving them money. The commercial pass allows for a 12-hour day through the system, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
The Oswego section of the system will be subject to a “hard” closing on November 1 this year, as Lock 07 requires rehabbing. Any vessels requiring passage via this section need to be past Lock 07 by that date.
Those with concerns about this issue or interested in a group commercial pass for their transit can go online at canals.ny.gov/wwwapps/about/contact/ index.aspx and comment there.
According to its website, the 525-mile canal system comprises the Erie Canal, running from Lake Erie to Albany; the Oswego Canal, which opens into Lake Ontario; the Cayuga-seneca Canal leading to the Finger Lakes; and the Champlain Canal, which runs south from Lake Champlain.
Although more popular with power cruisers, the Erie Canal can be traveled by sailboats, provided sailors take the rig down (above) due to the many low bridges, such as this one in Fairport, New York (top).