Boat­ing Tips

Passage Maker - - Seamanship -

Boaters do­ing the Great Loop have sev­eral op­tions for travers­ing the canal. Taller boats fol­low the east­ern half of the Erie Canal to the Oswego Canal to Lake On­tario. Boats with an air draft of 15.5 feet or less can fol­low the Erie Canal all the way west to Lake Erie, ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the dis­tinc­tive lift bridges and many vil­lages that are the hall­mark of the western por­tion. A third op­tion is to cruise north on the Cham­plain Canal to the St. Lawrence Sea­way by way of Lake Cham­plain, the Riche­lieu River, and Cham­bly Canal. Here’s trav­els • Ex­pect along how a leisurely to New make York’s pace the canals: most on the of wa­ter. your Dis­tance in miles can be mis­lead­ing, since you must ac­count for both run­ning time and lock­ing. Plan about 20 min­utes to pass through each lock. • Know your com­fort­able cruis­ing times. Do you pre­fer to travel four, six, or eight hours per day? You can plan a more en­joy­able trip if you know your lim­its and have some sense of where you’ll stop each night. • Bring your bike! Par­al­lel­ing the canal is the 365-mile Erie Canal­way Trail, which runs from Al­bany to Buf­falo on for­mer tow­paths and railbeds. • Hun­dreds of canal-side con­certs, fes­ti­vals, and events take place from May through Oc­to­ber each year. Check the New York State Canals’ on­line event cal­en­dar to take ad­van­tage of them while on your jour­ney.

Boat­ing Through a Lock

Go­ing through a lock is one of the unique ex­pe­ri­ences of trav­el­ing along the canal. Each of the Erie Canal’s 34 con­crete locks mea­sures 328 feet long by 45 feet wide, with lifts rang­ing be­tween 6 feet (E-25, Mays Point and E-26, Clyde) and 40.5 feet (E-17, Lit­tle Falls). It takes about 20 min­utes to lock through. Lock op­er­a­tors are on hand to of­fer stepby-step coach­ing to make lock­ing safe and en­joy­able. A few sim­ple prepa­ra­tions and the right equip­ment will make for smooth sail­ing.

What to Have on Hand

• Pole or boat hook for push­ing off the sides of the lock. A pad­dle works fine, too. • Work gloves or rub­ber gar­den gloves for han­dling lines. • Larger boats will need long boat lines to help con­trol the boat in the lock. • Ex­tra boat fend­ers that are large enough to pro­tect your boat from rough con­crete lock walls. As you ap­proach, alert the lock op­er­a­tor via ma­rine ra­dio (Chan­nel 13) or by sound­ing three horn blasts to sig­nal your ap­proach. You can also phone lock op­er­a­tors (see “Re­sources” Wait for the side­bar green for light con­tact for per­mis­sion in­for­ma­tion). to en­ter the lock. Once in­side, sta­tion your ves­sel along the wall as in­structed by the lock op­er­a­tor. Keep bow and stern close to the wall dur­ing lock­age us­ing the lines pro­vided. Once the lock has filled or emp­tied, the gates will slowly open and you’ll be on your way.

Eric Canal Re­sources

• boat­ing and New alerts York in­for­ma­tion for State mariners Canal and are Cor­po­ra­tion: up-to-date avail­able at: Gen­eral no­tices www.canals.ny.gov

• Con­tact Num­bers for Lock Ten­ders: www.goo.gl/MpWZes

• Erie Canal­way Na­tional Her­itage Cor­ri­dor: Find things to see and do along your route, learn about the canal’s his­tory, find boat­ing in­for­ma­tion and re­sources, and view photo gal­leries at: www.eriecanal­way.org

• NOAA: Charts are avail­able for the Erie, Cham­plain, Oswego, and Cayuga-Seneca canals at: www.nau­ti­calcharts.noaa.gov

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