Our boat was now prepared to go through the historic Erie Canal. Our mast and boom were secured properly to our homemade rack and decided to leave directly from RCR Yachts that day. If you’d like to read more about of our visit to New York, check out our other posts – Hey We’re In New York #1 – Buffalo or Hey We’re In New York #2 – Niagra Falls.
Taking Our Mast Down
It was a very rocky day in the Erie Basin Marina. We left RCR Yachts only to find it had become rockier after our mast and boom were off. These two massive pieces to our boat suspended above us from our own handy work and the help of a few guys at RCR Yachts. I instantly feared for our lives when Tipsy began to rock back and forth with the frequent waves. It was a short distance to the beginning of the canal but I was freaking out. Instantly I thought everything would fall off the rack and we’d be in the expense of our mast and boom falling off of the boat or even worse onto us. It was scary but Tharon reassured me after the second panic attack that all would be fine. It was of course but in those moments all I could think about was total destruction before the canal. He keeps me calm in those moments and within ten minutes, we were already in calmer water.
Background on the Erie Canal
A little history on the Erie Canal. The canal goes East-West, across New York running 363 miles from Buffalo on Lake Erie to Albany on the Hudson River. This canal provides a navigable water route from New York City and the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes. It has retired from commercial ship traffic and is primarily used by recreational pleasure boaters (like us). Back at its prime, it made millions of dollars in revenue for its convenient passage way but only re-opened its locks in the year 2000. The history behind each town were directly impacted by the business this canal has brought and has been an incredible sight to enjoy. The Erie Canal is 353 miles long, has 36 locks, 16 lift bridges and 286 other bridges, guard gates, and other overhanging structures along the way. This is why having a 15.5’ maximum height is crucial for transiting the canal. Calling ahead to the locks and lift bridges are typically needed and one of our favorite phrases for this service has been, ‘Thanks for the Lift!”. Of course while we were descending in the locks, we would just say thanks. Total descent via the locks was 568 feet!!
Stops Along the Way
Travel Map –> Buffalo –> Tonawanda –> Holley –> Newark –> Lyons –> Baldwinsville –> Utica –> Fultonsville –> Lock #20 –> Catskill
We paid $37 for a ten day pass and allowed us to tie up along the canal each evening. We traveled from 7am until 5pm each day and enjoyed beautiful Fall weather. Every town was different, each day was a challenge and both of us thoroughly enjoyed the experience. The best part of the canal was not having to pay for any dockage along the way and the scenery. Cruising down the river was so much fun considering Tipsy had her mast down. There were many obstacles in the canal and meant we stuck as close to the middle as we could. We also had to make sure to have a decent idea of when bridges and locks would show up so that we could be prepared accordingly. Our boat needs time to stop. Tharon was of course still working but helped notify me when bridges/locks would show up. I’m glad I noticed the last lift bridge though because he forgot to mention it!
Troubles on the Canal
Alongside those obstacles, we also had some issues with some maintenance we had decided to do in Newark. The Erie Canal clogged up our raw water intake filter and had to clean every other day. Basically you close the seacock and open the top of the filter to clean. Our issue came from us forgetting to reopen the seacock to allow water to filter through and cool the engine again. Approximately 30 minutes after the first lock, our boat was smoking uncontrollably. Our engine immediately went out of commission and caused us to tow Tipsy with our dinghy to the next town over and determine what we needed to fix. In the end we had to have a new impeller shaft seal sent overnight to the local fire department. All was well from there!
After that excitement, we had a very smooth trip. We met so many new people along the way and made plans to meet again in Annapolis for the US Sailboat Show. It’s exciting to hear of other sailing plans and to collaborate on places to visit along the way. Everyone has a different point of view and we keep an open mind for each place we visit. Since the beginning of September, we’ve become the most comfortable in our travels. This is our lifestyle now and with little distraction, we look forward to every step forward. Our travels through the Erie Canal are over but the journey was far more fun than we expected. It was a very pleasant part of our travels!!
Cheers & thanks for reading!