The beginning of the Erie Canal is at Waterford where you leave the Hudson River. The Erie Canal starts with lock #2, because the Federal lock at Troy on the Hudson is not counted as being part of it. The Troy Lock is called the “government” lock and is operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Locks are like elevators for boats since boats cannot go up a water fall or dam. The locks lift and lower boats as they pass through the canal system. Once we passed the Troy lock, we no longer needed to be concerned with tides and their varying water levels or brackish/salt water. The Flight of 5 locks at Waterford raise/lower boats over 150’ which is the greatest lift in the shortest distance anywhere in the world.
The canal system is celebrating its 200-year anniversary, so there is no charge to use the system this year. Until we get to the Oswego Canal, we are passing by familiar territory and get to visit places we enjoyed on our previous trip through the Erie Canal. Waterford is one of those places, so we made a point to have breakfast at Don and Paul’s which is the local diner. Just like we remembered, it was a unique experience and has good food at inexpensive prices. We explored the park over the river which we missed last time.
Scenes from Waterford
We also made some stops at new places like the town dock at Canajoharie and Isle of the Oneidas Anchorage. Isle of the Oneidas Anchorage is in an oxbow of the river just below a dam and lock #8 on the Erie canal. It was a nice quiet anchorage. Our boats were held straight in the center of the river by the current pushing past. Our looper flotilla was up to five boats in that anchorage. (Moon Shadow, Sandy Gal II, Southern Cross, The Lower Place, and Sanctuary)
Canajoharie is a free dock provided by the city. The town was celebrating their 150th-year anniversary while we were there. We participated in activities such as a car show, concerts, and chicken barbeque. Over 15 looper boats ended up in that small harbor. The locals said they had not seen that many in their town before at one time. Many folks came down to the docks just to see the “show” and ask,
“What is going on? Why are there so many of you in here now?” Their questions were followed by one of us explaining The Great Loop trail and that this is where boaters on the Loop pass through in order to set ourselves up for the next system of locks.
The town has a very unique stop light mounted on a block of cement in the center of the street in the center of town. The town was once home to Beechnut, but the factory closed leaving an abandoned factory building and lots of lost employment.
Scenes from Canajoharie
Scenes from Erie Canal
On our previous trip though the canal, one of our favorite stops was Ilion. There is a very good Italian restaurant there and an Aldi grocery store. Teresa was very excited to visit her first Aldi grocery store on the trip—just like going home again. Crazy to miss a grocery store, but am finding it’s those take-it-for-granted places and people I miss the most. There is also a large Remington factory with a gift shop and museum. Steve loves it because the marina has an ice cream shop right next to the docks.
When we arrived at Sylvan Beach on Oneida Lake, we tied up on the wall in the same location that we used in 2014. We also caught up with Scott and Karen on Last Call. The amusement park was open this year, but not the day we were there so we still did not ride the roller coaster.
We crossed Oneida Lake and docked at Winter Harbor Marina—the cleanest boat yard any of us has ever seen! Most boat yards tend to have lots of old boat junk around, but not at Winter harbor. We had a cutlass bearing replaced while we were there. They quickly pulled the boat and set about completing the repairs very speedily. Part of our Looper Flotilla decided to stop early. Dave on Moon Shadow was not feeling well and visited the ER while they were docked at Amsterdam, NY. The group was back together at Winter Harbor Marina and celebrated with a Looper potluck. (Moon Shadow, Sandy Gal II, Southern Cross, The Lower Place, Songlines, Seaquest, and Sanctuary)
Soon after leaving Winter Harbor Marina, we turned off the Erie Canal and entered the Oswego Canal. This was all new territory again for Sanctuary, even though it seemed very similar. We stopped the first night at the town docks in Phoenix which proved to be one of the nicest free docks we have seen. The docks have power and are all brand-new composite decking. We explored town and had a nice lunch at Duskee’s.
Phoenix Town Dock
After one more stop at Oswego on the wall, we were ready to cross Lake Ontario. The weather was predicted to be good on Monday for the crossing and it turned out to be perfect. Clear skies and almost no wind with calm seas. When we crossed the US/Canadian border, we turned a complete circle to mark the spot on the plotter and Steve played the Canadian National anthem on his trumpet.
Crossing Lake Ontario into Canada
We stopped in Canada at Prinyers Cove and completed the required check in with Canadian Border Customs. Thankfully, the check-in was easy and painless, over the phone, answering a number of questions, and supplying our documentation numbers. We now have visited 16 states and 2 countries on this trip.