The Canals

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.

Entering the Troy Lock


The Lower Place (Charlie and Robin) in the Troy Lock


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)

Isle of the Oneidas Anchorage


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



Sanctuary at 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.

ILion Marina


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.

Docked at Sylvan Beach


Sylvan Beach


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)


Looper Potluck


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


Crossing Lake Ontario into Canada – Note loop at border line


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.


Some of the graffiti is well done, I liked this one – Boatin Down the River Feeling Glad


Day 10 – the last canal, the last lock, open water, and the mast is up

We left Albion NY this morning headed to Buffalo, NY.  The canal after Albion meanders through farm lands.  At one point the local road went under the canal.  We passed the northernmost point of the canal today. The last two locks on the Erie canal were locks 34 and 35.  They were the least fun of all of the locks.  We had a long wait because of the local tour boats going through ahead of us.  The locks are right together and each raises the boat 24.5 feet. There was construction so the jackhammer noise reverberated off the lock walls.  The Erie canal ends at the Niagara river, and luckily we went the right way and did not end up at the falls.  The Black Rock Canal parallels the Niagara river ending at Buffalo.  This was the final canal and lock.  It was a mere 6′ lift and is large enough for ships, so it was not a very dramatic end after the previous 36 locks.  We ended the day at Erie Basin Marina.  Bob and Vicki caught their ride there from Dale, and are heading home.  We will greatly miss their help and camaraderie .

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The only road that goes UNDER the canal

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The last lockDSE_2984 DSE_2986 DSE_2987 DSE_2988 DSE_2991 DSE_3002

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Sanctuary happily tied up for the night with her mast up.  🙂



Day 9 – more time in the ditch, some quaint towns, and the rain arrived

We left Pittsford continuing west on the canal.  This part of the canal is like traveling through a park, with joggers, runners, bicyclers, and rowers.  The two locks just past Pittsford each raise the boat 25.1 feet.  That was the last locks for a while.  The new challenge is waiting for the lift bridges. Multiple times the bridge operator was off doing other things, and we had to wait to get through the bridge.  Further along the canal, we looked down at towns and houses adjacent to the canal.  We stopped in Brockport for lunch, and ate outside next to the canal actually lower than the water level.  We continued on to Albion, NY and tied up for the night.  The boat De De was there when we arrived. We first tied up near them in Waterford at the beginning of the canal journey.  Tomorrow we hope to make it to the Buffalo area which will end the canal and locks.  Bob and Vicki will get off there and Teresa and I will continue on to Erie, PA.  It will not be the same with our GREAT crew who made it possible to get through all the locks and bridges of the Erie canal.


Pittsford has a large rowing facility, and a controlled rapids for practice

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This is a newer lock with smooth concrete walls–very nice. DSE_2813




A unique camper/boat……………………..

The canal walls are continually changing.





Looking down on the town from the canal





Stop for lunch and shopping in historic Brockport.

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The rain arrives. Into every life, a little rain must fall.

Sanctuary tied up for the night in Albion, NY.  A quiet evening is planned: downloading pictures, fixing dinner, and a movie on board.

Another sunset.

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Day 8 of our trip home – Not as many miles, no locks, Nice time in Pittsford

We started the day at Mid Lakes Marina in Macedon.    Our plan for the day was to go to Pittsford where Bob and Vicki’s nephew Dale and family live.  As we passed Fairport they were having a festival, so the city was full of vendors and lots of activity.  We were on time for the lift bridge but the bridge tender was not.  So we had to hold position waiting for about 1/2 hour.  We had a short travel day with out any locks.   In Pittsford we tied up on the wall at the city facilities.  They provide water and power.   After a great lunch at Aladdins Natural Eatery, we explored the area in downtown Pittsford on the canal.   We met Bob and Vicki’s nephew Dale and family for dinner.  We gave the kids a tour of the boat which they found very interesting then ate delicious pizza from Pontillo’s. Later we went to Pittsford Farms Dairy for ice cream–the happening place! DSE_2748 DSE_2749 The canal was very straight with rock or concrete walls for most of the day.  There was one part of the canal with a 70-foot drop on the other side of the canal wall.  The bike paths and roads on either side made it look very park like. DSE_2757     DSE_2756 DSE_2755 Fairport FestivalDSE_2752     Fairport Festival     Pittsford: a nice docking place for the night.   DSE_2779 DSE_2762 DSE_2771  DSE_2778 An old grain silo converted to offices   DSE_2765 DSE_2770   Sanctuary securely tied up for the night.

Day 7 of our trip home – Lots of time in the ditch, some nice towns, and canal boats

Since we spent the night just below lock #25, the first lock was completed by 8:30 am.  We spent most of the day traveling in the “ditch” which is the man-made part of the canal. The ditches are generally very straight and narrow without much scenery.  At one point, we were above the road way looking down at passing cars.  We did see a couple of eagles and some deer near the water way.   We ended the day at a marina just past lock #30.  The area around lock #30 is where the canal boats originate.   They are very interesting and would be a fun way to experience the canal if you did not have a boat in the area. DSE_2743   Road next to the canal,  just before this, the road was lower than the canal. DSE_2686 Stop at Clyde for pump out and water.  Although we weren’t there long, we encountered some interesting sights. DSE_2688 The ditch   Some scenes from Clyde. DSE_2692 DSE_2683   At lock  #28A,  there is a large dry dock for repair of the canal work barges   DSE_2715 DSE_2716 DSE_2714 DSE_2712 Which lock is this?  … they are all starting to look the same…………… DSE_2703   DSE_2739   Some of the walls from 1911 need a little repair……….   DSE_2745

The lock filling, a.k.a.  the bubble bath.

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There were some very  interesting mural paintings at Newark NY depicting the early days of the canal.


Some of the bridges were VERY low and we just cleared them with the Bimini top up DSE_2721 close enough to touchDSE_2726 DSE_2727     IMG_20140606_082403414 What a great day……………………….         DSE_2679   DSE_2740 Here’s an example of a canal rental boat. DSE_2747 Sanctuary tied up for the night at Mid-Lakes Marina dock–west of Lock #30.

Day 6 of our trip home – a lake, a river, and exploring a lock

We traveled from Sylvan Beach to lock #25 on the Erie Canal.   We started at Sylvan Beach with a very pretty sunrise.   We then crossed Oneida Lake which is 17 miles end to end.   After leaving Oneida Lake, we were on the Oneida River.   This part of the route had lots of very large and interesting houses. While traveling along Seneca River, the water was extremely high and you could see where it had been very flooded.   We ended the day just below lock # 25 since they were already closed for the day. This gave us a chance to explore the lock from land and see the machinery up close.


Sunrise at Oneida Lake

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Not every boat was completely shipshape. A modern day pirate………….



The light house on the east end of Oneida Lake



Crossing Oneida Lake gave us a horizon instead of just the river and channel views.

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Leaving Oneida Lake


Some of the views from Oneida River.

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There was an old aquaduct remains near the end of today’s trip. Only part of the structure remains, back in the 1800’s it was used to move barges over the river.

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We ended the day at lock # 25.

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Sanctuary’s rest spot for the night.



Day 5 of our trip home, our first lock down, and a walk on the beach

We visited the Remington Factory Museum in ILion before leaving today.

DSE_2405 DSE_2408 DSE_2411 DSE_2422A Remington Bicycle DSE_2420 DSE_2412

Bob and Vicki looking for a sampleDSE_2423 DSE_2425


From ILion, we traveled the Erie Canal. This part of the canal is a straight narrow “ditch”, not nearly as scenic or interesting as the river parts.



A Blue Heron followed us for a long way.

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To keep it interesting, some planes provided entertainment.

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So far on the trip every lock was a lift. We entered low and the water filled the lock raising the boat to the next level.  Today, we went through the first of two locks that lowered the boat to the next level.

DSE_2494Starting at the topDSE_2517

As the water was lowered, a waterfall appeared at the end of the lock.

DSE_2515DSE_2511 DSE_2500 Out at the new level.


We ended the day tied up on the wall at Sylvan Beach.  It was a great location with more than one ice cream shop.  Then we walked along Oneida Lake and watched the sunset.

DSE_2548 Sunset on Oneida LakeDSE_2559

DSE_2553 Lighthouse on east side of Oneida Lake

Sanctuary set for the night



Day 4 of our trip home More locks, some rain, and one of the worlds highest lift locks

We started today in Amsterdam NY, and ended the day in Ilion NY.   We continued meandering along the Mohawk river and eventually  left the Mohawk river and continued on the man made part of the Erie canal.   The canal was full of sticks and logs.  One of the “go fast” power boats we were following through the locks picked up a large log/tree and was disabled for a while.  They kept running ahead but the turtle kept catching them at the next lock.   DSE_2286

Early in the day it was sunny and clear and the trees and bridges reflecting in the water was very prettyDSE_2309


Later the rain arrived…………….

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The crew helping in the lock

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Some of the lock walls were smooth steel or concrete, some like this were quite ruff.  All were dirty and wet so they needed gloves.


The view from the top of a lock one raised to the top


Entering lock #17 which is one of the highest lift locks in the world


The entry is a large gate the raises up.


At the bottom of the lock


Water filling the lock

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Finished for the day at Ilion Marina





Day 3 of our trip home and lots of locks

Leaving Waterford via the Erie canal you go through the highest amount of lift in the shortest distance any where in the world.  The Waterford flight of docks raises the boat over 150 via 5 locks.  The crew has to keep the boat next to the wall but not crashing into the wall. They reported that they will not need to go to the gym today.

DSE_2160 First Lock at WaterfordDSE_2161 DSE_2163 Inside the lockDSE_2165 waiting to rise up lockDSE_2167 at the top pf the lockDSE_2169 DSE_2171 DSE_2172 DSE_2178 DSE_2179 DSE_2180 DSE_2182 Lock gateDSE_2193 DSE_2194 Mohawk RiverDSE_2195Guard Gate

We followed the Mohawk River through a few more locks past Schenectady, to Amsterdam where we tied up for the night.


Yes it is very turbulent as the lock fills pushing the boat all around.


Next to most of the locks was a dam.




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We were glad this barge was not in the lock with us.


A train went over the lock just as we were going under the bridge.




Tied up at Amsterdam City dock for the night.



Day 2 of our trip home and our first lock

We had a mostly uneventful night anchored in Newburgh Cove except  when the anchor alarm went off due to the tide pushing the boat the other direction from the anchor from where we started.   The river current was flowing south but due to the tide was flowing north. The beautiful sunrise made up for that minor drama.



Sanctuary’s Dance overnight

DSE_1957 - Copy DSE_1967Sunrise

Our goal for today was to get to the Troy Lock north of Albany.  On the way there we went past numerous bridges and light houses.  We saw the Rondout, Saugerties, and Hudson Athens lighthouses.


DSE_1991Rondout Lighthouse


DSE_2055 DSE_2056 Hudson Athens LighthouseDSE_2057



DSE_2018 DSE_2017 Saugerties LighthouseDSE_2012


DSE_2000 DSE_2006Teresa directing the crew

DSE_2040 LYH on the HudsonDSE_2044 DSE_2100 DSE_2106DSE_2105 Troy Lock Entry DSE_2108 DSE_2109 riding up the lock wallDSE_2110 DSE_2111 DSE_2112 DSE_2113 DSE_2114 DSE_2115 DSE_2116 DSE_2117 DSE_2122 DSE_2124 Waterford dockDSE_2131 DSE_2133 DSE_2134 DSE_2140

After the Troy lock we tied up in Waterford at the town dock, behind a sailboat from bowers Harbor MI.  The Troy lock was the first of many we will pass through on the trip home.  Waterford is the beginning of the Erie Canal.

DSE_2147Waterford dock at nightDSE_2146

Tomorrow to first lock of the Erie Canal.