New York Canal Cruise

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New York Canal Cruise

Postby CaspersCruiser on Tue Oct 02, 2018 9:56 pm

My wife and I cruised 155 miles of the Cayuga-Seneca Canal and western Erie Canal from September 19th to the 25th. It's a perfect trip for the trawler speeds of a Ranger Tug. Most parts of the canals we cruised had a 10mph speed limit. The waters are protected so wind and weather is not a problem. Depth is a very uniform eight to twelve feet almost bank-to-bank. There are a few more shallow areas that are well marked.

We put in at Barrett Marine on the Cayuga-Seneca Canal near Geneva the afternoon of the 18th. Barrett allowed us to store our tow rig there for the bargain price of $5 per day. We took out on the Erie Canal at Amherst after backtracking on the canal from the mouth at Tonawanda where we had stayed overnight. Boat ramps near Tonawanda are on the Niagara River and it has a pretty strong current. The locals said the current wasn't "too bad" at the ramps, but it was a windy day and we didn't want to fight both wind and current getting the boat on the trailer. After the backtrack, we kept the boat overnight at Amherst Marine and rented a car to retrieve our tow rig from Barrett Marine. We stayed in a hotel in Geneva and returned to Amherst the next morning.

What makes this a great trip are the "canal towns" about every 15 miles. Many cater to boaters with free town waterfront dock space with power and water. Most have bathrooms and showers available. A few charge a nominal fee. Pumpouts are plentiful and usually free. Most towns have several restaurants within a few blocks and a couple have groceries nearby. We ran into several farmer's markets in the canal towns and enjoyed having fresh local produce and baked goods.

When we came to the intersection of the Erie Canal and Genesee River near Rochester at lunchtime, we took a three mile detour up to Rochester for lunch at Dinosaur BBQ. It's a ten minute walk from the wall at Corn Hill Landing. The portions are so huge on the combo ribs/pulled pork plate that we took the ribs in a box and had them for dinner.

We overnighted at Seneca Falls, Newark, Fairport, Spencerport, Medina and Tonawanda. Besides the Rochester detour, we made stops of an hour or so at Palmyra, Brockport, and Lockport. If you like the movie "It's a Wonderful Life", Seneca Falls is said to be the inspiration for "Bedford Falls" and there are a few sights to see related to it.

We transited 15 locks and 16 lift bridges. The hours of operation of the locks and lift bridges when we cruised were from 7am to 5pm. In the summer, the hours are longer. The lift bridge tenders operate more than one bridge so you may encounter a delay as they run from one bridge to the other. The lockmasters and bridge tenders were all a delight, except for the first lock on our first day. That guy was a toad.

Here are a few pictures:

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This is our R27 at Seneca Falls. We were at this dock for the farmer's market at the adjacent park. For the overnight, we moved down the canal about a 1/2 mile to the town wall where there was power, water and bathrooms and showers.

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Much of the Erie Canal is tree lined, although there are many sections with summer homes, cabins and shacks all with boat docks.

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The far western portion of the Erie Canal is more open and rural with farmland and orchards lining the side of the canal.

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There are lots of road bridges and mostly abandoned rail bridges. I always like looking at bridge architecture.

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There are three 100 year-old concrete arch foot bridges over the canal at Genesee Valley Park near Rochester.

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On the western portion of the Erie Canal west of the Genesee River there are 15 lift bridges. This one, in the lowered position, is Adam's Basin Bridge near Spencerport.

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There are canal boats for charter. We saw a half-dozen or so. This is one passing under the Fairport lift bridge.

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This is the Fairport town wall from the lift bridge. Notice the cute little boat at left! How many Ranger Tug owners have heard that one?

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Lots of sailboats heading from the Great Lakes to warmer climes transit the Erie Canal. They step their masts at Buffalo and unstep at Troy, NY after exiting the canal. This sailboat is passing Spencerport. Max bridge height on the western Erie Canal is 15.5'.

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Brockport is a nice canal town. We stopped for the farmer's market.

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Lockport has a set of tandem locks, each with a 25' lift (left) that transit the Niagara Escarpment. At right are the preserved "Flight of Five" from the 19th century. There's a small museum at the lock dedicated to the Erie Canal.
Last edited by CaspersCruiser on Wed Oct 03, 2018 1:23 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: New York Canal Cruise

Postby Brian B on Wed Oct 03, 2018 6:20 am

Sounds like a nice trip, thanks for the info. We traveled from RI to the Hudson River then up the Hudson to the Champlain Canal system to VT and back again a few years ago. I've often thought of doing it again but doing the Erie Canal next time. Here's a great site I came across of the travels of an American Tug on the NY canal system. http://www.tug44.org/
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Re: New York Canal Cruise

Postby knotflying on Wed Oct 03, 2018 7:58 am

We have done that section of the canal as well. I would say that you covered the best section of the canal. And thanks for the pictures. It brings back good memories.
“What we call reality is merely an ILLUSION we create for learning and enjoyment….”
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Re: New York Canal Cruise

Postby The Doghouse 2 on Wed Oct 03, 2018 11:19 am

This is a great post!

You have introduce this waterway to the many of us who have never seen this part of our country and those who most likely never will. It looked like a memorable trip that required a bit of trip planning to make it happen. Thanks for our adventure!

Bob & Kim Giles
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Re: New York Canal Cruise

Postby CaspersCruiser on Wed Oct 03, 2018 1:33 pm

The Doghouse 2 wrote:It looked like a memorable trip that required a bit of trip planning to make it happen.

I purposely left out a lot of details so the post wouldn't be so long. Active Captain is a good resource for trip planning. There are several blogs that detail Erie Canal trips. Google should find them.

I just edited my original post to add a photo showing the Fairport town wall. Fairport is one of the best stops overall.
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Re: New York Canal Cruise

Postby knotflying on Thu Oct 04, 2018 7:04 am

Glad you made Dinosaurs. It is a great stop!!
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Re: New York Canal Cruise

Postby trailertrawlerkismet on Thu Oct 04, 2018 7:23 am

Thanks for sharing Bill, looked like a great adventure.

Jim
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Re: New York Canal Cruise

Postby Captain Steve on Sat Oct 06, 2018 7:47 am

We did that same section in a canal boat. Did not see many fuel stops along the canal. Did you find some?
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Re: New York Canal Cruise

Postby CaspersCruiser on Sat Oct 06, 2018 3:23 pm

Captain Steve wrote:We did that same section in a canal boat. Did not see many fuel stops along the canal. Did you find some?

While the boat was on the trailer before putting in, we topped our 100 gallon tank at a filling station. We used less than 50 gallons so we weren’t looking for fuel. Active Captain lists a few spots on the western portion of the Erie Canal that have gas and diesel and plenty at the western end of the canal at Tonawanda/Buffalo.
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