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Dec 06 2013

15 Days on the Erie Canal, Days 1-5

Destination is the Inner Harbor of Buffalo.  This year’s vacation is allowing us 15 days to do the round trip, and we are excited.   We left the dock at 11 am after a trip to the food store for provisioning and giving the boat a good wash down, she seems to run better when she’s clean.

Destination today Is Newark NY, a little over 30 miles from our home port in Seneca Falls.  With 6 locks to transit this trip took us 5 hours.  Speed limit on the canal is 10 MPH through this section we run at 9 MPH except when running through a no wake zone.  This section of the Canal is scenic and truthfully if you didn’t know you were in upstate NY you could be virtually anywhere in the world.  It’s got to be a beautiful trip in the fall.  We passed through the towns of Clyde and Lyons before docking in Newark.  We have stayed in Clyde before but hope to stay in Lyons on the return trip.  With the shortened Canal operating hours, we are planning our trip a little different than in the past.  We have stayed in Newark twice before and have always found room on the wall no matter when we have visited.  Newark is a great place for boaters.  First off it’s free! And they offer a nice boater center with bathrooms, and showers.  They also have plenty of electrical hookups and have wi-fi as well.  In addition the town is easily accessible from the Canal with restaurants, convenience stores and a hotel within a few minute walk.  Newark is also a great stop if you are traveling by boat and want to sleep on shore.  We pulled into Newark around 4 PM and noticed the electric boat RA, which is traveling the great loop using only solar power, we have been following their trip on their facebook page.   Later that afternoon, we watched a sail boat motor in and tie up behind us, on board where two young men from Australia, who were traveling from Canada with the final destination the Caribbean.  Of the two, one had joined his friend for a three week trip from Buffalo to NYC where he was getting off the boat and flying home to Australia while the other was continuing his trip to the Caribbean by himself.  I asked him how long he expected to be gone for and he thought about it and replied, I don’t know maybe a couple of years.  That’s one of the things that’s so neat about the Canal system, you will meet people from all over country and even the world. 

Day 2

Today’s destination is Fairport NY.  This is a 21 mile trip with two locks to transit.  We stopped at Midlakes Marina in Macedon to top our tanks off.  Midlakes is the home port for the largest fleet of rental boats on the Canal System.  Fairport was about another 8 miles and we arrived about 2 PM.  Fairport is a suburb of Rochester, and is one of the prettier stops on the Canal.  The Canal runs right through the center of town and it is lined with restaurants and shops. Overnight docking here is $9 per night for a 36 footer.  They offer electric, water, wi-fi and a bath and shower house.  In the last year the Village of Fairport has added additional wall space with electric.    We have met up with the Poklemba’s aboard their 34’ Silverton the “Silver Slipper”  They will be joining us for the balance of the trip.  While walking back to the boat after dinner at Mulconry’s Irish Pub, we stopped to chat with John Johnson of JJ’s Charters.  John has a unique 29’ C-Dory, one of only 3 built.  He has started a water limo service based out of the Fairport area where he takes parties of up to 6 guests out on a canal trip.  You might want to take his boat out to dinner, or experience the locks, use it for a corporate event etc.  John can be reached through his web site at  John has since placed a featured listing on the web site under charter boats in the finger lakes / Erie Canal section of the directory.

Day 3

We were off and under the Main St. lift bridge at 10am headed for Holley NY.  The first town you pass through is Busnell’s Basin.  Since our last pass through this town they have added some very nice floating docks with electric.  Jeanne noticed the nail salon and spa just off the water’s edge and I am pretty sure we will be stopping by on our way back through.  After another 6 miles of cruising you pass through Pittsford.  Pittsford is another town that has added both dock space and electric since our last trip.  This is another potential stop on our return trip.  We continue west towards Rochester and you can take the Genesee River north at the junction to the city where you can tie up and visit.  We are passing by with our destination today Holley.  Just pass the Genesee River junction you run a 4 mile stretch of the Canal that is called Rock Cut.  It gets its name from the fact that the Canal was cut through rock for these 4 miles.  We had to drop back about a mile from the Silver Slipper through this area as any wake from a boat in front of you just continues to bounce of the rock walls and can create a bumpy ride.  This part of NY is pretty flat and there are only two more locks on the Canal in Lockport.  As you travel west you experience a series of lift bridges.  Often the bridge operators manage two or more bridges and they drive back and forth between them.  You might have to wait as he might be 5 miles down the Canal letting someone pass.  We experienced this in Spencerport, as we just tied up at the wall and waited for his return.  Spencerport is another town with a wall and electric and allows you to tie up and stay for a while.  We continue west past Brockport. We have stayed in Brockport before and plan on staying on our way back.  Final destination is Holley, we traveled 37 miles and total run time was 5.7 hours.    Holley is a great stop, like so many others it’s free, with electric, water, and a bath and shower house.  The village is a short walk through a pretty park.  We ate dinner on the boat tonight and just enjoyed some quiet time on the Canal. 

Day 4

Today’s destination is Middleport, a run of 26 miles, no locks just lift bridges and we did the trip in 3 ½ hours.  As you leave Holley headed west, the majority of this section of the Canal is throug  man made sections, you pass by farmland, orchids and occasional houses along the Canal.  We passed by the towns of Albion and Medina.  We have stayed in Medina before and until today this was the farthest west we had been on the Canal system.  Albion is a possible stop on our way back.  Middleport is another free stop on the Canal.  You tie up in a park like setting with Electric, water, bath and showers, as well as Wi-Fi.   Middleport is a small town and we ate dinner at a small Italian restaurant that night.

Day 5

Today’s trip was Middleport to Tonawanda.  This is about a 35 mile trip total run time was about 4 ½ hours.  A couple of lift bridges and the double lock in Lockport.  It was cool and breezy when we left Middleport, but it soon began to warm up and it turned out to be a really nice day.  When you travel on the Canal, you will often get the feeling that you are the only one on the system.  It is incredibly relaxing.  I have often described it as the most under utilized recreational resource in NYS. Each night we had no problem getting space on a wall, always having access to electric.  In Holley and Middleport we shared the wall space with one other boater.  Often during the day we only passed one or two boaters and they were usually from somewhere other than NY.   If you were wondering what the fees are to use the system, for a 36 footer a season pass is $75.  Maximum fee for a recreational boat is $100, an incredible value for a boater.   We passed through the Lockport locks and as you get closer to Tonawanda you begin to pass through residential areas. While this is all a no wake zone, it’s great to slow down and take in the sights.  Tonawanda is a suburb of Buffalo and the western terminus of the Erie Canal System.  We arrived in Tonawanda in time for the Wednesday night concert series and after an enjoyable dinner at the Dockside inn, we sat and enjoyed two bands along the shoreline.  During the entire two weeks, it seemed that more nights than not we enjoyed some form of music at night.  Tonawanda is a $20 a night stop, they have electric and water as well as a shower house. 

Stay tuned for part two of our series, 15 days on the Erie Canal which will be featured on the site next month.

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