BB and crew have had a wonderful upstate New York experience cruising on the Erie Canal. Once we passed Albany and Troy, New York we came to the intersection of the Champlaine and Erie Canals. At this point in upstate New York the cruising community from the USA and Canada spend their summers on the lakes and / or canals in New York – enjoying the free town docks and easy access to good food and shopping. There are so many great towns to visit, and so many routes available, that you can spend every cruising season here and never see it all.
This part of our trip is just over 100 miles long and can be done in three of four days if you’re in a hurry. We plan to take 10 to 14 days with some side trips included. Cruising on the Erie Canal means negotiating the many locks along the way. They are all the same width and length, but the height varies from as little as eight feet to as much as 30 feet. Handling the boat in the lock is done with hand ropes or cables attached to either side of the inside of the lock wall. And, there is never the issue of having to wait on commercial tows and barges that have the right-of-way as happens on the larger rivers in the USA mid-west. The locks slow your progress, but you don’t come here to be in a hurry. Three to five hours cruising is enough, and then you tie up to a lock wall or a free dock at one of the towns along the way. We bought a 10 day pass for $50 in Waterford to begin the trip, and a two day $20 pass at lock 21 to finish the trip.
The photos can’t do justice to the beauty and peaceful nature of cruising here, but until you have the opportunity we just want everyone to know that this part of our Great Loop journey has been a joy, and we will always look forward to returning – to see, feel, smell, and touch the beauty of up-state New York.
An Erie Canal plaque in Waterford showed us an overview of the Erie Canal from Waterford to Buffalo. Our plan is to go about half way to Buffalo and turn north on the Oswego Canal to Oswego, New York where we will cross a bit of Lake Ontario and enter Canada.
Along the way, as we left Waterford, Capt Mary invited Adam and his grandpa to join us as we went through the “Flight of Five”. Five locks within a mile or so to the west of Waterford. This fine pair were watching us leave town, and it was a hoot for all of us to see how the locks work. Adam sent us a note later in the day saying how much he enjoyed the short trip. Adam, it was our pleasure!
Here BB is tied up to the free town dock in Amsterdam. The dock and nearby park were beautiful, but Amsterdam is a very sad, dead town. It was the home to Mohawk Carpets, but the business collapsed and more than 10,000 people lost their jobs when the factory closed. The town may be surviving, but it is not a cruising destination spot – simply a good spot to tie up overnight and be safe as the thunderstorms roll through the area.
In this photo BB is tied up at another free town dock at Canajoharie NY. This time the dock comes with free electricity and water. The town of Canajoharie is a special treat – with a wonderful art museum and library, good if not great restaurants, a first class meat market, and a local bistro.
As BB left Canajoharie and entered lock 14 we had a secondary fuel filter problem. This is a picture north wall west of lock 14. It is also a typical Erie Canal lock wall, next to a park with picnic tables and a BBQ grill, and is free to use for up to two night’s stay. We needed one night here to put on a spare new secondary fuel filter on the port engine.
Little Falls, New York offers only daytime free docking, but that’s ok. Town is very close, and there are good shops and restaurants within minutes. We stayed for a Sunday afternoon, and spent the night along the next lock wall.
Another favorite town along the Erie Canal is Rome. The free town dock is in the city park - about a half mile to downtown. Downtown has many shops and restaurants, and Fort Stanwix. The fort was re-built by the city over the original site that was built pre-revolutionary war, and was of historical importance to keep the British occupied while General Washington got the troops organized to march down to Portsmouth, VA. We had two favorite stops in Rome – both food related. We found Folers Bakery and Gualtieri’s Italian Market.
Three generations of Gualtieris. Grandpa Gualtieri came to America in 1901, and opened this market in 1902.
Winter Harbor Marina was a convenient stopover for BB and crew as we made a quick trip to Iowa to see a beautiful wedding for wonderful friends, a great one day sight-seeing trip to Cooperstown, NY to visit the Baseball Hall of Fame, great shopping at Williams-Sonoma where we re-outfitted BB’s galley with new appliances, and unexpectedly we used the services of the “full service” marina to replace the steering system hydraulic pumps on both the flybridge and lower helm stations (it was an expensive two weeks at Winter Harbor Marina).