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Old 01-04-2011, 10:02   #1
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Erie Canal & Down ICW - Best Time?

Starting to plan a fall trip from Lake Erie through the Erie Canal and down the ICW to Florida.

What is the best time to leave the Lake Erie entrance to the Canal?
What would be the latest time to leave?
How long should we plan to get from Canal entrance to New York City?

Thanks everyone!
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Old 01-04-2011, 11:36   #2
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Re: Erie Canal & Down ICW - Best Time?

Cap. The canal system closes on November 15th so this will be one deciding factor. There have been times when it closed November 1st. It does not open again until April 1st. How long it will take depends on your boat speed, whether you take it leisurely or plan an all out run. If your draft is 6 feet or more you need to consider an alternative. There are fixed bridges from Waterford to Three Rivers, the lowest clearance 21.3 feet. An issue for a sailboat with a mast up. Chuck
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Old 01-04-2011, 11:53   #3
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Re: Erie Canal & Down ICW - Best Time?

We departed Toronto for Oswego after labour day. A little sooner would have offered nicer weather, but a lot sooner would have offered Hurricane Andrew.
Oswego to NYC took a little over a week.
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Old 01-04-2011, 12:15   #4
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Re: Erie Canal & Down ICW - Best Time?

Can get all sorts of conditions early or late in the canals, from low water and shallow spots to floods that close them and deposit all kinds of flotsam. Once out on the Hudson, make sure you get good current charts and plan your run carefully as there are few places to stop for long stretches. Timing the daily currents is critical. You don't want to be bucking current, especially in NY Harbor. Tide tables do not help much, there is little info. in Eldridge. You can raise your mast at Castleton Boat Club do-it-yourself crane for a reasonable amt. ($50 last few years). McKibben's guide is a good resource for the Hudson.
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Old 01-04-2011, 12:32   #5
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Re: Erie Canal & Down ICW - Best Time?

Are there places along the canal where it is possible to spend a few days? I understand a few towns have city docks that boaters can use, but is it ok to tie up for 3 or 4 nights at a time? Are there marinas for this purpose? I assume anchoring is out of the question, right?
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Old 01-04-2011, 13:08   #6
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Re: Erie Canal & Down ICW - Best Time?

NY State Canal System ➥ New York State Canals: Excursions and Vacations: Boating on the Canal

... Under the New York Codes, Rules & Regulations, vessels may moor at a Canal Corporation owned dock or terminal up to 48 hours in a calendar month. Such mooring is free of charge. Vessels wishing to moor in excess of 48 hours must apply for a permit from the Corporation. Unless extenuating circumstances exist, such permits are usually granted only to commercial and other non-recreational vessels ...

Get the New York State Canal System Cruising Guide
New York State Canals: Excursions and Vacations: Boating on the Canal: Purchase the Original Cruising Guide
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Old 01-04-2011, 14:35   #7
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Re: Erie Canal & Down ICW - Best Time?

IIRC, the air draft on the WESTERN part of the Erie Canal is 15'. Further east it is 21'.
And I think the depth is a bit more than 6', more like 7' or 8'.

There are several marinas near Buffalo/Tonawanda where you can unstep. Some have rather sketchy reputations, I suggest you do some research in that department. I've had locals recommend Rich Marine.

One other tidbit I was initially unaware of. You must take the canal inside the Buffalo harbor. The rail bridge does not open in the main river. And there is a 5 knot current there you'd need to turn around into if you made that mistake!!!
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Old 01-04-2011, 14:38   #8
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Re: Erie Canal & Down ICW - Best Time?

Don't know about the Erie Canal but would guess it's the same as the Champlain. The way it works in the Champlain is that you go as far as you can in a day and then tie up on one of the bulkheads just before or after the locks. The tenders have a good idea where you are all the time and will stop you when their work day is ending. The tie-up areas are pretty nice, secure spots and are free of charge. You can walk to a town from many of them. In the a.m. you just give the lock tender a call when you're ready to shove off and he'll open the lock for you. I've done the Champlain Canal trip a number of times single-handed but is sure a lot easier with more hands. You need good fenders if you value your paint job, preferably with fender boards. The sides of the locks are sometimes quite eroded and very rough.
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Old 01-04-2011, 14:45   #9
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Re: Erie Canal & Down ICW - Best Time?

Quote:
Originally Posted by enovillo View Post
Are there places along the canal where it is possible to spend a few days? I understand a few towns have city docks that boaters can use, but is it ok to tie up for 3 or 4 nights at a time? Are there marinas for this purpose? I assume anchoring is out of the question, right?
On the western half, all villages and most hamlets have areas to tie up.
Most have free water, electric, dumps, heads, showers and bikes.
The water is always 20' deep except when they drain it for winter.
Some love the trip, some hate it.
It's very lax and you could probably spend many days
in one spot.
Passing thru? Let me know if you want a canal town tour.
I might also be the guy on the bicycle asking a lot of questions.
The east end of the canal I know nothing about.
Kenny
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