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Old 24-08-2014, 15:35   #1
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Welland Canal down bound advice

Hi folks, I'm getting closer to the big canal for our down bound transit and have a couple of questions for those who have done it:

1. I see they provide the lines. How large are they?
2. The guide says we are to affix the lines to bow and stern. Does this mean canal staff will control the lines as we drop down?
3. What time is best to arrive at the recreational boaters wharf? I assume early a.m., but perhaps not?

Anything else I need to know? These are the Big Boy locks that the St. Lawrence Seaway ships use. I've done smaller ones, but these are rather intimidating.


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Old 24-08-2014, 16:23   #2
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Re: Welland Canal down bound advice

Here's the link to the Seaway pleasure craft guides.

Seaway System - Recreational Boating - Pleasure Craft Guide

It's been awhile since I was last in the Welland but for the big ships they usually use a 5/8" line. Maybe a half inch, not sure. The big ships control their own lines on descent/ascent.
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Old 24-08-2014, 16:50   #3
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Re: Welland Canal down bound advice

Hi Mike We went through the canal in the spring and found it a very easy trip doing downbound. You control the lines from the boat and they are 3/4 or a bit bigger from what i can remember. We just held the lines as the water dropped in the locks and it was pretty smooth, just make sure they can run free as the water keeps dropping no matter what.
We also used fenderboards made out of 2x8 to help with the lock walls.
Good luck Dave
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Old 26-08-2014, 12:47   #4
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Re: Welland Canal down bound advice

Thanks guys. Very much appreciated. I feel ready now.


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Old 26-08-2014, 13:22   #5
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Re: Welland Canal down bound advice

Made my 100th trip downbound last Thursday. Pull into the check in dock on the port side as you enter the harbour. There is a phone booth there with a direct line to Seaway Control. Pick it up and tell them you want downbound passage.

They will ask you to pay by inserting your credit card into the machine next to the phone ($230). You are required to have two adults on board for downbound
(3 for upbound).

Give them a cell phone number or keep your radion on channel 14. They will call and tell you when to approach the lock. They will also give you a pretty good idea of how long you will be waiting. We waited 10hrs on Thursday.

When you enter the first lock (#8) its such a short drop, you do not use lines at all, you just hover in the middle of the lock. One of the lock guys will throw you a little booklet about the canal and a sheet you must fill in with basic info about the boat. You will hand the completed sheet and the receipt of your credit card payment to a lock guy at #3.

When you enter the other locks you will be passed 3/4" poly lines. The trick with the lines is not to hold them too tight, this way neither your boat not your fenders ever have to touch the walls. The walls are slimy and a pair of gloves is a good idea but they are not rough.

When the lock opens and you leave the wall, get out into the middle of the lock by the time you pass the gate as there is some turbulence at the gates and if you are too close, your stern can get sucked into the wall.

I have done this canal in 4.5hrs and I've done it in 36hrs. Commercial traffic takes precedence and if fog rolls in, they will shut down the system.

If you are really exhausted by the time you exit the last lock, there is a wall you can tie up to on the starboard side about 1/2 mile down, you will recognize it by the telephone booth.

It's not a difficult trip but it can be a little tedious. We shared our passage last Thursday with "BREAD, MI" currently for sale at $12.6million US.
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Old 26-08-2014, 14:32   #6
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Re: Welland Canal down bound advice

Thanks guys. Really helpful for this neophyte crew. One more question: do you just man-handle the lines, or do you use cleats. I think you suggested using snatch blocks KS. I don't think we have any that would handle 3/4" poly. I was going to use our bow and stern cleats for control.


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Old 26-08-2014, 14:53   #7
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Re: Welland Canal down bound advice

Just hold on to the lines. Downbound is a gentle ride. If you cleat them and it gets jammed ..... your done. Also if you cleat them you will tend to pull too tight and you will rub the wall. I repeat there is no need to touch the wall with fenders or your boat is you keep things loose.

Upbound is a whole different story and there is a very good reason you must have three adults onboard (one at the throttle/shift at all times).
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Old 26-08-2014, 15:40   #8
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Re: Welland Canal down bound advice

Great. Thanks BP. Much appreciate the info. I think we'll plan to do as you suggest. Our boat is quite heavy though, so a cleat will be nearby if needed. I've got a fender board if we do happen to make contact with the wall.


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Old 26-08-2014, 16:11   #9
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Re: Welland Canal down bound advice

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike OReilly View Post
I've got a fender board if we do happen to make contact with the wall.
Beware of fender boards, I threw mine away many years a go on my first locking experience on the Trent when they caused more problems than they were worth. If you have boards out, be very, very careful if you are straddling one of the sluice gates on the lock wall.
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Old 26-08-2014, 16:47   #10
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Re: Welland Canal down bound advice

Down bound the emptying of the locks tends to move the boat toward the midline. It's a piece of cake going down.
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Old 26-08-2014, 19:13   #11
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Re: Welland Canal down bound advice

Hey Mike, where are you heading after you transit the Welland ?
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Old 30-08-2014, 07:54   #12
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Re: Welland Canal down bound advice

Thanks again guys. I've got a fender board and we'll give it a try, but if it seems unnecessary after the first few locks we'll just put it aside. I'm going to clear our deck of anything that could snag a line (outboard, BBQ, lifesling). My main concern/question is around the pull forces and getting clean access to our cleats. Our boat is heavy (14 tons, 28,000# unloaded) so it is not easy to muscle around. I think we'll need access to bow and stern cleats at times just to keep things under control. The challenge is that our cleats are accessed through scuppers in the high toe rail. I don't want to feed the lines through the scuppers in case there is a problem with the lines.

Anyway, I'm not that concerned (now), what with all the advice, so thanks.

BP, our goal is Belleville this year ... HOWEVER, we're currently in Port Dover. We were headed around Long Point when we noticed an engine problem. Hope we can get it sorted quickly here in Dover.


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