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.