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Old 23-11-2015, 06:18   #1
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Erie, Pa to NYC

I have found a sailboat I am interested in. It is docked on Lake Erie. Is there a way to get from Erie,Pa to NYC by sailboat? Or is it better to ship by truck to coast?
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Old 23-11-2015, 06:24   #2
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Re: Erie, Pa to NYC

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I have found a sailboat I am interested in. It is docked on Lake Erie. Is there a way to get from Erie,Pa to NYC by sailboat? Or is it better to ship by truck to coast?
The canal with the same name.

Take it to the western side of lake Erie, through the canal and down the Hudson.

Might be a little late this time of year. It does close for the winter.
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Old 23-11-2015, 07:09   #3
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Re: Erie, Pa to NYC

I was looking at doing something similar.

The canal is now closed until May. So if you need to move it now your only option is via truck.

Certainly, it would be a beautiful ride in late May.

It will take you at least five days to transit the canal. If you don't have help, and need to hire a captain, it'll cost you the same as if you trucked it.
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Old 23-11-2015, 07:45   #4
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Re: Erie, Pa to NYC

We came thru that route this past summer (starting on Lake Michigan). You will need to take the mast down if going down the Erie Canal in Buffalo / Tonawanda and put it back up around Albany / Catskill.
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Old 23-11-2015, 08:05   #5
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Re: Erie, Pa to NYC

You didn't say what size sailboat, if in the 20+ range trucking is best option, if in the 40' + range then I'd use the Erie Canal in the spring.
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Old 23-11-2015, 09:48   #6
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Re: Erie, Pa to NYC

Does the Erie Canal require you to have a crew or can you single hand it?
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Old 23-11-2015, 10:06   #7
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Re: Erie, Pa to NYC

the trip on the canal is fun and beautiful. It is best to doublehand the trip; the locks would be tricky to manage alone. Lash the mast on the cabin top. remember you will need a handheld VHF because your ship's radio won't have an antenna with the mast down. There are abundant places to tie up at night. We stepped our mast at Hop O' Nose Marina on the Hudson. I am sure there are other places. I thought that was a great name, so I remember it.
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Old 23-11-2015, 10:11   #8
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Re: Erie, Pa to NYC

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Does the Erie Canal require you to have a crew or can you single hand it?
I'm not aware of any regulation about crew on the Erie. The Welland Canal does have regulation.

Depending on the size of the boat, one person can handle the trip, but it is much easier with 2.

A couple of years ago we transported a boat via the canal from Buffalo to Oswego. That was a 4 day trip. The Tonawanda to Albany trip is about 7 days. Weather is not usually a factor because the canal is inland and well protected, except for the Oneida Lake section, a 22 mile lake that is shallow.

Search the forums here for more information and check out the Canal Website at New York State Canals
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Old 23-11-2015, 10:33   #9
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Re: Erie, Pa to NYC

If this shows up as a repeat sorry. I think the first got lost in cyberspace.


If you opt. on the canal, make up some cheap fender boards to protect your fenders from lock wall abrasion. Speak nicely to the lock keeper he/she can make the up or down easy or hell. They can also be a wealth of info.. If you find you are making the trip with a loud mouth drop back a lock.
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Old 23-11-2015, 11:37   #10
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Re: Erie, Pa to NYC

Post #3 says it all - if you can wait until May, do so - it's a great trip. If you need the boat down now, then truck it. You don't give the length, so I can't help you on cost (I trucked a 40' sailboat from Michigan to New Jersey for about $6,000 in 2001 (lots of disassembly required due to keel height).

Due to daily opening and closing times on the Erie Canal, and speed restrictions, I would give it 7 to 10 days, especially if there was a lot of snow and/or a rainy Spring. We were held up three days due to high water levels in the eastern canal, which flooded some locks and made some too dangerous to transit. You never know what you will get, until you get there.

Then you're on the Hudson in the Spring. Can you say "flotsam, jetsam and deadheads" quickly three times? You can go overnight, but I wouldn't with what I've seen floating down the Hudson! So, 7 to 10 through the canal (including unstepping your mast), and another 4 to 5 down the Hudson to NYC, stopping each night (including restepping your mast at Catskill, as has been suggested). You're now up to about two weeks. Add another 3 to 4 days to get to the start of the ICW at Norfolk, depending on coastal conditions off NJ and the Delmarva peninsula - longer, if you have to wait. You're looking at at least three weeks, I think. Maybe others have done it quicker - but you'll need a good window.

You might consider, unstepping your mast at the beginning of your trip and having it sent to Catskill by truck (or unstepping it in Buffalo and shipping it from there). The mast and the rigging are a pain on deck when going through the canal, and you will likely not be sailing down the upper part of the Hudson anyway. Just a thought. A friend of mine did that and it worked out well for him.

Good luck!
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Old 23-11-2015, 11:53   #11
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Re: Erie, Pa to NYC

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Does the Erie Canal require you to have a crew or can you single hand it?
You can actually kayak the erie canal. You could take a 60' cat down it with only one crew. They only ask you to hold a rope or tie off (not to the ladder please).

+1 on being nice to the lockmasters. They are very well paid, but will call to the next lock and let them know your ETA. They only carry a rubber duck mobile, so expect less then 1/4 mile call range on most of them. Get the locks phone number list, mobile works well the whole way if you have verizon.
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Old 23-11-2015, 12:12   #12
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Re: Erie, Pa to NYC

My concern might be the sail from Erie PA. to the Erie Canal. The canal is a piece of cake as is the Hudson.
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Old 23-11-2015, 12:46   #13
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Re: Erie, Pa to NYC

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Originally Posted by NCSailor52 View Post
I have found a sailboat I am interested in. It is docked on Lake Erie. Is there a way to get from Erie,Pa to NYC by sailboat? Or is it better to ship by truck to coast?
I take it you have not purchased the boat yet and is just checking your options if you do buy.
You either pay or take time off - 3 weeks is the minimum.
If you go thru the canal you still need to count on probably $1,500 in expenses (one way travel to Erie, meals, taxis, marinas, must unstepping, a handheld radio, provisioning, etc.)
You should carry the mast on deck, tied up pretty good because Oneida Lake can get choppy and if you hit it on the weekend there are hundreds of power boats doing 30 knots crossing your way and trying to sink your mast. Put the mast up at Castleton for free - its a DYI and people help each other.
Let us know if the deal was done.
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Old 23-11-2015, 13:48   #14
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Re: Erie, Pa to NYC

Excellent and accurate advice on Lake Oneida (SVTatia). We transited it early in the morning before the waves got up. The lake has claimed more than one mast not adequately secured to the boat.

You can certainly carry your mast aboard, almost all sailboats do. I suggested the shipping option because I would look long and hard at doing that after my last transit. It depends on the size of your boat and extent of your rigging, as to whether it would be of benefit.

Actually, it was a blessing in disguise that we did carry our mast aboard, it's the only thing that saved the boat from extensive damage when it came off the wall in Lockport due to the lock being filled too fast, and inappropriately for a sailboat. (We found all but that lock operator to be courteous, professional and helpful. They are a great bunch - and the bridgetenders too).

That, coupled with the 68' (professionally captained) ketch we saw get crushed on a lock approach wall by excessive current, gives me great respect for the possible problems that can happen in the canal. I'm sure there are many uneventful passages made on the Erie. Don't assume that problems can't/won't happen - especially weather related ones.

Transiting with no (or limited) crew. It is also done routinely, but not necessarily easily. This may have changed since my last transit 10 years ago, but many lock walls are in need of repair - having large chucks of missing concrete in the side of the wall. If your boat happens to ride over one of these, they can swallow the fenders, and the boat will have to be fended off by hand in order to prevent damage to the sides. Going up in the locks, you can see these areas and try to avoid them by where you tie-up along the lock wall. Downbound to the east, the lock walls (with two exceptions) will all be under water and you won't be able to see any damaged sections. Extra hands would helpful in that event. There are 35 locks on the canal. Going west to east, 33 are down and 2 are up (with small rises). It's a lot easier going down in a lock than going up - much less turbulence.

There are two types of "attachment" systems in the locks. Most have ropes hanging over the sides that you take on fore and aft with line handlers (and/or yourself) depending on how many are aboard. The fore and aft lines are held and the boat fended off the wall amidships. They ropes are slimy from hanging in the water. The other system in some locks (esp. at Lockport), are aircraft cables anchored top and bottom to the lock wall. These are spaced further apart than the rope lines in other locks. The cable is taken on at amidships, and you run a line around the cable to your amidships cleat, and ride the cable up or down, fending off your bow and stern. At least this was the system in place on my last transit.

The trip down Lake Erie should be fine if you wait for good weather. It is approximately 100 miles from Erie, PA to Buffalo, NY. In that space, there are three good ports of refuge along the NY coast - depending on your draft. I beat up the lake from Buffalo to Erie in +25 kt. headwinds, and 6 to 8' seas, in about 14 - 15 hours. The prevailing winds should be favorable for heading east, and you should be able to reach Buffalo in a day sail.

From Buffalo, you proceed north on the Niagara River, staying to the east side to lock through your first lock at Black Rock. Then stay on the river to east side of Grand Island, to Tonawanda, and thence into the canal. If you decide to carry your mast, it can be unstepped at Wardell's Boat Yard on the north side of the Tonawanda Creek - which is the start of the Erie Canal. The yard has a boneyard of used scaffolding and framing that you can use to support your mast. It is first-come, first serve as of the last time I was there.

With respect to Hudson, I can only say that we witnessed tree trunks, telephone poles and full docks floating downstream and mostly submerged. That was in June, and after heavy rains. I wouldn't run the river at night unless at great need, they're hard enough to spot in daylight. Your chartplotter should keep you off the various mudflats, but I doubt you will see much of the debris on your radar, if at all. This is consistent with reports of other sailors transiting the large rivers feeding the area, up into New England, in the Spring.
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Old 23-11-2015, 14:11   #15
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Re: Erie, Pa to NYC

Hi, I've done chunks of the Canal and Hudson and would enjoy crewing if you need hands. I'm USCG licensed if that matters. /Stu stu@shearwater-sailing.com
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