If you take the Erie Barge canal, of which I'd recommend, the mast needs to come down. There are several places along the Hudson
to get it lowered. (The maximum air daft is something like 19 feet). I'd plan on a week, and enjoy this section some. It's a nice area with friendly, accommodating people. Once in the Lakes, wind
direction permitting (somewhat difficult on Erie), I'd put in some overnights and just get it done. Yes, there is always the chance of debris in rivers as Chris mentioned. But if you're in a hurry, I'd recommend traversing the rivers at night. The ships and barges are actually easier to see at night, along with the shipping
lanes. This would help maximize you're sailing time on the Lakes. Ten days overall on the Lakes should be sufficient, depending on your abilities and what you do with the weather
that comes your way.