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Old 12-01-2021, 16:00   #1
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Newport, RI to Lake Erie - options for deep draft sailboat

I am planning on moving a 7ft 6in draft monohull from the east coast (Newport RI) to the Great Lakes this coming spring. Boat is 57ft long.
Looking at various options and wondering if anyone has experience to answer the following questions:

1. Can a boat with that draft navigate the entire Erie Canal in May/June timeframe? I have looked at all the NY state websites so understand there are some spots with shallower water, but unclear how shallow. Also unclear as to when they measure (have read on this forum that spring waters are higher - and looks like we are having similar water levels this coming year to last few years)

2. How long of a trip would the St. Lawrence Seaway around Nova Scotia be (say to Buffalo). Is the weather cooperative (generally of course) at that time of year? What about current? Boat can motor at 8 knots.

What other options should I consider? Champlain canals? Are they deep enough?

I am aware of air draft and will have no issues on that front should I decide to take the canal route

Thanks in advance.

RDB
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Old 12-01-2021, 16:16   #2
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Re: Newport, RI to Lake Erie - options for deep draft sailboat

Champlain canals have 6 feet over the sills.
Around Nova Scotia is a very pleasant cruise, and the St Lawrence river, though challenging with tides, is a lovely trip, especially if you can take your time and stop here and there. It's longer, but a good option if the Erie Canal doesn't work out.
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Old 12-01-2021, 16:21   #3
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Re: Newport, RI to Lake Erie - options for deep draft sailboat

Based on the Great Loop website you can do the Erie Canal.

"Today's canal runs an average of about 9 feet deep. It has a vertical clearance of 21 feet between Waterford and Three Rivers (Oswego Canal junction), and 15.5 feet between the Tonawanda and the Niagara river. The largest vessels that can make the entire journey must be under 300 feet long, 43.5 feet wide, 9' draft, and a maximum 15' 6" height above the water."

https://www.greatloop.org/content.as...dule_id=192201
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Old 12-01-2021, 16:27   #4
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Re: Newport, RI to Lake Erie - options for deep draft sailboat

We excited Lake Erie via the St Lawrence. Wonderful trip, wish we would have had more time to enjoy the many beautiful spots. You have the benefit of sailing north in the prevailing south west breeze when heading back to the Great Lakes. Newport to Lake Erie can probably be done in 3 weeks if you really push it.
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Old 12-01-2021, 16:36   #5
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Re: Newport, RI to Lake Erie - options for deep draft sailboat

If you decide to do the trip Via the St Lawrence do not forget that you will be entering Canada and returning to the US.
Check on the restrictions,

BTW getting from Lake Ontario to Lake Erie you have 2 options
1. The Niagara River but you will need a very large engine to get up Niagara Falls
2. Take the Welland Canal (A better option)
https://greatlakes-seaway.com/en/rec...e-craft-tolls/
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Old 12-01-2021, 18:32   #6
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Re: Newport, RI to Lake Erie - options for deep draft sailboat

I would try to get good info on the water depths that time of year. It is a much easier trip through the Erie than going the long way around.

In early summer there is a LOT of fog around the Maritime, radar would be a big help. And of course you will be going against the current for a very long time.

The tides and therefore tidal currents are pretty impressive, I believe about 17 feet at Quebec City.
The Erie Canal is a very pleasant trip, the St Lawrence more of an adventure.
Good Luck
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Old 13-01-2021, 06:30   #7
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Re: Newport, RI to Lake Erie - options for deep draft sailboat

Going through the NY Canals, you've got 2 choices. You could take the Eastern Erie Canal, Oswego Canal, down Lake Ontario and then through the Welland Canal. Or you could go all the way out the Erie Canal.



Depth-wise, either should be do-able. The Eastern Erie and Oswego have 14 feet over the lock sills, Western Erie has 12. You do find shallow spots at times in the canals, so you'd want to check the last reported depths on the Canal Corp site before going. But at 7.5 feet draft, it should absolutely be possible with proper planning.
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Old 13-01-2021, 10:37   #8
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Re: Newport, RI to Lake Erie - options for deep draft sailboat

You would be fine on the Canal if it opens on time. There is plenty of water for you and I think you would enjoy the trip.
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Old 13-01-2021, 12:03   #9
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Re: Newport, RI to Lake Erie - options for deep draft sailboat

I have done both and perhaps can help. I have 7 foot keel. 40 LOA.
I hit bottom a couple of times in the Champlain canal and only once in Erie Canal. My fault on Erie trying to get into a bar/resto with boat where water was thin on side of canal.
Conclusion, if you stay to the middle of the canal no problem. To be careful of the overhang of your mast when going in and out of locks and water coming into locks.


From Isles de la Madeleine QC to Great Lakes I found difficult with current. I went in 2017 in year of great floods. To Quebec City you are dealing with tidal currents which you just have to time. The bigger problem we found was that the wind was on the nose for the whole trip home to Kingston which made for difficult sailing. You think the St Lawrence is wide, until you try to sail it. Lots of shallow water. Especially Lac St Pierre and Lac St Francis. Also the current below locks in Cornwall is 7 knots. Thousand Islands can have some crazy currents as well.


I have said to my friends I would happily go down the St Lawrence again however I will never go up it again.


Conclusion: Take the Erie Canal. The only issue can be sleeping beside I 90 when beside the train tracks at night. Freight trains can shake your boat.
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Old 13-01-2021, 12:10   #10
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Re: Newport, RI to Lake Erie - options for deep draft sailboat

As others have said the St Lawrence option is a wonderful voyage. The people first of all make it special particularly in the Canadian Maritimes. The further one sails north along the North Atlantic seaboard the nicer it gets. If time and Covid allows Newfounland should not be missed. Having said that once around Nova Scotia you will be heading mostly upwind and upcurrent for many miles. Fog is a major issue early in the year and truth be told most of the rest of the year. If memory serves August is best but ti is a long time ago for us.

The tides help with the current if time can be taken. Commercial traffic including fishing boats can be relatively heavy. AIS helps of course but I am not sure if the fishing fleet is required to carry it down to the smallest vessels.

The Labrador current upwells at Quebec City and then flows back downstream with the river current meaning up to Quebec city it will be cold! Many whales.

All the other options require mast lowering.

If it is intended to rush and if mast removal is not a problem I would take the Erie canal route. If entry into Canada remains a problem your only choice is through Buffalo.

If you intend to return the trip down river especially later in the year and at a leisurely pace should not be missed.

The St Lawrence Seaway locks are the easiest we know of in the world. (And I think we have done most of them ��)

Enjoy the trip

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Old 13-01-2021, 12:53   #11
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Re: Newport, RI to Lake Erie - options for deep draft sailboat

I know you were asking about water depth and utilizing the Erie canal and there is a great deal of information that was provided by many people. However, one very important item was overlooked should you decide to go the Erie canal route vs the ST. Lawrence into Lake Ontario and then through the Welland Canal. That is if you take the Erie canal, you must remove the mast and either affix it to the boat or have it shipped. Not sure if you thought of this but this could be a deciding factor. It can be very difficult moving around on a boat with the mast/boom on the deck, not to mention the rigging and everything else. You stated you have a rather large boat so I am going to assume you have a mast that is 65-70 feet, maybe longer? If you do decide to go this route, there is a marina in Buffalo that can step the mast for you once you get there. You need to know though when you exit the Erie Canal and enter the Niagara river that you need to stay as far to the left (East) as possible until you get into the river lock as the water runs under the Peace bridge faster than the 8 knots your boat can do by engine. This can be a bit stressful but doable.
If you do decide to go through the Welland Canal, make sure you have LARGE bumpers as there are huge spots that the concrete on the side of the locks is missing! They offer hay/straw bales when you enter for just this purpose and a great number of people hire a captain for this stretch to be on the safe side.
Hope this helps
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Old 13-01-2021, 16:05   #12
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Re: Newport, RI to Lake Erie - options for deep draft sailboat

"there is a marina in Buffalo that can step the mast for you once you get there. You need to know though when you exit the Erie Canal and enter the Niagara river that you need to stay as far to the left (East) as possible until you get into the river lock as the water runs under the Peace bridge faster than the 8 knots your boat can do by engine. This can be a bit stressful but doable."


Actually there are several marina's that can restep your mast, Smith Boys in Tonawanda and RCR Yachts come to mind. From Tonawanda to Lake Erie you would take the Black Rock canal and there is really no problem transiting the Niagara River. We used to do it spring and fall from the storage yard in Tonawanda to the summer marina on Lake Erie with an O'Day 22 and 27. No one takes the river.



The trip across New York on the Erie is an adventure not to be missed. Book plenty of time for the history in the canal towns and develop the restaurant list to enjoy the trip. I have a friend who sailed around the world and I asked him the most terrifying moment, he said Lock 2 on the Welland Canal. I have transited the Welland several times and I didn't think it that bad.....but an idle across NY on the raging Erie is a whole lot more cruising fun.....jus sayin
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Old 13-01-2021, 18:53   #13
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Re: Newport, RI to Lake Erie - options for deep draft sailboat

Well, I suppose you could make the entire transit off shore, without landing. At least that is what I am hearing from others elsewhere on this site. Maybe contact the Governing authority and ask how it is done? Apparently if you don't drop anchor then you would not be entering into Canadian territory. That would be tough going up the St Lawrence. You would need to idle someplace until the tide turned.

I single handed Delaware to Shelbourne, NS in 7 days and it was an easy run. But thats a pretty long trip around NS and you could reasonably expect to hit some nasty weather.

If it is available to you you can take a “short cut” through the Canso Straights by locking through. Then you don't have to go around Cape Breton. Saves a day or two.

These covid travel restrictions really muck stuff up.

We did the Erie Canal later in the season and found the water thin in some place at 5’ 6”. Other people tell me I full of it and they may be correct. I personally would he careful of my timing.

Cheryl Barr wrote a very good guide about this trip. It is oriented for a CW movement but she gives St Lawrence guidance for both directions.

https://www.pilothousecharts.com/dow...cle-route.html
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Old 13-01-2021, 19:09   #14
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Re: Newport, RI to Lake Erie - options for deep draft sailboat

I asked essentially the same question last April. You may find good info here.

https://www.cruisersforum.com/forums...ns-232698.html

G
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Old 14-01-2021, 06:55   #15
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Re: Newport, RI to Lake Erie - options for deep draft sailboat

Quote:
Originally Posted by hpeer View Post
We did the Erie Canal later in the season and found the water thin in some place at 5í 6Ē. Other people tell me I full of it and they may be correct. I personally would he careful of my timing.

Shallow spots in the Erie are usually more about when there's an area in need of dredging (that they haven't gotten to yet) than time of year. Definitely good to check the latest reported depths before going. The Canal Corp reports depths at center channel and to both sides for areas that are below target depth.
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