For someone who is researching a canal passage, I offer the following as information that would have been helpful for me in my planning stage.
1. Get the canal cruising guide from the NY state canal web site. It was helpful but it also had a few errors. All of the mileage stated is in statue miles, but it doesn’t say that.
2. Keep in mind that after Sept 11 the lock and bridge hours are shortened to 7 AM to 5 PM. This put an unexpected restriction on the miles we could cover in a day.
3. Expect that the lock and bridge operators will make you wait for slower boats before they will let you proceed.
4. The planning method that worked best for us was to look at the nautical miles between locks first. Figure a 50 mile day maximum and plan on 20 minutes per lock that you are going to have to go through. Then look at where you can stay in the area that you end up based on the calculations.
5. The eastern half of the canal doesn’t have near the accommodations and charm of the cities as the western half.
6. The marinas that are in the cruising guide between lock 25 and 24 are not deep or large enough to accommodate a sailboat or powerboat over… say… 30 feet. If you can’t make lock 24 before it closes or dark, stay tied to lock 25 for the night.
7. If you are going to build your own mast support, bring the lumber with you. The yards run out of stuff that people left, and you cannot get to a store that sells what you need unless you rent a car. You can always opt to have the yard build it for you, and then they have to get the wood.
8. You could probably anchor in Cross Lake or Oneida, but otherwise anchoring is not an option.