We found Sal…on the Erie Canal

Brockport, NY; Location: 43 12.9N, 77 56.4W
Posted by Bill

Today was the first full day on the Erie Canal. We got started around 8:30 with decent weather, but it deteriorated rapidly into rain and drizzle with 15 knot winds and 52 degree temps…booshit! Fortunately, several years ago we purchased quality Gill foul weather gear, complete with pants, coats and West Marine boots. It was a miserable day to hand steer the boat for 8 hours. We were trying to make it to the “award winning welcome center” at Brockport, NY to enjoy nice facilities and the town of Brockport.

After several hours of motoring, we came to our first set of locks. Each took us down approximately 25 feet. The Erie Canal system has a total of 34 locks, runs 338 miles and drops a total of 572 feet from Lake Erie to sea level. The lock process goes like this: When you get a green light, motor in to the lock and grab the lines on the lock wall. One person grabs at the bow (front of the boat) and the other grabs at the stern (back of the boat). Some locks have fixed lines or cables that you wrap your lines around, and most of them have dangling lines that you just grab on to. Then the water goes up or down depending on which direction you are headed.

Descending in the lock.
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Doors opening…get the HELL OUT!
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Then we encountered a series of lift bridges. You have to contact the lift operator on the marine radio and request a lift. Then they stop traffic, lift the bridge and you can go under. If you don’t wait until the bridge is completely up and a green light comes on, you get yelled at…don’t ask how I know.

Lift bridge.
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Look…we made it to the big apple!!!
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After we made it to the big apple we saw apple orchards for at least 15 miles along the canal. Wish I could have picked some.

After 8.5 hours of motoring, we made it to Brockport. Unfortunately, this time of year the lift bridges close at 5 PM. Because the bridges made us wait for a slower power boat at each bridge (can you believe a power boat slowing down a sail boat…for the love of god…what is the world coming to?), we didn’t make the bridge at Brockport; and instead of luxury accommodations with electric and restrooms, we are tied to a rough concrete wall with no amenities…Booooo, Hisssss! Ahhhh, but no dock fees.

And look…we found Sal (the mule from the Erie Canal song – Google it if you are too young to know what I am talking about, people)
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