Excitement on the Erie Canal

July 20. Day 15 on trip

When we woke this morning, it was 74 heavenly degrees.
We left at 755am to get as far as we could today without killing ourselves.

The excitement I’ll tell you about has to do with S/V Equinocci, a Swan 47′ or 50′ sailboat. They were on the wall just before the lock and one of the women called to us to, saying that they wanted to go in the lock first, so Phil did a 360 degree turn and then waited for them to enter the lock. They pulled up pretty far in the lock on the right side and then Phil said to grab the first 2 lines for us on the left side. This is an Up Lock, which means that the lock is filled with water and there is much more turbulence than when the water drains out of a lock. I also want to preface that there were two couples and a baby that was making happy noises down below on this boat. About half way thru the rising of water all of a sudden one of the women rushed to help the man on the bow to pull in on the line from the lock with what looked like all their strength. Then the boat shot out into the middle of the lock and the other woman helped the man at the helm pull on the line at the stern. Good thing that we were behind them and NOT on the wall across from them, as they would have ran into us probably causing damage and there was nothing we could have done to stop it. The boat did stay parallel to the wall so no harm was done. Phil said that the current grabbed on the keel and pulled it out there. The next lock, about a mile down the lock, they pulled in first too. This time they were hanging onto 3 lines from the lock walls and didn’t have any problems, but to be on the safe side, we kept Changes behind them again. When we exited the lock, they moved ahead slowly and then disappeared.

We tried to stop in Rome, NY to see Fort Stanwix but hit bottom and good. It took Phil backing up with high rpms and then going forward in high rpms after we had twisted around toward the center of the canal before we really starting moving. I’m sure this is just one of many times that we will hit if our last trip is anything to go by.

It rain hard this afternoon, so we collected about half a big bucket of water. Even though it has been cool enough we don’t need a shower today, I feel better knowing that I’m not using water we Jerry jug in for washing up.

It was after Lock 20 in Marcy, NY that we stared seeing more debris and many more trees knocked down either by winds or from the high waters. With the rain coming down, we had to be extra vigilant to make sure we didn’t hit any of them. As we were approaching lock 19, there was a lot of canal equipment, barges, tugs, and dredging pipes to pass through. We also saw S/V Equinocci who kept getting bigger and bigger. Lock 19 tender radioed to Phil that they were aground and for us to pass them off their bow keeping to the right side of the canal. We made it through, but we touched bottom twice, once on the harder side with 1.5 ft water under the keel most of the time. Fortunately for the other boat, one of the canal tugs was coming to pull them off. Phil speculates that they have at least a 7′ deep draft.



We went through Lock 19 alone. The lock tender warned us about someone saying that they hit a log at green marker 555 and even though we were careful, we did hit a submerged tree halfway between green mark 553 and 555 in the middle of the canal and we were in 14′ of water. I radioed to the lock tender to give him a location of the tree, but no response. We passed a sailboat going westbound and radioed to him about the tree. You can see by the grayish color on some of the leaves how high the water had been.


After passing Ilion Marina and Herkimer, NY where we had stopped last trip, I had a Erie Canal cruise boat come up behind us just when we had to go through a narrow area from shoaling. Soon it was Phil’s turn at the helm and shortly after he took over, the cruise boat passed us by and we entered lock 18. Having tourists on board the cruise boat, we were the subject of intense scrutiny and photos both as we were passed and while in the lock. Good thing that all went well and the cruise ship turned around to go through the lock, up this time.


We continued on and went through Lock 17. This is the lock that the lift gate goes over the boat instead of opening like a door. I had tried to videotape the opening of the lift gate, but ran out of data on my SD card. Bummer! After exiting the lock we stopped on the wall just east of the lock. We were both tired and ready to stop. I fixed one pot spaghetti and we have enough leftover for another meal.

We are planning to get to Amsterdam tomorrow to visit some cruising friends. The plan is to call them 2 hrs before we get there. We expect that it will take us 2 traveling days before we come to the end of the Erie Canal in Waterford, NY. There we get 2 days free docking, so I’m sure we will take advantage of it. Then onto the Hudson River part of this trip.

So you may laugh at this part, and go ahead. I’ve been wearing pants all day and mostly a short and long sleeve shirt and once the foul weather coat even when it wasn’t raining, just because 76F with a breeze felt cool to me. We’re both glad that we had the windshield back on the dodger. We are already down below in the salon because it’s cold with the solid hatch board in place. It’s a whole 74F! But remember, that’s 25 degrees lower than what we’ve been living with these last several days. It’s to get in the mid 50’s tonight, so I’m sure to get out the quilts again.

On a side note at 630pm, the Canadian boat that was aground came out of Lock 17 and wished us best luck. They are continuing on to the next lock. Who knows if we’ll see them again or not, but it’s good to know they did get pulled off and are ok.

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