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Western Erie Canal trip

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 
I just completed a two week trip on the western portions of the Erie and Seneca Canals. Our departure point was North Tonawanda NY and our point of turnaround was Watkins Glen NY on the south end of Seneca Lake. The trip included the western dug portions of the canal and the wild sections to the junction of the Seneca Canal with the Eire Canal. We proceeded up the Seneca Canal and cruised a portion of Cuyuga Lake and proceeded on through the Seneca Canal into Seneca Lake and cruised to the south end of the lake to Watkins Glen.

We launched our trawler at a public launch site on the Niagara River just north of North Tonawanda and then stored our Van, trailer and an additional car at East Pier Marina. East Pier Marina gave us a price of $20.00 per week for storage. That was the best that we found for storage were we knew the van and trailer could be safely left.

My wife and I did the first week over to Watkins Glen and then my Mother, brother-in-law and Sister picked up my wife’s car in North Tonawanda and drove my wife’s car to Watkins Glen. My wife departed from Watkins Glen to return for work and that solved the car shuttle problem as my extended family had left their vehicle at North Tonawanda. This whole arrangement worked very well.

The total distance traveled was 432 statue miles in 14 days. This was a pace averaging 31 miles a day. We were all early risers and tended to get underway by 8:00 AM. We were generally docked again by early afternoon. This pace left us plenty of time to use bikes to explore the towns and countryside along the way. I did not feel rushed at this pace but would go slower if I had unlimited time.

The western portions of the Erie Canal have got to be Americas best kept vacation secret. The facilities are generally free. There was no lack of places to tie up and no lack of grocery stores or restaurants. The fee services along the way included free dockage, electric, water, pumpout and showers. It was peak season and we only passed about 8 boats a day.

The people along the western Erie Canal are very laid back and friendly. With my boat’s unusual character I had no lack of people to talk to along the way. Hearing about what was around you from other people greatly added to the enjoyment of the trip.

Wildlife was abundant along the way. We discovered early on that slowing the boat to a speed of 5.5mph made a big difference is whether the critters scattered or not. At the slow speeds, turtles frogs and small wading birds would stay put. There were many areas that we went slower to view wildlife. We saw everything from coyotes and osprey to snapping turtles and shrews.

There is a bike path that follows the banks of the Erie for better than 100 of those miles. Various members of my crew were usually riding the bike path along the way. The boat acts as a good support vessel as the bikers do not have to carry drinks. Those drinks can be easily thrown to the biker on the path from the cockpit of the boat. There were many places where a tired biker could signal to get back onto the boat. Other bikers along the way did not have it as good.

My boat has always been a very seaworthy open water boat but it proved to be an even better canal boat. It really is ideal for either open water or canal use. The major drawback is that the speed is the same in either case, 8mph max.

Our total Hobbs time on the hour meter was 67 hours. This included idle time, docking, locking, slowing down to see things, slowing for no wake zones and waiting for lift bridges. This gave us an average speed of 6.45 smph

Our total fuel burn was 37 gallons for the entire trip. This included head winds about 60% of the time and currents. In other words it is real time cruising numbers. This gave us a mileage of 11.6 smpg. Insidently, these figures represent a 38% increase in mileage over the old engine I had in the boat last year. The cheapest fuel I saw was $2.70 per gallon and the most expensive was $2.94. We did not buy fuel on this trip.

Our total costs were

$50.00 Locking fee
$30.00 Guide books
$120.00Docking/ pumpouts (all at Tonawanda or Seneca Lake)
$ 85.00 Fuel for boat
$ 103.00Fuel for Van to pull boat
$ 25.00 Fishing License
$ 10.00 Fuel filter
$ 35.00Fees to see things and go places
$ 40.00 Vehicle storage

Our total for two weeks was $ 498.00. We ate the same as at home and the costs were not significantly different. We ate in restaurants about 4 or 5 times. That is about what we do at home.

Pictures can be seen at http://groups.msn.com/TrawlerMV/piouspuffin.msnw
post #2 of 3
Great report, the pictures are beautiful, it brought back memories....where did your family sleep most of the time?

post #3 of 3
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by Ott Gangl
Great report, the pictures are beautiful, it brought back memories....where did your family sleep most of the time?

We tied up every night and put on the back enclosure so we could run the AC throughout the boat. I have a very large v berth, the dinette converts into a bunk and we had an extra set up at night in the cockpit. During the day everything extra went into the V berth. I worked out great without being to cramped. I have more room than and express cruiser by far.

Labor day weekend we are looking into doing the Muskingham river and its 10 ancient hand locks. This is suppose to be the most interesting and scenic tributary on the Ohio system. There are presently draft problems in places but no lock closures below Ellis. I have a relatively shallow draft with a very well protected prop. The entire Muskingham river corridor is an Ohio state park. Its 120 miles long. We will probably put in at Ellis or Zanesville.

Our other choice is to launch in Berlin lake or West Branch reservior for the Weekend. There is an outside chance of Salmon fishing off Frankfort Mi.
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