Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Navigating the Erie Canal

We left Shady Harbor Marina on July 19th to begin our much delayed trip through the Erie Canal with our two crew mates. Dylan had thousands of miles under his harness although only minor experience in locks. Dee Dee was a newbie but ready to learn the ropes from the first mate.

She quickly learned one of the most important functions of being a member of the canine crew.

We've had to make a few minor modifications including protecting the shoes on the cockpit from puppy teeth. Note, we raise them a rung or so every week as Dee Dee continues to grow like a weed.

The pilothouse trashcan has been moved to the helm table.

Dee Dee is still learning that a dog bed is for sleeping in and not tearing the bottom out of.

Dylan has taken her under his wing but reminds her that the first mate spot below the helm still belongs to him. Well, mostly.

Thus far we have traveled through 31 locks and risen over 450 feet.

And as for those low bridges, this crew hardly bats an eye anymore.

Yes, the scenery is beautiful and the cruising is peaceful and easy. But what has been the best part is the many towns we have visited and the people we have met. In most every stop we make we are warmly greeted and told about what to see and events that are happening. We've had mayors grab our lines and while we haven't received the keys to any cities, we've been given peppermint oil and fresh veggies, and local maple syrup, and even Frisbees for the four-footed crew members.

Dee Dee attended her first concert on the green in Lyons.

Quickly followed by a second one we enjoyed from our cockpit in Newark.

She also received her final puppy shots from a vet we walked to from the Newark docks.

They're a hard working crew and we don't know how we'd get along without them. We do grueling days of 1, 2, sometimes 3 hours of cruising. It's a quick rest when they get in and then they have to perform on the bow for the local admirers.

It's a hard life...


Leigh said...

I love the photos of Dee Dee striking the same pose as Dylan! And Dylan looks a little miserable in those photos where Dee Dee is cuddling with him, but I bet he'd miss her if she weren't there. Dylan, what a good, patient teacher you are!

xoxo from the Blue Dog crew

Freedom said...

We always enjoy your posts, but we are reading with great interest this summer as we begin to plan doing the Loop next year aboard our Selene 53. Why did you decided to take the full Erie Canal route instead of the Trent Severn? Depth? Height? or just personal preference?

MV Red Head said...

Martha, there are a few reasons we decided to do the entire Erie Canal, and we're exceedingly happy we did.

First, as we were planning over last winter, we realize that there is so much do to in every one of the little towns along the canal. This is especially true on the western half past the Oswego Canal where few cruising boats seem to go. We've been designing something new for ActiveCaptain/eBoatCards for 2014 involving Activities and Attractions (A&A) - it's a new type of media that will be available for everyone. The ideas we have for those A&A's perfectly solved all the issues we had with planning the Erie Canal trip - it was impossible to figure out what there was to do and when it was happening. So we contacted some organizations along the canal and some towns and they were all very interested in helping us build this new capability. That's why we've been meeting with mayors, chambers-of-commerce, and other development groups. We'll be talking much more about A&A's in upcoming months. It greatly extends all the other data we keep and makes cruise planning more than mileage plans - it should be about finding fun/interesting things to do.

Next, depths on the Trent Severn were a little low. We'd seen reports of some places having 5' of water. We draw almost 6' and it just wouldn't have been fun this year. Instead, the Erie Canal is about 12' everywhere with interesting locks and a free dock/wall/town to stay at almost every night. We had to fold our arch to get down to 15' but that was very easy and hasn't been a problem at all.

The more we looked into it, the Erie Canal is a great destination in and of itself for cruising. The Trent-Severn, etc was really more part of the traditional "Loop". We really think the Erie Canal could easily be a great summer cruising area - just going out to the end and back or around through the various paths to get back to the Hudson River.

Finally, there aren't too many larger boats that go all the way to Buffalo - we attract quite a lot of crowds which the dogs love. We wanted to show that it's easy. We've done time-lapse videos every day we've moved and in a few months, anyone can see exactly what it looks like (in high speed) to travel the entire canal.

Our goal was never to just "do the loop" as a checkoff item. This is all a place that we'll come back to in the future.

Anonymous said...

If you are currently coming across L. Erie on the US side, email me at paulasue1@aol.com. We'd love to have you stop in at Bay Point Marina, Marblehead, Ohio on your way to the Erie Islands.

Paula Sue Russell
M/V Ocean Breeze

Freedom said...

Thank you for your quick response. My family in Buffalo would be thrilled if we took the full Erie Canal route, but I don't think we will meet the height restrictions even with our arch down.
Enjoy the ride, we'll be traveling along with you via your blog.

Sheila and Bill Corbett said...

So how did you get the shot of A Capella from above? Drone cam?

MV Red Head said...

No, we don't have a drone yet although that's a cool idea - we have the GoPro for it!

People along the Erie Canal are wonderful. We've met so many. One followed us ahead and took that picture after we had crossed a bridge and then emailed it to us. We ran into him again on Monday in another town (he's a member of Canal NY and there was a meeting in Spencerport). I asked him about the picture. He said that he knows that spot to go and take pictures of boats that come through - he then mails them so boaters have a good memory of their time on the canal. I had no idea he was going to take that picture but we hit a perfect day for it just after a light rain with glassy smooth waters.

sailmakai said...

We passed you in Cape May a few months ago and use Active Captain all the time. We're currently in the Buffalo area visiting family and would love to hook up.

Jackie and Eric
Roy, Genoa & Marie
Topaz our Golden Retriever


MV Red Head said...

Jackie, Eric and crew,

We left Buffalo this morning, took Dee Dee on her first open voyage trip on Lake Erie and we're now anchored in Dunkirk - Dee Dee's first night at anchor. Sorry we missed you.

sailmakai said...

How long will you be in Dunkirk? That is about a half hour away from us.


MV Red Head said...

Hi Jackie - we're anchored behind the breakwater in Dunkirk just for the night - we're blasting through Lake Erie to make up the time we lost when the Erie Canal was shut down. We'll be back - there's a lot we'd like to explore around here.

How much of an issue are weeds in Lake Erie? We felt really uncomfortable pulling into this harbor with both depth sounders jumping around. I hate having to rely on charts - we draw 6' but it seems that Lake Erie is up a couple of feet currently. Are weeks like this common?

sailmakai said...

Sorry, can't help with the weed issue. We've never had our boat this far north.


SMILES said...

What brand of harness are you using on your dogs?