Silver Maple Blog

Retirement adventures Canadian style

Travelling through the Oswego and Erie Canals in New York State


Finally… we are back in a location with internet!!!

THURSDAY, AUGUST 23rd — DAY 2 (Rochester, NY to Oswego, NY)

The trip from Rochester, NY to Oswego, NY along the south shore of Lake Ontario is 50 miles, which would take us about 8 hours. So, we got an early start from Rochester. Still eating breakfast as we pulled away from the dock, Randy commented that it looked calm so we could finish our morning activities on the water.  Famous last words.  That day, Lake Ontario had the biggest swells we’d ever seen.  I commented that the lake was prepping us for being on the ocean. On the bright side, we had enough wind to sail for a few hours. We even flew the new red and yellow gennaker.

Gennaker on the front of Silver Maple

Leo, the boat dog, in his lifejacket

As we approached, Oswego, NY, the dominant feature was the view of the nuclear cooling tower. The marina in Oswego, NY was virtually invisible until you were next to it.  It was tucked away in a small bay just off the river/canal and was almost entirely filled with local fishermen.

Jackson pointing out the nuclear cooling tower as we approach Oswego, NY on Lake Ontario

Most others at the marina were sailboats like us, waiting to have their masts stepped (taken down) in order to get down the canal and under the low bridges along the way.  As soon as we arrived, Randy began eyeing the mast support structures on the other boats.  These wooden supports would hold the mast on our deck as we travel through the canal and locks.  Although he had already built much of it before we left Cobourg, he was concerned that it wasn’t ‘beefy’ enough compared to others he was seeing at dockside. Randy and Jackson worked late into the evening building new supports using lumber left from other boats.

Randy and Jackson building the support for the mast to travel with us — so we fit under bridges on the canal

FRIDAY, AUGUST 24th — DAY 3 (Oswego, NY — Stepping the Mast)

The day started early as the fisherman in Oswego started up their diesel engines around 5:30AM to head out for the day.  By 7AM, Randy and Jackson were back at the construction of the support structure for the mast.  It was a brutally hot day at 80 to 90 degrees. By mid-day we were ready and the removal and placement of the mast in the supports went off without issue.

The crew hard at construction of supports

Mast coming down

Putting the mast on the supports

Nearly done!

SATURDAY, AUGUST 25th — DAY 4 (Oswego Canal — Oswego, NY to Pirates Cove Marina, near Clay, NY)

We were up early again (thanks to the fisherman), so Randy and Jackson did final preparation and securing of the mast and lines and we were off.  The first lock on the canal and was a bit scary, but we handled it without incident.  It took us up in elevation 10 feet.  We did 7 locks our first day, lifting us in elevation in total around 117 ft.

Entering our first lock on the Oswego Canal

Silver Maple in the Lock (photo taken by the boat behind us)


Between locks, Jackson piloted the boat along the canal, giving Randy a bit of a break. Leo was bored. Our plan was to stop at a town called Phoenix, NY, but when we got to the dock it was full, so we carried on.  We settled on a marina called Pirates Cove. It was still horribly hot (around 90 degrees F) as we arrived at the marina, so the guys hit the pool for a swim. Then, dinner in the marina restaurant outside on the patio.

The ‘Nautiboy’ and ‘Nautigirl’!

Quiet canal

Leo is bored

Jackson at the helm

GPS keeps sounding alarms because it thinks we are on ground

Silver Maple at Pirates Cove Marina

Dinner at Dox, at Pirates Cove

SUNDAY, AUGUST 26th — DAY 5 (Clay, NY to Lock 20)

At 6AM, Lee and Leo went for their daily run. Another cool morning. The days have been starting cool and then heating up hard and fast.  By the time the run was over and we were cleaned up, it was time to head out.  We were careful pulling away from the dock, since the owner had mentioned the day before that there was a sand bar just near the mouth of the bay.  The boat was very sluggish as we pulled out. The bay was very weedy, and although Randy made a number of attempts to get the weeds off the keel and prop by reversing the boat, the thumping of the engine made it clear that we were still covered.  Jackson ‘took one for the team’ and went into the murky green water to clean off the prop under the boat.  Yuck!  But, it worked and we were underway again. We did one lock and then headed across Lake Oneida. Although the lake was a little rough when we started out (we’d been warned to avoid rough weather on the lake with the mast still supported on the boat), the winds died down as we crossed. The lake was busy with weekend boaters from the cottages that jammed every inch of the shore. At the far side of the lake, we passed through busy Silverton Beach, with boats, people, carnival, rollercoaster. You get the picture.  We headed on to Lock 20. It was in a quiet area with a good wall to tie up and a nice park area for Leo.

Crossing Lake Oneida

Using the KPMG Government team gift. Thanks!!

Busy day on the Lake Oneida

Silver Maple settled at Lock 20

MONDAY, AUGUST 27th — DAY 6 (Lock 20 to Little Falls, NY)

We decided to have a short day, and stop at a town called Little Falls that was referred to in our guide books as the ‘jewel of the Erie Canal.’ Again the day started off cool but got hot and sticky. Hurricane Irene that came through the area last year, severely damaged many parts of the canal which was closed for repairs for months. We passed dredgers along the way, who were continuing to do repairs.

Dredging the canal

By 1pm we were in Little Falls, NY . We walked into town in the over 90 degree F heat only to find that many of the business close on Mondays. So, we did some grocery shopping, made a short stop at the hardware store and headed back to the boat a bit disappointed.  By 8PM it started to rain, a welcome relief from the heat.  It rained all night.

Little Falls visit into town

Little Falls

TUESDAY, AUGUST 28th — DAY 7 (Little Falls, NY to Schenectady, NY)

When Lee and Leo headed out for the morning run, the rain had stopped. But by the time they got back, the rain had started again.  We decided to wait for the weather to clear before heading out. Handling the boat in locks standing on a slippery deck wouldn’t be safe.  But, by 8:30AM the sun was shining so we pushed off. The first lock we hit, just outside of town, was the largest change in elevation we’d done at 40ft.  But going down is much easier than going up, and since we were now dropping with each lock as we approach the Hudson River, the locks were becoming pretty routine.

Leaving the ‘big’ lock at Little Falls

Along the way, we passed more dredgers. We passed Fonda, NY (where Henry Fonda was born) and Amsterdam, NY (where Kirk Douglas was born). All the towns along the way seemed like they had seen better days. The area appeared fairly depressed and experiencing hard times as much of the manufacturing has moved out.  We pushed on and did a long day in order too hit Schenectady, NY which was recommended to us by one of the lock masters. The yacht club in Schenectady was cute, with some stone cliffs across the river. It had a pool, but after the long day, none of us had the energy to use it. we ordered Chinese food from a local restaurant that delivers to boats and recommended to us by the marina manager.  Yummy!

Leo is still bored

On the way to Schenectady

You know you are moving slow when the running on the path next to the canal is keeping up!

GE sign as we enter Schenectady, NY

Settled in Schenectady, NY

3 thoughts on “Travelling through the Oswego and Erie Canals in New York State

  1. S0 glad to hear from you. Boy it looks like a lot of work for you guys. Randy looks sunburned on his face. I know Mom and our grandparents are watching over you. I have been really tuned to the weather. Poor Leo. Love the pictures sent. It has been rather nice weather here this weekend, rain forecast for Tues. Joe is having trouble with his back. Ugh!! You must be excited for getting those supports built, Thank God Jackson is with you to help out.
    Chips and Chicken (High Fat) what’s with that. A treat I know with everything closed. Look forward to your updates. Keep them coming. Amazing.

    Love Joan

  2. Hi Joan! Yes treating ourselves plenty on this trip!!
    Take care and keep in touch!

  3. Lee, Randy, Jackson & Leo.

    Lynda & I really enjoyed hearing the details of your day to day travels. This sounds like a lot of fun…where are you now? Where are you planning to spend your winter (Jackson in Guelph)?

    Please include us in your travels


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