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The Erie Canal and Oswego Canal

(Photos taken June 16 - June 19, 1999.)

The Birkenstocks joined us for the Erie Canal, Lake Ontario and Welland Canal portion of our trip.  They are wonderful traveling companions and we had a good time together.  They are also knowledgeable boaters and were really helpful.  It was a joy having them along.  Here we celebrate getting together with a rare bottle of white Chateau Neuf du Pape which we had brought along for a special occasion.

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Before we begin the photos on the Erie Canal, a few pictures to talk about locking.   Locks are a big part of the Erie Canal. In most locks you tie up to lines along one wall or the other.  These lines are usually provided by the lock and you loop them through a cleat on the boat and either take in line or let it out as you go up or down.   There is usually turbulence in the lock since a lot of water is moving.  It can be a job to control the boat (minimize damage).  We use lots of very large fenders.

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In some locks (wish it were all) there is another system which consists of a cable (as in this picture) or a pipe which extends from the top of the lock to the bottom.  In these locks we loop a short length of line around the wire and tie it off on the boat.   The boat is held in short reign, and simply moves up or down as water level changes.  This is much less work on all of us, but unfortunately only exists in 15% or so, of the locks, so far.

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In this photo you can see the line around the wire.  As the water surges in, Interlude would put tremendous strain on the wire, but it is designed to hold, and it did.

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Here is a view of a large lock.  Note the ledge at the other end.  The water rises to the top of this lock, and it isn't important that the doors on the high pool (high end of the lock) extend to the bottom of the low pool (low end of the dock), so the put a concrete step at the end and the doors then need extend only part way down.   When the lock is full, there will be more than enough depth for Interlude to pass over the step without problem.

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Here is a photo of the pipe system, which we think is the best of all since it minimizes the chafing of lines which the wire system encourages.

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Here is a better view.  Note how short we keep the line between the pipe and the boat.  This minimizes boat movement in the lock.

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Now, returning to the Erie Canal.  We leave Troy, NY and pass through the Federal Lock on the Hudson River is preparation to enter the Erie Canal.  This is a view of the entrance to the Federal Lock.

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This sign points to Lake Champlain or the Erie Canal.  We were too tall for the Lake Champlain  route, and we wanted to do the Erie Canal anyway, so we went left.  

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Throughout the Canal are "guard gates"  These are moveable walls which can be lowered to stop the flow of water through the canal in case a lock breaks open.   We passed through a number of these guard gates which were normally in the open position.

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Our first night on the canal was at the Crescent Boat Club.  It was one of the few facilities which had 50 amp service.  They were very friendly people.

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While the Canal passes through relatively rural countryside, we still found signs of civilization.  But there was no dock, and Bill's offer to dingy ashore for a stack of Big Macs was rejected by all aboard. We've become such food snobs.

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Maintenance along the canal is done via small work boats (foreground).  The crew live on these dormitory boats (behind the workboats).

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Some areas of the Canal were very wooded and almost secluded.  Since speeds are kept at 8 knots, the engines were also quiet and it was very enjoyable.

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One lock lifted us more than 40 feet.  Because the walls around the lock were very tall, we entered via this gate which was lifted for us.  To put it in scale, the gate in 22 feet tall.

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This is an interesting view of a railroad bridge crossing the Canal at an oblique angle with a small lock just behind it.

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This is a closer view of the same.

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In the locks we had to work hard.  Here Bob Birkenstock labors with a cup of coffee.  How did he get to be the supervisor? (Never let it be said we don't treat our guests well!)

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The Canal staff tend each lock with loving care--usually well-painted, with flowers planted all around.  The lockmasters work almost exclusively with pleasure boaters (100,000 pass through the system each year) and are friendly, helpful, and pleasant.

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We spent two days at Ess-Kay Marina doing maintenance and some repairs.  George is a gracious host and this ranks as one of our best stays yet.

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Along the Erie Canal we would spot people on holiday.  Here, folks have tied up the boat to the bank, and are enjoying the warm (???) water.

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At the midpoint of the Erie Canal, we turn north and enter the Oswego Canal because Interlude is too tall to complete the Erie Canal all the way to Buffalo.  We'll get to Buffalo via the Oswego Canal, Lake Ontario, the Welland Canal, and Lake Erie.  The sign in the picture points us in the right direction to find the Oswego Canal.

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We passed a wedding and gave them a long salute on the horns.  They responded with waves and a champagne salute.

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A typical view as we come up to civilization in a lock.

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The end of the Oswego Canal.  As we pass the lighthouse, we enter beautiful Lake Ontario.

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