Friday, July 29, 2005

The Welland Canal and Beyond

Hello to all! It's been awhile since we've been able to hook up to the internet. Thanks to the Sodus Bay,NY Yacht Club we are up and blogging! We are still a little challenged by trying to mix text with pics so read on and know that the pictures are at the end of this blog. Enjoy and we look forward to comments as usual.


OK. So we’ve talked about this for years. Which route should we go? The Mississippi? The Great Lakes? Larry said you could take the Welland Canal from Erie to Ontario. Hmmmm. Captain K said that the Great Lakes route is better. “You’ll enjoy it more.”

So today is Sunday, July 24, 2005 and we just traversed the Welland in 6 and ½ hours. Perhaps a record. Actually being a sail boat we slowed down the two power boaters bookending us. What a great experience. The nightmares of having our lines hung up and Enee Marie dangling 20 feet above water level were prevalent, especially after single-handed Mike said that the locks lower 47 feet in 11 seconds! When we actually arrived at the public dock in Port Colbourne and signed in to begin the trip we were very excited and anxious.

A very friendly power boat ahead of us lead the way. Every bridge did open for us and every lock gently and slowly lowered us to the next level. Lock 8 (going backwards from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario) was only a 2 foot drop. A tease. The next 7 locks dropped 45+ feet each. The first one was quite impressive. Wait a minute. What about the spreaders? Will they scrape the wall? I guess not since we didn’t even think about them until the 4th lock.

How do they work anyway?!? The worker dude said that Lake Erie graciously sends her waters to Lake Ontario. And I guess somehow this makes it all work. For the first 6 of the 8 locks, the doors were open for arrival. As we entered the lock the dock crew was ready to hand each of us a 100 foot coil of line and ready us for the decent. Each line is looped over a large bollard. As the boat lowers we simply pay out line and fend off. Typically you can watch your depth sounder go from 75 feet to about 30 in 3-4 minutes.

Only the last two locks showed closed doors as we approached. It is so weird to see horizon, lock door, and tree tops. At one point we had 10 minutes to wait for a freighter to arrive on its upbound journey. This was a double lock with an upbound lock and us in the downbound lock. The ship’s bow and stern were still visible even though her hull was 45+ feet below us. Captain Dino, the lock chief, said that we could walk on shore if we wanted while we were waiting. Sue was tempted to jump up and take a photo of the disjointed horizon and huge freighter trapped in the lock, but the step was a bit too much. She wasn’t ready to leave the mother ship at this point.

As we completed the last lock and cruised our way to Lake Ontario we had dropped about 350 feet and were at the level of the bottom of Niagara Falls. We headed to Youngstown, NY where the Niagara River flows into Lake Ontario. It was a beautiful sail from Port Weller to Youngstown. It only lasted an hour but nice. Nice to not hear the engine! As you enter the Niagara River you see Fort Niagara on the eastern shore. Don’t know any history about this fort yet…but we probably will.

When you head up the channel toward the canal you wonder where do I pay...Then you figure it out!

As you enter the lock all you see is a wharf and some closed doors at the far end. Nothing really suggests that you are about to be lowered 45 feet!

Beginning the downward trek. All the canal men are very friendly and curious about our trip.

We pay out line and fend off on the way down. It's actually very easy.

Near the end of a 'drop' We were way up there when it started!

1 comment:

Jason said...

Very nice, but I think it would have made a better story had you just decided to go over the Niagra Falls. Strap on a barrel and take the plunge!