The New York Rivers, Canals, Lakes and Locks!

June 17 – 23, 2019

June 17 – Waterford NY to Port Edwards City Dock (39 miles)

June 18 – Port Edwards to Whitehall free City Dock (22 miles)

June 19 – Whitehall entering Lake Champlain to Five Mile Point Anchorage (28 miles)

June 20 – 21  Five Mile Pointe Anchorage to Point Bay Marina, Charlotte, VT (28 miles)

June 22 & 23 – Point Bay Marina up Lake Champlain to Rouse’s Point/Gaines Marina (54 miles)

 Miles traveled this blog:  171

Total Miles traveled: 5,901

Add Vermont as our 18th and final Loop State.  VT runs the east shore of the length of Lake Champlain.

After a three day stay in Waterford with Looping boats everywhere, most of us pulled out on Monday morning after a long day of rain.   The majority of boats  headed across the Erie Canal but Melody in Sea and Namaste decided to take the “road less traveled” and headed up Lake Champlain. Our cyclist friends biking around the country took off for their next stop – Syracuse. (You can read Connie’s blog at

      Five of the six boats that would eventually fill this early morning lock on their way out the Erie Canal.

Now for a word about locking through.  Because we will be in narrow rivers and canals for awhile, this is where the man-made locks come in handy.   Locks are basically a large chamber that raises and lowers boats when the elevation of the land changes and where there would otherwise be a rapids – not an exciting sight for the average boater.

A spill dam next to the lock that indicates where the rapids would be if not for the lock.

All that separates us from the waterfall and rapids is a couple of rocks and an engine to keep us moving forward!

When we approach a lock , we wait for the lock master to prep the chamber which means to fill or empty it to the level where we currently sit.  She then opens the huge doors, we slowly maneuver on to one wall or the other and secure the boat with lines hanging down or with our own lines looped (no pun intended) around a pipe or cable.  Once all boats are secure, the water either rushes in or drains out depending upon which direction we are going.  The range for locks so far has been up or down 2 to 90 feet!  The current caused by the change in water levels  can bounce us around but by hanging on we usually manage to keep the boat parallel to the wall and out of the way of the other sometimes quite nearby boats.  When we reach the desired water level the doors open at the other end of the chamber, we push off the slimy, grimy walls and pull out in the order in which we entered.

We are secure – see me  in the green waving?!  Those are clothespins on Melody at the top of the picture.

Jim talking to one of the many friendly lock masters along the way.

That is how it goes on a perfect day.  However, any number of things can create chaos including wind, placement of boats in the chamber, inability to catch a line or cable, too much turbulence, inattention to hanging on, etc. so sometimes the picture is prettier than others.   While the locks can be difficult and not our favorite part, we surely couldn’t do this trip without them.

A word or two about the New York Canal System which is over two hundred years old and a national treasure.  This is a system consisting of four canals for a total of 524 miles:  Erie (338 miles), Champlain Canal (60 miles), Oswego Canal (24 miles), and the Cayuga-Seneca Canal (12 miles).  These mighty canals connect with rivers and lakes for over 800 miles of waterway within the state of New York requiring lots and lots of locks.  Vessels of all sizes and shapes utilize this amazing system for recreation and commerce.  In 1992 the system was reorganized, renamed, and given new life through the State’s commitment to it’s upkeep  and well-being.

Mr. Blue Heron standing inside a lock fishing for his dinner.

Thus, this blog entry is all about the canals and locks.  The beginning of the Champlain Canal was at Waterford and went to Whitehall or about 60 miles.  It was a narrow, rural, quiet passage with a total of 11 locks over two days.  As a part of  the canal system’s charm  and perhaps to encourage tourism, the little towns along the way (Waterford, Port Edwards, and Whitehall) offered a free dock which often included power and water with bathrooms and showers for a nominal fee.  We managed the locks reasonably well but were tired each night and very happy to be finished for awhile.

Reaching Whitehall and the end of the Champlain Canal.  Enjoyed a lovely day here with picnics and a delicious coffee shop lunch for $11.

Foreground is a war memorial.  Top of the picture is a castle nestled in the hills.  Unfortunately only open for tours on F, S, and S from 12-4.  We were there on a Tuesday.

Again, note the mansion above our heads and the Champlain canal where we will lock through in the morning.

Docked behind Melody in Sea at Port Edwards free dock, Sammy awaits our return from an early morning coffee planning meeting.

As we exited lock #12, we entered the beautiful Lake Champlain (109 miles long).  Sometimes resembling a river, then  widening to 9 miles and eventually narrowing back into what is called the Inland Sea with islands and beautiful anchorages.

Namaste following the faster Melody in Sea into Lake Champlain.

The first third we traveled in gorgeous weather anchoring at Five Mile Point, just past Fort Ticonderoga.  It was a good anchorage except that the shores looking like beaches were really mud sink holes.  Jim’s trips to shore with Sammy were both a physical and emotional endurance test.  Since the dinghy motor cannot be launched with the mast down the long row to shore and back became a serious chore.  But even worse was the mud that came back on Jim’s feet, legs, and shoes, Sammy’s feet and belly, the life jackets, cushions, and inside of the dinghy.  We hadn’t had this experience since the Mississippi River and it was a hot-mess.  Sammy’s usual three daily trips to shore became two very quickly.

Fort Ticonderoga protecting what was probably then a river (not a canal) in the war of 1812.

Dan rescued Jim and Sammy from the long row to shore but the mud was still sticking.

The Five Mile Point Anchorage treated us to this sunset. . .

. . .and moon-rise!

The second third of the Lake we traveled in fog and rain.  Visibility remained good enough and it was calm but we sure did get wet!  We stayed for two days at the Bay Point Marina, a lovely little marina on the VT side of the lake where we got mail delivered and where Captain Jim utilized his automotive prototype skills to reinforce a fiberglass tank.  Yay, success!  We resolved a few other important but non-essential issues like a head (toilet) switch before heading out.

The early morning was beautiful.

Then the fog moved in – can you see the layers hanging over the lake?


And finally it rained and rained and rained!

Fiberglass work!

One of the evenings treated us to this beautiful scene of the mooring field behind the Namaste in Point Bay marina.

The final third of our way up Lake Champlain began as a calm and beautiful Saturday morning but eventually a northern wind picked up and blew in our faces all the way up the lake.  It was bumpy enough to make Sammy unhappy but the sailboats were having the time of their lives running downwind.  At one point we counted at least 50 but there were probably close to 100 out there playing all day long.  By the time we reached Rouse’s Point it was blowing 15 with gusts to 30 and our usual docking maneuvers required the assistance of two strong and smart dock hands.

Here’s blogging to ya. . .  You can also see our mast and radar lowered over the aft deck to keep it safe from low bridges.

Remembering the original Namaste with nostalgia.

At times Lake Champlain reminds us of our Lake Charlevoix (long and narrow) but with beautiful mountains off in the distance on each shore. This is the first time we have been in clean/fresh water since we left Lake Michigan almost four years ago.  We may have a short season up here in the north but we sure have the prettiest water.

Goals on Sunday were to massively provision, meaning buying everything we can store before going into Quebec, Canada.  However, liquor quantities are limited and fresh fruits and vegetables are not allowed.  We shall see how this goes.  Once again, the laundry situation is in dire need so on one of the hottest days yet of the summer so far, we will be sitting in the laundromat watching the clothes dry!  We also need to obtain a Canadian Flag as ours was ruined in the Namaste flood. Jim is whipping lines – repairing the chafe on the outer casing of some mooring lines – and all is well.

As we go through customs tomorrow morning (about a mile from here) and enter French speaking Quebec, Canada we are excited and a little anxious as there are 9 locks to manage on the Chambly.  From there it is to Montreal for Canada Day weekend and on to Ottawa.  I am not sure how the cell and wifi coverage will be so communication may be delayed but hoping for the best with Verizon!

Good boat name:  Summer Sleden

Bad Boat name:  As we approach Quebec most of the boat names are in French so who knows?

Happy birthday to:  Marty, Jenny Lynn



2 thoughts on “The New York Rivers, Canals, Lakes and Locks!

  1. Thanks for your continued sharing. It’s always a treat to catch up via your blog. Be safe and continue to enjoy the journey……


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