Well we left Fairport around 10 am headed to Lyons. We went about 7 miles to our first lock for the day. Lock 30. We have gone through 4 locks now, so I finally got comfortable enough to actually take some photos while we are trying to manage the lock.
Look at the walls in the lock. This one is pretty rough. Sometimes you have to be careful that your fenders don’t get stuck in one of those indents in the lock wall. Every lock has this sign that lets us know how far it drops or raises and the distance to the next lock depending on which direction you are traveling.
Before we started on our way down the Erie Canal, we signed up for the Notice to Mariners on the New York Canal Systems website. The Notice to Mariners will send you an email letting you know about lock closures, openings, low water or other hazards that might be going on in the canal system. Just before we got to lock 30 we received a Notice to Mariners on our email that read as follows:
Notice to Mariners
Canal System Update – Weather Related Closures
August 19, 2021
The New York State Canal Corporation today announced the following sections of the Canal system are closed due to the recent heavy rainfall, high flows, and extremely hazardous conditions:
Lock E-16 (St. Johnsville) through E-22 (New London)
Lock E-24 (Baldwinsville) through E-28B (Newark)
Lock O-1 (Phoenix) through Lock O-8 (Oswego)
Lock CS-1 (Cayuga) through Lock CS-4 (Waterloo)
Additional closures may be announced through the day.
Updates to follow.
That part in red there is the part that we had to pay attention to. With this notice we will not be able to go any further east past Newark until they re-open locks 28B and those further east. The lock numbers go down the further east you go, so lock 24 is further east than lock 28.
This was confirmed to us by the lock master at lock 30 who also let us know about the lock closures further east. At this point, we can keep going and get through lock 29, however the lock master said they may close 29 and 30 later today. Hearing this news we put the petal to the metal and pushed hard to get to lock 29. We didn’t want them to close that lock before we could get through. All the rain we got in the last day or two was from the remnants of Hurricane Fred and it’s all that water that raised canal levels to the point that they needed to close the locks.
We did however still enjoy the scenery along the way.
We also quickly assessed where we could tie up and spend the night since our plans had changed with the lock closure. We decided it would be best to tie up at Newark, NY.
There are only 2 other boats besides us here in Newark right now. It’s a cute little town with a nice park just adjacent to the wall area where we are tied up. The white building in the left of the above picture houses the bathrooms, showers, laundry (FREE!!!) and the Chamber of Commerce who operates and coordinates the boats who dock here.
We had a nice dinner just across the canal at Craft 120 Brewery and it was great!
We had a few more boats pull up to the wall as the day wore on. Everyone understanding that we are all stranded until the locks re-open. Another sailboat pulled in with a crew of 4 and a small tug with a guy by the name of John. Of course, there is a lot to talk about with the lock closures and what everyone has heard and it anyone knows when they might open.
The next day we enjoyed coffee on the boat and I walked to a nearby Dunkin Doughnuts and picked up a dozen doughnuts. I shared the doughnuts will all our other stranded boaters on the wall. Must keep morale up!
We did some boat jobs, laundry, grocery run. We grilled some steak for dinner and corn on the cob. The evening was topped off with live music in the park right by our boat. We sat on the bow and listened to the music. It was a great evening.
Have you noticed a theme that all the towns along the Erie Canal are called “something PORT” It all gets so confusing which town is which after awhile.
Well, remember I said we stayed in Brockport for an extra day to avoid the rain. Well, the rain was just delayed a day and it rained ALL day on our way to Fairport. Thankfully our cockpit enclosure kept us fairly dry. However we had some locks to go through today so we had to don our rain gear and get out of our enclosed cockpit to grab those lines in the lock to get us through.
I have very little pictures from today since they would all be nothing but rain.
I was able to get a few pictures as we left Fairport when it wasn’t raining.
So, all this rain we are getting is the remnants of Hurricane Fred. All this moisture is coming up from the south and saturating the northern states, including New York.
We went about 33 miles today in total. Here are some other stats from today:
Fixed Bridges: 39
Lift Bridges: 4
Guard Gates: 5
We are getting better at going through the locks!
Once we got settled in Fairport, we hunted out a good restaurant for dinner. We finally settled on the Irish Pub in the area. It was great fun because we discovered it was trivia night! We ordered our food and down loaded the app we needed to play trivia. Once the round started, we collectively came up with our best guesses to answer the questions. We did ok…then they had this lightening round where whoever got the correct answer the fastest jumps in first place! Well, I don’t even remember what the question was but the answer was Albert Einstein. And we were the first to answer correctly! First place! Well, that didn’t last long as we watched our first place slowly dwindle down with every subsequent question. It was exciting while it lasted.
We walked back to our boat in the rain and called it a night. Tomorrow we are leaving rain or shine for Lyons.
We left this morning from Medina. Before we left we had a boat job to do that we must do periodically. We had to pump out the head. Luckily there was a pump out just at the end of the dock where we spent the night in Medina, so we just had to pull out, turn around, dock again near the pump out.
This was the cutest pump out facility I have ever seen. They had the equipment in what looked like an old fashioned out house that was painted red. Too funny!
After we pumped out, we headed out to continue east on the canal.
On the right hand side of the canal just out of Medina there was an area that is a spillway for when the canal has high water and the excess water can spill over this area. It’s kinda scary to motor past because it feels like you could just go over the edge if you got too close.
The canal continues to have beautiful vistas around every corner.
One of the highlights on today’s journey was an area of the canal that actually has a road that runs UNDERNEATH the canal. Yes, I said underneath. Here is a pretty good photo as we went by.
We also encountered our first canal boat. These are rental boats that people rent for about a week and take up and down the Erie Canal. Sometimes you have to watch out for these boats since they may or may not be experienced boat drivers.
After not too long of a day we arrived at the wall in Brockport.
Stats for today include:
Miles traveled: 25
Fixed bridges: 18
Lift bridges: 7
Guard Gates: 4
I must say that lift bridges are getting less scary and it seems routine now to call them and have them open the bridge for us and no big deal to wait if you have to. At 7, that is the most lift bridges we will have in one day for the rest of the canal, so we had a lot of practice today.
After we arrived in Brockport we wandered around town and ate at a great little restaurant right behind our boat along the wall. The town was very cute and historic.
We decided to stay in Brockport for 2 nights since the next day it is supposed to rain for most of the day. So, the next day we decided it was a boat chores day. We did laundry. There was a great laundry for us to use just steps from the boat at the building that you check in at when you tie up to the wall. Could not be more convenient. Other items were phone calls to family, as Mark’s mom is still in the hospital. Writing a blog post or two. And just some general lounging around.
Today we met an awesome couple from New Orleans, Alan and Brooke. They walked past our boat and we struck up a conversation. These conversations tend to go something like this: Where are you from? Where are you going? How long have you been on the boat? They are doing the Great Loop but in the correct direction. They are heading west through the Erie Canal, through the Great Lakes and down the Mississippi River system to the Gulf of Mexico, back to New Orleans. We must have talked for about an hour. This is what happens when you meet people, whatever you have planned goes out the window while you chat with new friends, not that we really have anything planned anyway. They brought their dinghy here to Brockport and their big boat is parked in the next town east in the canal, Spencerport. Today is Monday and there are not a lot of restaurants open today, so they came over to Brockport to find a place to eat.
Well the rain that we were anticipating today never really materialized. We got some spotty showers but not what they were predicting for today. It appears that the rain is a bit delayed and will come to us tomorrow. We decided we really couldn’t afford, time wise, to spend another day in Brockport to wait out the rain, so tomorrow we are leaving come rain or shine.
We made it fairly close to Medina and had to go under the Prospect Street Lift Bridge in Medina before we got to the wall to tie up. This particular bridge operator is responsible for both the Prospect Street bridge in Medina and the Knowlesville lift bridge which is about 4.5 miles away.
I called the Prospect Street bridge phone number and got no answer, so I called the Knowlesville lift bridge to see if he was there. He answered and said he had to let a boat through going westbound and then drive over to the Prospect bridge to let us through. No worries, we can hang out for 20 mins. We ended up turning around in the narrow canal which is no easy feat and going back about 1/2 mile before we turned around again and floated toward the Prospect street bridge.
We got out the binoculars and we could watch as the bridge operator got out of his car and climbed the stairs to the bridge tower. We watched him get settled and then he called us on the VHF to let us know to proceed and he would be ready to open.
We came ahead and he opened for us just as expected.
Joe the bridge operator came to meet us at the wall to greet us, give us the code for the bathrooms and gave us the local town tourist booklet that outlined what was in the area. How nice!
Then we tied up at the wall in Medina. It’s right along the edge of town with main street just a block up from the canal. We walked around town to see all the shops and restaurants
There were a couple other boats on the wall with us in Medina. This is the most boats we have seen on our trip on the Erie so far.
We had a late lunch/brunch at a great little local diner called the Country Club Family Restaurant. It was a great place with great food!
Here are just a few pics of the area.
Just kind of a quiet night and a quick stop here before moving on to the next stop.
Coming into Lockport we had to go under our first lift bridge, pictured above. The bridge clearance is 3 feet in the closed position and 16 feet 6 inches in the open position. We have to call the bridge operators on channel 13 to ask for the bridge to be lifted.
After we passed under this bridge we tied up to the wall just after the bridge which is the free wall in the town of Lockport for the night. After we got all secure and checked out our surroundings, we walked about 1/2 mile to the downtown area where we found some restaurants to have a bite to eat for dinner. We ate at Lock 34 Bar and Grill which was a great place downtown. We thought perhaps it might overlook lock 34 but no so. Lock 34 which we had come through earlier was a few blocks away. We thought about walking back to the lock to see it but decided we didn’t want to walk that far since we still have to walk back to the boat.
We just spent a quiet evening listening the traffic rattle across the bridge behind us. We got up the next morning, made some coffee and left the dock around 9 am.
The Erie Canal is quiet, peaceful and beautiful. We haven’t seen another boat all day except for one pontoon boat.
Most of the Erie Canal so far has been lush with trees and scenic beauty. There is a bike trail the runs along the northern side of the canal for at least 100 miles, so we see people walking their dog, biking, walking, etc as we motor past. They are all friendly and seem interested in a boat passing by and we wave to everyone we see. Occasionally the shoreline is dotted with some homes as well.
We had to go under 4 lift bridges today in total. It’s interesting that the bridge operators will sometimes be responsible for more than one bridge. This was the case as we came through both Gasport and Middleport. These 2 lift bridges are 5 miles apart and the same lift bridge operator is accountable for both bridges. So, it goes something like this. Call the Gasport bridge and ask for the bridge to be opened. He opens the Gasport bridge and lets us through, lowers the bridge, climbs down the tower, gets in his car and drives the 5 miles to the bridge in Middleport before we make it there and ask for the Middleport bridge to be opened.
Now as you can imagine we aren’t the only boat going through the canal and there is boat traffic that heads in both directions, so you can never been assured that the bridge operator is at the bridge you want him to be at when you get there.
So, we kinda got the hang of this after awhile and started to call the bridge operators on the phone when we were about a mile out from the bridge. This ensured that if he was at the other bridge, we would have time to slow down and wait for him to drive to the bridge we needed opened. We also caught on that if they didn’t answer the phone when I called the Gasport bridge, then I called the Middleport bridge and found him there. Once we knew where he was, we knew how much time we needed to allow before we got the bridge. Then we would call on the VHF when we were within sight of the bridge to have him open for us to come through.
Here we are coming under the Middleport bridge
Here are the stats for today:
Fixed Bridges: 11
Lift Bridges: 4
Guard Gates: 2
At the end of the day we pulled into the dock in Medina.
Goodbye Buffalo! We will not miss you! We have never been so glad to leave a marina after all the rocking and rolling at Erie Basin Marina. We are happy to be underway to the Erie Canal! First we must navigate the Niagara River to get us to the start of the Erie Canal at Tonawanda
Now the Niagara River flows to the north and of course ultimately flows over Niagara Falls. This is not where one on a boat wants to go! The Niagara River is a bit tricky to navigate since the current at the headwaters near Buffalo is 15 – 20 knots! Fortunately, Buffalo has constructed a break wall the divides the Niagara River from what is know as the Black Rock Canal. If you look closely on the map below, the thin white line south of the red mark is the break wall that separates the Niagara River from the Black Rock Canal. In case you are wondering we are sticking to the right in the Black Rock Canal.
Here’s the break wall that separates us from the Niagara River:
We have to pass under 3 bridges and go through one lock before we get to the start of the Erie Canal. The first bridge is the Peace Bridge that has a clearance of 144 feet. We are more than good here since we do not have our mast on the boat.
Photos never do justice to waves or current, however you can see in this photo just how fast the current is running on the Niagara River side of the break wall.
The next 2 bridges are fairly low ones and will be the lowest bridges we have to go under the entire way on the Erie Canal. According to our charts these bridges should have about 17 feet of clearance, however we didn’t check the water datum levels to adjust for the water height and how that might affect our clearance. We pass under each of these bridges will just inches to spare. Our highest point of the boat is the body of our wind generator, we have already removed the blades from the wind generator since we knew those would be too high. After later checking the water datum, turns out that we had about 13′ 6″ of clearance and not 17 feet. But we did clear it, thank god! These 2 bridges do open upon request, however we didn’t think we needed them to open.
Next up is the Black Rock Lock. Try saying that one 3 times fast. This is our first lock on this section of our journey! We approach the lock and called the lock master on the VHF, no answer. Tried again, no answer. Another boater replied to us and said the lock doesn’t open until 11 am. What?? We were sure we looked up the hours of operation and planned to be here for the 9 am opening. The operate on the hour for north bound and on the half hour for south bound. We were sure they opened at 8 am. The other boater informed us that on weekends they open at 11 am. Mark and I both looked at each other and said, “but it’s not a weekend!” This my friends is what happens when you don’t know what day it is.
So, we tied up to the wall to wait until it was time for the lock to open and made coffee.
Once the lock master arrived for the day, we were ready to get underway and go through our first lock. They open the doors to the lock and you slowly motor your boat into the lock. In this particular lock, they want you to go to the wall on the left as you enter the lock. There are ropes hanging down every few feet along the dock wall. You can see the yellow ropes hanging down in the picture. All we had to do is grab a hold of one of those ropes at both the bow and stern. I grabbed one rope and handed it back to Mark at the stern of the boat and then I grabbed another one for me up near the bow. We each have a boat hook to help keep the boat off the wall as the water is lowered in the lock. We also wear gloves because these ropes hang in the water and get quite slimy.
Once we were secure on the wall and ready the lock master closes the doors behind us and starts to operate the lock. In this particular lock we are going down, so they let the water level drop. This lock will drop us 6 feet of water level. Once the water level is dropped to the appropriate level the lock master opens the doors on the opposite end and we drop the lines and motor out of the lock.
There are a number of boaters waiting on the other side to come through the lock the opposite direction of what we are heading. You can see the water markings on the wall of how far we dropped.
Once through the lock, we are back in the Niagara River but this time there is no break wall between us and the actual Niagara River. The current is quite a bit less here after we go through the lock. Although the current is less, it is not non-existent. It was a bit rough from the lock until we tucked behind Grand Island.
And once behind Grand Island we head up to Tonawanda and take a hard right into the Erie Canal.
Welcome to the Erie Canal!
Once we took a hard right it’s a bit of a culture shock at how skinny the Erie Canal is when you are used to larger water. Also lots of bridges right away in Tonawanda. After clearing 13′ 6″ in the Black Rock Canal, we will be just fine in the Erie Canal where the lowest clearance is 15′ 5″ and the water levels are tightly controlled by the locks in the canal.
In addition to bridges there are also Guard Gates. Guard Gates look like a large guillotine that can lower their gates when necessary to close off a section of the Erie Canal due to flooding, heavy rain or to drain down to winter water levels. Virtually all the Guard Gates are operated in an open position so you just need to keep motor through right underneath.
Our destination for the evening is Lockport. On the Erie Canal, there are multiple small towns along the canal and each of these towns typically have a wall that you tie up to for the night. Most of these town wall are free to boaters to tie up for the night which is an added plus.
In total today, we traveled about 30 miles between the Niagara River and the Erie Canal. Here are some additional stats for the day:
Miles traveled: 30
Guard Gates: 1
After the big morning storm, we headed over to RCR Yachts to have the mast removed around 8 am. Everything on the boat was soaking wet and it was still drizzling a bit as we made our way the 1.5 nautical miles from Erie Yacht Basin to RCR Yachts up the Buffalo River.
We arrived at the haul out well at RCR Yachts and the guys were right there waiting for us and helped us tie up. The water is much lower than the well and the tracks of the well are much higher than the boat.
We started by loosening all the shrouds, side stays and back stays on the boat that hold our mast up.
Once the stays and shrouds are loosened, the guys got the strap around the mast just below the spreaders so the crane could pull the mast. We spent a lot of time changing out the strap multiple times as we couldn’t find one that was just the right length. In the picture below, the ball on the crane above the strap was hitting right where our deck light is on the front of the mast.
Let’s try this strap. Looks just right and isn’t hitting the deck light.
Now we are ready to lift the mast out.
The mast is out and flying through the air.
Then the crane moves it up and over on land to have the guys set it down on the mast crutches that they have set out.
Once the mast was removed from the boat, they moved it out of the way into a grassy area so that Mark and I could work on removing things from the mast to get it ready for shipping. We are having it shipped from RCR Yachts in Buffalo to Hop-a-Nose Marina on the Hudson River in the Catskills area of New York. If we didn’t ship the mast, we would have to build wooden mast crutches on the front, back and middle of our boat and they would lay the mast horizontally on our boat and we would carry it on top of the boat all the way through the Erie Canal.
Carrying a mast on your boat presents a couple of problems. One, how do you ensure that you have in fact adequately secured your mast to your boat. We have heard horror stories from other sailors who carried their masts and we waked by large power boats and had their mast drop on deck or drop over the side of the boat. NOT GOOD! Also our mast is approximately 58 feet long and our boat is about 40 feet long. So that would mean the mast would over hang the boat at the bow and the stern by 9 feet on either end. This presents challenge #2 when going through locks and approaching a concrete wall with a 9 foot javelin sticking out from your boat. Joisting with a concrete wall is not fun.
Once the mast was in an area we could work on it, we removed all the stays and shrouds from the mast. We coiled these wires up and placed them in the aft cabin in the boat. We removed the spreaders from the mast and placed those in the aft cabin as well. Next we put pipe insulation that we bought at Home Depot back in Dunkirk around both of the furlers to protect them during shipping. We place pieces of carpet around the base of the furlers to protect those from banging around and hitting the mast of getting banged on the truck. Finally we wrapped sections of the mast with that stretchy cling film stuff on a roller that you use for packing.
All this work took us a couple of hours and it was quite a hot day to do it in. We were absolutely exhausted by the time we were done.
We made our way to the marina office at RCR to settle up our bill before we left to head back to Erie Basin Marina. The air conditioning in the marina office at RCR was awesome! We could have stayed in there for hours paying our bill. The nice gal took pity on us and gave us a couple bottles of water, we must have looked hot and exhausted.
We untied the lines and made our way back to Erie Basin. Got in the slip and turned on the A/C and relaxed for the rest of the day. Now we just need to wait here for another couple of days for some weather before we move on to the Erie Canal.
We celebrated the end of the Great Lakes portion of our journey and are anticipating the Erie Canal portion of our journey!
After the welcome by the Coast Guard, we settled into the Erie Basin Marina in Buffalo. We had already heard from our friends Dwight and Kay that this marina was extremely bouncy and wavy. So much so, that they pulled a cleat from the dock with their boat in the bounce and waves. However, we made the decision to stay here anyway as there were not a lot of options in the area and we needed to be here to get our mast removed from the boat in preparation for the Erie Canal.
The day we arrived was fairly calm but hot! Once we got into the slip we went about the task of removing the sails from the boat. We have 3 sails to remove, the main sail, the jib and the stay sail. We pulled them all up on the grass and folded them neatly and put them in their sail bags and stowed them in the aft cabin of the boat.
We were hot and tired after this task and we needed some food. There was a restaurant at the far end of the marina, however we learned they are only open Wednesday through Sunday and today is Monday. So we hopped in an Uber and went to the Pearl Street Brewery and Grill. It was great food! The entertainment was watching a homeless guy shaking down people for money as they came and went from the restaurant. I didn’t want to give him any money but I was happy to share my left over pizza with him on the way out.
The next day we sent with more preparations of the boat for the Erie Canal. Mark changed the engine oil.
And we put the main sail back on the boat. Yes, you read that right, we put it back on. The noise of the furler slapping around inside of the mast was driving us crazy and we knew we would have a few more days here so we put the main sail back on to stop the noise. We also removed the boom and the remaining lines such as the boom vang, the main sheet, etc in preparation for the mast to be removed.
Wednesday morning we woke up to a pretty intense storm. We planned to get up at 6 am and finish up a few last minute details and then get the boat over to RCR Yachts a mile and a half away by 8:30 am which is our appointment time to remove the mast. The storm brought 50 knot winds and a 2.5 foot storm surge going through the marina. We had about 8 lines on the dock holding the boat and we were certain the lines were going to snap. We had to actively watch the boat for at least an hour to ensure we weren’t hitting the dock, watching the lines, etc. The boat was moving so violently that it was impossible to stand up and you had to either sit or lie down to avoid being tossed about. And we have to leave the dock!!!??!!
We called RCR Yachts to make sure that they would still be removing our mast at 8:30 am. They said to head on over and unless it is lightening, they would do it.
Thankfully, the storm passed through and things started to settle down. Everything was very wet and it was still raining, but very lightly. We left the dock at about 8 am and things were settled enough that we felt better about leaving. As we turned the corner to head up the Buffalo river to get to RCR, it was like a mine field of debris from trees, logs and assorted wood floating in the water. It was a bit crazy dodging all the debris in the water as we made our way up the river to RCR. I had to stand on the bow of the boat and direct Mark which way to turn to avoid hitting any big logs.
We made it up river to RCR Yachts and now the mast is coming down. I will do a separate post on all the details of the mast coming down.
After the mast was removed, we headed back to Erie Basin marina and we knew we would have another couple of days here to wait out the weather that seems very unsettled right now with frequent rain fronts and wind before we move on to the Niagara River to the Erie Canal.
Buffalo is a very industrial city and not necessarily a beautiful touristy area and the marina is not our favorite stop with the waves here. We are looking forward to the Erie Canal.
Disclaimer: We are currently in Buffalo, NY. I am behind on posting to our blog. This blog post is in real time on August 9th. Additional posts will cover from Lexington to Buffalo, NY
Just as we were about to pull into the outer break wall in Buffalo, NY. I saw a Coast Guard boat off our port coming toward us. As soon as they passed by us, they turned around and fell in behind us. That’s when I knew we were about to boarded.
They hailed us on the VHF, they asked what was your last port of call? Dunkirk, NY What is your next port of call? Erie Canal What is your final destination? Bahamas Have you recently been boarded by the Coast Guard? No How many people aboard? 2
Once we provided all these detailed answers, they instructed us to maintain our speed and heading and they would come along side.
Now at this point you are probably wondering what we did to get boarded by the Coast Guard? The short answer is nothing. The Coast Guard will randomly pick boats to board to do safety inspections to ensure you have all the required safety gear aboard.
So, they pulled up along side of us and 2 of the 5 Coast Guard guys came aboard our boat. They were friendly. Wanted to know where we were from and were interested in our journey to the Bahamas. In order to complete their safety inspection, they required certain information from us during the time they were aboard our boat.
First up was our Coast Guard documentation, and our state registration. I quickly grabbed those documents for them while one guy started to fill out his form.
The other guy and I went below to review all our safety gear. First up, fire extinguishers. Yes, we have 2 aboard and they are the right type and size and are within the expiration date. Check!
Next up, flares. Do we have the required number of both day and night visual distress signals. I showed him our stash of flares and he checks all the expiration dates on everything. Check! We even have dye markers that put an orange color in the water. The Coast Guard guy said, he had never seen one before.
Next up, horn. Do you have a horn or device to make noise. Yep, here are 2 right here next to the helm.
Next, do you have the required placards that state you can’t discharge oil into the water, placard that says you can’t dump garbage and the third is a placard for a waste management plan. We have all the required placards which are just really stickers stuck to the inside of the boat somewhere.
Next up, is your waste (human variety) overboard discharge disabled. This means that you should not have the ability to dump your waste overboard. Look under the floorboards. Check!
Next up, do we have a throwable flotation device. Right there hanging on the side railing, check!
Do you have life jackets? We are wearing them, check!
That was about all they wanted to know and it was smooth, painless, friendly and quick! We really appreciate the work that the Coast Guard does and we hope to never need their services. We don’t mind being boarded and further their education and our safety!
Dunkirk Yacht Club has to be without a doubt the friendliest bunch of people we have encountered so far on our journey.
We had a beautiful sail from Erie, PA to Dunkirk, NY. Another new state today! As we approached Dunkirk we got on the VHF and called the Dunkirk Yacht Club. We were told that DYC will take transient boats but there is no way to make a reservation. They have a phone number but no one answers the phone. It’s a private yacht club so no staff or anything for administrative matters. We were told to simply hail them on the VHF as we approached, which we did.
There is a wonderful gentleman by the name of Stan who lives aboard his boat in the summer time at DYC and he listens to the VHF and helps transients get to the dock. He answered our call on the VHF, told us which slip we could occupy and met us at the dock to catch our lines.
Once settled on the dock, Stan gave us the lay of the land, bathrooms, showers, wifi, etc. And then he told us about their Thursday night happy hour that starts at 6 pm and we are invited to join them.
As we walked down the dock, we eyed this beautiful 1927 Alden with a couple hanging out on the foredeck in their hammock. We commented on what a beautiful boat they had and then noticed that they were drinking something out of a mug from Pusser’s. We asked, “Is that a Painkiller you are drinking?” The answer was “Yes, would you like one?” Of course, we would care not to refuse. We had a great conversation over Painkillers that ranged from the British Virgin Islands, to the name of our boat, to the history of their 1927 boat and its full restoration. Scott and Ellen, thank you for the Painkiller’s and the great conversation.
There were about 50 people or so at the weekly happy hour with shared snacks, pizza and dishes to share. Everyone was so welcoming and everyone took the time to introduce themselves and asked about our journey. Dunkirk Yacht Club is a small privately run yacht club and it very much reminded us of Pepin Yacht Club with it’s size and friendliness. There were too many names for us to remember them all, but we thoroughly enjoyed meeting everyone. There were a few more transient boaters here as well who had just come from the Erie canal, so we were able to ask a lot of questions about the road ahead and what to expect.
The next day, we walked and explored the small town of Dunkirk, which really just has a handful of shops and restaurants along the city pier in the main area of town.
We ate lunch at a little place called “64 on the Pier” It was great food and a great view overlooking the water and the pier.
On our walk from the boat to the pier, there was what appeared to be an old abandoned marina with docks that were falling apart. I don’t think you want to stay here.
Later today there was a 50 foot Chris Craft cabin cruiser that pulled into the marina next to us. They had just come from the Erie Canal as well, so we had shared lots of questions and answers with them about their trip. Their boat was quite tall and we asked how they made it through the Erie Canal with the bridge heights. They told us the stories about having only inches of clearance on a few bridges and how the captain had to kneel down on the fly bridge steering area with his hands on the wheel with his knuckles barely clearing the bridge.
Their boat name was Burnt Out and they were from California. They told us the tale of how their home in California was lost to the wildfires and once they lost their home decided it was time to buy the boat and head out and that is how their boat got the name Burnt Out.
The next day we were looking to get some supplies we needed for when we take down our mast in Buffalo so we can package up the mast for shipping it to the Hudson River. We were looking for pipe insulation which we would put around both our jib furler and staysail furler. We needed plastic cling wrap on a roll that is used for packing. We needed duct tape and some remnants of carpet. We were certain if we could locate a hardware store they would have most of these items. However, there wasn’t a hardware store within walking distance from the marina. There also was no uber or lyft services to drive us anywhere.
Stan, the ambassador at Dunkirk Yacht Club, came to the rescue and offered to drive us to Home Depot. Thanks Stan!! We were able to get all the items we needed to package up our mast for shipping when we get to Buffalo. Did I mention how friendly and helpful people are at Dunkirk Yacht Club!
Even the swans and ducks were quite friendly here as well.