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.
We pulled up anchor in Fairport, OH about 6 am and have about 65 miles to go today to Erie, PA. Another new state! We had beautiful winds this morning out of the south and had a perfect sailing day all the way to Erie.
We headed for Presque Isle State Park. This is a beautifully wooded, secluded spot to anchor with a small marina right there as well. Here is a map of the area.
We anchored in the area labelled “Marina Lake” in the top center of the map. The weather was warm and the water was clear and beautiful, so this was the first place on our journey that we took a dip in the water. It was awesome and we showered in the lake and rinsed off on the boat coming up. Then we grilled a pork chop dinner as the sunset over this beautiful bay. There were a few other boats anchored in the bay with us. Most were there for just the day and by morning it was just us and another sailboat – a Passport 40 named Manitou from Michigan.
We really wished we could stay in this bay for a few more days but we are in need of a full service marina so we can pump out, fill our diesel tank, fill our water tank, we need a grocery store, need laundry, etc. So we made the decision to leave this beautiful place and head over to Erie Yacht Club so we can accomplish all these items.
Since we have made the decision to go through the full Erie canal, we have been on the phone making multiple arrangements to schedule our mast being removed from the boat and shipped to a marina on the Hudson River. We made arrangements with RCR yachts in Buffalo, NY to remove our mast on August 11th. Made arrangements with Lockview Yacht Transport to have them ship our mast to the Hudson River. Also made arrangements with Hop-a-Nose marina on the Hudson to re-step our mast when we get there.
Once we got settled at Erie Yacht Club, we were able to get a Lyft to take us to a large grocery store in the area. We really needed produce, fruits and veggies. Of the things we bought about 80% of it was produce. We were craving a good salad. The Lyft driver was super friendly and we were able to get him to take us back to the boat as well.
We met another couple on a sailboat that pulled into Erie Yacht Club. Their boat name is Rival and they hail from Traverse Bay Michigan. Their names are Fred and Lisa. We chatted and had a happy hour together. They are heading south just as we are. However it sounds like they were having a bit of difficulty scheduling their mast removal at RCR yachts in Buffalo as the schedule was filling up. As we got to chatting it turns out they know the people in the Passport 40 called Manitou that we anchored next to in Presque Isle State Park.
Here are some views from Erie Yacht Club:
Since we aren’t removing our mast until August 11th and it is now August 5th, we have a few days to relax until we need to be to Buffalo to get our mast down. From Erie, PA to Buffalo would be a 2 day sail and we have 5 – 6 days, so no need to be in a hurry.
Next stop Dunkirk, NY
We left Cleveland to travel just a short 25 miles to Fairport, OH. Fairport was really just a stopping point to rest for the night before we moved on to Erie, PA. We anchored just behind the break wall in Fairport and just settled in for the night after a superb dinner of steak and rice pilaf while we watched the sunset. We didn’t even leave the boat or see the town of Fairport.
Here is Mark grilling up our steak
And the beautiful sunset
There isn’t much to say about Fairport, however it does bring to mind that there are a few different modes that we have on the boat. I suppose it’s a bit like going on a road trip in your car. When your in the car traveling, your in travel mode which is different than when you get to your destination.
Mode #1 – Moving/Sailing/Making some miles – When we are in passage mode it’s all about moving the boat and getting to the next port. Where are we going? When will we get there? Ticking off the miles. Looking for signs of life and traffic on the water. Lounging around watching the world go by. We often don’t shower on days when we are moving. There’s little point when you are in the wind all day. And there is little point to putting on a clean outfit when just your sailing clothes from yesterday will do. We have truly descended into retired beach bums.
Mode #2 – Being in port/town – This involves being at a dock or marina near a town. Now it’s time to explore. What’s here to check out? Where should we grab a bite to eat? We like to go to the local shops and restaurants and stimulate the local economy. Being at a marina also involves seeing other boats and boaters. New people to meet. Where are you from? Where are you going? Exchanging boat cards. Being in a town or port can also involve more mundane tasks such as laundry, grocery shopping, a trip to the hardware store if we need a boat part or stuff. Once we hit a town, we often google restaurant near me and grocery stores near me to know what we can do here.
Mode # 3 – Anchoring out – This is a bit more isolated even though it may be near a town. It’s often just us and the boat unless we have a need or want to take the dinghy down and head to shore for something we might need. Often at anchor we will cook our lunch/dinner since we are isolated from town. However, there is a quiet solitude in anchoring that cannot be beat. And it’s always nice waking up in a peaceful anchorage.
Update on “The Plan”
Also wanted to provide a quick update on our plan or proposed route. You may know that our original plan was to go through the Welland Canal which takes us around Niagara Falls from Lake Erie into Lake Ontario and then we had planned to go through the eastern part of the Erie canal to get from Lake Ontario to the Hudson river and into NYC. We were dependent on the opening of the Canadian border in order to take our boat through the Welland canal since it is entirely across the border in Canada. Without the border open we could hire a captain to take our boat through the Welland canal at a cost of $1.600 – $2.500. This would make the transit through the canal a commercial endeavor and exempt from the border closure.
We did learn back on July 20th that the Canadian border would be opening on August 9th and we were initially excited that we would be able to take our boat through the Welland canal ourselves with the border opening. However, as we have gotten closer to the date for the border to open and after checking with folks at the Canadian border, the Welland canal and other boaters, it appears that the border opening is not what we all expected.
We are hearing that they will still require the hiring of a captain to transit your boat through the Welland canal even after August 9th. Perhaps this will be extended to August 21st or even later. It seems when the Canadians decided to open the border they back pedaled a bit and said, yeah, we meant the land border not really the marine border. They do not plan to staff or open the small vessel reporting stations necessary for checking in and out of the border via the water.
So, after careful consideration, we decided to scrap our plan to go through the Welland canal and into Lake Ontario. Instead we will transit the full length of the Erie canal from Buffalo to the Hudson River. In order to transit the western portion of the Erie canal we have to be able to clear the lowest fixed bridges of 15 feet 5 inches. We got out the tape measure and carefully measured our height. We are most concerned about 2 poles we have at the back of our boat. One pole has the wind generator and the other pole has our radar on it. We need to ensure these poles will clear the lowest bridges on the Erie. Of course, we will remove our mast for this portion of the trip. We would have had to remove the mast anyway for the eastern portion of the Erie Canal from Lake Ontario to the Hudson River. The bridge heights on the eastern portion of the Erie canal are a bit taller and we only need to clear 20 feet 6 inches on that part of the Erie.
So we measured our poles. If we remove the blades for our wind generator we will clear 12 feet 9 inches. So, we made the decision to go through the full length of the Erie canal.
Now most sailboat who go through the Erie canal must remove their mast and most choose to build a wooden structure and supports on the deck of their boat to carry their mast horizontally on deck for the time they are in the Erie canal. It typically looks something like this:
However, we have heard some horror stories from other sailboats we have met along the way about their mast falling off the boat when a large power boat produces a big wake. Also having the mast on deck extends the length of your boat because the mast is longer than the actual boat, so the mast would hang 10 – 15 feet over the bow of the boat and over the stern of the boat. We are not excited about carrying our mast in this fashion.
Since we saved $1,600 – $2,500 that we would have spent on a captain to go through the Welland canal, we have decided to hire a trucking company to ship our mast from Buffalo to the Hudson River. We will feel way more comfortable without having our mast on deck.
We stayed right in downtown Cleveland. That’s Painkiller right behind the Cleveland sign and the building in the background is the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame!
Let’s back up a bit. We left Put-in-Bay around 6 am since we had a little over 50 miles to go today. It was a glorious morning and the sunrise was spectacular today.
The winds were out of the west southwest and were behind us most of the way to Cleveland. The winds built up as the day went on and so did the waves. We had heard about the waves on Lake Erie already from others we have met along the way. The problem with Lake Erie is it is the shallowest Great Lake. Average depth is about 69 feet. Because of the shallowness, when the wind is blowing from the west that waves can kick up due to the wind and has the whole length of the lake to build up. Shallow depth make for steeper waves that are closer together which can make for uncomfortable crew.
This is exactly the situation we had today and today was the roughest day we have had so far. Not scary, just uncomfortable. The winds were up to 20 knots and the waves built to 4 – 5 feet but very short wave intervals = uncomfortable. Painkiller is a stout and sturdy boat and handled it without a problem.
By the time we pulled into Cleveland we were glad to no longer be moving. The marina is super nice but it is stinking hot! It’s about 89 degrees and humid.
We got out our shore power cords and hooked up to the electricity and thought we were fire up the air conditioning to cool things off a bit. As soon as we turned on the A/C we realized that our water pump that pumps water to each A/C unit was not pumping water and therefore not cooling.
We started by checking the things that are simple to check off the list. Check the sea strainer that pulls in water from the lake through a strainer. This strainer can get clogged with crap such as seaweed, algae and all sorts of junk. We did find some stuff in the sea strainer cleaned it out and thought we would be good to go. Nope! Still no water pumping. Next, we spent about 2 hours trying to remove one hose fitting from the water pump itself to ensure we had water flowing to the pump. It was not budging. It’s 89 degrees in the cabin with sweat everywhere and we just want to get this fixed and turn the A/C on. Finally we gave up on the problem hose fitting and instead removed the connection after the pump. This came off much easier. We were able to get water to flow through the pump and get things working again. It appears that the pump had lost it’s prime and once we re-established water flow, it began to pump just fine. Yeah! We have A/C once again. I think we just sat as still as we could for at least 30 minutes so we could cool off.
We are leaving Cleveland tomorrow to fly back home to Minneapolis to see Mark’s mom. We still have to get packed and get to the airport in the morning.
We got up the next day, showered, finalized everything to leave the boat for several days and took an Uber to the airport.
We spent about 4 days in Minneapolis before flying back to the boat in Cleveland. Mark’s mom is doing ok after her stroke. Still very confused and lots of cognitive issues that only time will tell if things will improve or not. It was great to spend time with family, sleep in our own bed and spend sometime with a couple friends as well.
We got back to Cleveland late at night and headed right to bed after a long day.
The next morning we got up and had our coffee and checking the weather. Today’s forecast said a chance of waterspouts. I have never seen that in a forecast before. I guess they were pretty accurate since shortly after reading that, we saw a waterspout off in the distance on Lake Erie.
We spent the afternoon at the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame touring the exhibits. It was great fun to see all the music history. Here are some highlights and some of our favorites.
Elvis of course:
Who knew Timothy B Schimt of the Eagles collected hotel room keys:
Of course, Michael Jackson
The Rolling Stones
And Jimmy Hendrix’s guitar
There’s our boat down there from one of the windows in the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame
We had a blast in Cleveland!
We had originally booked 3 nights in Cleveland but ended up staying 6 nights in total with the trip back to Minneapolis. Once we arrived at the marina we explained to them that we would have to extend our stay and fly home and explained about Mark’s mom. They ended up charging us for only our originally booked 3 night stay and they were great about watching the boat and actually pumped out the head for us while we were gone. North Coast Oasis Marina was top notch and we appreciated them so much!