Today we went to the village of Fairport and took a 3 hour, 18 mile round trip, boat tour on the Erie Canal. The canal starts at the Niagara River in the west and ends at the Hudson River in the east. Therefore it connects Lake Erie to the Atlantic Ocean. It is 363 miles long and was dug by hand around 1820.
Since it is only 12 feet deep it is not really used for commerce anymore. It is now a New York State Park and mostly used by recreational boaters.
Before there were engines, the boats used to be hauled along the canal by animals on a path on the shore. The towpath is now a recreation trail and we are going to bike part of it tomorrow.
It was not a very busy cruise today. Altogether there were about 25 people. The listed capacity of just the upper deck was 128.
When I called yesterday they were not sure they were going to run the mid afternoon version. I had to wait until today at about 1 pm to know whether the 2:30 cruise would go. There is a shorter noon one and an evening one but tonight was a special murder mystery cruise and we were not interested.
One thing that is great about this boat is that there is so much upper deck area. It is also the maximum height that is allowed on the canal based on the minimum bridge height. As you will see we all had to remain seated and the captain had to duck down to go under a lot of the bridges.
We saw another cruise boat but it was very low and mostly enclosed. It would not have been nearly as interesting.
There were a couple of interesting boats at the dock. This was called the Tacky Tiki.
It took us and everyone else a while to figure out the name of this boat. At first we thought it was an advertisement.
The wife wanted a new kitchen, he wanted a boat.
It was a beautiful day. There was just enough wind to keep us cool sitting out in the open.
Of we go. They had to raise the lift bridge for us to get through.
This is a rather unique bridge. It is sloped end to end and side to side such that none of the four corners is the same height above the water.
Even though nobody had to duck, it was still kind of freaky to be this close.
The next one was ducking material.
The flowers are the tallest (non duck-able) thing on the boat.
They use these gates to block the canal in case of a breach. There was one in the early 1970’s. They also use them in the winter because they completely drain the canal to protect it from any ice damage.
You can see the towpath on the right.
Each way, we went under about 8 or 9 bridge, pipelines or gates. I think there was 0nly one where we didn’t have to sit down and the captain didn’t have to duck.
Here is one of the other cruise boat options.
Him going under the bridge.
And us. Much more fun.
They use this floating cherry picker to service the bridges.
Next up was an interesting area on the shore.
Instead of knocking down an ugly silo, they put in windows and stairs and it is now an office building.
This railroad bridge is the lowest one on our trip. Normally there is under a foot of clearance. When the water was a bit higher, the captain said that they have knocked over the flowers.
Even sitting down you just felt compelled to duck.
This is not a very good animation but you get some idea of what it was like.
We have one of these boats at my brother’s cottage.
Under yet another bridge to our destination at Lock 32.
These are the lock outlets. It is too bad we could not see them when the lock was draining because the captain said they shoot about 6 feet in the air.
The doors on the far end are a bit leaky, giving us Angel Falls.
We go up about 25 feet. It takes about 3 million gallons of water and 10 minutes to do it.
While we were going up everyone watched this family of ducks.
While the water was still at least 10 feet down, the mother jumped / flew into the lock. The chicks started running around like crazy, not knowing what to do.
One of them took the plunge.
While the rest were looking over the edge, one of them slipped on the plastic and the others just followed.
We headed out of the lock and since this was our destination we just turned around and went back in.
Down we go.
The ducks had stayed in the lock and headed downstream as soon as the gates started to open.
Heading back we checked out all the houses along the shore. This looked like a great little boat to cruise the canal.
Any sailboats had to remove their mast.
Under a new gas pipeline.
And back to the crooked bridge in Fairport.
A great day our on the water and only $20 a person.