17 June 2011

Day11: The Welland Canal

To get to the Welland Canal we traversed 8 locks, refuelled in Oswego, NY and essentially raced the entire length of L. Ontario.

We made great time and beat a commercial freighter by an hour.  We made our window!

To travel the Welland Canal you must have 3 people aboard.  So, I hired an ex-Canal employee to co-ordinate our passage.  At the bottom of Lock 1 there is a private vessel wall.  On shore there is two phone booths.  One to call CANPASS to allow vessels entering the country to clear customs.  The other phone booth has a credit card machine to pay for your vessels passage and a phone to call the Lockmaster.

Yes, we had a window and should have been allowed through.  BUT, cutbacks mean the canal is understaffed.  The current crew was under compliment and was not able to take any private vessels.

We would have to wait.  And wait.  And wait.  We weren't going to make it through tonight.

What a bummer!  The closer we get to home, the more we want it.  Almost all the stars had aligned to get our day back.  So close, and yet so far.  Get some sleep.  We aren't going anywhere tonight.

When we wake up there is a tall mast sailboat on the wall behind us.  Apparently, he will be locking through with us.  Unfortunately, he needs a customs inspection.  It will be 9am before we are underway. That is the latest we have cast lines yet.

It's about 4:30pm when we clear the canal.  There is plenty of daylight left and we have fuel.  We also want to put these locks well behind us.

The third boat that we locked through with has been making the same speed as us since the Hudson river.  They were heading for Dunkirk, NY.  What the heck, so are we!

When we got to Dunkirk, we found out that the only place that sells diesel is closed.  It is only 6pm!

I love my Garmin GPS!  A quick pan down the coast. Zoom... zoom... zoom.  Erie, PA.  What's it got?  A quick search of the local services and we find a fuel dock.  The GPS has it's phone number stored.  A quick phone call proves they are willing to stay open late for a purchase of our size.

Throttles down!  We are on our way.

Erie, PA is a nice town.  I would make this my destination of choice over Dunkirk, NY any day.

What a shame to have to come off the water.  L. Erie is flat as can be.  Very enjoyable.

Finally, in the US, they have these video phones for clearing customs.  A great idea in principle, in practice these things are frustrating to say the least.

Something strange happened with the auto synchronizer while coming into Erie.  More on that story later.

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