Canal Daze

Sometimes you just have to give up trying to imagine things and do them instead. I’ve heard endless stories about managing a boat in a canal. I’ve watched videos of them. And all of it left me wondering, still somewhat uncertain and tentative about the whole thing. But, as I suspected, my anxieties about this canal business were a waste of time.

Our first two locks in one minute. Sorry about the rain.

It’s lovely here. And managing getting the boat through the locks is really not that challenging (yet, at least.) When we started the day today, the plan was to come to Oswego and stay at the harbour nearest the lake. We’d start moving through the locks the next day. But why wait? We had time. It’s rainy, so what better time to spend your day in a slimy canal?

We breezed through the first five locks today, relatively unscathed. With each lock, we got better and better at managing the boat as we held the slimy lines and the water around us started frothing and turbulating (that’s a sailor term, honest.)

One completely boneheaded thing I did today was radioing the first lock (lock 8) with my normal VHF radio. We finally gave up and went to visit them directly before it occurred to me that, of course they aren’t answering – the antenna that is usually located at the top of the mast is now in a drawer somewhere, while the mast is shipped down river to meet up with us later. Of course, we have more than one radio, and once we switched to the handheld unit, it turned out that the lockmasters are actually quite responsive.

We have twenty-five more locks to go, but our mast will take longer to reach Hop-o-Nose marina than we would if we keep up at this rate, so we will need to find a nice town to spend some time in.


    • Your “locking” experience reminds me of the locks at Boharnois near Montreal. I remember taking the kids, when they were little, to watch the boats go through the locks. I have “experienced” driving boats through the locks at Port Carling in the Muskoka Lakes…they were much smaller…not nearly as ominous as the ones you are experiencing. It sounds as if your trip is as much an education as it is a holiday…I hope you find that nice town to spend time in.


  1. Just curious of the cost to ship the mast and what company does it? We are following your posts and trip and plan to do the same in 2021!!!



    • We paid $1200. You can pay less if you can find others shipping in the same timeframe. Leaving as early as we did didn’t help in that respect. A few sailors we look up to said it was a good idea. So far it hasn’t been too challenging so doesn’t feel like the best use of our cruising kitty yet. But it’s kinda like insurance where you hope to never know whether you got your money’s worth.


      • My question is, why not carry the mast on deck instead of shipping it? That way, when you arrive at your mast stepping destination, your mast is there with you. My guesses: 1. Mast is too long for some of the locks. 2. You did not want the mast on deck to cramp your style in the Erie Canal. 3. You did not want to build a rack to hold the mast on deck. 4. You wanted to play the dawdling game through the canal while your mast takes the slow route to Hop – O – Nose Marina. Any of these right?


      • Good guesses! The actual reason is that several sailors we look up to suggested that it was a good way to go. In the locks, it’s a bit challenging to keep the boat steady while the lock is filling. We’ve scraped up our dinghy a couple times already. A mast would be dangling another 5 or more feet at either end of the boat, making it more difficult to manage and adding more worry. I can’t say it was worth the cost yet, actually.


  2. Growing up alongside the Welland Canal in Thorold must be helping a little with canal navigation. ha ha!
    I thought the masts were carried on deck!


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