Saturday, September 10, 2011

Disaster on the Erie Canal

If you're planning on coming south from the Great Lakes, think again. The Erie Canal is shut down for the season following Hurricane Irene. You have two ways to get south this year, three if you consider the St. Lawrence Seaway, which at this late date, I wouldn't advise.
One route is to head south into Lake Michigan and down the Tennessee-Tombigbee route into the Gulf of Mexico. You're on your own there, I've not done that route. Best bet for advice is the Loopers' association - - this group is mostly made up of trawler folk, and many of those are former sailors, so sailors will get some good advice here. Sailors will have the stick on the deck from Chicago almost all the way through to the Gulf.
Your shorter option is to head into Lake Ontario, if you aren't already there, head up to Montreal and south through Lake Champlain to the Hudson River. You'll enter the Champlain Locks section of the New York Canal system. Parts of the Champlain are closed - see below -  and, if you reach the Hudson much prior to September 20, you'll likely be held up by the Troy Lock, which is closed due to recent flooding from tropical storm Lee, which visited right after Irene's disastrous trip through New York.
Here is the current info on the Champlain Canal: 01:52:42PM 9/10/11
Mariners are advised that the Champlain Canal from Lock C-1 (Waterford) to Lock C-4 (Schagticoke/Hempstreet Park) remain closed due to high water levels until further notice. Locks C-5 through C-12 has been reopened.
For updates and information monitor 1-800-4CANAL4 and
Notice damaged railing. This is several stories up, that's how high the water was.
Check out photos of the damage on the Erie Canal from the site:  I've taken the liberty of using one of his photos here to show you just how severe the damage was.

For up to date information on the situation on the Erie and Champlain canals, I recommend you check - I post there regularly, so you'll find the same info as I put in here, but there are also updates from other cruisers which may be helpful to you.
Finally, you might just want to put your boat on a truck and ship it south to the Chesapeake and start having fun sooner! Nothing goes to windward like a Freightliner!
What would Wally do? Ok.....I'd get myself over to the Champlain Locks and find a place to wait it out there above the closed locks. If the locks aren't going to open again this season, (which is apparently not the case), hire a truck and get yourself onto the Hudson or further south to the Chesapeake Bay.
Keep in mind, the Hudson has a great deal of debris from the storm right now and that poses a danger to your vessel, particularly power boats.
Or, stay home and buy a new snow shovel and make plans for next year.

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