Came through there this year on our trip from Chicago to Florida. The Erie Canal is definitely a highlight of the trip.
I recommend stopping at the Buffalo Yacht Club for a night (1st night free) as the yachties there are knowledgable and offer advise. They will tell you about taking your mast down at Wardell''s at the mouth of the Canal. I took my mast down myself with a tabernacle, but have talked to people who have used Wardell''s and others who have used Riches Marine, on the Niagra River, before the Canal. I am under the impression that those who used Riches were happier about the experience than those who used Wardell.
The Canal is pretty easy. There are plenty of people who single hand it, and most of the lock masters are very helpful, so you shouldn''t have any problems. Have your VHF
with in reach from your helm or get a handheld
before you go as you will need it to communitcate with the 30+ locks and 18 lift bridges along the route.
You should start earily and take your time, as the canal is a great trip. We found the section from Tonowanda to Lake Oneida more enjoyable than from the Lake to Waterford, but it is a matter of personal opinion.
Dockage is simple. Most towns, especially on the western half, let you tie up for free. You can tie for free at any lock. We kept our travel days short and stopped to see more of the area. The people are very nice and helpful.
All in all, we loved our time on the canal. If you want to see my log, visit my site at http://www.nereus32.com/
I really can''t recommend the canal enough. It is a place I definitely want to return to again. Hope this helps.