the champlain canal section is open and navigable.
Gov. Cuomo has announced that the Mowhawk river section will open briefly this year (2011) from Nov.24- Dec.8 to allow passage of sranded vessels.
Hope it's a late winter. I would not choose that start date for a departure south.
I left that area the last week in Oct.2007 and spent Halloween in Barnagat Light NJ.
Needless to say the North atlantic as well as the Chesapeake gets awfully "exciting" that time of year in a Sailboat !