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DDawe 08-16-2008 09:07 AM

Mast cradle - Erie canal
We will be heading off to go through the canal from Oswego the Hudson in mid Sept and then heading for the ICW and south from there. I am looking for a good design of a mast cradle to make for the canal portion. If anyone has a written design and/or pictures that would be great. We have a Catalina 34 tall rig.


sailingdog 08-16-2008 10:06 AM

Labatt's described his trip through the canal system and how he had the mast cradled IIRC. Do a search, preferably using google for his post. :)

ebs001 08-17-2008 07:34 AM

I would suggest that you remove any instruments from the top of your mast as it is very easy for them to get damaged when locking. I would also suggest that you make a temporary connection for your VHF aerial. You need VHF capabilities for the locks and it's a nice to have for communication with other boaters.
Checking your profile I see you are Canadian. That opens the possibility of having your mast shipped by truck from Kingston, On. to Catskill, NY. If that possibility interest you you can contact Collins Bay Marina at Welcome to Collins Bay Marina - Kingston Canada for more information and pricing.

DDawe 08-17-2008 10:13 AM

Thanks for the tips and info. Yes, we are Canadian - our boat is at LaSalle Park Marina in Burlington. I was expecting that my handheld VHF would be OK for travelling through the locks. Would that be sufficient or would I need the extra that the base unit provides?

Sailingdog - thanks for the direction to Labatt's post. I looked it up and found some good info there.

Vasco 08-17-2008 10:24 AM

Here's some tips regarding unstepping the mast for the trip. First regarding the mast supports. Make a crutch out of 3/4" plywood and 2 x4's for the stern rail and a simple sawhorse for the bow. You might also want a block at the mast step. Make sure these are high enough to go over your dodger as it usually rains during the canal transit. Bolt the aft support to the stern rail with U bolts. The forward horse needs no bolting as it will stay there with the weight of the mast when it is lashed. The aft crutch might need some 2 x 4 braces. Take your drill and lots of long screws for the bracing. Put the mast on the boat butt forward. You can determine the height of the crutch and horse by using a taut line. Lash the mast from toe rail to toe rail and also have some lashing to prevent fore and aft movement as you sometimes get bad pitching if you go across Lake Oneida in an easterly blow.

Do not remove your roller furling headsail. Just lash the foil, with sail, to the mast when unstepping. Similarly just take the main off the mast track, do not take it off the boom. Do not take the sail cover off. Store on deck or coachroof, eastbound on the port side as I like to go starboard side alongside the locks and lock 17 can only be done on the starboard side as it is a side fill lock with no tying up on the north side. Leaving your sails bent on saves a lot of time when stepping and unstepping and you don't have to stow those sails as storage is usually limited when you're heading south.

Many are now unstepping the mast at Sodus as the Oswego Marina have really jacked up their prices the last couple of years. At the eastern end I would get the mast stepped at Riverview Marina at Catskill, Mike, the owner is very helpful. Some do it at Castleton (do it yourself) but I prefer Riverview now.

One problem with shipping the mast is that it is unreliable (and costly). You never know if your mast will be there when you get to the marina.

If you're headed for the Bahamas we'll see you there. Give us a holler. My boat is "Breathless" Ben393 from Toronto.

A handheld will usually do you for getting the lockmaster but I hitch my main set to one of those emergency antennas and it works a bit better. One other thing, when you've got the mast up at Riverview bolt all your wood together in a big bundle and put your boat name on it and write "do not remove" for the return trip. You can store it at Riverview but sometimes others will use your wood so bolt or screw it all together so that it won't be that easy to get at.

DDawe 08-17-2008 12:11 PM

Thanks Vasco
It might be good to have a chat if you are available in the next little while. This is our first major journey and it sounds like you have some great experience to offer. If you are willing, please send me your contact info. My address is dave.dawe7 (at) (I had to write out my address because the system blicked my actual email address for some reason).
Are you heading down with your boat or is already down south?

Vasco 08-17-2008 12:33 PM

Heading south is a great adventure but after a few trips it's better to keep a boat down there. :) I keep the boat down south now. Hey, my email to you bounced. Send me a pm with your email address.

DDawe 08-17-2008 12:48 PM

Thanks Rick
I'll try to send a pm again - seems like I need to have a few more posts in to be able to do that in the system.

DDawe 08-17-2008 12:58 PM

Found out I need to have 10 posts under my belt on this forum to include email addresses or use the pm. This one should do it for me!

xort 08-17-2008 02:26 PM

Had a chat with a couple in Tobermory. They re-stepped (coming north) at a town on the Canadian side of Lake Erie to save money vs the high cost of marinas around Tonawanda. They regretted it. Said the ride across lake Erie with the mast lashed above was miserable.

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