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Old 04-04-2012
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Ontario to Champlain

I'm looking at buying a boat on Lake Ontario and want to sail it to Lake Champlain. Anyone have advice on going the St Lawrence versus the Erie/Hudson route?
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Old 04-04-2012
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Re: Ontario to Champlain

I have no experience with the St. Lawrence route but I have done the Erie to Hudson, except I turned south. The canal system was pretty cool the first time I did it. After that it was boring(mostly). The sides of the locks are FILTHY! Keep that in mind when rigging you fenders as they will get filthy as well. If memory serves you will get a consistent 5ft of water to work with, more in some spots but I am almost positive you will always have at least 5'. You may dock at the locks, overnight if needed, but there wont be any place to plug in if you need it. To do that you will have to get a slip along the way, which are available. Plan well though, sometimes you get caught at a lock waiting for opposing traffic which will cause you to miss your next lock and leave you waiting overnight. Most locks have some sort of civilization within walking distance if you need to grab a few supplies but your better off bringing what you need. Not knowing where you're coming from I would say plan on 4-6 days, more if you like to explore places along the way.

I'm sorry, I've never done the Hudson north of the Erie. No doubt someone will be along shortly to pick up/add too where I left off.

Congrats on the boat if you do buy it.

Brad
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Old 04-08-2012
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Ontario to Champlain

thanks for your input Brad
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Old 04-08-2012
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Re: Ontario to Champlain

Interestingly I bought a boat on Lake Champlain and wanted to move it to Lake Ontario!
I did the research and eventually chose to use the canals. There are currents to be dealt with in the St Lawrence and the Richelieu river which you must negotiate to reach Lake Champlain. Also, depending on where your boat is the canals may be less distance. All in all, the canals would be more straight forward, I found. This all depends on how reliable and how powerful your engine is.
I recommend the (inexpensive) guides by Skipper Bob, the ones called "Cruising the Rideau and Richelieu" and the other "Cruising the New York Canal System", both invaluable for planning your adventure.
BTW, in the end I had to truck the boat due to health issues.
Best of luck.
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Old 04-08-2012
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Re: Ontario to Champlain

If you do the canal route you will have to drop your mast in Oswego. You can either carry it on deck or have it shipped depending on size and comfort level. The St. Lawrence route is no big deal. In the canal you can stay at every lock (except one) for free. Most small towns have free dock space or very very cheap. Cruising the Erie Canal
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Old 04-10-2012
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Re: Ontario to Champlain

I have done both routes and either is fine. Going down the St Lawrence locks is easy, but check the price, it is not cheap. In either case you have to take your mast down. There is a do-it-yourself crane at Sorel at the mouth of the Richeliu and a marina at Oswego where they provide a guy to run the crane and you do the rest. Haven't checked the distances, but it must be shorter and faster to go down the St Lawrence. Both are pleasant enough trips but you will have more locks going the Oswego/Erie Canal route.
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Old 04-10-2012
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Re: Ontario to Champlain

I'd probably choose the St. Lawrence route, but haven't personally done either. However, this blog post about getting from the Great Lakes to the ocean might be of interest to you: Sail Far Live Free: Escape to the Sea: How to get from the Great Lakes to the Caribbean
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Old 04-12-2012
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Ontario to Champlain

thanks for the responses. just what I was looking for
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Old 04-12-2012
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Re: Ontario to Champlain

Have not done the Richelieu yet but in researching, it seems much more expensive than the NYS Canal System ($15 for a 2 day pass). I was thinking about traveling North and then down the Maine coast some time. Ditto on boring nature of locking through numerous locks. I do it every year going south from Champlain and back. By the 12th lock I've had quite enough. Doing it single-handed is a real trip! I do not look forward to canal travel. Friends who want to see what the canals are like don't come a second time Either way, pay careful attention to depth and being dragged out of the channel by currents around locks. You really need to be on your toes negotiating locks.

Other things to consider: Have a handheld to contact lock operators. Rig up some boards over your fenders, the walls are rough as hell, with large gaps sometimes where concrete has fallen out. If doing it alone, have bow and stern lines ready amidships. Come up next to a pole, stop, quickly wrap lines in back of pole so that you can pull on them to control boat. Practice coming up to a stop alongside something. With normal prop wash, having fenders on port side is best and also the way the NYS Canal System specifies you come into the lock. Try to transit on a weekday. Traffic makes everything much more difficult. Handling a single screw sailboat in locks is a challenge. There is a lot of turbulence in locks so hold tight. Also look out for logs and other flotsam at lock gates where it accumulates. Have a boat hook ready to move logs if necessary and be careful when you start the prop turning. I often take the boat out of gear and coast through areas of debris but often hear stuff hitting the prop.
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Last edited by smurphny; 04-12-2012 at 04:47 PM. Reason: more
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Old 04-12-2012
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Re: Ontario to Champlain

The first time I did the locks was several years ago in a 67' Hatteras with a blown port side engine and no bow thruster. We rigged a dink with a 5hp midships on the starboard side. Talk about a pain in the ass!!!!

Best part is, we never put a scratch in it until the port side engine was repaired.

Brad
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smurphny View Post
Have not done the Richelieu yet but in researching, it seems much more expensive than the NYS Canal System ($15 for a 2 day pass). I was thinking about traveling North and then down the Maine coast some time. Ditto on boring nature of locking through numerous locks. I do it every year going south from Champlain and back. By the 12th lock I've had quite enough. Doing it single-handed is a real trip! I do not look forward to canal travel. Friends who want to see what the canals are like don't come a second time Either way, pay careful attention to depth and being dragged out of the channel by currents around locks. You really need to be on your toes negotiating locks.

Other things to consider: Have a handheld to contact lock operators. Rig up some boards over your fenders, the walls are rough as hell, with large gaps sometimes where concrete has fallen out. If doing it alone, have bow and stern lines ready amidships. Come up next to a pole, stop, quickly wrap lines in back of pole so that you can pull on them to control boat. Practice coming up to a stop alongside something. With normal prop wash, having fenders on port side is best and also the way the NYS Canal System specifies you come into the lock. Try to transit on a weekday. Traffic makes everything much more difficult. Handling a single screw sailboat in locks is a challenge. There is a lot of turbulence in locks so hold tight. Also look out for logs and other flotsam at lock gates where it accumulates. Have a boat hook ready to move logs if necessary and be careful when you start the prop turning. I often take the boat out of gear and coast through areas of debris but often hear stuff hitting the prop.
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"Any damn fool can navigate the world sober. It takes a really good sailor to do it drunk." - Sir Francis Chichester while loading his boat with gin.
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