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In an effort to do something different during the dog days of August, Beth Jelinek suggested a trip on the Erie Canal, utilizing three Lockmaster 42-foot canal boats for a summer adventure. Beth worked with Erie Canal Adventures (ECA) in Macedon, New York to plan the trip. The facilities and staff of ECA were professional and courteous and provided on-land classroom training before we were allowed to board the boats. Once we boarded, an ECA staff person came along to coach each crew through the first lock. As the ECA staff jumped off the boats, they wished us good luck and we headed out into the canal westward. There was a bit of a rush to our start, as a severe thunderstorm was predicted. We were only underway for about thirty minutes when the storm hit, but none of our boats had a problem. No waves on a canal!

As on most sailing trips, we spent the first three days finding things, and enjoying the calm canal waters and beautiful homes along its shore

Our days started out with breakfast onboard, skippers usually met the night before and discussed a departure time as we maintained our flotilla of three boats through every lock and under every lift bridge together. After our first lock, every bridge and lockmaster along the way knew about our three boats - Otisco, Okeechobee and Canandaigua traveling westward. Whichever boat was in the lead would contact the lockmaster and they would respond - “You’re traveling with two other boats, is that right?” It always made us smile. Finding three open spots to tie up in towns along the way wasn’t always possible. Rafting up was permitted by ECA, so we took advantage of that and it made our “togetherness” even more so.

We stopped in Fairport for our first night on the canal, and due to rain the next day decided to stay put. Some folks used the time to explore the local area; others hailed an Uber and took off for Rochester to tour the Eastman Museum and mansion. George Eastman, a pioneer in photography and the founder of the Eastman Kodak Company bequeathed the funds for the museum in his will, and the displays provided a peek into his complex mind and life. Everyone enjoyed all the towns along the canal, but for most of us, our favorite town was Pittsford. Because not only did it have a few good restaurants to choose from, and a remarkable lumber store and craft shop, it had the Pittsford Farms Dairy! There was always a line for the ice cream because it is the very best!

The Erie Canal was originally built to be 363 miles long, four feet deep and 40 feet wide. Construction started in 1817 but not completed until 1825. It cut through fields, forests, rocky cliffs, and swamps; it crossed rivers on aqueducts; and overcame hills with 83 foot lift locks. Railroads ended the canal’s claim to fast and affordable movement of goods. The railroad did it faster and cheaper.

First Night in Fairfield

First Night in Fairfield

The Erie Canal we traveled is the result of a 1999 restoration project by the state of New York and it’s clear the improvements have helped these charming old towns not only survive, but prosper.

Canandaigua Okeechobee Otisco II
Larry Sherwood (S)
Patty Sherwood
Hank Jelinek (FM)
Beth Jelinek (Trip Leader)
Gale Frankle
Kristine Kaufmann
Mia McCroskey (S)
Joel Mack (FM)
Mary Ann Gordon (Asst. TL)
Kathy Oburg
Don Schlenger
Vicky Schlenger
Lisa Travaly (S)
John Francischetti (FM)
Andre Casanova
Cathy Hungerford
Bill Hungerford
Hallie Lee


ECA boat, navigation and procedural review for all participants

Underway aboard Okeechobee, Viki, Mia, Don at the tiller and Kathy O

Rafting up gave an opportunity to look in on
the other boat - Hank and Patty

Canandaigua with Larry at the tiller - Beth, Gale & Kris on deck


Photo op while in a lock!
(L-R) Cathy H, Lisa T., Andre C. and Hallie L.

Cathy & Bill H. ready for the bluegrass band


Joel M - Eastman Museum - lunch time?

Hank grilling dogs & burgers

In addition to canal boats, scullers, kayakers, paddle boarders, power boats and long distance sailboats travel the canal

Hard to miss this long-distance sailboat!


Kris and Gayle took the bikes out as often as possible


Don and Viki were long distance riders
visiting towns and countryside away from the canal

Kathy and Mary Ann chillin’

Pittsford, NY just after sunset from the bridge

Photos by Mary Ann Gordon, Joel Mack, Larry Sherwood and Lisa Travaly


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