12 Bridges & A Boarding

Today was all about the lift bridges on the Erie Canal that had to open for us. (Well, mostly about that.) We left Brockport at 0700, as soon as the lift bridge in front of our nighttime berth began operating, headed for Gasport or Lockport or Tanawanda. Our destination depended on how long it would take to navigate all those bridges, and what kind of stopping places we found. We also faced the last two locks of the Erie Canal and knew that they were pretty big ones.

It’s also the day we cruised over a road and a river. That’s right, the canal went right over them! An engineering marvel. Erie Canal continues to astound us with its engineering as we near its end.

And it’s also the day we got boarded by the Coast Guard for the first time this year. Story in the captions…

Jeff tooted the horn many times today–for the kids, y’know!–as we passed school buses held at the bridge (by us), or youngsters watching from the side. You find ways to entertain yourself when it gets…well…repetitious if not a bit boring. But still pleasant, with perfect weather snd nice Looping companions. Photos and captions follow of this 55-mile day that took 9.5 hours.

P.S.: A reminder that this adventure called The Great Loop isn’t all fun-‘n-games, as these posts sometimes suggest. Living under way brings both physical and emotional consequences and requires adjustments and flexibility, even if you are “an adventurer.” Example: Yesterday, I banged my head hard against the boat roof and now have a nice egg on my skull. I’m slowly recovering from a tender foot (another mishap), resulting in a limp for over a week. Spring allergies are causing havoc. I can’t speak for Jeff’s challenges, but imagine doing this as a Type-1 diabetic. The boat has sustained injuries, too; we’ve scraped against walls a few times when the fenders weren’t in the right place for an unplanned impact. Other boaters we know have experienced even more dramatic impacts or challenges and we aren’t complaining…just grateful for every day that ends well.

Main Street Bridge in Brockport begins to lift for us right at 0700, its daily start time in summer.
Leaving Brockport behind. I would come back to this town…
The Erie Canal is narrow and peaceful here. (Photo taken from the fly bridge. That’s the blue fly bridge cover in the foreground.)
First bridge after Brockton: Holley Lift Bridge. MM283.
A school bus waits for us to pass. (At the 1st bridge, in Brockton, it was a line of four!)
Rachel Anne and the rental boat Cayuga fell in behind us for the 2nd day.
Hulberton Lift Bridge (MM286).
Bicyclists on the Erie Canalway are usually moving faster than us. 😄
Ingersoll Lift Bridge, with Main St. Lift Bridge (MM292) tight behind it, in Albion N.Y. These were run by the same “roaming operator,” as many canal bridges are, so we had to wait for him to get to the 2nd bridge.
We wrapped a line around this huge cleat to hold us in place while waiting for the 2nd bridge to open so we didn’t have to mill about in the middle of the narrow canal between the two bridges with two other boats.behind us.
Passing under Albion’s Main St. Bridge.
The town of Albion as seen from under the bridge.
Canada geese use the Erie Canalway too. I bet the walkers and bikers have to dodge their droppings…
Eagle Harbor Lift Bridge (MM295) is run by the same guy who ran the last two bridges. It’s just three miles between bridges, but since we are running at 6mph, it took us a half-hour to cruise there. Plenty of time for the operator to jump into his truck and drive there!
This small basin next to the canal (MM297.7) makes a nice anchorage…the first I remember seeing on the Erie Canal.
As we approach the western end, we are seeing farmland with crops…
…and orchards (or maybe tree farms).
Knowlesville Lift Bridge (MM298), 7th of the day. It’s become routine by this time. The bridge operators ask us our destination and talk to each other about who’s coming up the canal,
What a great place to sit and read in 70゚ sunshine.
The canal goes over the road here. (You can just see the road that runs under, to the right.) A modern-day aqueduct!
Passing by the town of Medina…
Near Medina, the canal crosses over a river! You can barely see the river on the left, beyond the trees.
more bikers….
An American Legion Post…
Medina (Prospect Street) Lift Bridge, MM303, #8 of the day.
Leaving Middleport/Main Street Lift Bridge (MM 308) behind as rental boat Cayuga follows. Rachel Ann pulled ahead of us when we stopped at the wall to wait for the bridge operator, turned off the engine for awhile…and our boat’s starter hesitated to kick in. A disconcerting moment! (It recovered. We hope.)
Gasport Lift Bridge, MM313, 10th one of the day. Rachel Ann is leading now…
The slogan for the little town of Gasport is kinda cute!
Last two lift bridges of the day, very close together….Adams St. and Exchange St. … just before Lockport. That’s 12 lift bridges today. Two more locks to go…
Approaching Lock #34 & #35 at Lockport. These large locks, our last on the Erie Canal, share a common door, and we don’t understand yet what that means. But we know they are big and very close together.
We can make out tourists watching from the top and sides of Lock #34 as we approach.
See all the people on the walkway, watching…
This is a different kind of lock. It’s in the middle of a large town and there are viewing areas all around. We hoped to stay here a bit but it’s not easy to find a good tie-up.
Rachel Ann and Cayuga entered the last locks of the Erie Canal with us. We are on a port tie here, which we prefer. But wait…
As we enter Lock #35, which begins exactly where Lock 34 ends (they actually do share a door), we see a boat already in the lock on our “favorite” port side.
So we tie up on the starboard side instead. Here, Jeff is hanging onto one of the lines. The water swirled pretty strongly in this lock and we both had to hang onto lines to keep from banging into the walls. So, about that other boat that was in the lock already when we entered it….
This is it! A law enforcement vessel. Shortly after we left the lock, it turned on its blue light and “pulled us over” for a safety and regulatory check. This happens while both boats continue to move. The Coast Guard vessel matches our speed and, when it’s close enough, an officer jumps aboard. Not a big deal for us, since we’ve been through this three times before. (I even drove through the first one and it wasn’t hard.) This was the first time this year. We passed.
After a day that felt longer than the mileage suggests, we stopped at West Canal Park, a free dock just a few miles before Tanawanda and the end of the canal, to relax with our friends from Rachel Ann. Plus, a big bonus — a visit by Stephanie, a local who is the daughter of a Looper we met months ago. She recently sailed up the East Coast…in the ocean…by herself. You go, girl!!

2 thoughts on “12 Bridges & A Boarding

  1. Great story.

    Very minor correction. You were not boarded by the Coast Guard. The USCG boats are similar design, but have an orange bumper around them and are prominently marked USCG and Coast Guard. You were boarded by a police department marine unit.


    1. Thank you for the correction. It was an interagency crew, which which I appreciated because I worked in that area quite a lot. One of the boarderd was a Coast Guard member and the other was from some state environmental organization I didn’t recognize.


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