Navigating the Welland Canal

After a solid day of waiting for the Welland canal, we were finally given the go ahead. In a rather Make Way For Ducklings fashion, we made our way for the canal following our Mother Duck, the 200 ft Empire Sandy tall ship.


The locks themselves are fairly simple. Each lock takes you down about 40 feet, and the process is nearly identical through all eight locks: the boats enter the lock and are thrown lines. As the water level starts to decrease, more line is let out. After about ten minutes, you’re down 40 feet, they take back the lines, open the gates and you’re off to the next lock.


Other than that, it’s a fair amount of waiting and motoring to get through. It was really just short of enough time to take a nap between each lock—a real bummer.

For the most part, the whole experience was fairly uneventful. However, there were a few moments we got a little too close for comfort with Empire Sandy—it’s a tight space for so much boat. Luckily, we didn’t hit the largest schooner in Canada. Overall, the canal is more tedious than anything. Starting at around 3 pm, we went through our final lock around 2 am. Exhaustedly, we tied up on the other side of the canal system, and continued on to Toronto via Lake Ontario at 10 am the following day.

While Mike’s last experience with a lock and/or canal system might have occurred roughly a decade and a half ago, we depended on him for his intuition and comfort. Or at least I did. It was reassuring to think SOMEBODY knew what they were doing.  As we go forth towards the Erie Canal, we’re much more prepared and have realistic expectations for what will occur. I guess we all know what we’re doing. Or at least kind of. Maybe.

Wish us luck.


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