#11 St. Johnsville, NY to Ilion, NY

Lock 17 on the Erie Canal

Written by The Crew

Rev writes all the posts as "The Crew" at What Yacht To Do. It's just part of the First Mate duties. That list just keeps growing...

June 12, 2019

We checked the weather last night and then again this morning.

It said rain in the morning.

Sunshine in the afternoon.

We had planned to leave in the afternoon when the sun came out.

But when we woke up and looked outside we decided to go anyway.

Our boat can handle it!

So off we went.

Windy and Rainy
Windy and Rainy on the Erie Canal

Three Locks to the Marina

We were only looking at Locks 16, 17 and 18 to get to our destination.

No problem.

Piece of cake.

We’d done three locks before.

But today was different.

We were battling a little rain but more importantly, strong winds.

Although it is much colder today than it has been in awhile, we get to Lock 16 and it is fine.

Nothing to write home about (or blog about for that matter!).

We did notice that there are a lot more guard gates on this stretch.

I don’t know why.

Guard Gate on the Erie Canal
Guard Gate on the Erie Canal
Guard Gate on the Erie Canal
Another Guard Gate on the Erie Canal
Guard Gate on the Erie Canal
Still Another Guard Gate on the Erie Canal

Lock 17

Then, we get to Lock 17.

Lock 17 is a monster!

It is the largest lock on the Erie Canal.

It is almost 41 feet high and we had to stay on the port (left) side.

Lock 17 on the Erie Canal
Lock 17 on the Erie Canal

As we entered, I grabbed one of the ropes hanging from the top.

I felt like a baby in a giant’s world.

Some locks feel like they fill up faster than others.

This one seemed excruciatingly slow.

As we moved up, the wind swirled around, and the current tried to fight us.

If felt as if we were moving up in slow motion but fighting the wind and currents in hyper-fast motion.

We were joyous as we reached the top and very excited to get out of there.

But not so fast.

There is a warning sign to let you know that the fun is not over.

The sign is warning about strong currents there around the lock and it’s a no wake area.

Slow and out of control is NOT how we like to be.

After Lock 17
Beautiful scenery AFTER Lock 17

Superman to the Rescue

Lock 18 wasn’t as tall but it was really windy so we knew we would have to fight that.

Once inside the lock, I grabbed a rope and got prepared for battle.

The gate behind us closed and the water started to rise.

I look back and see one of my two stern fenders try to make a run for it.

I guess it was tired of being smashed up against hard concrete lock walls.

There he was just floating around while we are trying to fight the lock.

Sam put on his Superman’s cape and flew down from the bridge with a boat pole and saved the day!

One fender recovered.

As we finished up with Lock 18, I was so relieved that we only had to face three locks today!

On a good weather day, locks were much easier.

On a not so good weather day, we felt like we were beaten up.

Marina, HO!

When we spotted Ilion Marina in our pirate’s spyglass (actually, it was binoculars but I thought that sounded more nautical), we were more than excited.

Ilion Marina
Ilion Marina – notice the sky when we arrived.
Ilion Marina – now the sky after lunch. Much better!

We had had it with locks and wind and currents and we needed a break!

But was the fun over?


Sam had to fight 19-knot winds to get us over to the dock and tied up.

We docked right next to a little walk-up eatery where we got a couple of burgers.

We ate lunch on our boat and commiserated about our rough morning run.

The reason for challenging the weather is that we are trying to get to a marina close to Syracuse so we can fly back home next week.

It looks like there is rain and crazy weather in the forecast but we have got to push through during pockets of sunshine to get where we need to go.

The next few days are going to be interesting.

Our Thoughts

Our Trip

Nebo Trip from St. Johnsville, NY to Ilion, NY
Nebo Trip:Down the Erie Canal from St. Johnsville, NY to Ilion, NY

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  1. Keeping to a schedule can cause problems on the loop! Not critizing just trying to help… the blog is great so far!

    • You said it! We had heard that before but now that we are in a pinch it’s making for some interesting choices. Thanks so much for coming along with us, Marie!

  2. Another great set of experiences! And another great post, Rev! I love the pictures. You are well on your way to becoming seasoned mariners. Bravo Zulu.

    I believe the guard gates are there so they can water and dewater sections of the canal.

    Sam, our grandmother Crouse was a Maley, I think that is Irish. So a modified Irish blessing is in order: “May the canal remain calm to meet you and may the wind be always at your stern!” Fair winds and following seas as you approach your scheduled port.

    • Thanks so much. We can use all the blessings we can get!!!

  3. Good so far. Going Home so soon? You need to gain more experience before doing that!

    • Ha! We have to go to a family reunion and a wedding or we would be continuing on!

  4. I’m really enjoying “sailing” with you! Good writing and photos!! Prayers for continued safety and fun!!

    • Thanks, Barb! We need all the prayers we can get!!! We are so glad you are coming along with us.

  5. Doesn’t look like you got to the Remington arms factory. It was an enormous facility and employed a large number of people. Not much going on there since the state of NY has been anti-arms manufacturing! Too bad because the region around Ilion lost 60% of the workforce to other states that welcomed their business and taxes. To show what a good company Remington was, they paid to move those workers that decided to stay with them.

    • Wow! What an incredible company. I don’t think they make them like that anymore.

  6. Great pictures! How are your noodle arms holding out? ?

    • Kinda shaky. I have started doing push-ups and lifting weights hoping my inner Popeye will shine through!

  7. I must say you both are very Brave. I would have been going home day 1. Ha. Enjoy your posts. Love and Prayers

    • Thanks so much, Lois. I think it must be a combination of brave and crazy! Yes, I have wanted to quit. We just keep going anyway! Keep that love and prayers going!!!


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