Hulberton is a quiet little landing for a quick lunch and a doggie walk. There is no power or water, but there is a porta-potty on the north side.
It's nice to see that some of the nearly 100-year-old buildings along the canal are still beautifully maintained. These old structures always make me wonder what life was like 100 years ago when canal "port" towns like this were buzzing with activity 24 hours a day. The history books say there was an abundance of taverns and houses of ill repute on the original canal. These buildings were built 50 to 75 years later after the canal was enlarged, yet I wonder what stories these buildings could tell!
The Real Destination
Some people think the canal is a boring, slow ride to a destination because there's nothing to do, and there's only more of the same scenery around the next corner.
For us, the boat is the destination! When Mia wasn't busy fixing carburetors, stowing lines, adjusting fenders or inspecting stuffing boxes, she relaxed on the aft deck with a good book.
As a musician you'd think I'd have had the stereo playing all day every day. Truth is, we never turned it on once during the entire trip.
Fender T. Dog learned that something interesting is always right around the next corner. He would spend hours just watching the land go by ...
The video shows how Fender T. Dog kept a vigilant eye on ducks, herons, blue jays, people, and especially dogs walking along the tow path.
We didn't stop in Holley so we didn't learn the purpose of that small white building on the wall. We could see a beautiful little park and gazebo, and the wall has enough power and water for more boats than there is dock space.
We were already starting to wish we had more than just 8 days so we could have stopped at every wall to see everything these little towns had to offer. It may seem like there's nothing here, but Holley boasts one of the most impressive waterfalls in the area. And it's just a short walk from the wall!
Rental Boats -- But Wait! Call Now and We'll Double Your Order!
Total Hrs: 7.75
Avg. Speed: 8
If you don't own a boat and want to cruise the canal, rent one!
These quasi-replicas of the original packet boats are rentals, and they are everywhere along the canal. They are "drive your own" rentals and rent by the week.
It would seem that they could be a bit difficult to maneuver in tight quarters because they have a tiller and large outboard rudder and only a single screw. But they also have a "cheat" that belies the old-world packet design: Bow thrusters!
Some of the captains are novices who've never handled a boat before, so when you see one coming give them plenty of room!
We also saw pontoons, cruisers, excursion boats, paddle boats, canoes, kayaks, jet skis, and many other types of boats for rent.
Wow. I can't believe I didn't get more pictures or video of Brockport. Wait -- I DID get video. (But it's bad quality video. There was an issue with the camera's SD data card.)
Brockport is one of the prettiest stops on this part of the canal.
This little outer-ring suburb of Rochester is also a college town, so there's plenty of partying to be had.
"Borrow a Bike" is a unique feature that really makes it easy to get to the local stores. Without a bike, the main business district is only a short walk. But ... there's really nothing here.
The pic shows the westbound view just before
I wish we would have had a chance to stop here, but the timing didn't work out on any of our four passes through this wonderful little landing.
the Park Avenue bridge. The video is eastbound. Another piece of uniqueness: This is the only set of bridges we passed that was manned ... er ... "Womanned" by a female bridge operator. When I called Mia up to the flybridge to point this out, she said she wanted to apply for the job: "It would be really cool."
Adam's Basin has an unimproved wall.
It is a good stop for a doggie walk and a lunch, but we (and most others) chose to continue to Spencerport.
One thing I did notice was the meticulous maintenance that is obviously performed daily. The busier bridges and ports show wear & tear because the operators are busy all day long. Don't get me wrong -- the entire canal system is wonderfully maintained. But places like Adam's Basin, Gasport, Hulberton, and Holley don't get much traffic stopping to see the sights or stock up on supplies. The operators in these places have more time to pay attention to detail.
Attention to detail I found, and I commend everyone who pays it.
A short note about the videos on this site.
I bought a Kodak Zi8 camera for $100 to fool around with and it turned out to be a pretty good camera for the money. Much better than I expected.
Some of the videos were hand-held and the result was shaky, but then I got inspired to rig a mount. Turns out the mount for the propane grill used the same 1/4-20 bolts as the camera's tripod mount hole. All I needed to do was shim it to level the camera. A piece of folded card stock worked just fine.
The video in this section was taken on the return trip during the approach to and passage under the Adams Basin bridge. I let it continue to record for a few minutes after we passed the bridge to give you an idea of how our trip flowed: Nice and easy ...
The camera reacted to the vibration of the engines if they were out of sync, causing a wobble in the video. You can see it as I throttle back to pass under the bridge, then again as I increase speed after the bridge. This is one of the problems with cheap cameras with CMOS chips instead of CCDs.
Spencerport - One of the Best Stops on the Canal
For eastbounders, Spencerport is the last of this style of lift bridge, and it is the last lift bridge until Fairport.
We stopped here for lunch. The Dockmaster, Mr. Bill Donahue, helped us tie the lines and pointed out the services and points of interest. When we told him we were only stopping for lunch he seemed disappointed, so we promised him that we would stay overnight on the return trip. And we did!
Laundry facilities, a supermarket, and other services are a short walk from the wall. The wall itself has plenty of power and water, with a 7-foot depth.
The Galley Restaurant is right next to the bridge, but it's known as more of a party bar than a restaurant. Nice deck if you're a people watcher.
On the return trip we were again greeted by Dockmaster D, who gave us the facility lock codes and some advice on where we could have a nice dinner: Grandpa Sam's Italian Restaurant. Just down the hill. It was one of the best meals I've ever eaten, and Mia raved about hers too! $55 for both with drinks and tip.
This was another one of those times when we wished we had more than 8 days. A very good band played Friday evening at the Gazebo, and the next day marked the beginning of Spencerport's Canal Days festival. (Notice the rides being set up to the left in the Gazebo pic.)
The facade of the Depot building that we see from the canal is the building's second story. It houses the museum and welcome center. The first floor entrance is down a flight of stairs and around back. During my attempt at a morning constitutional the next day I thought Dockmaster D had given us the wrong lock code, but it turned out the code only works on the downstairs entrance -- where the nicely maintained showers and rest rooms are hidden.
This overnight stop is also where we met Joe and Kathy on the Carolyn Ann. They were in their third year of touring the country on their beautiful tug trawler. They gave us a tour of their boat, we had a beer, and wished we could spend more time with them. Joe gave me his email address and we parted ways. They were also headed to Tonawanda, but they did have the luxury of time to stop and smell the roses. We had to leave by 7am to beeline home in one day. Joe and Kathy are savvy, intelligent, experienced, and friendly people.
My only regret is we couldn't hook up when they got to Tonawanda. If Mia and I had any doubts about our five-year plan to buy a bigger boat and do America's Great Loop, they were gone after we met Joe and Kathy. The decision was now carved in stone.
Water, Water Everywhere!
In Spencerport on the last day of our trip I awoke to the sound of the water pump cycling on & off in one-second bursts. Mia turned on the galley sink faucet and it acted as if the water tank was empty. I had topped off that tank last evening, so I knew that couldn't be the problem...
When I opened the hatch to check the pump I saw water spraying from a pinhole in the high-pressure hose. With every cycle of the pump the spray would get stronger, then slow to a drip. The pump must have started cycling hours ago while we were sleeping. The entire contents of the 80-gallon water tank now resided in the bilge. I shut off power to the water pump and made sure the bilge pumps were running.
I checked my spare-parts inventory. There were chunks of rubber and hose clamps that could be used to seal the leak, but the clamps were all too big. The GPS reported a pool supply store within walking distance of the Spencerport landing. They sell stainless-steel clamps and high-pressure hoses.
As I was leaving the boat I ran into Joe and told him what had happened. He told me to wait as he disappeared into the Carolyn Ann. A few seconds later he reappeared with a roll of
Rescue Tape. I dried the leaking hose and layered several turns of the tape around the pinhole. Instant repair! This tape is amazing, and it is a must-have for emergency repairs. I refilled the water tank and checked below. Under pressure, the leak had slowed to a once-a-minute drip. If I had used more tape it would have stopped the leak completely, but I didn't want to use all of Joe's stock. I decided to leave the pump power switch off and turn it on only when we needed to use the water. After all, we were only 10 hours from home at that point.
Clicking on the picture won't bring up a larger version. Instead, it will open the Rescue Tape website in a new window.
We stopped at Allen's Canalside Marina to top off the gas tanks in 2010, but that was before I had calculated fuel consumption rates for extended trips. We didn't need to stop here in 2011.
It's a nice little haven with transient docks and friendly people. Allen's has the only gas for miles in either direction and they could charge whatever they want for gas. But they don't. The price is fair, and within pennies of the other marinas on the system. They don't sell diesel.
Depth at the gas dock is 5 feet. We didn't venture in to the slip area (not shown in the photo -- it's in a protected harbor to the left).
The gas dock and harbor area are tight, so if it's busy you can expect to wait your turn in the canal channel.
The little booklet they give you when you first enter the canal system shows all of the lift bridges and locks with estimated travel times at 10 mph. The booklet is fairly accurate if you adjust those times for your speed. Except for this run from Spencerport through Rochester to Lock 33. The booklet says 1.25 hours. It took us 2.5 hours.
That is not to say that this section of the canal is boring. In fact, it cuts directly through the City of Rochester. Although we felt like we were miles from civilization, the tree-lined banks hid the heavily populated area from view.
This is where the canal crosses the Genesee River. If you turn north you wind up on a wall that is across the landing from the party-bar area of the City. A good place to visit for a few hours, but not a good choice for an overnight stay.
This section of the canal is open to the Genesee River and requires constant maintenance.
Rather than post a bunch of photos with captions, I'll end this segment of our trip with a video. It's a montage of still photos that gives you an idea what it's like to pass the City of Rochester. The Four Ducks Barbergoose Quartet, pictured above, provides the soundtrack.
(Okay. The geese aren't really singing. I stole the audio performance off Youtube and modified it to make it sound old. If you want to see the absolutely outstanding original, Click here to open Youtube in a new window.)