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With summer giving way to autumn, the time has come when sailors in Lake Ontario will be making ready to head south. As that journey, for most people, involves a transit of the canal system, and with it many brand new activities, I thought I’d repost some of the tips and videos that we previously put up relating to the subject of passing through the locks.

When planning this journey, the first thing you’ll need to do is acquire some charts and/or guide books for the trip. In this post I discussed what we purchased and carried with us.

The next challenge is to figure out a good way to carry your mast on deck. Yes, if you’re planning on traveling down the canal system, you’ll need to unstep your mast, turning your beautiful sailboat into a bastardized power boat. I researched and debated on this subject for quite a while, especially since ZTC’s fixed bimini made a centerline carry complicated. Among other things, this post shows how we ultimately decided to carry our mast, and looking back on it, I was pretty happy with how it all worked out.


You’ll get plenty of practice in the locks!

From that point forward, until you reach the Hudson River where you can re-step your mast, you’ll be getting plenty of practice transmitting the locks in the canal system. Having these tools on hand will make the job easier, and safer, and the video below will give you an example of what the process looks like. Sorry for the 13 min. video length, it was shot in real time.

Here is another video where we filmed the process of locking up.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask them in the comments. Happy travels!


  1. I’m assuming that Mike was holding a back line or was it actually smooth enough for just holding the one line?

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