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Although we enjoyed virtually all of our trip through the canals, we thought we’d list our top three places that we stayed.

#3… Phoenix, NY

Phoenix is probably best known as the home of the Bridge House Brats, a group of youngsters that frequent the dock area, assisting visiting boaters with various tasks. The area offers free dockage, electricity, water and Wi-Fi. We were greeted when we arrived by several youths who took our lines to help us tie up. We were also served some breakfast by another lad at one of the patio tables they have on the dock.

Negatives? The dock area was an evening hangout by almost a dozen teens. They weren’t bad kids, spending their time fishing primarily, but they were all around a neighboring boat and had it been mine, I wouldn’t have been too happy about the noisy company.

#2… Sylvan Beach, NY

Sylvan Beach is on the eastern end of Lake Oneida. With a full-time midway right by the docks and a nice beach to swim on, it was a great stopover. There was free dockage but no electricity or water. I think I managed to scrounge a Wi-Fi signal with my hi-power amplifier, but there were no easily accessible free signals. We enjoyed the whole town, including the nearby park, bars and restaurants.

Negatives: No amenities beyond the free dockage. Electricity, water and Wi-Fi would have been appreciated.

#1… Waterford, NY

Waterford should give seminars to those towns looking to increase their boating traffic! They offer free dockage, water, electricity, Wi-Fi, Showers and a visitor center. There are stores, restaurants and bars a short walk away. The nearby grocery store even allows visiting boaters to take their shopping carts back to the marina and leave them there, to be picked up by a store employee at some point in the future. Add to this an overall friendly atmosphere on the docks, it is obvious that the people at Waterford appreciate the boating visitors and want to encourage them to come back. Waterford gets our top marks!

Negatives: If I have to pick one, and this is really just a tiny thing, there is a bit of a wake created each time Lock #2 dumps its water. For this reason I would recommend docking closer to the end of the dock away from the lock as opposed to right beside it.


  1. You guys need to put one of those little trackers on the blog so we can see your progress on a map…

  2. Wow! All that free dockage! Shilshole charges $1.25 – $2.00/ft per nite.

  3. Wouldn’t it be great if there were more “Waterfords” around? Hopefully with more and more cruisers, there eventually will be.

  4. I’m used to paying 90 cents a foot to dock overnight on the Rideau. (The bigger boats sometimes pay for hydro- at an extra $9.80 a night!) Needless to say, I and many other boaters would consider free docking a BIG plus when deciding where to visit.

    Just as stores that offer free parking tend to be busier than those with expensive (or no) parking, a town that makes life easy for boaters will end up with more boater money poured into their shops and restaurants than a town that charges a fortune to use a crappy dock by the sewage plant. This is why Kingston keeps hosting the Poker Run- because 70 to 100 powerboats bring with them several million dollars in discretionary spending that, in Council’s eyes, justify the disruptions such a huge boating event causes.

    Water and holding-tank pumpout, I suppose, would also be on the priority list for longer cruises… nobody likes talking about pumpout, but for inland/coastal cruising, it’s essential.

    • I saw some pics of you guys in one of those locks. They really pack them in there!

      • There is something to be said for having lots of big, soft fenders when there are seven other boats in the lock with you! Even so, I’m often impressed by how civilized boaters are when forced into tight, slow-moving situations. They’re much, much more fun than drivers stuck in traffic on the 401.

  5. Hey Mike. Thanks for your nice note back yesterday. When we do our bit next year we will spend the entire summer in North Channel and Georgian Bay, 12 weeks of bliss before we head east and south. After considering all the issues we have decided to return to Bay City in late August, put the boat on a truck, and ship it to Norfolk. For us it is a 1300 mile trip to get from Bay City to Norfolk on the boat, about 6 weeks is what is needed to do it. That means we would already need to be heading south right smack dab in the middle of the best cruising weather on Northern Lake Huron. And the cost delta between traveling and shipping is essentially nil, given the cost of fuel, dockage, food etc. So we will miss the canal and the Hudson, but we will also get to spend those 6 weeks enjoying the solitude and beauty of your country. Then we will head south from Norfolk, my bet is that it will be at about the same time in the year (in 2011) that you will start your trek from there. So I will be paying rapt attention.

  6. On the other hand, while the businesses may be willing to have free dockage, the government entity in charge may have other ideas, like maximizing THEIR income! I live in a tourist area, and all the city/county governments are always trying to get as much money as possible from the tourists. And still they keep coming! Last year was kind of slow, but this year things have picked up as the summer has progressed.

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