Travel with Val: Set sail along the Erie Canal
Valarie D’Elia set sail along the Erie Canal to show you how you can learn the ins and outs of the canal and boating and even get behind the wheel.
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Retired airline pilot Bain Kramer is more at home in the cockpit, but this week, he and his wife are chartering a boat with friends along the Erie Canal.
"It’s the first time for me that I’ve gone slowly," he said. "Usually, I go quickly through life."
With a sense of history and a stocked galley, this pair of New Jersey couples is heading west on the canal that, as the famous Thomas S. Allen folk song goes, runs from Albany to Buffalo.
"The idea is to relax," said Sarah Wiles with the Mid-Lakes Navigation Company. "Get to know the people on the canal. Get to know the towns and villages. See what there is around the next bend, because there is always something."
Something like Lockport, home of the canal museum and original towpaths once used by mules pulling barges and now occupied by bikers.
Before cruising solo, boaters learn the ropes of navigating locks and low bridges with little worry about getting stuck.
"You're right in the middle of the real world," Wiles said. "You’re not way out at sea. Just give us a call."
The boating season lasts from May to early October and costs about $3,000 a week for a boat that accommodates at least four.
“I thought it was a great idea, coming to New York State, which is beautiful anyway and doing something like this," said Diane Zawalich. "An adventure."
For more information, go to www.midlakesnav.com.