Avoiding Niagara Falls and CBP

Apologies for the delay in posting my trip journal, internet was hard to come by the latter portion of the trip.  Most marina’s did not have them or offered expensive internet for purchase.- Carla

It is impossible to motor up Niagara Falls in a boat, so the best way around it by water is using the Welland Canal.

Welland Canal location in relation to Niagara Falls

Welland Canal location in relation to Niagara Falls

The Welland Canal, which is part of the St. Lawrence Seaway, is a series of 8 very large lift locks.  These locks are extremely large to accommodate “lakers”, which are large shipping cargo ships which travel in the Great Lakes- and not from LA.

After leaving Sodus Point, NY, for Ontario, Canada, we had a surprise enroute.  A boat, speeding towards us at 42 knots, meant we were going to be boarded by either the Coast Guard or Customs, Border Patrol (CBP) under Homeland Security.  Their blue lights flashing, CBP ordered all crew (Captain Dave, Yvette and myself) out on the back deck.  They did allow us to get our passports and other ID.  A group boarded us  and watched my sister and I while the lead officer inspected the yacht looking for drugs, illegal aliens, and wanted felons.

Of course, I was able to take pictures with my iphone to share with you all before the boarding:

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and just before they boarded our vessels:

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They were nicer once they figured out we were upstanding US citizens, and had no warrants outstanding at least.  This was the first CBP boarding for Yvette and Dave in their 30 year boating career.  Usually it is the Coast Guard who board the yachts, and I’m told they are not as nice as the CBP officers.  Dave had prepared me for a Coast Guard boarding, giving such advice as “keep your hand in plain site and make no fast movements” when having a semi-automatic pointed at you.

Onwards to Port Dalhousie, where we docked for the night.

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The boat next to us at the end of the dock was a friendly retired couple refinishing an old boat.  According to them, Julie Andrew’s yacht was docked recently where we were and Meryl Streep was seen dressed casually as a guest on board.  After a nice evening at Murphy’s Restaurant and Bar in old Port Dalhousie, we left the St. Catherine’s Marina to meet up with our pilot, Roger.  I first met Roger, a retired St. Lawrence Seaway worker, on my last trip through the Welland Canal 2 years ago on the Wombat. He knows each lock and thus, safely guided us through locks 1-7.

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Entering Welland Lock 1

Entering Welland Lock 1

M/Y Odyssey inside of Welland Canal Lock 1

M/Y Odyssey inside of Welland Canal Lock 1

Water fills the Lock at a very fast rate

Water fills the Lock at a very fast rate

Btw, inside the Lock are lots of small floating fish, so picture dozens of seagulls swooping down for a meal.

Lock 1, Welland Canal about half way filled

Lock 1, Welland Canal about half way filled

Lock is filled, doors open and we next move on to Lock 2

Lock is filled, doors open and we next move on to Lock 2

Having Roger on board freed me up from handling the stern lines, which I appreciated.  Instead, I hung out with my sister up on the bow, coiling the line as the water level rose.  I also took lots of pictures:

Welland Canal view from the bow (front) of the boat before the lock fills

Welland Canal view from the bow (front) of the boat before the lock fills

Roger, Pilot Extraordinaire, St Lawrence Seaway

Roger, Pilot Extraordinaire, St Lawrence Seaway

Lock 8 is a different lock- you do not tie up to the side.  Instead, you just slowing travel along the length of it for the short lift, the lock worker pedaling a bike alongside.  At the end of Lock 8, I was on the lookout for roving bands of mooners since last time a group of teenage boys mooned me on the Wombat.  Rather than being shocked, I laughed at them!  LOL

We said our goodbyes to the Welland Canal, wishing we had more time to get some ice wine from the local vineyards.  Hugs from Carla

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6 thoughts on “Avoiding Niagara Falls and CBP

  1. That CBP boat looks teeny-weeny next to the Odyssey.

    I have never been thru a lock before; I love the explanation and photos. It is a bit scary looking when you are on the bottom. I have heard some scary stories from guys on a Navy ship going thru the Panama Canal where the measurements were not quite correct and some of the ship’s catwalks (outdoor walkway under the flight deck) got chewed up.

  2. Beautiful pictures — especially enjoyed hearing and seeing how the locks worked. The pictures of the boats at sunset were beautiful — you should do a landscape quilt. Bet you’re glad to be home though.

  3. Hi, I have to make my first trip through the welland canel and was wondering if you can give me any tips. I bought a boat in Hamilton and must bring it up to Georgian Bay and the Welland Canel has me a bit edgy and could use some info. Thanks John

    • Hi John, I wrote you an email about this topic. I can put you in touch with Roger, the pilot or Dave, the Captain. One of the benefits of using Roger is that he can guide you and line handle both. Takes the stress out of it. Anyway, let me know. Good luck!! Carla

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