How to get ships around Niagara Falls?
That was the question that vexed Great Lakes admirals and industrialists since the early days of westward expansion across North America.
“Build a canal,” came the answer.
Now, the Windleblo was bound to climb around Niagara Falls through the Welland Canal.
Sailing from Rochester, Rod Larsen, Phil Dear, and I arrived at the Pleasure Craft dock outside Lock 1, Port Welland, Ontario, at 11:30 p.m., September 6th. We reported in to the lockmaster using the dedicated phone on the dock. He told us they could not accommodate us until the morning. There was too much commercial traffic in the locks. As with the locks between Montreal and Lake Ontario, the big ships take priority. We would have to work through the Welland Canal when the big ships were through.
After a good sleep, we reported back in to the lockmaster at 7 a.m. Again, we were advised that commercial traffic would delay our start into the canal. We waited. Two motor vessels joined us on the dock. We would platoon through the 27 nautical miles canal together.
One hour turned into two, then three. We ate a proper British breakfast of soft boiled egg, bacon, baked beans, and grilled tomato. We dozed. We listened to NPR. We played Mollky. We talked to the Canadians in the motor vessels who started drinking beer before Noon. We ate lunch. All the while, we monitored VHF Channel 14 for instructions from the lockmaster.
Finally, at 3:50 p.m., the order came to enter Lock 1. We led the motor vessels in.
Over the next ten and a half hours, we worked our way through the canal, sometimes proceeding directly between locks, sometimes waiting for an hour or more for a commercial vessel to proceed ahead of us up the canal or pass by us downbound.
The upshot was one awesome experience, better than Disneyland. The photos don’t do it justice.