Cruising and transit information for the (4) major canal systems that make up the New York State Canal System (NYSCS) including: The Erie Canal, The Champlain Canal, The Oswego Canal, and The Cayuga-Seneca Canal. Information includes distances, estimated transit times, lock information with waypoint’s, and phone numbers. Also included is information on the Federal Lock at Troy, NY.
The NYSCS comprises of a total of 57 locks, 16 lift bridges, and numerous free tie ups stretching over the entire 524 miles of the system.
The navigation season for the NYSCS system runs from early May through November with the standard hours of operation between 0800 and 1800 daily. Early and late in the season these hours are typically changed to 0700 to 1700 daily.
Some locks and lift bridges will operate outside of these hours often from 0700 to 2200. These exceptions will be noted in the "NYSCS Operating Schedule" located in the right sidebar.
Canal Passes may be purchased at many locations, but for those in transit, passes are most easily obtained at the first and last locks of each of the canal systems. Lock E-2 and E-35 on the Erie Canal, C-1 and C-12 on the Champlain Canal, O-1 and O-8 on the Oswego Canal, and CS-1 and CS-4 on the Cayuga-Seneca Canal. You can read more detailed information regarding recreational passes and regulations by reading the official NYSCS Recreational Pass Information here. Cost of the permits can be found in the sidebar to the left.
You can complete and print or download for future use The NYSCS Recreational Vessel Pass Application here
Aids to navigation are as follows:
Erie Canal - Red markers are kept to starboard between locks E-2 and E-35 westbound.
Cayuga-Seneca Canal - Red markers are kept to starboard between locks CS-1 and CS-4 south and westbound.
Champlain Canal - Red markers are kept to starboard between locks C-1 and C-12 northbound. (North of C-12 the buoyage system reverses.)
Oswego Canal - Red markers are kept to port between locks O-1 and O-8 northbound.
A single chart booklet, (NOAA Chart #14786), provides coverage of the entire canal system including the Cayuga-Seneca, Champlain, Erie, and Oswego with the exception of a small section of the western end of the Erie Canal for which no chart coverage exists.
New York State Canal System lock chamber waypoint’s for the Cayuga-Seneca, Champlain, Erie, and Oswego Canals in PDF format are available for download.
Depths and Clearances
The minimum depths available throughout the New York State Canal System range from 12’ to 14’ with depths over the lock sills typically being slightly less than channel depths.
Vertical clearances throughout the canal system present the biggest challenge. These clearances range from 15.5’ to 21’ depending on what section of the canal system you are transiting. The limited clearance heights are of most concern to sailing vessels and larger powerboats. All vessels transiting the NYSCS system should be aware of these height restrictions and ensure that their MHH’s will allow safe passage.
For those that require their masts to be stepped or un-stepped, we have a list of known marinas and contact numbers in the vicinity of the NYSCS where this service is offered.
All lockmasters throughout the entire New York State Canal System maintain a watch on VHF channel 13. Phone numbers of each lock can be found in their respective sections.
All lock chambers on the canal system are 328 feet long and 45 feet wide and are designed to accommodate vessels up to 300 feet LOA and a 43.5 foot beam.
Mooring at Canal Corporation Facilities
Under the New York Codes, Rules & Regulations:
"Vessels may moor at a Canal Corporation owned dock or terminal up to 48 hours in a calendar month. Such mooring is free of charge, though services provided at the facility, such as electric, water and pumpouts, may have a charge associated with them. Vessels wishing to moor in excess of 48 hours must apply for a permit from the Corporation. Unless extenuating circumstances exist, such permits are usually granted only to commercial and other non-recreational vessels."
Many of the towns and communities along the New York Canals have made significant improvements to the terminal walls within their boundaries. Installing floating docks, power, water, restrooms, and other amenities. Some have elected to charge a reasonable fee for these services while others offer them free and simply ask that you support their local businesses. In most cases, if you elect not to use these additional services, you are still allowed to dock for free. There are exceptions to this rule however.
Many Lock approach walls are another option for free overnight dockage. You should check with the lockmaster if you are considering this since there are a few that can be hazardous and may not be used. You may also want to consider your direction of travel when deciding whether you want to spend the night on the up or down stream side of the lock.
Where NYS navigation law dictates it is 5 mph. Lakes-no speed limit. Rivers- 45 mph. Land cut's / rock cut's - 10mph. Speed limit signs are posted at various locations throughout the canal system including every lock indicating the maximum speed limit ahead for that section of the canal. The standard caveats apply throughout the NYSCS; watch your wake, practice good seamanship, and make liberal use of that most important piece of safety equipment you carry onboard - "Common Sense."
As a general guide to transit times, allow 5 to 6 days to Transit from Albany, NY to Buffalo, NY, 3 days for Albany, NY to Oswego, NY, and 1 1/2 days for Albany, NY to Lake Champlain.
Notice to Mariners
The latest navigational information can be found at Canal System Notice to Mariners. Anyone planning to transit the canal system should check these notices for last minute information on closures and restrictions.
The Cayuga-Seneca Canal
Running for 17 miles South and West from Montezuma, NY to East Geneva, NY at Seneca Lake.
The Champlain Canal
Running north for 60 miles from Waterford, NY to Lake Champlain at Whitehall, NY.
The Oswego Canal
Running North for almost 24 miles from Three Rivers Junction in the vicinity of West Phoenix, NY to Lake Ontario.
The Erie Canal
Running west for 338 miles from Waterford, NY to Tonawanda, NY.
The Troy Lock
Located 134 NM above the Battery in NYC, it marks the head of tidal influence on the Hudson River. (Not part of the NYSCS)