8/24/17: Everyone who transits the Erie Canal, especially sailboats carrying masts on rickety cradles, stops at one of two places depending on which direction they are travelling. For eastbound travellers, it’s Brewerton, and for westbound travellers it’s Sylvan Beach. The reason? Oneida Lake.
Oneida Lake is a huge lake that you must cross when travelling the Erie Canal. It’s 20 miles long from east to west and very shallow. Winds from the east or the west can pile up waves 4 to 6 feet high on the opposite side of the lake. Since the prevailing winds are westerly, and usually above 10 knots, there are many days that Oneida Lake is not crossable for sailboats carrying masts. They all wait at Brewerton or Sylvan Beach for a day with calm winds, and we were no exception. Some people wait many days for the perfect window of opportunity. Needless to say, the thought of crossing Oneida Lake caused a little anxiety for us.
Since we were travelling east, Brewerton was our stop to await the “perfect day”. We had heard good things about Winter Harbor Marina from our North Carolina friends as well as others, so we called and made reservations for one night, but asked if we could do additional nights if needed. They said no problem. From the time we pulled up to the fuel dock this family owned business made us feel very welcomed. They meet us at the dock, gave us a folder of information about the marina and town, and they actually had real live courtesy cars available (unlike other places that advertise the service but then have no cars to be seen). They were a full service marina and had quite a huge parts store and general ship’s store. We picked up an array of miscellaneous stuff from our “things to get” list.
After visiting the laundromat, we went out for Mexican with Jeanne and Brian. The food and company made for a great evening. Of course, we discussed crossing the lake and when it may happen, and we all agreed that the following day looked promising. We returned to the marina, retired for the day, and hoped that the following morning would be as calm as they predicted. Lucky for us, it was! We awoke at 6AM, saw that the lake was glass, and all made a break for it. We crossed Oneida Lake without incident, and only had to spend one afternoon and night waiting.