Welland Canal, Lake Ontario, Canada

SV Meshugga
Nicholas & Deidre Mace
Sun 19 Aug 2018 19:36
43:14.93N 79:12.76W

We travelled across Lake Erie on Friday and Saturday, arriving at Port Colborne, the start of the Welland Canal on Sunday morning at 7.30am, tie-ing up at the Municipal Boat Dock where we had to contact the Canal authorities to arrange transit.

The transit costs CAN$200 if prepaid on their internet site; www.offshoreblue.com 
It also has loads of information for any Pleasure Boat as well as the Welland Canal Manual which you should have aboard during the transit.
Further, we could view the Ship Locking Schedule to ascertain how busy the Canal was with Commercial Shipping at www.greatlakes-seaway.com

Welland Canal direct contact telephone in the Blue Call Box (LHS in picture)

Lucky for us, being a Sunday, and a slow day in terms of Commercial traffic, (Ships), they were able to slot us in for a 9amstart, and we had less than 1 hour wait from the time we telephoned them.

Welland Canal consists of 8 Locks, which allows a vessel to bypass the Niagra Falls. Dropping us 100m down.
The fist lock going down is a Barrier Lock to equalize the water levels with Lake Erie. We only had a 6 feet drop where we did not have to tie up, one just floats through the lock.

We waited for the Lifting Bridge 21 to be raised, and Ship Harbour Feature to exit Lock 8, so we could start our transit.

Floating in lock 8

Very professional, all Bridges that need to be lifted, are raised as you come within about 1/2 mile of them

Lock 7 to 1 are all 45-50 foot each. 
Two yellow ropes are thrown to the yacht from shore staff. The land end is looped over a bollard, and we tie and pay out the rope as we decend.
This is different to all other locks we have been through, which usually have floating bollards built with-in the canal walls. At first I was very skeptical of the yellow rope system, but is worked incredibly well on our ‘Lock Downs’. At no time were we bashing up against the canal walls, and it was a smooth float down.

Exiting Lock 3.

Lock 6, 5 and 4 are Dual Flights, ie two locks adjacent to each other allowing simultaneous up and down ships to traverse, and each Lock empties directly into the next Lock so there is no motoring any distance, you just Lock Down, move forward through the doors, tie up, and Lock Down again. Repeat 3 times.

Looking through the top of the lock door, you can see the ship in front, below us in the next lock.

Ship alongside us Locking Up in one the Dual Flight Locks

Lock 5 doors in front of us after Locking Down

We’ve entered Lock 4.
Looking backwards into Lock 5 which we’ve just exited. 
In the far distance you can see Lock 6 doors.

All other locks only have one way traffic, and hence sometimes on arriving at a lock, we had to wait for the Up vessel to ‘Lock Up’ and vacate the Lock before we could enter the Lock to ‘Lock Down’.

Waiting for this Ship to exit Lock 2 so we can enter to Lock Down

We were incredibly impressed with the efficiency and professionalism of the Lock staff. Our personal onshore Locking Staff, Doug and Laura took us through all 7 tie-up locks with ease. Thanks Doug and Laura!

Exiting Lock 1, with a Ship in the distance waiting to enter after we leave

We exited the Welland at 5pm, a 9 hour transit, which is relatively good. 8 hours is considered fast, whilst the norm is 12 - 15 hours.

End of the Welland Canal at Port Weller entering Lake Ontario.