Some left stranded as canal remains closed

AMSTERDAM – Boaters have been trapped at Lock 11 on the Erie Canal for the past two weeks because of turbulent weather conditions on the canal.

They don’t seem to mind.

“We’ve been sightseeing,” Rhonda McManus, of Athens, Ala., said.

Touring the Northeast with her husband, Wayne, McManus said the last several weeks have been spent relaxing on the boat as they wait for the New York State Canal Corp. to deem the Erie Canal safe for transit.

According to the Canal Corp., the Erie Canal system is closed between Lock 8 in Scotia and Lock 15 in Fort Plain due to damage from rain storms earlier in the month.

Shane Mahar, spokesman for the Canal Corp., said Monday the water flow on the Mohawk River is still too fast for safe travel, leaving boats tied up at locks until the river returns to a manageable speed.

According to Mahar, some of the movable dams were damaged in the storms, which are being repaired by contractors. According to Mahar, the dams build up water that allow for easier travel.

Workers inspecting the dams found parts bent out of shape by water pressure and debris.

The damage was caused by rainfall earlier in June, when locks were opened to avoid flooding, Mahar said.

The repairs to the dams are ongoing, but Mahar was not sure how long they would take.

“We have no firm time table,” Mahar said.

He said several people are stuck on the canal until canal conditions improve.

At Lock 11, located behind Guy Park Manor, four boats were tied up in the lock Monday.

Despite the delay of their tour of the Northeast, McManus and her husband have been making the best of the situation.

Crews from the Canal Corp. dropped off a generator to power their boats and air conditioners. McManus said they have been staying on their boat, named Help Me, Rhonda.

“They have been so good to us,” McManus said of the Canal Corp.

Local residents, McManus said, have been helpful.

“We get people coming down here, asking if we need a ride anywhere or a place to stay,” McManus said. “…We are as comfortable as can be.”

McManus said they have been visiting the area and enjoying local restaurants. She said she had her first cannoli from a local bakery.

McManus said the two were docked at Riverlink Park in Amsterdam, but they were told to move to Lock 11 for their safety.

McManus said they could be allowed to leave by Wednesday.

McManus said she hopes to continue the trip with her husband to Canada.

“We don’t have a schedule,” McManus said.

Ken Price of Berk’s Falls, Ontario, also is stuck at Lock 11. He said he hasn’t been frustrated by the delay.

“Plans change,” Price said.

Staying on their boat, Satisfaction, Price said his wife, Trudy, and dog Mellow have been offered a place to stay by local residents, but they feel more comfortable sleeping on the boat.

“It’s home,” Price said.