Grand Island, NY
the Elephant -
Strange name but that is what the locals call this rock. Well when you float over it you can see why.
On the west side of Grand Island and just a ways north of the Big 6 Marina. You will see an old crappy wooden dock. A little south of that and not far from shore. Actually 460ft from the shoreline, you will see the water ripples from the Elephant. Also it's 2,255ft from the end point of the Big 6 Marina opening.
It is a single boulder the size of an elephant of course. It sits about 3ft below the water level. Usually in very clear water, so when you are floating in this 15ft depth of water, it kind of scares the crap out of you.
If you go to Google maps, you can actually see it in the picture.
It's not really an immediate danger, as it is not really anywhere near where boats travel. It is not marked either. I'm just letting you know that it is here and a true legend to see.
Strawberry Island -
On the south end of Grand Island sits this small Island with just a few trees on it. Warning - do not cross between the two islands! Shallow depths but also a hidden boulder like mine field. They just come out of nowhere and will damage your underside.
Go completely south around Strawberry Island and at a safe distance.
Beaver Island Park - NYS Parks dept -
On the south end of Grand Island and it has a marina; beach; golf course; food; huge park.
* Visit Niagara Falls -
If you are wanting to dock and take a taxi or Uber over to see Niagara Falls, I'd suggest going into the Welland River in Canada and dock at the free dock there. Canada has the best views of the falls being directly across from them.
In NY there is a dock at the La Salle Waterfront Park almost at the north end of the base of the North Grand Island Bridge.
There is also the La Salle Yacht Club to the east of the waterfront park.
And to the east of the Yacht club is the Merani Hotel.
7001 Buffalo Ave, Niagara Falls, NY
I would ask the hotel for permission first to dock there for a couple hours. If they say no, then I'd try the club, then the park. Call for a cab from here as it will be the closest you can get.
Just do not take your boat west of the bridge and north of Navy Island! Very shallow / full of vegetation / rock minefield. They maintain a rescue tug in this area from boaters that have emergencies. If you see a buoy marked Danger, that is telling you are too close to the turbine intakes and the current that will take you over the Falls. It is not a joke.
Just some personal commentary about the USA & Canadian border here.
I have heard of harrassment from the local officals on both sides being put on boaters here. The river looks very wide but the actual border is not that far off of the USA shorline, like a few hundred yards in places. Most days you will see lots of Canadian boats out here just floating and swimming till they get around Navy Island. Then they head back south for another round of floating.
Border patrol has this area constantly watched. I have heard of NY boaters being stopped and asked what are they doing or going? They don't want you stopping or way out in the river just hanging out. They want you close to the shore and moving to a destination.
On the east side of Grand Island is totally opposite being in all USA waters. There is just crazy boat traffic all over the river here. Keep your cool and you will get thru it.
*Border Video / Customs stations for boaters are in the Gateway Harbor, Tonawanda NY and at the Erie Basin Marina, Buffalo NY.
Buffalo - (716) 881-4447
Niagara Falls - (716) 282-3141
Lewiston - (716) 285-1676
Rochester - (585) 263-6293
Erie PA - (814) 833-1355
Grass Island -
Is the local party hangout spot for the local boaters. Little sandy marshy area on the north side of the Grand Island and just east of the expressway bridge. Nothing here, just a shallow sandy bottom and cattails. Yet summer weekends it's a bunch of boats rafting. I have even seen a pontoon boat with a live band on it here.
NYS Big 6 Marina -
On the west side of Grand Island and about halfway up is a little channel leading to the marina. If you are a big boat, I'd be a little afraid. Very narrow waterway once you get past the highway overpass. There are 40ft boats back in here but it just looks terrifying at the opening. This is a NYS Park facility, so it has the bathroom and fuel amenities. Trailered boat launch for a fee. Lots of dock rentals. Just kind of tight in here.
Also known for the dropoff of stolen boats from Canada. See they steal the boat from Canada and come across like nothings happening and ditch it at the dock. Kind of risky as the county sheriff boat is docked here too. Lots and lots of immigration patrols in this area. You are being watched.
If you ever need immediate help here near Big 6, I have a brother down the street.
River Oaks Marina and Raddison Hotel nextdoor -
East side of Grand Island on the Niagara river. These two are not connected but are nextdoor to eachother. So if you need a hotel stay with and a boat docking spot, here is your place.
River Oaks Marina - (716) 774-1965
Raddison Hotel - (716) 773-1111
Youngstown, NY -
Very small and very old town but very nice. There is a yatch club on the shore more to the north.
The public dock is to the south before the building, where the ramp is.
There is a supermarket up the hill and a few nice shops.
I do recommend a place called The Ontario House 'the Stone Jug'.
358 Main St. Just up at the top of that hill. They have an awesome burger and lots of beer. Some nights live music out back.
Lewiston, NY -
Great old town here. Lots of history too.
This was one of the crossings for Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad.
Lots of little shops and bistros here.
Brickyard Pub -
Uh, you hungry? Yep this again.
This is a little walk up the hill from the river but so worth it. Again get the sample platter. This place is almost a copy of the Dinosaur BBQ. Here too one of the sides that you can order like corn or fries, is a shot of whiskey. Who gets a shot as a side?...a true lover of bbq.
Again good luck crawling back to your boat but at least this time it is downhill.
Water Street Landing -
When we were not boating, we came here. On those hot muggy nights, we found the exact corner outdoor barstool, that got the most breeze. That and a few cold beers with live music playing, we didn't leave till they kicked us out. Good food here too.
It's on the waters edge and a huge deck. The USA jetboat tours dock here too.
How about an outdoor concert from a major music tour? Check their schedule for national acts in the area. Great venue that overlooks the river and into Canada. Sadly it can't be seen or heard from your boat.
Our location and how to contact us...
Mile 313.60'ish on the Erie Canal
Call or text: email for phone number
*best way to catch me...
*worst way to find me. Still don't know how to tweet...
and less in some places.
The western Erie Canal does have speed limits.
The Canal Corp staff at the locks and the lift bridges, actually keep track of your times passing thru. They contact the staff at your next stop, to let them know traffic is coming and to expect your arrival time. Some staff even operate two separate lift bridges.
Also bank erosion.
Even though the banks of the canal is covered in large rocks, your wake is undermining it.
This is why we have these ''Guard Gates'' that you pass under every few miles. If the canals embankment has a blowout, these drop to prevent mass water exiting. It has happened.
Watch your wake.
*Please put contact info on your outdoor gear like kayaks; canoe; dingy; life jackets / preservers; throw rings; bumpers / fenders. Anything that can come off your boat.
The reason is, say if your kayak slipped off without you knowing and is found out by itself. Now local fire depts and the Coast Guard will be out looking for a potential water rescue victim(s).
These rescue teams can contact you without doing a massive search for a non-existing emergency.
We all want to find those in need of help, but wayward items just puts undue stress on resources.
If you are out on the Great Lakes or other waterways around them and looking to eat.
'Dock and Dine' lists eateries that you can easily access by boat. In most cases you can dock right there or it is a very short walk.
Check them out or send them a link to your favorite place for them to list.
Hey, do you live on the Erie Canal or close by and want to be a local host?
Hosts help people on the canal like the walkers; cyclists; kayakers; boaters and others. All these groups are so different, yet use the same space here on the canal. Local people that live on the canal, see all the people and some want to help.
Mixed in the listing on the webpages here will be a few Erie Canal Hosts. They might have a private dock; a place to pitch a tent or RV spot; a parking spot for your car or trailer for an extended stay; a local onsite person to help with issues or as a guide.
Does that sound like something you want to assist with? Send me a message and I will try to explain the details better.
Do you need your boats AC unit serviced?
Located in Tonawanda NY, western end of the Erie Canal. Call Tim (716) 831-0333
Fellow big boat owner and good guy.
Need a Ford Bronco rental in Buffalo NY?
Here is an Airbnb for your stay..
How about do you need a campsite on the western Erie Canal?
You are in luck...