Story and Photos by: ROBERT STOPPER, Lyons
“Overnight docking” in Lyons set a new record during the 2014 Erie Canal Boating Season- over 300 boats. Boaters arrived from 35 states, 209 communities, France, New Zealand, Denmark, and the United Kingdom. Thirty four (34) overnight vessels were from Canada.
|Visitors on the canal by day|
New York State “overnight” boats totaled 115, with the highest numbers from the Ithaca and Watkins Glen areas. Pennsylvania was well represented with 20 “overnight” boat dockings. Many of those boats had launched at Watkins Glen.
Boaters are frequently surprised when they stop in Lyons- they are welcomed to the Lyons community by a member of the Greeters, a group of 16 volunteers who meet the newly arrived tourists and welcome them to Lyons and the Erie Canal. The greeters do more than just say, “Hello and Welcome”. They encourage the boaters to sign a registry located at the fire station just a few steps from the dock. At the fire station, boaters have access to free showers and rest rooms.
Greeters have escorted the visiting boaters on tours of the community, assisted them in purchasing groceries and necessary repair parts for their boat, escorted them to historical Locks E 56 and E 54, photographed them standing in Clinton’s Ditch, helped move “chase” cars, and even provided emergency transportation to the Syracuse and Rochester airports.
Not only did the 2014 boating season set a record for overnight boaters, it was the first season when many boaters arrived at the dock and knew greeters by name- they were return visitors from previous years.
|Erie Canal Dock at Night|
It was also the first season of “See-you-soon” phone calls. Boaters like Dennis the Menace and Runaway Ron called and said, “We are leaving Detroit at the moment. .… Will see you in a few days.” And they did…! Like so many boaters, they promised to return in the spring.
Be they from the east or be they from the west, docking overnight in Lyons with free Wi-Fi is a welcome stop for many boaters. The number of “overnight” dockings is increasing rapidly. The number of “overnight” boats in 2009 was 103. This past year, 2014, the number of “overnight” boats was 305- indeed a new record!