The Erie Canal, the eighth wonder of the world is currently celebrating the bi-centennial of its creation. It is one of the greatest tourist destinations in the world and it might be the most underutilized recreational resource within New York State. Organizations such as Canal NY actively work to promote the system as well as the businesses within the Erie Canal Corridor.
Erie Canal Floating homes is a program designed to
1)Promote increased use of the Canal
2)Enhance economic impact throughout the communities within the Erie Canal Corridor.
It’s all about the water right, and getting out on the water is the number one way to experience the canal.
People utilize the canal in three ways.
- Boaters travel the Canal on their own boats, they visit communities along the Canal, on vacations and long weekends,
- They spend time on their boats at their home port marinas, or they use their boats as day boats for being out on the lakes, for activities such as fishing, tubing, raft ups at swim areas, or visiting dock & dines
- People looking to visit the Canal can take advantage of day trips provided by tour operators, or even rent a boat for a week or more and chart their own course on the Canal.
The biggest challenge to boating the canal is time, the time necessary to experience the Canal.
The idea of encouraging the use of floating homes along the Canal system to allow for more tourists to travel to and experience the Canal is exciting.
There are basically two different types of docking opportunities available to transient boaters, the first are from the communities along the Canal System that offer boaters the opportunities to spend the night, visit the community and avail themselves of the resources within these communities. The second docking opportunity comes from the marinas that are in close proximity to the communities, this dynamic sometimes puts these two entities in direct competition with each other and in some communities has forced the elimination of the amenities normally available to the boater
What if these marinas had the ability to fill their slips, maybe even utilize areas of these facilities that have proved difficult in the past, such as those areas that have access issues or low water depth.
What about marinas located in areas where transient boaters typically have passed them by? What about areas of the Canal that have been totally ignored by companies investing in similar businesses. Are there portions of the Canal that the State would like to see economic impact improvements within? Are there locations which once housed marinas that could be re-opened. These marinas could be much simpler to construct. They wouldn’t need fueling infrastructure, they wouldn’t even need to be constructed with travel lifts, the floating homes could be easily lifted out of the water after the season by the use of a crane hired for a day to lift out all the boats and place them on shore, same process could be done in the spring. Boats could be built with lift points built in place to simplify the process.
These boats could also be placed in areas that have been identified as flood plains and other areas where construction has proved to be challenging!
Sanitation for these boats could be built using a site wide pump out system connected to either a municipal sewer system or onsite treatment plant. The technology even exists to install a system that incinerates all liquid and solid waste and the results are a small amount of sterile ash that can be removed once a week or so for those areas that are truly remote.
These boats could be purchased by individuals for docking in existing marinas or waterfront campgrounds, or by the marinas themselves to be placed in rental fleets
The Canal systems could easily accommodate 100 boats or more throughout the 524 miles of waterway. Each of these boats could generate thousands of dollars annually to a marina from docking and storage revenues. Organizations which wanted to own and operate rental units could be placed in systems such as Airbnb or VRBO. Boats placed in marinas could generate additional revenue such as pontoon or fishing boat rentals, or create opportunities for marinas to update their facilities like adding a workout room or maybe even a pool.
Another version of a floating community is located in Clinton Ohio at a marina just off of Lake Erie, these floating homes are set up a little different and allow each owner the ability to park a boat adjacent to their floating homes as part of their monthly slip fees.
Floating Homes originated on the west coast in cities like Seattle, and a company call eco-sea cottages has created a product that can be delivered to any city or town in the country and will even locate a slip for your boat should you wish to purchase from them. They too offer outboard engine and steering packages which would allow you to move a boat in limited situations. For more info visit their web site www.eco-seacottages.com