Wednesday, June 7, 2017

"Harriet H. Wiles" Update

Yes, its true, I am the worst blogger ever. And, while it is doubtful that anyone is still following since I have not posted in over a year, we are long overdue for an update on the Harriet H. Wiles.

"Harriet" was launched last year in June.  With such a late entry into our fleet, we set ourselves the lofty goal of booking her for five weeks in 2016.  By the end of the season she had set out on nine charters, which made our sales team super happy and our operations team super busy. That's just the way we like it.

Last week, "Harriet" had her first charter of the 2017 season. And today I received a glowing review from the first renters of the season:

WOW, what a fantastic experience !!!!

I can't find the appropriate words to adequately describe the experiences we had as we traversed the Erie Canal from Macedon to Tonawanda and back last week. As you know from our past conversations, on six previous occasions I had rented and piloted canal boats on various canals throughout France and the Netherlands. As much as I enjoyed those experiences, I must say that my experience with Mid-lakes Navigation was by far the best. 

We were blessed to have the Harriet Wiles on her maiden voyage for the year (some of the paint on the afterdeck was still wet when we picked her up). She is truly a gorgeous boat on the exterior, but like most ladies, her real beauty lies within. Her configuration was most ideal for two people. The galley was spacious and very well equipped with appliances and kitchen tools. However, the real bonus was the single stateroom with an oversized head (bathroom) and a very, very, comfortable queen size bed. It was obvious that when she was refitted two years ago, a lot of thought went into making her the ideal boat for a couples getaway. 

My wife and I really enjoyed the boat, our destinations along the canal, and the reception we received from the various communities along the way. Because of her unique configuration, Harriet received a lot of attention from other boaters on the canal. I can't tell you how many open houses we conducted along the way. The only shame is that we did not have any Mid-lakes literature to share with the folks. 

Having said all that, I must say that the real source of our joy was the folks at Macedon.  What a fantastic group of people they were. It was easy to see the passion they have for maintaining the fleet and making sure that the individuals renting the boats have the best possible experience. They were so helpful in preparing us for the cruise and in getting us off to a good start. Without their efforts, we would have been off to a slow start as we got acclimated to the boat and the cruising and docking procedures. Because of Dan's expert orientation, we were fully prepared to get underway. He even went the extra mile by making dinner reservation at Mr. Dominic's in Fairport (a most excellent dinner I might add). 

Thank you for making our vacation so special.......
Phi & Jo-an Beck

I guess they like her!

I have set a goal of 12 weeks booked for "Harriet" for 2017, and I am just past half way there. She rents from Saturday to Saturday, the fare is $3100 for the week (but if you mention this blog I will give you a $200 discount).  She is still available for all of August, the second two Saturdays in September and the first week of October. Call me, Aimee, at (800) 545-4318 or you can book online at

See you on the Canal!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

"Harriet" is On the Move

Spring has sprung and its time to get some boats in the water.  If you have read my (rather intermittent) blog, you know that our BIG THING this winter has been breathing new life into the canal boat formerly known in the Mid-Lakes fleet as "Keuka", and more recently called "Nicole Claudine" as part of the Erie Champlain Canal Boat Company, in Waterford. "Harriet" is now on the way to her new port!

Here is a sneak peak.  Of course more pictures will come now that she is out of the artificial light of the Boat Barn.

Boat Builder, Patrick McCarthy and Electrician, Duane Morton are either putting on the finishing touches or admiring each other's amazing work, I'm not sure.  These two and several others did an amazing job transforming this boat into the Erie Canal's newest luxury barge. (pic 1)

Peter Tigh adding some finishing touches to the window hardware. Pete, a retired educator, spent countless hours this winter sanding, scraping, cleaning, painting and pretty much making "Harriet" beautiful. (pic 2)


The first looks at the interior of the "Harriet".  We will get more pictures when she gets home to Macedon.


New hard top canopy on the back deck. When she gets to Macedon, the back deck will get vinyl canvas, so she'll be completely enclosed in case of rain.

Ready to pull out of the Boat Barn.

And…She's Off!!


In the care of Lockview Marine Haulers, the "Harriet" just passed by our Skaneateles office, en route to her new home port in Macedon, NY.

You  can rent "Harriet" by the week, Saturday to Saturday, starting this June. Call me, Aimee, for rates and details! (800) 545-4318 or (315) 685-8500 or

See You On The Canal!

4/28/16 Afternoon Update

Friday, February 5, 2016

The Latest on Canal Boat Keuka…Re-named "Harriet H. Wiles"

So, it's been 8 months since my last Blog post, and a LOT had happened with the Keuka.  First of all, her new name is the "Harriet H. Wiles".

She is still a work in progress, but most of the work is done.  Below is an email that I typed to a gentleman who was asking about her (and became her very first renter!!)  He later told me that he heard about "The Harriet" from our blog, which made me realize that his email was a perfect blog post. So, We're back!

Good interior photos are hard to come by right now.  Attached are a few that I took last week.  They are not very good a) because lighting is bad, b) They were taken from my phone and c) the electrician was there so there was "stuff" all over.

The first picture is the stateroom, facing forward.  It is in the area of the boat that contains the galley on all of the other boats in our fleet.  Since the boat is designed for just two people, we took advantage of the large space for the "private" area.  In the picture, I am standing next to the queen sized bed (that does not have a mattress yet, but will soon.  The counter will have a television and there is room for a lounge chair or small recliner on the other side, to the right of the doorway.

The second photo shows the shower/head area, which is much larger than on the other canal boats in the fleet.  The head cannot be seen in this pic, but it sits opposite the entrance to the shower and there is plenty of room in there for dressing.  Its a nice space.  Huge by boat bathroom standards.

The third picture shows the galley, located in the aft section of the boat, accessible from the rear helm area. Opposite the galley, there is a settee, much like on our other 42' boats, that will convert to sleeping for one or two more guests if needed.  The settee table is made from the most beautiful piece of cherry wood!  I just love it.

I am sorry that the pictures aren't a little better.  Its hard to get a good shot in a 10' wide space with an iPhone.  We will get an actual camera in there once construction is complete.  If you are still interested after these bad pictures, she is still available for (almost) all dates.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Springtime…When you get a little behind on your Boat blogging

So, as it turns out, I am apparently a very bad Blogger.  Only a few weeks into this and I am already behind on my posting.  As every blogger, I am sure,  has done,  I promise to do better.

In our last post, we promised pictures of the "Keuka's" exterior work.  The major change is in the canopy.  Where the current fleet has a canvass canopy covering the helm stand, this boat is getting a hard top, steel canopy that goes forward to completely enclose the hatch leading into the cabin.  We will add a windshield to better protect the Captain from, well, wind.  There were some differences in opinion while this new design was being thought out, but I think we came up with a good compromise.  There will still be plenty of airflow and "out-door-sy" feeling at the helm stand, but we will also be a little more weather-proof.
Framing for new windshield on Lockmaster "Keuka"
New design offers more protection at the helm stand.
New steel framing for hard-top canopy

In other news…

The "Emita II" Came out of dry dock last week and the "Judge Ben Wiles" is launching as I type.  The marina is getting into full swing, launching customer boats and polishing up the Lockmaster fleet.  Our office is busy with some marketing projects, a reservations system upgrade and stocking up the gift shop for the season.  Its definitely busy season at your friendly neighborhood tour boat company!

Leaving Dry Dock.  Time to get this season started!
Captain Dan Wiles maneuvers the "Emita II" out of dry-dock 

The "Judge" isn't hiding in the trees any longer
Clear Tracks, ready for launch.  The ice was, thankfully, kind to us this year.
Now, if this doesn't make you want to take a boat ride...

Friday, April 10, 2015

A Look Inside the Lockmaster

Finally, the ice is melting on Skaneateles Lake.  The Judge and the Barbara are safe and sound in their cradles in Borodino and there is open water around the railroad tracks, so it looks like we will be ready to launch in time for our first Lake cruise on May 9th. Phew!

Capt. Dan has been working hard getting the Emita II ready for her May 23 season opener, an all day cruise from Macedon to Newark, NY.  And, the Lockmaster fleet will be coming out of their covers soon for some quick cosmetic work and charters beginning in early May.

The most exciting news here at Mid-Lakes remains the refurbishment of the old Lockmaster Keuka.  She is a 42' boat, and was formerly laid out inside similar to the current 42' boats in the fleet. (Here's a link to the layouts if you aren't familiar:  Our new design changes the interior quite dramatically, making an interior with a more spacious, luxurious accommodations for a couple.  It will still feature two heads and a shower, but will have upgrades in the galley (which moves aft), a queen size bed and lounge area forward.  

Here are some pictures of the progress to date.  There will be some big changes to the exterior of the boat too.  But we'll save that for another blog when we have to pictures to post.  Let us know what you think!  

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The "Keuka" Project

 Despite cold temperatures, and more snow on the ground than we'd hope for (not to mention a still completely frozen Skaneateles Lake), the days are getting longer, I think I saw a robin, so Spring start-up needs to begin soon.  But first, we have a exciting project going on at the Boat Barn in Borodino!

The "Keuka" was the fourth Lockmaster Canal Boat that the Mid-Lakes built.  She was built in 1989, spent five years in our fleet before being sold, along with her sisters, "Skaneateles", "Otisco" and "Owasco" to Collar City Charters in Troy, New York.  Since that time she had plied the waters of the Hudson River, Champlain Canal and Eastern Erie Canal, changing hands a few times, but for the most part has operated continuously for all these years, most recently going by the name "Nicole Claudine".  Last Summer, we heard that she had once again gone up for sale, and we jumped at the opportunity to have her and two of her sisters back in the Mid-Lakes Lockmaster fleet.

As luck would have it, Patrick McCarthy, one of the amazing boat builders who was with us back in the 1980s for the design and building of the original Lockmaster fleet, had some time in his busy schedule to come on board for the "Keuka" project.  Work started last week, and we can't wait to brag about our progress on this new blog.  Stay tuned!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Welcome Aboard

Welcome to Mid-Lakes Navigation's new blog, Running Lights. Anyone who has followed Mid-Lakes throughout our 46 year history on Skaneateles Lake and the Erie Canal, may remember the newspaper format brochure that we snail mailed to our loyal customers each winter with the next season's schedule, news about the boats, the business, the Wiles clan, and the latest happenings on the lake and the canal.  We gave up the printed version of Running Lights several years ago, moving to a more nuts & bolts printed brochure (that fit much better on a brochure rack).

Now, ten or so years later, interaction with customers is happening a great deal through the internet and social media, we are continuing to embrace technology and bringing back a new and improved (we hope) version of the old Running Lights. If you are curious about the excitement, interests and oddities encountered in operating the premiere tour boat company in the Finger Lakes, please follow our journey through 2015.