The break wall at the end of the Erie Canal in Sylvan Beach is used to help give boaters the momentum they need to enter Oneida Lake. Over the years, ice and strong winds have deteriorated the wall. Sections of the wall are now covered by high waters, making it difficult for boaters to see the wall. The Canal Corporation has addressed the issue by putting up lighted bouys and markers along the wall, but is that enough? Oneida County Sheriff Department's Sgt. Scott Kahl thinks it is.
"I think no matter what you do, I think the Canal Authority could put markings all the way down there, and I think somebody would still hit that wall. They literally have 3 big markers in a very short period… you know a very short span right here. You know whereas one would probably be to an experienced boater, one is all that would be needed, but… and in between those 3 are other smaller ones."
Christopher Boyle is an experienced boater and did see the lights mapped out on his charts, but he entered the canal during the daytime and said some of the smaller white lights were difficult to see, and the bigger red ones weren’t lit.
"Red triangles would work. For visual in the daytime that would have made me personally, that would have made me like ok, there they are, and now that I think about ok if they’re all lit, that explains why they showed up as a string of lights on my charts."
One boater I spoke with called the wall a hazard. He thinks there should be additional markings to highlight where the wall is during the daytime, but Boyle doesn’t think the break wall would have been difficult to see during the night.
"I almost did this at night, and that would have changed my perspective drastically."
The Sheriff’s Department says every boater is responsible for knowing the waters they’re about to travel, and there’s plenty of maps available on the D.E.C.’s website: