The Travels of Tug 44

Colonial Belle - Tour Boat

Colonial Belle is a 149 passenger tour boat offering afternoon, evening and charter cruises from Fairport on the Erie Canal. Contact them at 585-223-9470.

She is 60 footer, 28 feet wide and with a 7½ foot draft. Colonial Belle provides a wonderful canal cruising experience in any weather. Her width makes her an extremely stable and safe boat. She was built in 1961 as the Dolly Madison and spent years doing tours on the Connecticut River, and was later moved to San Francisco Bay. In 1995, she was purchased by Captain Lee Poinan, and moved under her own power via the Panama Canal to Fairport, where she has been doing tours on the Erie Canal for some 20 years.

Night cruises are always popular. Here's the Belle as she passes under the Fairport Lift Bridge on her way back to port.

The main deck provides shelter from weather with plenty of seating. There is a full bar at the front of the boat, and meals are catered in.

The upper deck provides a fabulous view of the canal and surrounding country-side. The large box structure near the front of the boat is the helm.

Captain (Master) Lee Poinan is the owner/operator. The helm is located on the upper deck near the front of the boat.

Captain (Master) Kaitlynn McHenry pilots the weekend cruises. Seen here ducking under a low bridge ... everybody down!

The Belle has an excellent crew. Here, Senior Deckhand Kathryn Tingley tends the lines while the boat is transiting Erie Canal Lock 32 at Pittsford. She holds an Able Seaman Card (which includes helmsman) from her previous job on the topsail-schooner Lynx, and has no problem climbing 90 foot masts. Notice the little fountain on the lock gate in the background.

Tending the well-stocked bar is Noah McDonald who also acts as deck crew while docking and locking. Noah is the son of our good friend Captain Wendy Marble of Canal Corp's Tug Syracuse.

Fred Vine has been entertaining passengers on the Sunday cruises for some 20 years with his wonderful renditions of all the old canal songs as well as sneaking in some of his own favorite jazz numbers. I can still hear him singing "Is you is or is you ain't my baby?" I loved his performance and must get back there in the spring to produce a video with sound featuring some of his music. He's grinning because his hat just got knocked off going under the low bridge. He put it back on just in time for this photo.

The Colonial Belle's engine room. That's a Detroit Diesel 8V71, rated about 318 horsepower, one of the most rugged dependable engines ever made. Next to that are two generators to provide electric power.

The day after our cruise on the Colonial Belle, deckhand Kathryn Tingley jumps ship, and takes Tug 44 for a day cruise on the Erie Canal in search of the fabled Erie Canal Monster. Her hand is on the throttle, cutting speed for a no-wake zone.

See the Colonial Belle's website at:

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