B'ville: Man travels canal in gondola

Joe Deverell of Cross Lake, a few miles west of Baldwinsville, is having the time of his life sailing east on the Erie Canal in his 36-foot gondola he acquired from Venice, Italy.

People are just wonderful. They've given me things to help me on my voyage.

Deverell, 41, who is a self-employed industrial engineer, spent much of the summer preparing for what is both a physically and mentally demanding trip.

Departing Cross Lake on Sept. 11, he said he was traveling as a good-will ambassador to promote the historic waterway. Three days later he had made it to Lock 21 at New London, between Sylvan Beach and Rome. He estimated his trip to Albany would take three weeks.

Some days I do better than others, so it may not take all that time.

Just to be on the safe side, he was accompanied across Oneida Lake by a motorboat driven by his friend, Mark Reynolds of Weedsport.

I've motor-boated the canal many times, but this is quite different. You get a different perspective doing it this way, or by kayaking or rowing, he said.

Rowing a gondola so long a distance has its hazards.

I have to be careful of high winds, Deverell said.

If it gets too rough, he docks until the weather gets better.

Deverell noted the canal is a wonderful asset to New York State. He said he knows of no other state that has an active canal system dissecting it.

You won't find one in Pennsylvania or Ohio, he said.

Deverell said his goal is to reach Albany by Sept. 30 so he can meet three other gondoliers who are rowing up from New York City in a tribute to the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Deverell won't be alone on his trip. Two independent New York City filmmakers are accompanying him for part of his journey.

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