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Touring CNY waterways

Even though he has lived in greater Baldwinsville for the past 20 years, it wasn't until about five years ago that he began to navigate the Seneca River. Since then, Rasbeck has learned a lot about the Seneca while enjoying his pastime.

Heading east through Lock 24, Rasbeck will tell you the Lock drains 1.3 million gallons of water in approximately eight minutes, dropping the vessel 11 feet in the enclosed lock. Meanwhile, he greets the men operating the lock by name.

"These guys are great -- they're always here to help you," he said.

Rasbeck also provides a history of the Barge Canal, noting construction began in 1908 through an eminent domain takeover. He added that the original canal was built along Lock Street and was known as the Baldwin canal, built by Dr. Baldwin to run his tannery.

A new endeavor

Rasbeck owns and operates Discovery Marine Services LLC in Baldwinsville, which offers one-, two- and three-hour tours for $100, $200 and $300, respectively. (Full day tours are also available. For prices, contact Rasbeck).

What he refers to as his "box deal" begins at Mercer Park and either heads east through Lock 24 to Onondaga Lake and the Inner Harbor or west to Cross Lake. The captain is flexible enough that he would meet customers elsewhere, whether at a private dock, a marina or another public dock. He is open to suggestions and happy to provide custom tours.

"One of the ideas is to just see what there is," he said.

Although Rasbeck is currently employed full time Monday through Friday, he has a fairly flexible schedule that would allow for day tours if booked in advance. He plans to retire in 2010, at which point he will run boat tours full time during the summer and early fall. Tours are currently offered during daylight hours seven days a week through fall. To book a tour, call Rasbeck at 317-3694.

"I am hoping to link my business with others in the Baldwinsville area to offer services to their customers such as hotels, restaurants and spas," Rasbeck said. "Keeping in mind the focus on tourism in general and the canal corridor in particular, this should be a popular addition to recreation in the area."

Rasbeck also serves as a captain of the Night Heron out of the Fireside Inn, which offers dinner cruises for groups (through reservations) and walk on tours of the river on Sundays. For more information about the Fireside Inn tours, call the restaurant at 638-0214.

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