Floating during the eclipse: Boaters are making plans for viewing on April 8

Mar. 12—HENDERSON — Most people viewing the solar eclipse on April 8 will be standing on solid ground, but quite a few people will have a different experience.

Boaters in Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York and Canada will have a chance to view the darkened sky from the water, as the path of totality passes directly over Lake Erie and Lake Ontario.

Gene Bolton, captain of Sunken Treasure Fishing Charters, runs his guide service out of Henderson, on Lake Ontario's eastern shore. Bolton is planning to be out on the water that day.

"We are experiencing a pretty high demand from people that want to view it from boats," he said.

The Henderson area, located near prime salmon, trout, walleye and bass fishing, is home to several fishing charters, many of which, Bolton said, should be able to get visitors out on the water.

"There will be a lot of captains that will be able to accommodate tourists coming up to take a look at it," he said.

These captains include Gerry Tanner with Jolly Roger Fishing Charters, Jason Smola with 3 Kings Charters and Dave Zangari with Just One More Fishing Charters.

The captains said the weather on April 8 will determine if they can take their boats out. Temperatures have been mild this winter, leaving an ice-free lake, which could mean an early start to the season. But it is too soon to know for sure.

"It all depends on the weather too," Smola said.

"Who knows if there is going to be 30-mph winds that day and you can't go out on the lake. It could be cloudy that day too. You just don't know until that time arises," he said.

If the conditions are right, he plans to be floating when the moon passes between the sun and Earth at 3:22 p.m.

"There is going to be a lot of people in the area. What better way to spend it than out on the water?" Smola said.

Tanner will be taking out guests who wish to fish and watch the eclipse. He said he is interested to know how the event will impact the bite.

Tanner said it could work to an angler's favor. "The lunar pole on the lakes has a lot to do with fish activity, so it very well could fire up a bite."

But it could also work against them.

"Or it could shut them down," he said. "This is something that we've never done before."

Most marinas will be closed or still in the process of opening up for the season on the day of the eclipse.

Craig Parker, operations manager at Navy Point Marine in Sackets Harbor, said that they will be maintaining their normal schedule, which means beginning to launch boats on April 15.

"It's too risky to launch boats too early," Parker said. Like many, he is unsure of what to expect on April 8.

He said that the Border Patrol will be patrolling the area on the day of the eclipse, as a precautionary measure in the case of higher-than-normal boating traffic.

The Border Patrol contacted Navy Point, and the marina will be standing by to assist them with fueling and docking.

Most of the boat traffic, Parker said, would be coming from public launch sites, such as the boat ramp at Westcott Beach State Park and town launches like those in Sackets Harbor, Henderson and Chaumont.

For those who do not own their own boat but wish to view the eclipse from the water, larger tour boats are a possibility.

Uncle Sam Boat Tours, Alexandria Bay, will have an early opening for the eclipse, from April 6 to 8. Those who sign up for the second tour on April 8, which runs from 3 to 5 p.m., will be viewing the cosmic event from the top deck of the boat, supplied with free eclipse glasses. The tour company said that there are only a small number of seats left for that "Total Eclipse" tour.