On the Albany side use "Hop-a-Nose" Marina south of Albany on the Hudson....Google them for the #.
They are the best at rigging work and are very professional.
There is an area there, where you can leave the supports.
On the way back, I found supports there, that fit my boat.
There may be a place on the Buffalo side where people, traveling west, leave supports. I'm sure you can find wood to fit your boat.
Rig the bimini or some sort of shade/rain protection. My first trip I didn't and it was hell. Never forgot again....
Put your largest fenders forward of midship, that's the first place that will touch the slimey walls.
Approach slowly and do not tie the lines...loop them so that they will slide up and down.
Take your time in the Canal....lots of history there to explore.
Beware of comparing yourself to others,
They may be more screwed up than you think.....