Ahoy from the crew of the BlueJacket,
I normally create an end-of-trip summary as soon as I get home, but I've been flat out catching up with life. It's amazing how many jobs can pile up while you're away for several months! On top of the household work items, we're storing BlueJacket in RI for the winter, and that requires winterizing the boat which is a lengthy process. I'm doing a lot of work on the interior and as a result we've hauled virtually everything off of the boat so that I don't get it dirty as I work. Believe me, that's a lot of work and a lot of trips back and forth. The photo to the right shows what the interior of BlueJacket looks like right now with the headliner and moldings stripped off.
One of the things that kept me busy was finishing up the videos and still photos from the end of the trip. You'll find the video covering the area from Portsmouth, NH to RI at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BZnPoOLhR0k
The photo albums for the Portsmouth, NH, Salem, MA, Boston Harbor and Whale Watching, Provincetown, and finally the Cape Cod Canal to New Bedford have been posted.
I hope that you've enjoyed virtual tour that I provided through these logs, photos and videos. From the feedback that I've gotten, the logs with maps and images were very popular, which is a good thing as this was a lot of work.
What follows is a summary of what we learned on the trip. If you want the executive summary, it as follows: While we visited lots of beautiful sites, we had to travel a lot of miles to see them. Unfortunately the temperatures were running significantly below average and we had lots of rain. We weren't sufficiently prepared for this (mentally or clothing-wise) which made parts of the trip unpleasant. While I'm glad that we did this trip, I wouldn't do it again.
-- Geoff & Sue
I've been struggling on how to summarize what I liked/didn't like and what worked/didn't work. It started off as a dialog, but now I've reformatted it to lists. I hope that this helps anyone planning on doing this cruise in the future.
- Sailing through New York harbor and the Statue of Liberty.
- The Erie and Oswego canals had lots of nice places to stop and see things. Unfortunately due to Sue's surgery (she's doing just great), we got a later start than I had planned. As a result we blew through the Hudson river and the NY canal system. In the future I'd take a much more lea surely trip through the area.
- The Antique Boat Museum in Clayton, NY is well worth seeing.
- The Thousand Islands area of NY/Ontario is just beautiful. Unfortunately we had rain and only spent a day working our way through it.
- Montreal and Quebec are wonderful cities. Unfortunately you're in relatively expensive marinas, so be sure to budget the time and money to spend some time there and get to know the cities.
- Saguenay Fjord was clearly one of the highlights of the trip. It's absolutely stunning and shouldn't be missed.
- The Gaspe peninsula and Perce are beautiful areas. You need to rent a car to see the area, but it's well worth it.
- Prince Edward Island is a wonderful. For one thing, the south side of it is warm, which was a unique attribute on this trip. Charlottetown was my favorite city, but the entire island is fun to explore. Once again, you'll need a car to see the island as you'll miss most of it if you don't rent one.
- The Bras d'Or lakes of Nova Scotia were beautiful and you can actually anchor there! Don't miss Cape Breton national park via car.
- Halifax is a nice place to stop and provision and explore Nova Scotiavia car. I really enjoyed our drive along the Bay of Fundy. The coastline SW of Halifax was much more enjoyable to cruise than the area NE of it.
- The Canadian people were extremely friendly and willing to help whenever and however they could. We may not have always spoken the same language, but we communicated just fine.
- The coast of Maine is stunning but unfortunately many of the anchorages have been taken over by mooring balls and due to the demand for slips, the prices are rediculous. As beautiful as it was, it would be prohibitively expensive to spend a season cruising here.
- Portsmouth, NH has always been a favorite stop of mine as there are lots of fun stores, restaurants and lots of history.
- Salem, MA has a lot to see and do. It's a great stop.
- Whale watching on the Stellwagen bank on the way to Provincetown, MA is great way to spend a day.
Least favorite things:
- The cold and wet: I really wasn't prepared for just how cold and wet that it was going to be. It sure didn't help that the average temperature in Canada this summer was about 10 degrees F below normal and that they had copious amounts of rain. The clothes that we brought just weren't sufficient and we really couldn't purchase warm clothes anywhere along the line. If you're planning on doing this trip, be prepared!
- I've never had a trip where were had to move so much every day. It's very tiring to be moving 7 days a week, especially in the cold and wet.
- The weather forecasts from the Canadian weather office were extremely unreliable. Quite often the forecast for 24 hours out wouldn't begin to match reality and when you got the forecast the next day, it was frequently very different from the prior day's forecast. We frequently watched TV to obtain regional forecasts, but in just about every area other than PEI the forecasts covered so much area that they didn't begin to provide enough detail for your location.
- We ended up motoring for a huge proportion of this trip. The normal SW winds were replaced with on-the-nose NE winds for virtually all of our trip until we got to Nova Scotia. Then we turned SW to head down the coast and we got the SW winds.
- Fuel costs in Canada are 25-50% higher than in the US.
- There are very few places that you can anchor while heading down the St. Lawrence. Luckily marina fees are very reasonable.
- The same can't be said for Maine where mooring fields have crowded out anchorages and marina fees are rediculous.
- Lobster Pots!
- Hurricanes...what I can say...we dodged 3 of them this trip!
- Cell phone roaming charges in Canada were very expensive. Calls made on a Verizon cell phone within Canada were $0.70/min and calls to the US were something like $1.80/min!
- Sales tax (GST and PST) is 13% and is applied to everything.
- The tax on alcohol is rediculous, almost doubling the cost of the same product in the US.
- Once you leave Montreal and Quebec, you'll find very little English spoken in the provence of Quebec. We always managed, but it was difficult at times.
Things that worked well and things that I'd change:
- My decision to ship the mast was a very good one from Catskill, NY to Oswego, NY. While it did cost $1300, that was money well spent as it kept the mast from being damaged in the locks. The mast would have overhung both ends of the boat by 10', and given the cost of the mast (about $70K), this was cheap insurance. On top of that, we didn't have to dodge scaffolding as we maneuvered through the canals. Other boats who had similar issues, stated that they wished that they had shipped theirs. The major issue is that when you up-lock, there's a lot of turbulence and the boat gets pushed all around. As it was we banged the anchor on the wall more than once and given Sue's condition at the time, I couldn't expect her to be fending us off.
- I'd consider heading down the Champlain canal instead of the Oswego canal. This would shave off quite a few miles and take you through some very pretty territory. However, you'd miss the Thousand Islands and I'm not sure how you'd deal with shipping the mast into Canada.
- Clearing into Canada via a phone call at Rockport, Ontario.
- I would have very much liked to have made it to the Magdeline islands and Newfoundland. However, you really have to give yourself a lot more time than we had. The winds blow pretty hard in that area, so you need good weather windows. Be prepared to hang out for a while once you get there waiting for a window to get back.
Guides used during this trip:
- "The Down East Circle Route" by Cheryl Barr is an interesting book but it leaves a lot to be desired. You'll need a lot more cruising guides than just this book. It does a very poor job of laying out who this book is designed for. Cheryl Barr is a sailor, but this guide is definitely designed for a power boat as she assumes that you can do 10 kts. With the price of diesel, I don't even know how many trawlers are doing 10 kts! In the start of the book, she lays out how you can do this trip in 45 days, if you average 60 nm per day. On a sailboat making 6 kts, that's 10 hours of moving every single day. Spreading this out into 90 days still requires 30 mile days, each and every day, and that's tough to do, especially given weather delays and lay-days to see the area. I personally look at this as more of a 5 month trip as opposed to a 3 month trip and I laugh at the concept of 45 days!
- "Cruising Guide to the Canadian Maritimes" by Cheryl Barr. Much better written and fills in the huge holes in the above guide for the Maritimes.
- "Cruising Guide to St. Lawrence River and Quebec Waterways" published by Lake Champlain Publishing Company. I never saw this on any web site, but we got our copy from another cruiser who had two copies. This filled in lots of information missing from the Down East Circle Route guide.
- "A Cruising Guide to the Northeast's Inland Waterways" by Rumsey. I believe that this is out of print and the copy that we had was from 1995. Sue found it difficult to follow, but it provided a lot of information. This ends at Sorel, which is just past Montreal.
- "Cruising Guide to the Nova Scotia Coast" edited by Charles Westropp and published by Pilot Press. Essential for Nova Scotia.
- "Sailing Directions" from Canadian Fisheries and Oceans: ATL 104, 105, 106, 108, 110, 111 and 112 are aimed at commercial vessels, but provide lots of useful information to the cruiser.
- "A Cruising Guide to the Maine Coast" by Taft & Rindlaub provides excellent information on anchorages and marinas.
- "Dozier's Waterway Guide - Northern" has lots of information on marinas from Maine to the Delaware Bay plus occasional anchoring information.
Useful Web Sites:
- ActiveCaptain.com provides a free on-line Yahoo maps interface to marinas and anchorages throughout the US, Canada and elsewhere. They also have a version that runs on a Palm device which allows you to take the database with you. Users can provide ratings and details for facilities. I found this very useful.
- Canadian Weather Office marine forecasts.
- NOAA Marine Forecasts - Boston
- National Buoy Data Center