You may have heard of the “Great Loop,” a well-traveled nautical circuit that involves the Hudson River, the Erie Canal, the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River. There is a Great Loop Cruiser’s Association, and members can fly a special burgee (flag).
But there’s another loop, less traveled by, called the Down East Loop (or sometimes, the Downeast Loop.)
Simply put, instead of turning left at Waterford NY, and leaving the Hudson for the Erie Canal, this route continues up the Hudson, through the Champlain Canal and Lake Champlain, the Richeleau River, Chambley Canal, finally turning East at the St. Lawrence River. The only way home from here is around the Gaspé Peninsula, down the East coast of New Brunswick, through the Northumberland Strait past Prince Edward Island then the Canso Strait past Cape Breton Island. From there, the Loop continues along the East coast of Nova Scotia, ultimately ending up back in US waters along the Maine coast.
Along the way, there are many side trips to enjoy, weather permitting. The whole loop is almost 2,000 nautical miles. At a comfortable cruising speed of 7 or 7.5 knots, and assuming a 5-hour travel day, the trip could be completed in less than 60 days. But these waters are not known for making travel easy. Quite a few “in port” days are expected due to fog, winds, currents, high seas, local hospitality and sightseeing. Travelling for five hours, or 35-40 miles, sounds easy. And some days it will be. Other days it will not.
One of the most ambitious side trips, an option only if the rest of the trip goes better than expected, would be a short hop to Cape Breton‘s Bras d’Or Lake. And, a remote possibility, a crossing from the Northern tip of Cape Breton to Newfoundland.
60% of the Down East Loop is in Canadian waters, more than 1,200 nautical miles. Particularly ambitious loopers can extend the Newfoundland side trip to Saint Pierre and Miquelon, which are French territories.
Cygnus completed the Down East Loop during the summer of 2016, and kept a blog of the trip. To see All blog posts in chronological order, Click the Videos and Blogs link.
Above is an interactive map of the loop. Zoom, scroll or change the map background!
Mobile Users: Use the “Hamburger” button above the map to open the menu for this site.
There’s also a similar menu button within the map for selecting map display options.