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Old 06-02-2022, 16:10   #1
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Advice for Sailing boat from North Lake Huron to Nova Scotia

I have been asked to deliver a friend's boat from Drummond Island to Halifax Nova Scotia, and eventually further across the Atlantic Ocean to France.

Long story short, the boat is in dry storage for now more than 30 months, since being winterized in October 2019 on Drummond Island (MI) at the end of his sailing season. The French owner (my friend) has been locked out and unable to join his boat because of all the COVID travel restriction for the past 2 years. Sadly, he passed away this December.

In planning for this trip, I am looking for information on sailing the big Lakes. We are thinking on sailing the Canadian water of the lakes: Getting a cruising license for the US water seems challenging, and the crew will be Canadian anyway. Leaving Drummond to the North Channel, and then making route to Sarnia. And continue around Lake Eriť and Lake Ontario.

Once in the Saint Laurent River I will be in more familiar water, but never sail the big lakes so far.

Is arriving early may to prep the boat and sail 2nd week in May seems too early for you? The boat has a comfortable pilot house and good heating, so we should not be too miserable.

Is there any recommendation around that route you would like to share ?

Thanks
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Old 06-02-2022, 17:05   #2
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Re: Advice for Sailing boat from North Lake Huron to Nova Scotia

In gross outline there are 2 possible routes.
1-All canadian route
2-Erie Canal route

All Canadian is a fine route, you will need to go as far as the Canso Straights to make the turn and run 130 miles back to Halifax. I have never sailed the great lakes but for a day. The Gulf however can be a bit wicked that early. About, 1,100 miles.

Erie Canal means a US CRUISING license. I have had to do this and it was little hassle. You have to report any moves, and that is an annoyance. And you need to unstep the mast. Once you pop out of NY Harbor It is then a 5 or so day straight shot up to Halifax with a generally fair wind. About 1,000 miles from Oswego, NY.

The southern US route will be warmer, more comfortable. I would be inclined toward that route that early in the season.

And you don’t have to commit until Oswego, NY.

The size, draft, and rig of your boat effect this decision.

An additional resource that pretty much covers both alternatives, a d which you would want to consult in either case is Cheryl Barrs “Down East Circle Route”.

https://www.amazon.com/Down-East-Cir.../dp/0973165928
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Old 06-02-2022, 17:16   #3
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Re: Advice for Sailing boat from North Lake Huron to Nova Scotia

Are you in a hurry? Hope not. Iíd drag my butt along the Lake Ontario north shore doing 2-3 hour hops and enjoy the small towns. Why do the trip and miss it. Ditto St Lawrence. If you anchored at Endimyon, for example, and the dingy accidentally slipped across the border to Clayton you can enjoy the fabulous Antique Boat Museum.

Screw May. Itís cold. Late June or Early July. He can wait.
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Old 06-02-2022, 18:05   #4
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Re: Advice for Sailing boat from North Lake Huron to Nova Scotia

nice video
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Old 06-02-2022, 18:15   #5
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Re: Advice for Sailing boat from North Lake Huron to Nova Scotia

These guys seem to agree with Tetepare:https://www.mlive.com/public-interes...cal-range.html

The chart, visible if you scroll down, shows that they expect there to still be ice on the Great Lakes in May. They also mention that predictions for less ice this year have been proven wrong so far, and that the most ice tends to form in February.
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Old 06-02-2022, 18:34   #6
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Re: Advice for Sailing boat from North Lake Huron to Nova Scotia

I've done a similar trip from Georgian Bay, to PEI. i stayed mostly on the Canadian side, long before covid.

by the time you get to Oswego, you're only 2 to 3 weeks to Halifax, down the st lawrence I'd say going through the erie canal would add a week or more to that time. I'd not want to fuss too much with US customs in that area right now. I personally met two boats that went through the erie canal this last season, and both had customs troubles.

It's a nice trip. Mid May sounds a bit early, but you never know until the time comes, whether or not the ice will have left.

As has been said, if you have time, there are many little towns to visit. If you don't have time, at least it's a straight forward trip. Timing the current in the st lawrence doesnt have to be hard if you have crew. either sail through the flood tide, or anchor in the shallows ( sometimes that's near the middle of the river, if the winds are calm) until the tide turns.

Cheers, and good luck.
Paul.
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Old 06-02-2022, 19:41   #7
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Re: Advice for Sailing boat from North Lake Huron to Nova Scotia

Quote:
Originally Posted by Emouchet View Post
I have been asked to deliver a friend's boat from Drummond Island to Halifax Nova Scotia, and eventually further across the Atlantic Ocean to France.

Long story short, the boat is in dry storage for now more than 30 months, since being winterized in October 2019 on Drummond Island (MI) at the end of his sailing season. The French owner (my friend) has been locked out and unable to join his boat because of all the COVID travel restriction for the past 2 years. Sadly, he passed away this December.

In planning for this trip, I am looking for information on sailing the big Lakes. We are thinking on sailing the Canadian water of the lakes: Getting a cruising license for the US water seems challenging, and the crew will be Canadian anyway. Leaving Drummond to the North Channel, and then making route to Sarnia. And continue around Lake Eriť and Lake Ontario.

Once in the Saint Laurent River I will be in more familiar water, but never sail the big lakes so far.

Is arriving early may to prep the boat and sail 2nd week in May seems too early for you? The boat has a comfortable pilot house and good heating, so we should not be too miserable.

Is there any recommendation around that route you would like to share ?
These are familiar waters to me. I used to sail the North Channel, and have travelled all the lower lakes on your route, out the St. Lawrence, but went to Newfoundland, not Halifax.

As you say, Drummond Is. is in the US, so you'll be departing from the USA and then clearing into Canada. Not sure if that poses any issues for you and your crew. Currently, it's possible, but Covid is making it complicated.

Early May for the North Channel is dicey for weather. Could be OK if we get an early spring, but more likely will be cold. Ice may not be fully out of the bays yet. Mid/late May to begin boat prep is a safer bet. Even then, water will be cold. Fog will be an issue.

In fact, early May is dicey for most of the Great Lakes regarding any services. On the Canadian side, things don't really come to life until the end of May (the May 2-4 weekend). Marinas may not be open before then.

You'll be doing the Welland locks unless you pick up the Erie Canal at Buffalo, which of course requires you to clear into the USA, unless you choose to stay in that country. I'm not sure about the boat size limitations, but you will definitely have to unstep the mast if you use this route.

Talking locks, make sure the Seaway is open to recreational traffic if you choose to leave early. They now run on a more limited schedule for recreational boaters, and the last couple of years didn't open till late spring for us.

The St. Lawrence will be cold in early spring. Again, fog will be an issue.

Weather in general is usually benign in the spring on the Great Lakes. But again, it will be cold, especially at night or on longer open passages through the big lakes. Warm gear is needed.

Happy to help with other specifics if I can.
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Old 07-02-2022, 01:20   #8
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Re: Advice for Sailing boat from North Lake Huron to Nova Scotia

Just did that trip solo last August. Lk Ontario to the south shore of N.S.

Too bad I've been informed by a forum member I don't have a high enough post count to have any valid sailing experience so I can't offer any help.

Sorry
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Old 07-02-2022, 03:33   #9
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Re: Advice for Sailing boat from North Lake Huron to Nova Scotia

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Originally Posted by Barkingmad View Post
Just did that trip solo last August. Lk Ontario to the south shore of N.S.

Too bad I've been informed by a forum member I don't have a high enough post count to have any valid sailing experience so I can't offer any help.

Sorry
JAsus, C!!! Who on earth would say that to you??? What does post-count have to do with anything?

To Whom It May Concern: Barkingmad is a fantastic sailor and one helluva seaman.

He doesn't need to justify himself to any short-sited misapprehended Member of this Forum.

Plus - he's a nice guy.

Fair winds, Barking,
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Old 07-02-2022, 05:04   #10
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Re: Advice for Sailing boat from North Lake Huron to Nova Scotia

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Originally Posted by Barkingmad View Post
Just did that trip solo last August. Lk Ontario to the south shore of N.S.

Too bad I've been informed by a forum member I don't have a high enough post count to have any valid sailing experience so I can't offer any help.

Sorry
Haha. That's so typical of some folk's attitudes here.

I did that trip single handed too. Nice to meet another single hander. We're headed to the south shore, and PEI this summer, if you see GRIT come say hello. We're easy to spot, we're a white catamaran.
Cheers.
Paul
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Old 07-02-2022, 10:06   #11
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Re: Advice for Sailing boat from North Lake Huron to Nova Scotia

Continue to bring good infos please.

It looks like we rather should postpone a bit, and shoot for mid may to reach the boat.

I just called the marina today, and they told me the boat is at the very bottom of the storage building, with plenty of other boats in front. Need to wait until everybody else move out.

We have no plan on sailing the US water beside when leaving Drummond Island. Do you know what would be the closest/easiest Canadian port of entry from there ? Thessalon ?

Itinerary would be (weather permitting):
Drummond Island -> Thessalon for the border clearance, and arriving with a negative CIVOD test result,
Thessalon -> Sarnia - 2/3 days (overnight passage),
Sarnia -> Lake Erie - 2 days,
Lake Erie -> Welland Canal entrance 2 days (overnight passage),
Welland Canal: 2 days
Lake Ontario -> Thousand Islands: 2 days (overnight passage),
Thousand Islands -> Montreal: 3-4 days, depending on locks and bridge schedule,
Montreal->Rimouski: 4-5 days,
Then it is open water so it is more a matter of getting a manageable weather window to make some mileage.
The boat is go anywhere blue water 45' aluminum center board, so this is more the crew that will set the limit.
We are not in a hurry, but cannot really waste too much time. Leaving end of June for an atlantic crossing to the Azores and then France is ok but should not be too much delayed.
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Old 07-02-2022, 10:35   #12
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Re: Advice for Sailing boat from North Lake Huron to Nova Scotia

You might look at the option of taking the Trent Severn waterway - I think it's open mid-May.
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Old 07-02-2022, 10:50   #13
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Re: Advice for Sailing boat from North Lake Huron to Nova Scotia

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Originally Posted by Emouchet View Post
Continue to bring good infos please.

It looks like we rather should postpone a bit, and shoot for mid may to reach the boat.

I just called the marina today, and they told me the boat is at the very bottom of the storage building, with plenty of other boats in front. Need to wait until everybody else move out.
Good idea to start a bit later. Of course, it's going to take you time to get the boat ready once in the water. If it were me, I'd be planning on a week or so, but I'm pretty slow .

Quote:
Originally Posted by Emouchet View Post
We have no plan on sailing the US water beside when leaving Drummond Island. Do you know what would be the closest/easiest Canadian port of entry from there ? Thessalon ?
You actually have a number of options according to the official CBSA website:
https://cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/do-rb/provinces/on-eng.html

Thessalon, or Blind River is possible. That north shore of the North Channel is the shallower side, although with your boat it's probably not an issue. I ground out while going into Blind River, but that was many years ago. You'll have to check the current water levels (datum).

Meldrum Bay also looks to be another place to clear in. Or even Whisky Bay on St. Joseph's Is. Just make sure they're operational. Again, services to recreational boaters tends to be limited before the end of May.

Your itinerary looks nicely conservative to me. Given your boat, I bet you'll do most of those passages in about 1/2 the time. Welland is done in one straight shot -- no stopping. But it is run on a schedule for recreational boaters. You now have to pre-registered for all the Seaway locks.

https://greatlakes-seaway.com/en/rec.../#wellandcanal

It sounds like an awesome trip. Personally, I'd do it as slow as you can. There's so much to see and do... but obviously you don't want to wait too long before starting the Azores run.
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Old 07-02-2022, 10:56   #14
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Re: Advice for Sailing boat from North Lake Huron to Nova Scotia

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You might look at the option of taking the Trent Severn waterway - I think it's open mid-May.
Yes, good suggestion. Although I doubt it would be faster than the Welland route, even though it's a lot shorter. There's something like 45 locks. And you have to drop the mast.
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Old 07-02-2022, 11:54   #15
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Re: Advice for Sailing boat from North Lake Huron to Nova Scotia

I did consider the Trent Severn waterway for a while. Un-stepping and re-stepping the mast is not that bad, but if I can avoid it, that would be better. Also, I think Trent Severn will take much longer in term of days. If I had the whole summer that would be a different story.
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