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Old 07-31-2017, 02:58 PM   #1
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Adding Nova Scotia to the Great Loop

We are preparing to depart on the Great Loop soon, and one of the legs we are discussing is whether or not to add rounding Nova Scotia to the trip. Has anyone done this leg and about how much longer (average given weather, mechanical, etc.) could this add? Any and all insights, recommendations, experiences welcomed.

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Old 07-31-2017, 04:10 PM   #2
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Other folks here have done the trip, and I'll defer to them. But I grew up in Halifax and have done several trips between there and New England, though a while ago, so I can offer some perspective. I'm assuming you're asking about going up the St Lawrence rather than the Erie Canal.

I'd characterize the trip as largely remote and inhospitable, particularly the Gulf of St Lawrence. Current, fog, almost guaranteed nasty weather conditions, commercial and fishing boat traffic, and very little in the way of support for travelling yachts. You'd have to be much better prepared for that segment than for anything else on the loop. Think serious offshore voyaging.

I briefly considered a trip to Halifax this summer from the great lakes via the St Lawrence, but came to the conclusion that neither I nor my boat are fully up to the trip. If I ever make it there it will be via New England.

If you want to explore NS my suggestion would be to take the summer and do a return trip from NY. Bras D'Or lakes are spectacular if you get that far. But turn around after that :-)

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Old 07-31-2017, 04:39 PM   #3
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I'm not exactly sure what loop around nova scotia you are thinking about. The downeast loop circumnavigates new england and much of the canadian maritimes, and overlaps with the great loop through new your state from NYC to the LAke Ontario or the st lawrence depending on your route. If you did that, you would find yourself back in NYC resuming the great loop from there, and repeating a bunch of the NY state part. Given the timing, it probably means doing it over 2 seasons.

Some people divert from the usual great loop path and go out the st lawrence to Montreal or Quebec. That's not a huge detour, and fits in to great cities. But from Quebec city to Nova Scotia, or even just PEI is a LONG way.
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Old 08-01-2017, 09:24 AM   #4
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We did the downeast loop last year. True enough about parts being pretty remote. But I'll say this: We stayed in marinas far more than I thought, and anchored out far less. Mostly because along the St. Lawrence and Gaspe, there are few anchorages.

Once you hit NS, the coast is pretty rugged from Canso to Halifax, but there are some fantastic destinations. Halifax is certainly worth a visit, and there are anchorages below that, although they get fewer and farther between as you approach Cape Sable. Once around the bend to Yarmouth, you have more options. You can cross the Bay of Fundy from there, or continue North and cross where it's narrower. Grand Manan Island is a good stopping point on the way over, if they've finally finished all the renovations at their three harbors.

Overall, it was a spectacular trip, and we're very glad we got to see all the things we did. Some of the more remote parts were monotonous after a while, and we missed out on Bras d'Or, but we'd gladly go back to most of the areas we covered.

You do need to be comfortable running outside and in fog, and waiting out foul weather when necessary. Details of our trip are at

The problem with making an "even greater loop" by adding this to the Great Loop is that you'll be going against the current of the the Mississippi, Tenn/Tom or St. Lawrence.

Then again, the St. Lawrence does have reversing currents as far as Quebec, so with timing you could in theory skip the Hudson altogether and do the Down East portion first, head west through the Lakes and south on the western rivers.
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Old 08-01-2017, 09:27 AM   #5
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I'd say, not as part of your loop, not in place of the Erie and Oswego. We absolutely want to do the route you're talking about and come down the St. Lawrence to Montreal. However, that's all a separate journey and probably entails a couple of months on the Great Lakes and then returning the same way we came. Just the canals are too much essential to the loop to be skipped.
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Old 08-01-2017, 11:02 AM   #6
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Great blog CaptTom. Thanks for capturing and sharing the details of the trip. Sounds like you had the preparation and patience to make the most of it.

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