How to Plan A Down East Loop
The Cutwater 28 is equipped with an optional Garmin electronics package. Still, I always bring paper charts and cruising guides. For one thing, it’s fun to use them to plan the trip. For another, they provide a redundancy underway. Here’s what I have for this trip, available from Landfall Navigation, West Marine, Amazon, or any number of local chandleries.
For the first part of the trip, from New York City up to Quebec City, Down East Circle Route, by Capt. Cheryl Barr. 228 pages. $59.95. This is the basic book, a must, with details on marinas, currents, harbors, and distances.
For going up the Hudson from New York City to Sorel, Quebec, where we’ll enter the St. Lawrence: Richardsons’ Chartbook and Cruising Guide to Hudson River and Adjacent Waterways. 110 pages, $69. An outsized chart book, very user-friendly with charts and notations.
As a backup (yes, I know, this is a backup to the backup): A foldout paper chart, Hudson River to Troy Lock, a Maptech Waterproof Chart. $19.95. An excellent chart, with distances, all aids to navigation, tidal differences, and much more.
For up-to-date info on the New York Canals, go to www.canals.ny.gov. An excellent site with “Real Time Canal Alerts” for dredging, closures, changes in locks and depths, plus updated Notices to Mariners.
For the 100 nautical miles down the St. Lawrence from Sorel to Quebec City, I had to order four Canadian paper charts from Landfall Navigation, at $19.95 each. Chart numbers 1312, 1313, 1314 and 1315.
For the last leg, from Maine down the east coast back to New Jersey, I have a variety of Cruising Guides and ChartKits that always go with me:
First is Waterway Guide, Northern. 552 pages. $39.95. Great both for planning and real-time use on the water, with routes, harbor charts, history, aerial pictures, bridge and distance tables, tides, everything you need to know. This guide devotes 31 pages to the Hudson from New York City to Albany, and then covers the entire east coast from Eastport, Maine, down to Cape May, N.J. It even has a chart showing Hampden, Maine, where we will launch the boat after trailering it down from Quebec.
Then I have two Maptech Embassy Cruising Guides. One is the Cruising Guide New England Coast. 616 pages. $39.95. This covers the Canadian border down to Block Island. It even has a listing for Hamlin’s Marina in Hampden, with all the appropriate—and accurate—details. The other is Long Island Sound to Cape May. 540 pages. $39.95. This must-have guide has 56 pages covering the Hudson from New York City up to Troy Lock, with just about everything you could think of. Excellent info about marinas along the way. And then, of course, the same type of advice from Block Island down to Norwalk.
I’ll also take two matching supersized Maptech ChartKits, one covering the Canadian border down to Block Island, with 88 pages of charts; it even has a chart showing the Penobscot River all the way upstream from Penobscot Bay past Hampden. The second shows New York to Nantucket, with 90 pages of full-color, fold-out charts including GPS waypoints and aerial pictures. I value the ChartKits for many reasons, but particularly because I use the point-to-point distances for easy route planning. Both ChartKits are 22- by 17-inches in size and cost $125 each.
Finally, on my iPhone’s small screen, I use the Navionics Boating app, the Ship Finder app, and the Marine Traffic app; I have to admit that I’ll often open these throughout the year, even when I don’t have a specific trip planned, just to connect to the boating world out there—and to dream.