We’re looking at routes for next Spring to take Tortuga from Deltaville, Virginia all the way to Lake Michigan and into Chicago. There are two primary options, each with its advantages and disadvantages.
The first option is the quickest in terms of time, and involves sailing from Virginia northward into New York Harbor and then up the Hudson River to the Erie Canal, and then to the Great Lakes. While quick, this route would require us to stop at a boatyard along the Hudson and unstep our mast. This is not an insignificant job and would take an entire day of removing sails and lines, and a crane to lift the 65’ mast and set it on a wooden cradle on the deck. Without doing this we could never make it underneath the many low fixed bridges along the way.
Once through the Hudson we would have to spend an additional day stepping the mast, in essence reversing the process. Not my idea of a good time.
The other option is significantly longer, and far more challenging… read that as “fun”. We would sail north up the east coast from Deltaville, past New York, around Cape Cod, and along the New England coast. This would require a lot of open water sailing, which Tortuga is more than capable of handling. We would stop along the way to see friends and family in New York and Maine, taking our time and enjoying the extended adventure.
From Maine we continue northward into the Canadian Maritime provinces, squeezing between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, staying leeward of Prince Edward island, and up into the Gulf of St. Lawrence. From there, down the St. Lawrence Seaway with all of the shipping traffic into Lake Ontario and onward across four of the Great Lakes. This is known as the Down East Circle Route, or at least part of it.
Aside from being long, almost 3,000 miles we would have to deal with fog, some of the largest tidal ranges in the world, as well as epic currents (5+ knots) against our bow. On the plus side, we would not have to unstep the mast, and we would get to visit costal New England during the summertime. All-in-all this route would take 8-10 weeks of relaxed sailing, spending time with family and friends along the way.