Going Down East

The expression “Down East” was coined in the 1800s by the navigators on square-rigged ships, in particular the clipper ships working the cargo trade between Europe and Australia. The full expression was, “running the easting down” and it applied to the homeward bound, down wind run from the Pacific. Ships loading grain in Adelaide, Australia had to make easting from roughly 140°E to nearly 0° at London, England, hence “running the easting down”. After the era of fast clippers, large bulky square-riggers transported the cargo and they became known as Down Easters. Today the term Down East refers to places situated east of New York and Boston and it is used synonymously with Maine. But, the Down East Circle Route runs the easting down from approximately 74°W at New York City to nearly 60°W in the Bras d’Or Lakes, much farther east than Maine and truly off-the-beaten-path.

There has always been reluctance by the cruising community to go very far Down East because of the widespread misconception of the difficulty in getting there. The unfortunate result is that it is considered off limits to many. It is true that the area has impressive tides and its reputation for frequent drizzle and pea soup fog is not unfound. But the fact is, cruising Nova Scotia in August and September is ideal as the days are warm and fog is at a minimum. By contrast, June is too cold and foggy and often little change through mid-July. In reading this guide, you will see that the Down East Circle Route not only offsets the negatives of getting Down East it increases the reasons for going—it really is “the most logical way down east”.

The Down East Circle Route follows the prevailing fair weather taking you to the high latitudes (49°N) in early summer and then getting you down east (60°W) by late summer. On the cruise you will pass beautiful scenery, see lots of wildlife, visit vibrant French cities and quaint seaside villages. There is just so much to see that an experienced or unseasoned mariner, in virtually any type of yacht, could spend many summers and still not experience it all. No other North American cruise can say the same.

This book is one of a kind and will be the most valuable cruising guide on the shelf of every yachtsman interested in “running the easting down” to Nova Scotia. To keep this cruising guide current we welcome your comments, suggestions and notice of any significant errors in this publication. Also, let us know what you would like to find in future editions of Yacht Pilot’s Cruising Guide to the Down East Circle Route. Please send your comments to us by E-mail, snail mail or telephone. Don’t hold back, we want to hear from you.