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Toronto’s Rainy May

After last year’s near-drought, May this year had twice as much rain as average. This resulted in flooding all over Toronto Island (which is closed to visitors until the end of July), as well as in Montreal and upstream.

Lake Ontario is much higher than normal. The staff here at the Nautical Mind have taken some photos to demonstrate.

This is part of the walkway (the WaveDeck) between the store and HTO park (where the Toronto Brigantine shop used to be. That wet area is actually awash.

This is the ramp down to the docks, and it’s effectively level. The Fire Station is off camera to the left, with the store to the right.

This photo was taken standing near the Fire Station, looking back towards where the Brigs shop used to be. The entire beach I believe was added after Brigs left, with the step being the edge of the old pier. The concrete on which people walk is awash here.

Our final photo is just a bit of fun. This was taken from next to the Fire Station. The water level is so high that the station has set up a picnic table to allow crew to board the boat in the background.

We definitely could use some relief from the rain around Lake Ontario.

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Cruising the New York State Canal System

The Great Lakes provide a great starting point for cruising, even if you want to go somewhere else. From here you can go to Newfoundland, across the Atlantic, or down the coast to the US East Coast and the Caribbean. One of the major routes for leaving the Great Lakes is through the New York Canal System, with the Erie Canal from Buffalo or the Owsego Canal from Oswego, both of which lead to the Hudson River, and from there either to New York City and the Atlantic or to the St Lawrence River near Montreal.

Just this week, we have received new stock of the Cruising Guide to the New York State Canal System. This is highly recommended for anybody who is planning to cruise the Erie or Oswego Canal. Further, for 2017, like with the Trent Severn Canal, The Erie Canal is waiving its fees- even for Canadian cruiser. So 2017 is a great opportunity to experience this waterway just on the other side of the Great Lakes.

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Sailing Canada’s National Parks: The Pacific Coast


2017 is Canada’s sesquicentennial (that is to say, 150 years since Confederation), and to celebrate, Parks Canada is making access to national parks free for the year. substantial number of those national parks are on significant coastlines, and can be explored by boat. In this blog, the fourth of the series, we will provide information about National Parks on the Pacific Coast.

NB: If you’d like to order charts for British Columbia and the Pacific Coast, please call us at the store,   1 (800) 463-9951.

Gwaii Hanas National Park Reserve, credit to Parks Canada

Gwaii Hanas National Park Reserve, National Marine Conservation Area &
Haida Heritage Site
Park Website

Gwaii Haanas embraces more than 1,800 wild, undeveloped islands and islets off the coast of northern British Columbia and is often called Canada’s Galapagos.

Accessible only by boat or seaplane, the mountainous islands are covered by dense Pacific temperate rainforest and shelter an unparalleled diversity of wildlife, from the Haida Gwaii black bear to more than 20 species of whales and dolphins and tidal channels teeming with rainbow-coloured sea stars.

Gwaii Haanas is also a unique living museum, with an aboriginal history stretching at least 12,000 years. Historic villages, including a UNESCO World Heritage Site with century-old totem poles, are hidden throughout the islands, overseen by indigenous Haida Gwaii Watchmen who welcome visitors.

Travellers can explore Gwaii Haanas independently or via guided tours. Visits can range from a single day to longer adventures of a week or more, with most trips involving some combination of boating, kayaking and hiking.

Charts: 3807 Atli Inlet to Selwyn Inlet, 3808 Juan Perez Sound, 3809 Carpenter Bay to Burnaby Island, 3811 Harbours in Queen Charlotte Islands, 3825 Cape St James to Houston Stewart Channel, 3853 Cape St James to Cumshewa Inlet and Tasu Sound, 3857 Louscoone Inlet, 3858 Flamingo Inlet, 3859 Tasu Sound, 3864 Gowgaia Bay
Cruising Guides: Exploring the North Coast of British Columbia Including the Queen Charlotte Islands

Des kayakistes dans les eaux cristallines entourant les îles et les îlots du Tiny Group. Réserve de parc national Pacific Rim. / A group of kayakers paddle through the crystal clear waters among the ‘Tiny Group’ islands and islets. Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. Credit to Parks Canada

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve
Park Website

Imagine the sand between your toes, eagles soaring overhead and the ocean stretching off as far as the eye can see. Or turn inland and walk among ferns the size of a small child rising from a bed of moss, with old-growth Sitka spruce, Western red cedar and Western hemlock towering above.

Suit up in your storm gear and watch the winter breakers crash on a rocky shoreline, or enjoy a summer stroll along an endless sandy beach. Paddle a pristine maze of islets accessible only by water. Take the hike of a lifetime through verdant old-growth forests and along unspoiled pebble beaches. Or enjoy a relaxing stroll along a sandy beach, pausing to explore tidal pools teeming with colourful sea life.

But there’s more at Pacific Rim National Park Reserve than just natural charms. Learn first-hand how an indigenous culture developed in harmony with the local environment, as First Nations partners continue the age-old practice of welcoming and sharing Nuu-chah-nulth history, tradition and culture. Step out of your kayak to be greeted by a First Nation Beach Keeper, or hear ancient legends told around the campfire by Guardians of the West Coast Trail. Pacific Rim National Park Reserve offers a West Coast experience steeped in nature and history.

Charts: 3671 Barkley Sound
Cruising Guide: Cruising Guide to the West Coast of Vancouver Island


Après avoir suivi le sentier de randonnée jusqu’à la terrasse d’observation du mont Norman, sur l’île Pender, on peut admirer le panorama spectaculaire. Réserve de parc national des Îles-Gulf. / Two hikers marvel at the spectacular views afforded after walking the trail up to the viewing platform on Mount Norman, on Pender Island. Gulf Islands National Park Reserve. Credit to Parks Canada

Gulf Islands National Park Reserve
Park Website

Scattered throughout the Salish Sea, the Gulf Islands teem with wildlife, a haven for rare species and threatened eco-systems and a playground for hikers, campers, cyclists, boaters and kayakers.

With urban centres close by, the Gulf Islands are an easily accessible natural oasis. Sail or paddle a kayak on sheltered waterways through a scenic maze of islands thriving with wildlife from seabirds to whales. Explore the reserve’s 15 islands amid history and wilderness chiming with songbirds, hiking to mountaintop views of snowy ranges. Visit on a self-guided day-trip or stay for longer camping or kayaking adventures.

Eagles and seabirds swirl in the skies above the Salish Sea, sheltered, islet-dotted waters teeming with seals, otters, orcas and pods of porpoises. Kayak, hike or cycle a lush paradise with rare eco-systems basking in a Mediterranean-like climate – the forested Gulf Islands are laced with trails leading to mountaintop viewpoints, lighthouses, and reminders of First Nations and pioneer pasts, while their shores and lagoons are a haven for thriving birdlife.

Charts: 3441 Haro Strait, Boundary Pass and Satellite Channel, 3462 Juan de Fuca Strait to Strait of Georgia, 3473 Active, Porlier Pass and Montague Harbour, 3475 Plans – Stuart Channel, 3477 Plans – Gulf Islands, 3478 Plans- Saltspring Island, 3479 Approaches to Sidney
Cruising Guides: A Dreamspeaker Cruising Guide, Vol 1: Gulf Islands & Vancouver Island, Exploring the San Juan and Gulf Islands, Best Anchorages of the Inside Passage


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Tall Ship Inspections and Exams from Transport Canada

STV Pathfinder and her crew of teenagers prepare for her 55th summer of adventure on the Great Lakes.  Before she and her sister ship, TS Playfair, can set sail, both the vessels and their crews need to pass muster on a rigorous set of standards established by Transport Canada.  The inspections include:Re-rigging the topmast


  • general condition of structures, equipment, and their operation
  • lifesaving, fire-fighting and fire detection equipment
  • watertight and fire-resisting door/window systems
  • quick-closing arrangements in fuel system
  • main and auxiliary steering gears
  • bilge-pumping arrangements and oil record books
  • navigation and radio equipment
  • ship-side valves
  • crew accommodation
  • Much more, detailed here at Transport Canada

Her crew must be certified with 150t Master, 60tL Mate, and Marine Emergency Duties level A2.

Pathfinder's crew preparing the tops'l yard

Find out more about the Brigantines and their summer sailing adventures for teenagers at

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Sailing Canada’s National Parks: The Great Lakes


2017 is Canada’s sesquicentennial (that is to say, 150 years since Confederation), and to celebrate, Parks Canada is making access to national parks free for the year. substantial number of those national parks are on significant coastlines, and can be explored by boat. In this blog, the third of the series, we will provide information about National Parks on the Great Lakes.

Thousand Islands National Park, credit to Parks Canada

Thousand Islands National Park
Park Website

Journey to the picturesque granite islands and windswept pine trees of Thousand Islands National Park. Explore secluded bays by kayak or powerboat. Enjoy a day by the river or overnight in waterfront oTENTik accommodations at the park’s mainland visitor centre. Discover rare species of turtles and birdlife alongside undulating hiking trails. Experience the magic of this captivating and historic wilderness, just a few hours from Toronto or Montreal.

Parks Canada welcomes families to play together in the country’s beautiful spaces. In Eastern Ontario, boaters flock to the cozy clusters of islands in Thousand Islands National Park to reconnect with their loved ones and recharge against a backdrop of natural beauty. Breathe in pine scented air on an island hike, take in a family nature program from a park interpreter who will personally visit your dock, or relax among friends – it’s your choice. Enjoy the comforts of your boat on fully serviced islands or tranquil, rustic islands. For the more adventurous, set up a tent with the kids and gather ‘round the fire for marshmallows.

Charts: 1437 Summerland Group to Grindstone Island, Grindstone Island to Carlton Island
Cruising Guide: Great Lakes Waterway Guide 2017, Top 50 Canoe Routes of Ontario, Ports Lake Ontario

Point Pelee National Park, credit to Parks Canada

Point Pelee National Park
Park Website

At the southernmost point of the Canadian mainland – Point Pelee National Park, experience nature like never before. Each spring, view flocks of migratory birds, joined in autumn by waves of vivid Monarch butterflies. In winter, wander snowy trails past ice-cloaked trees and in summer, bask on sandy beaches. Whether you cycle, paddle or hike Canada’s smallest but most ecologically diverse national park, you’ll be immersed in an unforgettable eco-adventure.

Charts: 2123 Point Pelee Passage to Detroit River
Cruising Guides: Great Lakes Waterway Guide 2017, Top 50 Canoe Routes of Ontario, Ports Lake Erie & Lake St Clair


Fathom Five National marine Park, credit to Parks Canada

Fathom Five National Marine Park
Park Website

Featuring both ancient geological wonders and a vital cultural legacy, Fathom Five National Marine Park reaches out from Ontario’s Bruce Peninsula to protect a lush archipelago and a surrounding freshwater ecosystem.

Iconic flowerpot formations flank 420 million year-old dolomite cliffs on Flowerpot Island, home to stunted white cedars, mixed-woodland and rare ferns and orchids. Three historic lightstations hearken to Lake Huron’s mid-19th century shipping heritage. Below the surface, 22 shipwrecks haunt the lake-water and fascinating geological formations scar the rocky bottom.

Flowerpot Island, the most accessible island within the park, welcomes guests with coastal and woodland hikes, two famous flowerpots and backcountry campsites. Or, delve the depths on a snorkel or scuba excursion to explore the wrecks and submerged natural wonders that define Canada’s first National Marine Conservation Area.

Fathom Five awaits—home to underwater mystery, island exploration, rich culture and incredible opportunities for discovery.

Charts: 2235 Cape Hurd to Lonely Island, Cape Hurd to Tobermory & Cove Island, 2292 Chantry Island to Cove Island
Cruising Guide: Great Lakes Waterway Guide 2017, Top 50 Canoe Routes of Ontario, Paddling and Hiking the Georgian Bay Coast, Ports Cruising Guide Georgian Bay, the North Channel and Lake Huron


Bruce Peninsula National Park, credit to Parks Canada

Bruce Peninsula National Park
Park Website

Bruce Peninsula National Park welcomes explorers of all ages to uncover the natural wonders of its limestone coasts, mixed-wood forests, cliffside cedars, clear-water lakes and vibrant orchids. Situated along Southern Ontario’s Niagara Escarpment, and part of a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve, this stunning 156-sq-km park is easily accessible via highway, only four hours from Toronto.

This is the traditional home of the Saugeen Ojibway First Nations, who have drawn subsistence and spirituality from this land for centuries, as well as a protected preserve for more than 200 species of birds, mammals both small and large, amphibians and even some rare reptiles.

A captivating playground in all seasons, guests enjoy hikes ranging from front-country walks to multi-day backcountry treks, summertime swims in pristine lakes and rock-scrambles along the rugged Georgian Bay shoreline. Serene camping in comfortable yurts, drive-to campsites or the remote backcountry makes extended getaways into this magical environment both convenient and fun.

Charts: 2235 Cape Hurd to Lonely Island, Cape Hurd to Tobermory & Cove Island, 2292 Chantry Island to Cove Island
Cruising Guides: Great Lakes Waterway Guide 2017, Top 50 Canoe Routes of Ontario, Paddling and Hiking the Georgian Bay Coast, Ports Cruising Guide Georgian Bay, the North Channel and Lake Huron


Georgian Bay Islands National Park, credit to Parks Canada

Georgian Bay Islands National Park
Park Website

Georgian Bay Islands National Park protects 63 islands within Earth’s largest freshwater archipelago, stretching for 50 kilometres along eastern Georgian Bay. Eight-kilometre-long Beausoleil Island is the main island, a 15-minute boat-ride from Honey Harbour, and the hub of visitor activity.

This island park harbours incredible biodiversity. Windswept pines and Precambrian granite of the Canadian Shield transition to forests of sugar maple and smooth-barked beech, punctuated by occasional conifers. Birdlife from raptors to songbirds fly above, small mammals scamper through forest undergrowth and this national park protects a greater variety of reptiles and amphibians than any other in Canada. Cultural roots run deep, reaching back through 5,500 years of human history.

Guests hike more than dozen marked paths, cycle scenic trails, swim from sandy or stony shores, ply remote waters via paddle or powerboat and unwind at campsites and cabins overlooking a vast and serene Great Lakes shoreline.

Charts: 2202 Port Severn to Parry Sound, 2241 Port Severn to Christian Island
Cruising Guide: Great Lakes Waterway Guide 2017, Top 50 Canoe Routes of Ontario, Paddling and Hiking the Georgian Bay Coast, Ports Cruising Guide Georgian Bay, The North Channel and Lake Huron


Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area

Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area
Parks Canada

Imagine a landscape where wind and waves caress the shores of tranquil sheltered bays and endless rugged coastlines – a place where a myriad of shipwrecks lay strewn on the lake floor offering silent testimony to the powers of Superior. The Anishinabek people have called this place Gitchi Gumme or “The Big Lake” and have lived on her shores for thousands of years, respecting the strength of her waters and the bounty of her lands.

Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area is a site so vast that, once established, it will be one of the largest freshwater protected areas in the world. Come fish, kayak and swim in her waves, hike her trails in search of waterfowl, migratory songbirds and wildlife and feel the grip of nature.

Charts: The LSNMCA is in the area East of Thunder Bay, so there no specific charts of that area. The charts listed here provide detail for the shore around the Marine Conservation Area. 2302 St Ignace Island to Passage Island, 2303 Jackfish Bay to St Ignace Island, 2304 Oiseau Bay to Jackfish Island, 2308 Michipicoten Island to Oiseau Bay, 2309 Cape Gargantua to Otter Head
Cruising Guide: Great Lakes Waterway Guide 2017, Top 50 Canoe Routes of Ontario,


Pukaskwa National Park, credit to Parks Canada

Pukaskwa National Park
Parks Website

Expanding over 1,878-square-kilometres on Lake Superior’s remote northern coast, Pukaskwa National Park is a captivating wilderness that weaves untouched nature with the long history of the Anishinaabe First Nations.

This is Ontario’s only wilderness national park, defined by pink-and-slate granite shores, Great Lake temperaments and near-endless stretches of spruce, fir, pine and hardwoods. Biodiverse coastal regions—where wetland, lake and forest meet—are home to iconic Canadian species like bald eagles, moose and bears. Sandy beaches and accessible campsites welcome families. Scenic hiking trails range from weeklong expeditions to gentle nature walks. And canoeists and kayakers can paddle along a coast removed from human influence on advanced expeditions or easy day-routes. Pukaskwa is a place where everyone can catch a glimpse of the rich traditions, values and contemporary life of the Anishinaabe, the local Indigenous People.

Chart: 2309 Cape Gargantua to Otter Head
Cruising Guides: Great Lakes Waterway Guide 2017, Top 50 Canoe Routes of Ontario


In addition, the Trent- Severn Waterway (which is managed by Parks Canada) has free locking this year, as part of the same program that provides no-cost access to the National Parks. Information about this can be found in this blog from last year

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Sailing Canada’s National Parks: The Gaspé and St Lawrence River


2017 is Canada’s sesquicentennial (that is to say, 150 years since Confederation), and to celebrate, Parks Canada is making access to national parks free for the year. substantial number of those national parks are on significant coastlines, and can be explored by boat. In this blog, the second of series, we will provide information about National Parks on the Gaspé and St Lawrence River.

Ile Anticosti National Park. credit to SEPAQ

Ile Anticosti National Park

Just imagine! In the Gulf of St. Lawrence, a wild and enchanting island, basking in the clear northern light. Imagine white cliffs being lapped by the ocean’s waters unfailingly. Imagine looking down into yawning canyons and hearing the roar of powerful falls. Imagine huge secluded caves, white-tailed deer grazing on seaweed, salmon frolicking in emerald green basins, and seals sunning on rocks. Imagine yourself at Parc national d’Anticosti. Nearly 125 km of trails crisscross this huge land area. On the island, hiking takes several forms: a walk along the shore or through a canyon with towering rock faces, a fascinating exploration of a cave or an outing in a boreal forest.

Charts: 4025 Cap Whittle to Havre-Sainte-Pierre, 4026 Havre-Saint-Pierre and Cap de Rosiers, 4430 Plans – Ile d’Anticosti
Cruising Guides: Cruising Guide to the Gulf of St Lawrence, Cruising Guide to St Lawrence River and Quebec Waterways Note: This last is a new edition in 2017.


Mingan Archpelago National Park Reserve, credit to Parks Canada

Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve
Park Website

Only an artist’s limitless imagination could have conjured up the striking landscapes of the Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve. The combination of climate, sea, and naturally sculpted rocks have been the subject of countless works of art over the years. As far as the eye can see there are peat polygons, gravel beaches, former sea cliffs, and limestone monoliths with the ocean setting the mood. Its rhythm, salty smell and vibrant blue colour are so idyllic it feels like you’ve walked into a living painting where thousands of seabirds – meeting on the island to nest – swirl across the sky in unison. Atlantic puffins, terns, and Common eiders are just a few winged friends who regularly visit the islands.

Charts: 4025 Cap Whittle to Havre-Sainte-Pierre, 4026 Havre-Saint-Pierre and Cap de Rosiers
Cruising Guides: Cruising Guide to the Gulf of St Lawrence, Cruising Guide to St Lawrence River and Quebec Waterways



Forillon National Park, credit to Parks Canada

Forillon National Park
Park Website

Forillon Park covers a total of 244.8 km2, including a narrow strip of marine area a little over 150 m wide (4.4 km2). Its history is as fascinating as its wildlife and plant life which includes Eastern Canada’s largest colony of Atlantic kittiwakes. As seen at the Grande‑Grave heritage site, commercial cod fishing prospered from the 18th century to the mid-20th century. Frequented by Aboriginal peoples for more than 4,000 years, Forillon is also the site of the only World War II coastal battery that is fully preserved and publicly accessible in Quebec, at Fort Peninsula. As impressive as the major role played by the Gaspé naval base in the Battle of the St. Lawrence from 1942 to 1944 is the discovery of a geological phenomena of easily visible fossils dating back 500 million years!

Charts: 4024 Chaleur Bay to Isle de La Madeleine, 4416 Havre de Gaspe, 4485 Cap des Rosiers to Chandler
Cruising Guides: Cruising Guide to the Gulf of St Lawrence, Cruising Guide to St Lawrence River and Quebec Waterways


Parc National du Fjord-du-Saguenay. credit to SEPAQ

Parc National du Fjord-du-Saguenay
Park Website

The scenery is so awe-inspiring! In this magnificent spot, nature used its colossal strength to create a fjord. There are so many things to see and do here in winter and summer alike. For example, you can head to Baie de Tadoussac to admire the extraordinary panorama of the boundless sea, but also to see hundreds of migrating birds. The scale of this migration gave birth to the Observatoire d’oiseaux de Tadoussac. The park is divided into three areas, as large as they are different: Baie-Éternité, Baie-de-Tadoussac and Baie-Sainte-Marguerite.

Charts: 1201 Saint-Fulgence to Saguenay, 1202 Cap Eternite to Saint-Fulgence, 1203 Tadoussac to Cap Eternite, 1320 Ile du Bic to Cape de la Tete au Chien, 6100 Lac Saint-Jean
Cruising Guides: Cruising Guide to the Gulf of St Lawrence, Cruising Guide to St Lawrence River and Quebec Waterways



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Sailing Canada’s National Parks: The Atlantic Coast


2017 is Canada’s sesquicentennial (that is to say, 150 years since Confederation), and to celebrate, Parks Canada is making access to national parks free for the year. substantial number of those national parks are on significant coastlines, and can be explored by boat. In this blog, the first of a series, we will provide information about National Parks on the Atlantic Coast.

Gros Morne National Park, credit to Sheldon Stone via Parks Canada

Gros Morne National Park
Park Website

Midway up western Newfoundland, Gros Morne is a spectacular park on the Gulf of St Lawrence, facing Labrador.

Soaring fjords and moody mountains tower above a diverse panorama of beaches and bogs, forests and barren cliffs. Shaped by colliding continents and grinding glaciers, Gros Morne’s ancient landscape is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Wander coastal pathways and beachcomb among sea stacks. Cruise the dramatic, sheer-walled gorge of Western Brook Pond. Spot moose and caribou. Hike to alpine highlands where Arctic hare and ptarmigan thrive on tundra, and explore the colourful culture of nearby seaside communities.

Charts:  4658 Bonne Bay, 4661 Bear Head to Cow Head, 4663 Cow Head to Pointe Riche
Cruising Guides: The Cruising Guide to Newfoundland (2014)


Terra Nova National Park, Credit to Parks Canada

Terra Nova Provincial Park
Park Website

Terra Nova is in northeastern Newfoundland, north and west of the Avalon Peninsula and St. John’s.

A ragged-shaped oceanside park of sheltered inlets, islands, headlands, ponds, forests and bogs across 400 square kilometres (154 square miles), Terra Nova is perched on the northeast coast of Newfoundland, a three-hour drive from the provincial capital of St. John’s.

Though easily accessible by the Trans-Canada highway, it is a traditional island wilderness with abundant wildlife like black bears, lynx, ospreys, moose and the rare indigenous Newfoundland marten. Join a campfire sing-along, touch sea critters in a tank, enjoy live performances under the stars. Arrange a guided, interpretive park tour or explore the park on your own for a day or on a multi-day camping trip. Ten hiking trails range from kid and wheelchair-friendly nature strolls to challenging treks. Canoe or swim in Sandy Pond, kayak rugged shorelines. In winter, strap on snowshoes or cross-country skis for a backcountry experience.

Charts: 4854 Catalina Harbour to Inner Gooseberry Island, 4855 Bonavista Bay- Southern Portion, 4856 Bonavista Bay- Western Portion
Cruising Guides: The Cruising Guide to Newfoundland (2014)


Prince Edward Island National Park, credit to Tourism PEI

Prince Edward Island National Park
Park Website

PEI National Park extends over 65 kilometres of shoreline, including beaches, red sandstone cliffs and rolling sand dunes on the North Shore of Prince Edward Island in Atlantic Canada. Broad, sandy beaches draw crowds of day-trippers and campers throughout the summer. Meanwhile, extensive walking trails and boardwalks, as well as 20 kilometres of paved multi-use trail for cyclists, slice through varied coastal terrain, from saltwater marsh to Acadian forest. If the landscape seems storybook-perfect, there’s good reason. The park is also home to the 19th-century farmhouse immortalized in the novel Anne of Green Gables, now one of Canada’s most popular heritage places. Marvel at exotic dunescapes on the Greenwich peninsula. Camp, cycle and swim in the central Brackley-Dalvay region. Or just enjoy sun and sand and a glimpse of Canada’s literary past in Cavendish. With three distinct regions overall, PEI National Park brings together the best of Atlantic Canada.

Charts: 4023 Northumberland Strait, 4425 Harbours on the North Shore
Cruising Guide: The Complete Cruising Guide to the Down East Circle Route


Cape Breton Highlands National Park. Credit to Parks Canada

Cape Breton Highlands National Park
Park Website

Over 100 kilometers of rugged, wave-pounded cliffs, sheltered coves and long curving beaches mark the breathtaking journey to Cape Breton Highlands National Park. Every turn inspires a photograph. Some 26 hiking trails are carved out along the coastline, across mountaintops, and tucked into forested valleys. The Skyline Trail leads to a breathtaking headland above the Atlantic, where mountains meet sea. View the Chéticamp River valley from the gorgeous Acadian Trail. Lone Shieling is a walk through 350 year-old sugar maples. And Fishing Cove leads from mountain top to secluded ocean cove. You might spot a bear eating blueberries, or notice velvety moose antlers poking out between spruce and fir boughs. Overhead, bald eagles, hawks, and cormorants soar. Along the coast, catch a glimpse of plunge-diving northern gannets, bobbing seals, and, peeking out of the ocean waves, minke or humpback whales. Stay awhile to enjoy swimming, golf, ocean and beach-front camping, and of course, the warm welcome from the fishing communities you’ll pass along the way, where you can stop to take in a ceilidh or a yummy dinner of fresh local seafood.

Charts: 4449 Cheticamp/ Grant Etang/ Margaree Harbours, 4464 Cheticamp to Cape St Lawrence
Cruising Guide: The Complete Cruising Guide to the Down East Circle Route, Cruising Guide to the Nova Scotia Coast


Kouchibouguac National Park, credit to Parks Canada

Kouchibouguac National Park (New Brunswick)
Park Website

Kouchibouguac National Park extends over 238-square-kilometres of Maritime Plain Natural Region along New Brunswick’s scenic Acadian Coast. This mosaic of salt marshes, peat bogs, freshwater systems, Acadian woodland and sandy beaches has long captivated guests, one generation to the next.

Hundreds of species of birds, dozens of mammals as well as amphibians, reptiles, rare plants and a wide variety of sea life inhabit this park, and the landscape welcomes exploration via its network of gentle hiking and cycling trails. Offshore, shifting sand dunes harbour the endangered piping plover and a colony of grey seals swims in the sea. Stargazing takes a unique perspective in this coastal Dark Sky Preserve. Kellys Beach is one of the region’s most popular summertime destinations. And in winter, the snowy side of Kouchibouguac invites soft adventure with cross-country trails and cosy warm-up huts.

Charts: 4906 West Point to Baie de Tracadie, 4909 Richibucto, Buctouche, Cocagne and Shediac Harbour
Cruising Guide: The Complete Cruising Guide to the Down East Circle Route

Canada’s Atlantic Coast is a great place to cruise, and we hope you’ll explore the National Parks this summer. In the next blog in this series, we’ll explore the National Parks of the Gaspé Peninsula and the St Lawrence River

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Charts, Charts and More Charts

Now that Spring has sprung, it’s time for our annual Chat about Charts.


In the past, a number of blogs have been written about charts: what we carry, what we can order, and laws regarding charts. We’re proud to be a chart agent, providing Canadian Hydrographic Services charts, as well as charts from NOAA, Imray, Maptech, Richardson’s, NV Charts, and a number other organizations and companies. There continues to be some confusion over charts, specifically the legality of chartbooks and what is required.

The Charts and Nautical Publications Regulations, Article 5(1) (c) (i) states that boats are required to carry “…the largest scale chart according to the reference catalogue… ”

Since this is something that confuses many people:
Small Scale = Large Area
Large Scale = Small Area

To put it another way, if you’re boating around Toronto Harbour, you’ll be required to carry chart 2085- Toronto Harbour. Chart 2077 (Lake Ontario West End) or 2000 (Lake Ontario general) would not be considered to have sufficient information.

The Canada Shipping Act requires most vessels to carry paper charts specifically, even if navigation will be done by GPS or on a computer. If you’re are going to be navigating, you should be carrying charts.

There have also recently been more questions about the legality of chartbooks, such as Richardson’s, Mapquest, and NV-Charts. These are not technically charts, but instead are very high quality photographs of charts. From discussions with representatives of various law enforcement agencies it is clear that there is no universal policy towards chart books. Anecdotal evidence suggests that also, reaction will vary from officer to officer. While the odds suggest that any individual person or boat may not be stopped by the Police or Coast Guard, and even if they were a chartbook such as Maptech or Richardson’s would usually be considered sufficient, they do not technically satisfy the legal requirement to carry charts in Canada.

The reality is that chartbooks such as Richardson’s are much easier to use on a chart table than a full paper chart, and that chartbooks are much more cost efficient than purchasing a full set of paper charts. We also understand that cost is a major factor for choosing to purchase chartbooks only, and not paper charts. What we would suggest is that our clients purchase a chartbook such as Richardson’s for their day-to-day navigation requirements, but also purchase the CHS charts they need to cover their usual cruising areas. To do so is more expensive, but it will cost far less than the fines for not carrying paper charts.

Charts are just part of what is required to be carried on board. It is always necessary to update charts or chartbooks with the Notices to Mariners. In addition, boats are required to have Chart One, Sailing Directions,Tide & Current Tables, the List of Lights, and Buoys and Fog Signals.

If you’ve talked to us about charts- you know that we place a strong emphasis on paper charts, whether they be CHS, NOAA, Imray, Explorer or anything else. Digital Charts cannot be denied, however. In Canada, it is still required to carry paper charts, even if you have digital charts. If you would like to purchase digital Canadian Hydrographic Service charts, we can absolutely provide them to you.

Canadian Hydrographic Service Digital Charts

As always, we at the Nautical Mind are happy to help you all of your chart needs and requirements.

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Some books about the Great Lakes for the Summer

Recently we’ve received some fantastic books about the Great Lakes. It’s an incredibly important environment for maritime commerce as well as for recreational boaters. These books provide some insight into the commercial aspects of Great Lakes Traffic.

Know Your Ships 2017
Marine Publishing Co.

This is a classic book, and a must-have for anybody who is curious about freighter. This book provides an incredible amount of up-to-date information about the fleets that service the Great Lakes and the ships that ply the waters. It addresses both the local Lakers, as well as the Saltwater freighters that also frequently come into the system.

if you’re a veteran watcher of the Great Lakes fleets, this is definitely a book for you.


A Beginner’s Guide to Ship Watching
Brett Ortler

This book is great for those who are new to the Great Lakes, or new to ship watching. It begins with an educational FAQ about freighters in general, then proceeds to describe good places for ship-watching. NB: This is an American-published book, and so there is very little discussion of good places for ship watching in Canada, limited to the Welland Canal. If you’re touring the American side of the Great Lakes, this book should absolutely go with you.


Sailing Into History: Great Lakes Bulk Carriers
Frank Boles

Frank Boles has spent many years working research libraries and archives around the Great Lakes, and this book brings forth his expertise on commercial shipping in the Great Lakes. The author examines every aspect, from the way that the Lakes themselves have been reshaped for shipping, to seamanship, Union relationships, the relationship between the ships and ports and other topics. This is an essential book for any student of Great Lakes history.

Lake Boats: The Enduring Vessels of the Great Lakes

Lake Boats: The Enduring Vessels of the Great Lakes
Greg McDonnell

A big, beautiful tribute to the historic ships still working the Great Lakes, from cement boats such as the 100-year old “St. Marys Challenger” to straight-deckers, self-unloaders and 1,000-footers sailing under the flags of prominent Great Lakes fleets: Algoma Central, Upper Lakes, Lower Lakes, American Stamship, Canada Steamship Lines, and others. Includes exact identification and specifics plus a history of each vessel.

The Inland Steel Fleet. 1911-1998
Raymond Bawal, JR.

For nearly ninety years, lake freighters belonging to the Inland Steel fleet transported the raw materials required for the manufacture of steel at their owner’s industrial complex at Indiana Harbor, Indiana. This volume traces the history of this company’s involvement in the Great Lakes shipping industry throughout most of the twentieth century, achievements in which included the commissioning of groundbreaking vessels such as the steamers Wilfred Sykes and Edward L. Ryerson.