can-st_john_river-largeThere are great boating experiences to be had all around the province of New Brunswick. The eastern shore ports on the Gulf of Saint Lawrence offer very unique and picturesque harbours to enjoy during the summer months. There are numerous opportunities to gunkhole through the areas of the Northumberland Strait separating New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island in the Bay of Fundy; there are also many beautiful harbours to tuck into and explore, but that's another article. The highlight of New Brunswick boating has to be cruising the Saint John River.

The Saint John River begins in the very northern part of New Brunswick where it meets Maine and Quebec. It forms a scenic valley where the Trans-Canada Highway follows down the western half of the province to the Capital of Fredericton. Below Fredericton, the river winds toward the south through gorgeous farm country and rural life toward the booming city of Saint John (not to be confused with St. John's, Newfoundland) where the river empties out into the Bay of Fundy. The Saint John River offers many scenic anchorages and access to other bays and lakes to explore. It also offers some unique challenges to test the skills developed in those courses offered by the Canadian Power and Sail Squadrons during the winter, such as anchoring, tides, current and fog, to name a few.

The city of Saint John is formed around an excellent harbour offering protection from the Bay of Fundy. There are an increasing number of larger freighters tied alongside in port or at anchor a few miles out into the bay. For boats coming up the Bay of Fundy these ships offer a reassurance as they approach the harbour. The Bay of Fundy offers some of the largest tides in the world and, in Saint John, they can be over 25 feet in height. Along with this tidal range are some interesting currents that need to be negotiated as you make passage to Saint John.

To enter the Saint John River, boats need to go through the harbour and turn west under the harbour bridge into the narrowing gorge that forms the reversing falls. The falls reverse direction as the height of tide changes with the level of the river. If you don't time it for the half hour around slack water the ride could be somewhat akin to white water rafting. There are many locals and the Coast Guard to ask for help in timing the trip through the reversing falls and into the river.

Most boats tie alongside the floating docks in front of the Hilton Hotel. These are free for docking for a few hours and offer tremendous access to the center of town. While you wait for the slack tide you can visit the market, some of the loyalist sites, do some shopping or grab something to eat at the numerous excellent restaurants. Be sure to get back to the boat in time to make the trip into the river. Even though the distance is only about 5 miles, there can be quite a difference in the weather. Often the fog of early summer is replaced by brilliant sun and warmth 'up river'. Once past the falls, you have the opportunity to tie up at several different marinas and yacht clubs in order to reprovision and to explore the area. The passage along the river from the reversing falls opens onto Grand Bay – a beautiful cruising area. Saint John sailors are competitive and this is an active area for races. Sailing up the Kennebacasis Bay offers more marinas and places to access interesting and historic attractions. The local residents are very friendly and will answer any of your questions. Save a few things to see and do on the return trip.

After exploring the Saint John area, there are numerous waterways to explore for the cruising boat, all the way to Fredericton about 70 nautical miles north. After transiting across Grand Bay you cross one of the many cable ferries that move vehicles across the river. Always cross behind these ferries; remember that it is customary to request permission to cross the cable as movement is unpredictable. The river is well-marked by buoys and several lighthouses along the way. Remember that there is still a tide almost all the way to Fredericton and there is also a current, which at time can be strong.

The Long Reach of the Saint John River is a beautiful stretch of water with hills on either side. There are numerous sandy points and beaches for a cooling swim. At the top of the Long Reach is Catons Island, which was once owned by the Oland family, owners of a local beer brewery and more recently by a religious order as a retreat. There are several well-protected areas to drop an anchor or pick up a club mooring ball that is not being used. There is a series of cement wharfs protruding into the river that were used by the early 19th century boats plying the river loaded with goods and people. However, most wharfs need to be approached with caution, as they have not been maintained in good shape. Other wharfs however are very convenient for access to the shoreline stores and walks down country roads. You may even be able to find a few wild bushes of strawberries, raspberries blueberries or blackberries during a refreshing hike.

Going further up the river, you need to work your way around Oak Point that also provides good anchorages and swimming, and up towards the entrance into the Bell Isle Bay. This is a fabulous area that has both cottages and farmlands dotting the shoreline. It is not a wide bay but is quite long which makes it feels quite rural with a charm that is lasting.

Returning back to the Saint John River allows boaters to continue north to tie along at the Evandale Wharf. In the past, the Inn adjacent to the wharf had reopened and was a wonderful place for lunch and refreshments. Further upstream is the Washademoak River. This leads to a wonderful lake that has a beautiful countryside consisting of cottages, farms and forests. Larger boats generally cannot get beyond the bridge at Cambridge Narrows – a good location to visit the store for an ice cream or other treats.

Continuing up the Saint John River is the village of Gagetown. There is a well-equipped marina with a couple of restaurants to enjoy as well as some historic sights and local crafts. Now, who was that famous Canadian politician and father of confederation of Canada that came from Gagetown? Sir Leonard Tilly. Gagetown also hosts a wonderful fair in late summer.

Above Gagetown is the Jemseg River that leads into Grand Lake and a beautiful anchorage destination for many local boaters on the north side of the lake, known as Douglas Harbour. The Jemseg is renowned for their strawberries; some say there are 'none better'. Douglas Harbour can get crowded, especially in foul weather, but it is a nice anchorage even on a rainy day. The lake is quite open for good sailing and boating.

The Saint John River continues to wind north to Oromocto that has an excellent marina and provides easy access to grocery stores and other services. Further on is the city of Fredericton with a yacht club just before the large bridge or anchorage off the city greens (park) on the north side of the bridge. There is a dock near the downtown for smaller powerboats and tenders. This provides easy access to the many attractions in Fredericton and represents the limits of navigable waters.

Above Fredericton is the Maqtaquac Dam that forms a head pond with excellent boating. Those traveling with trailerable power and sailboats have several spots that they can put their boats in the water. One of the most popular launches is at the Mactaquac Provincial Park's marina, approximately 20 minutes north of Fredericton. From this point the navigable waters wind northward about 100 kilometers to Woodstock with numerous good locations to anchor overnight.

The lower Saint John River offers the boater a vast system of waterways that are as enviable as any cruising ground. There are an extensive number of bays and inlets that provide excellent anchorages, and impressive scenery. A two-week cruise to Fredericton and back seems to go very fast and leaves most wanting to return and explore some more. The many long-term boaters in the area have not tired of the river and return from other cruising grounds with the belief that the Saint John River is as good as it gets for boating.

An Abacos Adventure

Great Guana CayBy Mark Stevens; Photos by Sharon Matthew-Stevens

It’s a perfect Sunday morning jaunt.

We’re gliding through green-blue waters, colours so vivid and bright they hurt your eyes. We’re set for a close reach out of a harbour guarded by a necklace of tiny emerald islands decorated by palms that dance in fifteen knots of wind.

Our boat, “Tropical Escape II” (perfect name for both the boat and our adventure), is a 44-foot Robertson and Caine catamaran, chartered from Sunsail’s Marsh Harbour base on Bahamas’ Great Abaco Island.

Read More about An Abacos Adventure...

 

Lifestyle

  • Prev
“In Grenada, we had about 80 cruiser kids visit our boat...by dinghy of course! Sometimes you ...
Austin Edwards told students and parents at the Saanich School’s “Parents as Informed Partners” ...
As the sole arbiter of the Photo of the Week I, your editor, get to make the choice. This week, ...
Michele Stevens pointed us to this interesting project which recently came to fruition in Cape ...
Our Photos of the week this time come from BC where our friend Rob Stokes sent us a very nice ...
Our little treasure: Montague (Monte) taken at Pirate's Cove in the Gulf Islands. Monte is a ...
It has been a long, hot summer here on Georgian Bay and we miss Adamant 1 terribly. We did manage ...
On Thursday last week, at age 88, Bruce Kirby has been invested into the Order of Canada for his ...
The Olympic Qualification Regatta is now being held in Aarhus Denmark with unlimited entries. That ...
The demographics of sailing are changing, and more women are getting involved and are often rooted ...

Boat Reviews

  • Prev
At the boat shows, the Ranger Tugs’ classic tugboat lines always grab the crowds, with the wives ...
Sometimes a great idea requires an encore, and French yacht builder Jeanneau got that with the ...
Tactical Custom Boats announces the sale to a North American client of a custom Tactical 77’ – Fast ...
Bruce Elliott is an inventor. And when he sold the technology he developed to build utility poles ...
One often asks of a winning achievement or a fabulous design, could it have possibly been done ...
The latest new model from Cruisers Yachts is the Cantius 42 and this yacht made its debut in the ...
The Sabre 45 Salon Express is new for 2017, making its debut at the Fort Lauderdale International ...
Jeanneau’s newest NC model is the NC 33, and it’s an exciting and innovative inboard cruiser ...
The Four Winns H290OB combines two of the most popular new big boat trends to come up with a great ...
Commodore’s Boats is a full service shipyard with over 50 years of generational history and ...

Hanse 388

Hanse 388By Katherine Stone

The Hanse group produced their second most popular boat of all time with the Hanse 385. The trick was to build on that winning formula when they upgraded to the Hanse 388, which they have done in spades. The German build quality is first rate and true to the Hanse tradition. Leaving the hull the same with a steep stern and straight stem for an optimal long water line, they went with a slightly stiffer, heavier displacement, new deck, interior layout and window line. Hanse’s highly experienced yacht construction team, judel/vrolijk & co., have combined ease of sailing, comfort and performance into the newly designed Hanse 388.

Read more about the Hanse 388...

 

 

 

DIY & How to

  • Prev
A recent conversation with a fellow contractor got me thinking: With all of the information out ...
As the cold approaches, shrink-wrapping is a hot topic, and I’ve heard more than a few debates at ...
Nothing stops a vacation faster than a problem with the fresh water system – be it leaks, smells, ...
Pyrotechnic distress flares have been around for decades, while electronic strobe distress flares ...
Most of us don’t give a second thought to our sacrificial anodes – those curious knobs of raw metal ...
In this time of boat show afterglow, many boaters are counting the days until launch. 
This one-day course consists of both theory and practical demonstration sessions, is designed to ...
 Since the initial article of this column we have identified a wide range of apps and ...

Ask Andrew - Winterization

Winterising your boatBy Andrew McDonald

‘Winterization’ is a broad term used to prepare an engine for extended storage – specifically through the winter season (when temperatures drop below the freezing point).

There are two main purposes for proper winterization: First, to protect the engine from freezing damage; second, to prepare the engine to be re-started easily after a lay-up.

Read More about Winterizing your boat....

 

 

  

Marine Products

  • Prev
Sail shape is long gone. They have stained, feels thin and you see broken threads everywhere. Your ...
Stripping the antifouling paint from the bottom of a boat is physically demanding and is one of the ...
The 2019 Ultimate Sailing Calendar highlights the drama and excitement of blue-water sailing, as ...
Weather nerds and boaters of all stripes will be absorbed by Bruce Kemp’s account of the monstrous ...
Canada Rope promises that its new Night Saver Rope will illuminate at night and act as a reference ...
Take a look as a 68-foot yacht docks itself in between two Volvo Ocean 65 sailing yachts at the ...
Industry Firsts Include Direct Injection and Integrated Electric Steering System
Verviers, Belgium, 18 May 2018 — Mercury Marine, the world leader in marine propulsion technology, ...
Again, we return to the beginning. We started this column with a look at marine navigation for ...
Ga-Oh (spirit of the winds in Algonquin) creates bags and other items from re-purposed sails.