Indecent proposal: N.E. Circumnavigation

-- Last Updated: Nov-27-04 6:42 PM EST --


Well, I'm always trying to dream up long trails/trips here in my native New England. For paddling, I'm currently working on the NFCT Plattsburgh NY to Fort Kent ME. Other long paddles in my area that I am aware of are source to sea on the Connecticut or the Androscoggin. Or maybe someone has retraced the route of the Arnold Expedition of 1775?

Anyway, it seems to me that it might be quite feasible to circumnavigate New England by paddle.

My proposed route is coastal from Passamaquoddy Bay on the the ME/NB border. Down the coast and through the Cape Cod Canal you go. As you approach the evil empire, turn North up the Harlem River and into the Hudson and paddle hard upstream. Just below Hudson Fall's take the Champlain Canal into Lake Champlain. Paddle the whole Lake into Canada and the Richelieu River with its locks on to the mightly St. Lawrence. Leave the Seaway at the nothernmost tip of Maine and portage overland to the headwaters of the St. Francis River, later joining the St. John. Follow the St. John down along the border and into New Brunswick until you need to portage once more into the St. Croix drainage and then follow it to the sea and your starting point.

I am getting about 1500 miles for this trip. Has it been done? Does it sound like a job for a Kruger Sea Wind or the like? Am I forgetting something?

You better hit the Cape cod Canal…
…when the tide is with you, and even then keep some toilet paper with you!



Never mind the St Francis &the St John,
Take the Seaway all the way out to the Gulf of St Lawrence, down the New Brunswick coast, past PEI and my 'hood on the Northumberland Strait, 'round Nova Scotia and into the Gulf of Maine. Should only add…what…2-3 days?

Cape Cod Canal
I don’t believe they let small, unmotored crafts through there.


believe sing is correct -
- but then, when isn’t he ??

btw, just reading the scope of that trip makes me need a nap !! =;-)

You are correct, but . . .

– Last Updated: Nov-28-04 10:22 AM EST –

My guide book on NE sea kayaking trips indicates that paddling the canal "accompanied by a power boat" is permissible.
In any event, there are paved bicycle trails on either side, making for a very easy portage of about 8 miles.

I would not try the Canal. There are some very large vessals going through there plus I have never seen a yak in the Canal don’t think they are allowed. To paddle around the Cape would be quite a task. Also what time of year would you be doing this? FishHawk

When and how?

– Last Updated: Nov-29-04 6:48 AM EST –

When would I head down to my local launch site and paddle 1500 miles in one shot? With a job, a wife, and a brand new son -- probably never! When could I start by day paddling southwest along the Maine Coast or tripping on the Hudson or Lake Champlain? -- tomorrow if I wished.

I really posted this ridiculous trip proposal to see who might have done it, or parts of it. I do appreciate all the comments so far. Call me optimistic, but I really prefer to think about how something like this CAN be done, rather than why it cannot.

I have suggested two ways to cut across Cape Cod, one by motor escort, one by easy portage. Another was would be via the Wampanoag Commemorative Canoe Trail (North River to Taunton River), 2 or 3 days maximum depending on your portage speed. I think the advice about not paddling around the Cape is excellent!

It's really hard to imagine that getting past a little 8 mile strip of Cape Cod would even come close to being the most logistically challenging part of this route.

well shut ma’ mouth !!

Wampanoag Canoe Passage
Hey Al,

Partly inspired by your earlier post, I paddled the North from Union St almost to Herring Brook and back this past Friday. Think I’ll do it again when the days are a little longer.

Didn’t know a thing about the Wampanoag Canoe Passage until I read this. Did google and found

Now I think I’ll have to try some of the Taunton.


Reminds me of a book…
…wherein a fellow ROWED from Manhattan up the Hudson to the Erie, hence west to the Mississippi (via the Lakes and Chicago R. I presume, but I don’t remember), down to the Gulf and the Intercoastal back to NY. Can’t remember the name or book title, and may have some details wrong.

Paddlers in the CC Canal

I don’t know if the Corps of Engineers which oversees the Canal, or the USCG “allow” paddlers in or through the Canal.

However, I encountered a kayaker camping on Calf Island in Boston Harbor this summer that claimed to have done it with the tide! The guy was a school teacher from Maryland and was doing a coastal trip from Md to Maine for his summer vacation (solo by the way!) and he told me he came thru the canal with the tide.

I have no idea if he was telling the truth or pulling my leg, but at any rate he looked like he knew what he was doing.

Not just any power boat
It’s permissable to paddle through escorted by an offical vessel, but that has to be arranged well in advance. IIRC, there is typically one official paddle trip through the canal per year.

It’s ~20 miles from Portsmouth to P-Town, so going around would probably only add 50 miles or so. On a 1500 mile trip, what’s the difference?

Treacherous water but doable
Your route is an interesting one and it is probably something unique, meaning never been done before. Some of the water is treacherous, like the Cape Cod Canal, Lake Champlain, and the St. Lawrence to name places that I know can be either not bad or real hairy depending on timing. I have been on all of these in small craft, but not all in one trip, nor even all in a kayak. Big water like Lake Champlain can really kick up and there are not always handy places to put in. With an eye on the weather and some daily planning, though, there is no question that this lake can be traversed safely in a kayak. You just need to be flexible and not get impatient if the weather holds you back. That is when risks might be taken that could prove unmanageable.

This sounds like a great trip if you have the time and inclination.



“On The Water, Discovering America in a
Rowboat” by Nathaniel Stone. He rowed from NYC to the Gulf of Mexico by way of the East River,Harlem River, Hudson River, Lake Erie, Chautauqua Lake, Chadekoin Creek, Allegheny River, Ohio River, Wabash River, and the Mississippi, up the Atlantic coastline to NYC and then on up to Eastport, ME. He had one 9-mile portage in Mayville, NY. Damage to the boat in South Carolina slowed him up, but I think the worst part of the trip was trying to get through the Cape Cod Canal in time to make the Blackburn Challenge. The Army Corp. wouldn’t let him through. I won’t ruin the story by telling you what happened. It was quite a trip and a good read.