(Data shown for Northumberland Strait)
"On P-E-I (accent on the 'P'), if your fingers don't freeze puttin' in or takin' out the boat -- proper thing -- then somethin's wrong." (In the spring, if your fingers are warm, then either you had trouble getting the boat ready or weren't motivated enough. In the fall you've taken out too soon and something's wrong there, too.)
(min to max)
4 to 14oC
Recreational boats put in mid to late May.*
9 to 19oC
14 to 23oC
13 to 23oC
9 to 18oC
4 to 12oC
Recreational boats taken out by mid to late October.
*Boaters are very dependent on the seasons. The Mi'kmaw were here long before us. Living as hunter-gathers, they had a fine sense of nature around them. Their calendar teaches many lessons:
English Mi’kmawi’simk Translation Spring April Siwkw Penatemuiku’s Egg laying moon Summer May Nipk Etqoljewiku’s Frog Croaking Moon SummerJune Nipk Nipniku’s Summer Moon SummerJuly Nipk Peskewiku’s Feather Shedding Moon Summer August Nipk Kisikwekewiku’s Fruit/Berry Ripening Moon Summer September Nipk Wikumkewiku’s Moose calling Moon Autumn October Toqa’q Wikewiku’s Animal fattening Moon Winter November Kesik Keptekewiku’s River Freezing Moon Winter December Kesik Kjiku’s The Great Month Winter January Kesik Punamujuiku’s Frost Fish or Tom Cod Moon Winter February Kesik Apiknajit The Snow Blinder Moon Winter March Kesik Siwkewiku’s Spawning Moon
Weather. Summer brings many days of sunny skies, light winds, good visibility, long evenings and pleasant air and sea temperatures.Prevailing winds tend to be southwest during the cruising summer, averaging 15-17 km/h (8-9 knots) at Charlottetown. Gale and storm winds are infrequent during the summer. On average there are only 3-4 days of fog per month. Fog does not tend to persist. Thunder storms are infrequent compared to other parts of Canada, but lightning is a significant hazard when they occur. Rainfall averages 8-9 cm/month during the boating season, occurs on 12-13 days/month, and rarely lasts all day. Sea temperatures around PEI and in the Northumberland Strait are as warm as the water off North Carolina -- nowhere else in Eastern Canada is as warm. In July and August the sea reaches 18-20oC (64oF). On one memorable day we swam in the open Strait when the surface temperature was 22oC (72oF).
Squalls are dangerous, sudden increases in wind that occur sometimes during the summer months. Wind direction changes unpredictably. Squalls can occur even with little cloud present. They are more frequent in the afternoon and evenings, creating a brief hazard to small craft.
Waterspouts occur from time to time, but are short-lived. They are less dangerous than tornadoes. They predominate in fall, when cooler air fills over warmer water.
Lee Shore -- In the old days of sail, northerly storms caused many ships to founder on the lee shores along PEI's unprotected, shallow northern beaches.
Forecasts -- Listen on VHF radio for Environment Canada marine and inland) and Canadian Coast Guard marine weather broadcasts. You can also listen to the marine weather broadcasts on a telephone by dialing (902) 566-7041.
Waves. Waves in the relatively protected Northumberland Strait mostly depend on local winds. The Atlantic's swells do not enter the Strait. Swell is much more prevalent along the north shore of PEI. Wave action persists as swell about 24 hours after strong winds diminish. Waves along the north shore of PEI include sea swells from distant winds in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the north Atlantic ocean. Waves are higher in areas where their direction is opposite to tidal currents.
Waves are much higher, steeper and dangerous when wind opposes tidal current. This phenomenon is particularly dangerous off points, like Cape Bear and Cape George. Plan to arrive at those areas when the tide is favorable.
Tides. The tides around PEI are a mix of weak diurnal and strong semi-diurnal, so generally there are 2 highs and 2 lows in just over 24 hours. Tides range about 3-8 feet along the Northumberland Straight, and 1-3 feet along the north shore. Tides are highest at Charlottetown. Tides flood into Northumberland Strait from the North, West and East. Look for increased waves around points like East Point, Cape Bear and Point Prim when tides oppose winds and waves. Tidal currents in the open Strait peak at about 1-2 knots, and reach 4 knots in narrow inlets such as Pinette and Pugwash.
Tidal streams. Tidal streams tend to run over 2 knots in the narrow areas of the open Strait. Interestingly the tidal streams have a strong diurnal (once a day) component, unlike the tides which have a strong semi-diurnal (twice a day) component.
Currents. Currents in the Strait are influenced by weather and astronomical conditions both locally and out in the Gulf. Their periods are about 12-14 hours, alternating east and west, and reaching rates of 2 knots.
Sea Ice. PEI's harbours tend to freeze over during the deep winter months, when ice packs form and drift in the Northumberland Strait and Gulf of St. Lawrence. The sea around PEI tends to freeze in December, and becomes ice-free by May.