The Northumberland Strait is a wonderful cruising ground for small power and sail cruisers.
Give cruise, commercial and military ships a wide berth in Charlottetown harbour. For security reasons, official people will get nervous and question you if you cruise to within 500 meters of a cruise ship docked in harbour. So sight-see from a distance.
Beware fishing trap buoys!Every summer, several boaters run afoul of fishing trap buoys in the Northumberland Strait. We had to pick our way carefully through multiple buoys in the small boat navigation span at the Confederation Bridge (notice the day marks on the uprights on each side). The floats often lie at the end of a long floating segment of line, and it can be difficult to estimate which way that line is running or how deep it runs, depending on the combined effect of wind and tide.
There are small harbours served by friendly people throughout Prince Edward Island and the nearby shores of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. The largest communities on PEI are the Provincial capital of Charlottetown (pop. 35,000, 46'17"N, 63'08"W) and Summerside (pop. 15,000).
There are lunch, swimming and fishing anchorages within an hour of most communities.
See Northumberland Strait Yachting Association http://www.nstya.com/cruzinfo.htm for additional information on cruising in Northumberland Strait, including online details for several harbours on both sides of the Strait.
1,754 NM by elliptical NAD83.
1,757 NM by spherical (1' = 1 NM).
Recreational boaters have been able to obtain fuel on the dock in 3 PEI communities, but check ahead, because dockside fuel supply may change in many marinas around the coast and this list could be out of date:
Charlottetown (Quartermaster Marina at Peake's Quay, or Charlottetown Yacht Club).
Summerside (Silver Fox Curling and Yacht Club).
Montague (Montague Waterfront Development Corporation marina).
In other communities boaters can fill cans at roadside garages and carry the fuel to their boat.
Shallow coastline. PEI's coastline is characterized by shoal (shallow) waters. It is very easy to run aground, even a couple of miles offshore in some places.
Lee shores. The north coast can dangerous for paddlers and sailors when the wind blows from the northerly directions. Shoal waters and sandy bottoms, and narrow approaches to bar harbours mean boaters have to plan ahead and keep a sharp eye on the weather.
Fishing buoys. The map below shows Maritime lobster fishing areas. Find out when the fishing seasons are open in your cruising area. Boaters can unexpectedly tangle propellers in fishing buoy lines anywhere, even harbours and the open Strait. Boaters might also encounter crab pot floats, and floats for fishing lines.
Tidal Currents. Currents in the open Strait can run 0.5-1.5 knots. Tides in harbours and river mouths can run up to 4 knots in Pugwash NS and Pinette PEI. Be very cautious of tidal currents when planning your trips, especially near shorelines, around capes, and in harbours. Canoeists and small boaters must be particularly mindful of how tides can carry them miles from shore in a couple of hours.
Fishing Floats Watch out for floats attached to commercial fishing gear, even in the open Strait. The following map shows fishing zones. Find out when seasons are open.