Luke Brown News
The Down East Circle Loop by Andrea and Chuck Wistar
April 24, 2017
Part I - Lake Ontario down the St. Lawrence River to Montreal and Quebec City
Many cruisers head north each summer on New York’s Hudson River, transit the Erie Canal, and arrive in Lake Ontario. There, three popular choices present themselves. Many simply enjoy the cruising afforded by the Great Lakes and return. The very ambitious head west and take the famous Great Circle Loop through the lakes to Chicago, and eventually down the Mississippi and other rivers to the Gulf of Mexico. Others turn east, cruise down the St. Lawrence River past Montreal to Sorel, and then return to New York via the Richelieu River, Lake Champlain, and its canal that leads back to the Hudson.
There is a fourth, less taken choice - the Down East Circle Loop. Instead of turning south in Sorel, Down East Loopers continue all the way out the St. Lawrence River, around the Gaspe Peninsula, enjoying stops in New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island before savoring the Atlantic coast of Nova Scotia. The return to New York via the spectacular coast of Maine and other New England waters can be a cruise unto itself. With a start and a finish at the Statue of Liberty, the loop is nearly 2500 nm. By cruising in the clockwise direction described in the picture, the considerable current of the St. Lawrence River is always with the boat and provides a welcome boost to speed over the bottom and fuel economy. At trawler speeds it can be done comfortably in 45 days. We took nearly twice that.
It is a very special adventure, and quite unlike any of the other cruises. The cruising waters are majestic with towering geology, unfathomable depths, foreign cultures, exotic and abundant wildlife, and waters of vast scale and diversity. It’s also a test of, but not necessarily a challenge to, the crew’s spirit of adventure and discovery as well as its self-sufficiency and independence.
For two decades we had cruised our Grand Banks in Chesapeake and Atlantic coastal waters from our homeport of Annapolis, MD. In fact, we had ventured as far as Maine and the Bahamas. But by 2003 we were ready to commit full time for a few years. We had evolved a clear understanding of our particular needs in a boat to live on and cruise continuously. A pilothouse trawler was to be the foundation. We wanted a lot of other features in whatever make we selected such as inside access to the bridge, walkaround decks, easy passage from the boat deck to the cockpit, three staterooms with the master amidships, and a spacious bridge for both command and entertaining.
It took us four years to explore the many fine choices, but when we first saw a Selene 53 in February 2002, we knew in an instant that it was a perfect fit for our particular needs. An order followed a month later, and by mid-2003 we had rented our home, stored furniture, clothes, and clutter, distanced ourselves from our professional lives, taken delivery, and moved aboard. We have had some great adventures, but none thus far as enjoyable and rewarding as undertaking the 2500-mile, 90-day Down East Circle Loop in July, August, and September 2004.
As we considered the trip we had many questions and, certainly, a number of apprehensions: the famous tidal ranges, mighty tidal and river currents, the language barrier we would deal with for the 1000 miles we would be in French- speaking Canada, the scarcity of fellow cruisers, availability of provisions and fuel, getting emergency help, local transportation, . . . the list goes on.
As you will read, every such issue was easily managed when approached with care, preparation, and a sense of adventure and humor.
The thoroughly researched and well-written Complete Cruising Guide to the Down East Circle Route1 by Capt. Cheryl Barr was the foundation of all our planning. A Canadian cruising guide, St. Lawrence River & Quebec Waterways2, provided guidance the entire distance out the St. Lawrence and around the Gaspe Peninsula. We found that the Richardson Chartbook gave us all the information we needed as far as Quebec.
From there on, no chartbooks exist, but Annapolis friends who had taken the trip in recent years gave us all the Canadian charts we would need. Additionally, we had the redundancy of C-Map cartridges for our chart plotter, and Maptech charts for our laptop for the entire voyage. Depths are expressed in meters. That requires a bit of a mindshift, and the first couple of times you see something indicated as “3,” you have to remind yourself that it’s really over 10’. Any who have traveled Bahamian waters and other international venues know that the conversion is easy, and quickly becomes intuitive.
The Canadian Hydrographic Service publishes the Atlas of Tidal Currents3, to us an essential book that graphically depicts the state of the currents in several logical regions between Montreal and Tadoussac at hourly intervals over the entire tidal cycle. This proved to be an excellent resource given that, combined with tidal influence, the current can be as much as 6 knots for or against the cruiser!
Navigation is very straightforward. Canadian, marks are a bit different from our familiar fat-waisted nuns and cans. Instead they are slender and tall, but red and greeen are the international buoy language. Exceptions abound in the greater St. Lawrence down river from Quebec where the waters are more like the open sea. Huge lighthouses and towers guide the constant flow of ocean-going freighters that traverse these waters. They are welcome and helpful aids to recreational cruisers as well.
We left Annapolis in early July and arrived in Oswego, NY, on the shores of Lake Ontario an easy two weeks later via the Hudson River and Erie Canal. Each has been subject of much writing, and deservedly so.
Then, on a clear, bright, and calm morning in early July, we departed Oswego and set our waypoint nearly due north across a very flat Lake Ontario. It is 50 miles to Kingston, a city of about 155,000, at the headwaters of the St. Lawrence River. We crossed the international border and arrived at the city’s Confederation Basin.
Immediately we were in a ‘foreign’ country, but we never were made to feel foreign. Certainly, the spelling, currency, history, government, customs, units of measure (metric), and outlook are different from our own, but friendly people are friendly people the world over. Such was the case everywhere we went on our journey. We spent a delightful couple of days touring, walking around, and engaging the locals who were universally welcoming to us. The shops and restaurants were wonderful, and we could have tarried longer.
Departing Kingston, we were in the mighty St. Lawrence River and “officially” in the Thousand Islands. Actually, there are some 1,800 granite isles sprinkled liberally throughout the first 50 miles of the river’s headwaters. Some are not much larger than a big boulder; some are many square miles in size. Most are tree-covered, and perhaps half are populated with seasonal homes, large and small.
On arrival in Alexandria Bay, NY we were told multiple conflicting stories about clearing US Customs, but finally discovered that there was a picture phone at the town dock. We walked over a mile with ship’s papers and passports, interacted visually with a Customs agent somewhere in cyberspace, and finally were told it was ok to stay. The border is so porous, yet in the name of homeland security it is assumed that bad guys would go to all the trouble that we did to clear in.
The section of the river from Lake Ontario to Montreal comprises the St. Lawrence Seaway, jointly developed and managed by Canada and the US to serve ships from all over the world on their way to and from ports throughout the Great Lakes. We slipped through the first of seven locks, Iroquois, with ease - just a one-foot drop, but they were still happy to collect the $20 fee. Upon reaching Montreal, we would be back in tidal seawater and the temperature would be about 20° less so we took the last dip that would be possible for a couple of months!
Bright and early the next morning we called the Eisenhower Lock and were amazed to be immediately invited through - all by ourselves! It is huge, and paired with the Snell Lock a mile down river, vessels are dropped a total of 80'. In many ways it was easier than navigating some of the locks in the Erie Canal because we could loop our bow and stern lines around floating bollards. This eliminated the need to actually tend them, though we paid close attention. These were the first two of six major locks on the St. Lawrence Seaway that took us down an average of 45'. Each dumps about 25 million gallons of water per cycle!
We were slightly apprehensive in anticipation of our first night in French- speaking Canada. We docked at the Creg Quay marina that, although still in the province of Ontario, was effectively a boating suburb of Montreal. It has great facilities, but at 53’, Celebrate consumed both spots on the face dock, and stood out almost embarrassingly among the couple of hundred express cruisers so popular in that region, most of which were 20 or more feet shorter.
The many curious denizens of the marina respectfully studied us. Smiles were reciprocated with smiles, and in no time we were warmly welcomed and adopted by a growing gathering of very sociable boaters – all of whom were Quebecois; most spoke both French and English, but some only spoke French. After a suitable amount of socializing on the dock, nothing would do but for fourteen of us to hop into cars and go out for some locally famous BBQ ribs in nearby Lancaster.
It was a wonderful harbinger of coming experiences with French Canadians who were universally friendly, fun engaging, helpful, and tolerant of our poor command of their romantic language. Whether in large cities like Quebec and Montreal, or small villages like La Malbie or Montane, even if none of us had a single word of common language, there was mutual respect, humor, and helpfulness. Any cruiser in these waters can, and should, feel entirely comfortable in this vast region of our northern neighbor.
We arrived in Montreal the next day after catching some great breaks timing the 5 locks that remained in the St. Lawrence seaway. As we exited the seaway, we turned back upstream (~5 knots against us!) and crawled three miles to Port d'Escale - a huge municipal marina smack in the center of downtown. It has every modern convenience.
The next five days were not enough to do more than scratch the surface of this sophisticated “Paris of North America.” With bike paths galore, parks, several universities, the former Olympic Park, the former Expo, etc., it is arguably the San Diego of Canada in terms of being recreation-friendly. It is also clean, safe, historic, charming, and full of too many good restaurants and all the world’s finest shops.
Any form of commerce was easy since we used our credit card for nearly everything we needed. Conversion rates are calculated automatically and one is assured of getting the market exchange every day. What little cash we did require jumped out of any of the ATMs that are as ubiquitous in Canada as they are in the US.
With some regrets we cast off, bound for Trois-Rivieres some 70 miles downstream. The next day we made yet another 70 to Quebec. In this stretch, the St. Lawrence's wide, deep (150') and swift (often 3 - 4 knots) waters cut through rolling countryside lined with farms and villages on either shore. Each town has a huge church; all are neat and clean. Throughout most of our trip, Andrea was able to stay in touch with friends and family, as well as continue her coaching practice via cell phone.
Arrival in Quebec was dramatic. The old city sits on a plateau towering atop 200' high cliffs. The citadel historically commanded the river at this point from a military standpoint, just as the famous Chateau Frontenac Hotel now commands the city from a tourism standpoint. The marina is right in downtown and is protected from the 8 - 10' tides by a lock.
It should have been no surprise to us that on a summer Sunday afternoon around 5:00 p.m. we were not the only ones wanting to enter the marina. So, with 13 other boats (we counted them) ranging from 20-60' we stuffed Celebrate into the lock and made it through with minimum problems but maximum excitement! Modern docks, full facilities, and even free DSL connections to the Internet were welcome amenities.
As in Montreal, we could have spent more than the 4 nights we did in Quebec. It is old (400 years) and beautifully preserved in this 21st century. There are some salutes to modern times, though, but even the Burger Kings and McDonalds were in architectural harmony with the environs. We walked everywhere, excepting the 25 km bike ride to Montmorency Falls on the city’s extensive bike path system. The fall’s dramatic plunge into the St. Lawrence is actually higher than Niagara’s.
Departing Quebec was a conflicting moment. The excitement and convenience of big cities were about to give way to the grandeur and remoteness of the lower St. Lawrence River, Gaspe, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia.
Part II - The Lower St. Lawrence River, the Gaspe, and New Brunswick
The Down East Circle Loop circumnavigates America's northeastern states and Canada's maritime provinces clockwise from New York City via the Hudson River, Erie Canal, the St. Lawrence River, Northumberland Strait, and returns from Nova Scotia and Maine on the Atlantic Coast, Buzzards Bay, and Long Island Sound. It is about 2,500 nautical miles in length, and welcomes the well-found cruiser with sights and cultures unlike any others in the hemisphere. Last month we described the Lake Ontario to Quebec City stretch of the might St. Lawrence River.
Below Quebec the river widens and deepens. Soundings of 200’ and more become the norm. Breadth is measured in miles and tens of miles. Tree-covered mountains line the shore, rising sharply from river level to 1800 feet or more. In many places the combination of strong river and tidal currents with sudden variations in depth creates whirlpools, often a hundred or more yards across. No, they aren’t the kind you find in the bathtub, but they frequently nudged even our 85,000 lb. displacement boat here and there – quickly corrected by the dependable autopilot.
We are ever watchful under way, but in such big water, the boat and her systems usually do a better job of handling course keeping than the helmsman if given a chance. Timing of tides is a big thing. Well done, there are places in this stretch that can give you 5 knots of help. Poorly done, well - you can figure. The Canadian Hydrographic Service book1 was invaluable in our planning for this fact of cruising life in the region.
Our destination was Tadoussac at the mouth of the Sagueney River. For the first time, fog that had been threatening closed in tight and we ran in IFR conditions. The GPS-driven chart plotter and the radar kept us in the right place at the right time. It was never a surprise to come upon a buoy or a boat that we had been tracking. At one point, the current turned back on us and created fascinating chop and wave action as the flooding tide decided to reverse the natural flow of the river.
Just 4 miles from our destination the fog magically lifted and the towering mountains that guard the Sagueney River at Tadoussac appeared, as did a fleet of whale-watching boats. We were in what many believe to be the whale- watching capital of North America. Seven species are known to haunt this krill- and mackerel-rich confluence of the St. Laurence and the Sagueney. It is home to pods of the rare and endangered white Beluga whales.
Here, the St. Lawrence is typically 250-300' deep. The water temperature was just 48 degrees F! The Sagueney River is actually a fjord. On the sides, sheer cliffs rise to heights of 900-1,200 feet. They plunge into the river with no attempt to stop, and even just 50' from shore it is over 100' deep. Our depth sounder gave up at 600', but the charts told us it was close to 900' deep.
We docked at Marina Tadoussac and walked around the seasonal town. Like everything else we saw in Quebec, it is neat, friendly, and very French. On the rocks at river's edge we jouned many just sitting there and watching whales dive and spout a mere hundred yards offshore. Amazing!
A return of pea-soup fog foreclosed any chance to see that nigh's Blue Moon. It lifted around 0900 the next morning (so we thought) and we took off for Rimouski nearly 60 miles distant and fully across to the south shore of the St. Lawrence. Within 10 minutes the 'soup' returned, and except for two whales that soon surfaced about 100' away, all we saw for 6 hours was the bow of our boat and a fading wake. Waypoints were imaginary until the buoy signaling the entrance to Rimouski harbor emerged from the mess less than 100' ahead of us. We turned and ran the GPS range 2 miles to the harbor, which suddenly appeared out of the nothing we had been floating through for so long. It was good to be docked, even in the rain. Like most of the other stops we made, it was a delightful marina, with good provisioning nearby.
Two more days of easy, smooth cruising in clear weather found us in Sainte- Anne-des-Mont, a quaint village where we tied up on the face dock between two sailboats with at least a foot of clearance bow and stern!
Walking is the normal mode of transportation for the cruiser. It is seldom more than a mile to whatever provisioning or destination that’s required. And, it does one good to be off the boat and have a chance to immerse in the local color, to say nothing of the benefits to your heart and waistline. We walked all over Sainte-Anne-des-Mont and discovered a huge park system, an IGA grocery, library, internet café, and a great fish market where we bought a 1.75kg lobster that became the centerpiece of a delicious dinner. Another time, we would stay longer and hike some of the mountains in the provincial park nearby.
Marinas are located in harbors every 35 - 50 miles along the sought shore of the lower St. Lawrence. There is always room, as transients are infrequent. Anchoring in the river is out of the question owing to nothing of the exposure to tens of miles of fetch. Huge seawalls of massive granite blocks surround the docks and anchorage of all the harbors along the lower St. Lawrence. They are commonly 10-15’ above the water, even at high tide. One feels snug, but closed in for lack of vista. It gave us a sense of just how wild the river might get in a bad blow. Larger vessels may get surprised to find that some marinas provide only 15 amp service.
Calm and quiet weather invited us to push the 88 miles to Riviere de Reynaud the next day. The further one travels down the St. Lawrence, the more awesome is the topography. Towering cliffs hundreds of feet high plunge to the sea, yet only a half-mile offshore it is 200-300’ deep. The St. Lawrence is 30 miles wide and growing at this point, and one must remind oneself that technically, it is still a river.
On a regular basis, smaller rivers flow through a valley into the mighty St. Lawrence, and there a village springs up. Each has a huge church; each has a cross high on a nearby hillside. Extensive windmill farms, some with over 300 towers, are commonplace. With the prevailing winds, they generate megawatts of electricity from a pollution-free, limitless, and forever-renewable energy source, 24/7.
At Cap de Madeline we reached the northernmost point of our summer cruise at latitude N44°16', some 616 miles north of Annapolis! On watch, Andrea spotted whales frequently, as well as many porpoises. A huge humpback spouted right in front of us and as we slowed to a stop, two more joined and spouted over and over. The video was burning! Finally, they dove and one gave the famous tail in the air salute...
It was clear but blowing as we left Riviere de Reynaud to go around the tip of the Gaspe Peninsula. The ride was fine and we passed Cap de Gaspe around 1030, one of the most dramatic coasts of sheer cliffs we saw. Fifteen miles further we passed the famous Perce Rock with its huge hole. This landmark is measured at 290 feet high, and claimed to be the most-photographed natural feature in Canada. Visitors can reach it using a sandbar that dries at low tide. The park service is there to hustle everyone back to the mainland before the rising tide cuts off the route.
After anchoring just off lle de Bonaventure, a national park just two miles from Perce, we hiked across to the eastern cliffs that are a rookery for gannets. As Carl Sagan would say, there were billions and billions of them; we think there were only about a million but who's counting. It was noisy and bit whiffy, but fascinating. When we got going, the seas had changed to be in our face at 4-5' opposing the tide so we bobbed the 25 remaining miles to Chandler where we snugged in for an early evening.
This would be our last night in French-speaking Canada. It also marked an approximate mid-point in the loop, giving us pause to reflect on what we had learned and experienced thus far. In a way, the list was short.
One conclusion we reached is that Canadian waters are worth every effort to experience. Another is that Canadians set a standard for hospitality that we Americans could aspire to – both afloat and ashore. And a third is that they also seem to lack some things we have plenty of including litter, police presence, crime, and guns. Could there also be some correlation to the fact that they also lack American bourbon? You can get any kind of Scotch or Canadian at the well- stocked, provincially controlled stores, but Jack, Jim, or Granddad – forget it!
Our cruising guide spoke encouragingly about the nice ride to be expected across the 30 miles of Chaleur Bay from the southern coast of the Gaspe to the northern coast of New Brunswick. Not the day we crossed! Shortly after we cleared the lee of protective headlands we caught unforecasted 20-25kts SW winds that were fetching 40 miles up the bay and delivering 3-5' square beam seas with tons of whitecaps. Secure in the pilothouse, and with stabilizers working overtime, we appeciated Celebrate all the more.
Weather forecasts are broadcast continuously on the same VHF channels as in the US. The maritimes are subdivided into 15 regions, and one must attend to which forecast is applicable at the moment. Reports alternate between French and English every 20 minutes. Unlike our own NOAA updates, the Canadian service is notably lacking in terms of sea state. Cruisers must listen to wind forecasts and check the fetch and currents to make their own projections. All units of measure are given in metric terms. Wind speed is given in km/h, temperatures are in degrees n Celsius.
In August and September, the clear weather is ideal for cruising. Fog is rare – in fact, we only needed our radar twice. Mornings are almost always calm. Then, nearly every day in early afternoon southwest winds of 10-15 knots pipe up. This pattern can be played to balance smooth cruising with plenty of shore time to explore and enjoy the countryside. As pleasant as this is, we donned our fleece on a regular basis in the most northern segments of our route as daily highs were often in the upper 50s and low 60s. Locals claimed, and we believed them, that 2004 was an unusual cool summer.
Shippigan was a welcome respite from the square waves of Chaleur Bay, but clearly an industrial strength fishing village with limited attractions, and even more limited facilities for recreational cruisers. We threaded our way out of the “gully,” which is what New Brunswickers call inlets, into Northumberland Strait and were delighted to find it fairly flat.
On we went to our destination a dozen miles up New Brunswick’s Miramachi River. There was an instant change in topography, language, and cruising waters. Land was flatter – even seashore-like with long beaches and dunes. Depths were measured in the tens of feet, not hundreds. English became the primary language.
As visitors, we tied up for free at Ritchie Wharf, Miramichi revitalized waterfront. We can't say enough about the city - not only because of all the conveniences (grocery, post office, library, hardware, Alcool NB, gym, restaurants etc., within 2-5 blocks), but also because of the people. As in other towns, we got a lot of complimentary attention, and everyone started the conversation with "Welcome to the Maramichi!" And they meant it.
All ages, all types, and all friendly and sincere. Andrea struck up a very brief conversation with a passing couple one morning, and early that evening they crossed our path and presented a hot-out-of-the-oven homemade blueberry pie! It was delicious desert (and breakfast) for a couple days.
It was interesting to suddenly be in an English-speaking community after nearly three weeks embarrassing ourselves with pidgin-French and hand gestures. While happy to be able to read a newspaper at last, we were aware that wemissed the one aspect that above all gave us the sense of foreign adventure – the language. It seemed to define the turning point that signaled the beginning of our return. But we looked forward to more discovery and adventure as we laid plans for crossing Northumberland Strait to Prince Edward Island, and beyond to Nova Scotia, the Bay of Fundy, and the southern shores of New Brunswick.
Part III - From Prince Edward Island around Nova Scotia and back to Maine
The Down East Circle Loop circumnavigates America's northeastern states and Canada's maritime provinces clockwise from New York City via the Hudson River, Erie Canal, the St. Lawrence River, Northumberland Strait, and returns from Nova Scotia and Maine on the Atlantic Coast, Buzzards Bay, and Long Island Sound. It is about 2,500 nautical miles, and welcomes the well-found cruiser to sights and cultures unlike any others in the hemisphere.
Cruisers (and writers) too often overlook the Canadian segment of the Loop. Yet in so many ways, those parts are the most beautiful, intriguing, and adventuresome. In the last two issues, we described our Summer 2004 journey from the headwaters of the St. Lawrence past the world-class cities of Montreal and Quebec and around the remote and dramatic Gaspe Peninsula as far as the eastern shores of New Brunswick.
In early August we departed Miramachi, New Brunswick, bound across Northumberland Strait to Prince Edward Island, famous for its distinctive red soil, new potatoes, and Ann of Green Gables.
Northumberland Strait separates PEI from the mainland. It ranges from 10-20 miles wide but runs the entire 100-mile length of that smallest of Canadian provinces. A strange mix of currents pulls in warm water from the Gulf Stream a hundred miles or so off the shores of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, and settles them in the strait. Water temperatures can reach the 70s in the summer – about the same as Virginia Beach!
We fueled in Summerside for the first time since we had topped off in Brewton, NY, at the western end of Lake Oneida on the Erie Canal. We were delighted to learn that our twin Cummins 220s were sipping a total of only 5.8 gph, much less than the 6.5 gph we are accustomed to at our cruising speed of 9 knots. The difference is largely attributable to the wonderful “downhill” currents that helped us through most of the 1,000 plus miles covered since the last fuel stop.
A delightful 45-mile cruise down Northumberland Strait and under the Confederation Bridge - a 5-year old, 9-mile span that links PEI with the mainland - found us in Charlottetown, a really great city. The provincial capital has a huge performing arts facility with multiple theaters.
Seas were flat for several hours after we departed Charlottetown and headed east across Northumberland Strait between Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia. An unforecasted 20kt northerly wind really stacked things up, though, and we pulled up 30 miles short of our intended destination.
The good news is that we tucked in to Ballentyne's Cove around the tip of Pt. George for the night - a picturesque gem and a neat discovery. At the new floating docks, fully surrounded by a high, granite sea wall, we were greeted by Mr. Ballentyne himself, the fifth generation of the family that started things.
From Ballentyne's Cove, it's about 30 miles across St. George's Bay to the Canso Strait. The strait separates the mainland of Nova Scotia from Cape Breton Island.
With a weather forecast full of discussion about winds from the southeast at 30km/h gusting to 50km/h, we knew it would be a handful. The further we got, the smoother it got, and we wound up at the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squandron 13 hours and 117 nm later.
Just 20 miles further down the coast is Lunenberg. Arriving in there was like cruising into the middle of a post card. The town is completely given over to maritime enterprises - originally shipbuilding and fishing.
Port La Tour is a quiet fishing village 80 miles down the coast where we again anchored and staged for rounding Cape Sable at the southwestern tip of Nova Scotia.
Negotiating Cape Sable requires some real planning because the tides and currents are such a major factor in the approach to Yarmouth, effectively at the mouth of the Bay of Fundy with its incredible tides and tidal flows.
We decided to go to Grand Manan Island far across the Bay of Fundy but about 20 miles short of the New Brunswick mainland. We sea out at 1130 Atlantic time and arrived at 1930.
We set out for St. Andrews, NB, some 30 miles distant across the remainder of the Bay of Fundy. The strait to Eastport, ME was full of current and eddies accommodating the 25' tides in this region.
We departed St. Andrews on a foggy afternoon bound just a dozen or so miles to Eastport, ME, to clear customs. Canada was now in our wake. Coasting down the more familiar bays, sound and rivers of Maine and New England took another delightful month before we eventually "closed the loop" where we began in Annanpolis. MD.