Originally Posted by engineer_sailor
10-14 days, 360nm-400nm
Clockwise, starting and ending in Baltimore
Would like to stop and see the sights as much as possible Chincoteauge, Cape May, Cape Charles among others
Would like to avoid overnight passages if possible.
Would like a few "down" days seeing sights or relaxing on a beach somewhere
The 130nm Atlantic leg from Cape Henlopen around Cape Charles is the portion that worries me the most. From what I've read of other trips around Delmarva, once you leave Cape Henlopen or Indian River you are committed as there are not real bail out options in bad weather. It sounds like most inlets along that stretch are hard to get into even in good weather.
Lots of questions. What are the prevailing wind directions (worried about the lee shore...)? What is a good weather window? What are solid criteria for a good weather window (average windspeed, gusts, average wave height) for the Atlantic stretch? What are the bail out options?...
Thoughts? Other issues? Looking for advice and feedback. If we need to prep in other ways such as a night hop or two, I'd like to that in advance.
Yes, you should plan on a straight shot from the Delaware Bay to the Chesapeake Bay entrance, unless you have a multihull or shoal draft vessel. Almost all the cruising guides recommend this approach. Averaging 4 knots, it should take you about 36 hours. Yes, you will have to sail overnight. Ocean City, Maryland is a possible bail out point in good weather. You will likely see ship traffic at only three points: converging on the entrances to the Delaware and Chesapeake Bays and at Chincoteague Inlet (you will also see recreational boats close to the Ocean City and Indian River inlets). It is surprising how few vessels you will see off the Delmarva coast.
I would go counterclockwise instead of clockwise. You will have a faster passage up the Delaware Bay and through the C&D canal. I would spend some time in Cape May, N.J. for the sake of your wife and kids - great historic beach town with lots to do and see, and good restaurants and supplies. You are going a little early in the season for the predictable light Southerly summer winds. You could get anything in May. Get the Maptech paper Chartkit for Region 4: Chesapeake and Delaware Bays and the 2014 Eldridge Tide and Pilot Book. Prepare to motor 50-75% of the time. It is a fun trip and a good learning experience. Good luck! (Feel free to call me at eight zero four - seven four zero - six four six four if you have any questions.)
I have two threads on my recent Delmarva circumnavigations and coastal passages, and numerous videos on YouTube, that might help you. For example: