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The C&D is well lit; and, as other posters stated: simply stay to the sides when being passed by large ships. Ch. 13 is the communications channel in the canal. Be aware that a large ship running against a full current may create a large 'suction wake' .... so give them plenty of room when they are against the tidal flow.
There are two 'stopover' places in the middle of the canal: Summit North marina (just east of the Rt. 896 bridge - north shore) where you can get a slip, etc. or the engineers cove where you can anchor (Chesapeake City / Rt. 213 bridge). The engineers cove on the south side of the canal and 'just east' of the Rt. 213 bridge 'was' a bit tricky to enter due to shoaling/silting at the entrance that required you to favor the 'western' / right side of the entrance ... through to the restaurant on the shore ... then anchor anywhere in the back basin. There is a 'rumor' that the silted entrance has just been or soon will be dredged .... but Im not sure, so favor the 'bridge side' of the entrance and take it slow if entering the engineers cove. You might want to phone the Army Corps of Engineers at Town Point Control (Md.) station for further info.
When going 'down' the Delaware Bay, the engineers cove is a good place to anchor so you can leave before the tide turns ... and get flushed all the way down the Del. Bay. When transiting the canal in either direction, I usually stop and anchor in the engineer's cove to wait for a favorable tide, especially when going into the Del. Bay. The tidal range of Chesapeake is only 1-2 ft, the Del Bay is 4-6 ft. Strong winds on the bays will definitely affect the tidal flow through the canal.
Fighting the current in the canal is NOT a pleasant thing to do.... better to 'hole up' and wait somewhere, etc. The 'controlling' tide station for the C&D canal is "Reedy Point" on the Delaware River.
The Upper Chesapeake, this year is fairly free of crab floats; so, a night passage is quite safe if you stay in the main channel. But that can change quickly if the crabs start 'running'.
If you are going west to east (and on a favorable tide) the eastern / Delaware River end can be quite confusing at night as the Delaware River channel markers are easily confused with the shore lights, etc. and the Delaware River tidal current can be swift enough to promote a lot of sideways drift until you reach the main Delaware River Channel ... use your GPS when navigating this portion into the Del. River at night when the tide is running.
Just south of the canal entrance on the Del. River and near the Salem Nuclear Power station (NJ) there are quite a few unlit buoys/nuns that border the main channel ... so a good searchlight may be in order.
The Delaware Bay is NOT a place to be in a SE or NW blow when the tide is against the wind --- very short very steep chop. Be aware that the western shore of the Delaware Bay is a severe thunderstorm 'incubator'; and, even if NOAA is totally silent about T'storms if you see rapid cloud formation on the western shore - get ready for a 'snotter'.
Have a good trip. Hope this helps.