Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Deale, MD
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It is mostly about tide, since there is about 4 feet.
Correction: My recollection below was flawed. My club didn't go in a Wachapreage, they went in at Chincoteteague. I think Wachapreage would be doable, but don't know anyone that's done it in a sailboat. I do have a friend that has a big fishing boat he keeps there.
I hear that statement often, but when our club did it they went in a Wachapreage with no problem. I'm not sure the sizes of all the boats that participated, but the lead boat was a Valiant 42 and I think the rest were in that size range, or slightly less, so we're not talking about little boats.
Probably better done with local knowledge or lots of advanced planning, but it can be done. There is a Coast Guard station there so you can probably ask for some guidance from them if needed. There are lots of large fishing boats including large commerical fishing vessels with drafts equal to a midsized sailboat that use that inlet routinely.
The entrance to Watchapreague changes little with storms and is very straight and well marked. The entrance bar is at the seaward end and is typically about 7-8 feet at low tide. Once over the bar, the water will be 15 feet into the basin. The holding ground is best to the south, in front of the old CG station. Given that most boats need a good safety margin on ocean side inlets, Watchapreague is really for boats that draw less than 5 feet.
Chicoteague is a different fish. The channel moves a good bit, but the CG keeps a bouy tender there and is RIGHT on top of the situation. Call them and they can give up-to-date marker info. I did that once, when entering in the wake of a huricane (still an 8-foot swell), and they were able to tell me what markers were off-station and exactly where the channel was (gps). Nice, since it was dusk. The real challenge in Chincoteague can be finding slips. None of the marinas can handle much draft or beam, and the city dock has such a cross current, a lot paint has been left on the pilings.
(when asked how he reached the starting holds on a difficult rock climbing problem that clearly favored taller climbers - he was perhaps 5'5")
"Well, I just climb up to them."
by Joe Brown, English rock climber
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