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Go Back   SailNet Community > Out There > Destinations > Chesapeake / Central US east coast > Chesapeake Bay
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  #1  
Old 07-24-2009
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Delmarva Circumnavigation and the Inside Passage

I am heading off on anther trip around the Delmarva in a few weeks - I have done this a number of times in boats of various sizes, sometimes inside and sometimes outside. It is a trip with a lot a variety, depending on your choises. It is our family vacation, with something for everyone. As a multi-hull sailor, I warn you that I have little fear of shallow waters. I do have respect for breaking inlets and chose my weather very carefully for some of them.

As some of you know I wrote a guidebook about the costal route a few years ago, and it remains a work-in-progress. I up-date the text every month and post some of those up-dates on my blog, below.

So, my question: does anyone have any resent information regarding inlets, the inside passage, or harbors along the coast, or does anyone have specific interests that they would like to see someone investigate on-site? We will be visiting Oyster, Wachapreague, and Chincoteague.
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Old 07-24-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pdqaltair View Post
I am heading off on anther trip around the Delmarva in a few weeks - I have done this a number of times in boats of various sizes, sometimes inside and sometimes outside. It is a trip with a lot a variety, depending on your choises. It is our family vacation, with something for everyone. As a multi-hull sailor, I warn you that I have little fear of shallow waters. I do have respect for breaking inlets and chose my weather very carefully for some of them.

As some of you know I wrote a guidebook about the costal route a few years ago, and it remains a work-in-progress. I up-date the text every month and post some of those up-dates on my blog, below.

So, my question: does anyone have any resent information regarding inlets, the inside passage, or harbors along the coast, or does anyone have specific interests that they would like to see someone investigate on-site? We will be visiting Oyster, Wachapreague, and Chincoteague.
Yeah, I'd love to hear about your experiences if you end up getting into Chincoteague! My wife, kids and I love it there. I've dinghied around on the eastern side of the island (brought the dinghy in the car), but I've never taken a boat through there. I've seen some bigger boats anchored in Tom's Cove, but I've heard the channel in requires local knowledge.
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Old 07-24-2009
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Not really - big trawlers use the channel and the Coast Guard last reported ...

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Originally Posted by painkiller View Post
Yeah, I'd love to hear about your experiences if you end up getting into Chincoteague! My wife, kids and I love it there. I've dinghied around on the eastern side of the island (brought the dinghy in the car), but I've never taken a boat through there. I've seen some bigger boats anchored in Tom's Cove, but I've heard the channel in requires local knowledge.

The controling depth as 8', though some users draw 12' (they watch the tide). They do move the markers, but the Coast Guard is right there and keeps on top of it. Easy during the day, but don't do it at night without local experience, since the markers are not all lit. Safe as OC, I think.
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Old 07-24-2009
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Thanks! Maybe I'll try that next year!
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Old 07-25-2009
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I dont understand the " sometimes inside and sometimes outside" are you talking about the Delmarva circumnavigation? or just getting around Chincoteague. I always thought the Delmarva circumnavigation was up or down the Chesapeake bay into the Atlantic and around Maryland and Virgina through the Delaware canal and back? Is this something different or am I confusing terminology?
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Old 07-27-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by badsanta View Post
I dont understand the " sometimes inside and sometimes outside" are you talking about the Delmarva circumnavigation? or just getting around Chincoteague. I always thought the Delmarva circumnavigation was up or down the Chesapeake bay into the Atlantic and around Maryland and Virgina through the Delaware canal and back? Is this something different or am I confusing terminology?
Santa,

There is an "Inside Passage" for the Atlantic portion of the DelMarVa circumnavigation. It is actually an alternative route for the Intracoastal Waterway, which allows boats to bypass the Chesapeake and proceed straight up to Delaware Bay in protected waters along the east coast of the DelMarVa peninsula. Barrier beaches provide the protection, and the route wends its way through rivers and marshes, and across some inlet mouths.

The glitch is that it has many shallow spots (<4'), and charting is not perfectly reliable with shifting shoals etc, and there are some low bridges (mostly near the north end, but also a 40-footer at Cape Charles). So it is usually skipped by typical cruising sailboats.
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Old 07-27-2009
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Sounds great, All the books I have on the ditch make no mention of it and directs traffic up the bay. So that's good to know. But the bay is so scenic why miss it.
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Old 07-27-2009
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Absolutly correct - What can be used depends on the boat.

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Originally Posted by JohnRPollard View Post
Santa,

There is an "Inside Passage" for the Atlantic portion of the DelMarVa circumnavigation. It is actually an alternative route for the Intracoastal Waterway, which allows boats to bypass the Chesapeake and proceed straight up to Delaware Bay in protected waters along the east coast of the DelMarVa peninsula. Barrier beaches provide the protection, and the route wends its way through rivers and marshes, and across some inlet mouths.

The glitch is that it has many shallow spots (<4'), and charting is not perfectly reliable with shifting shoals etc, and there are some low bridges (mostly near the north end, but also a 40-footer at Cape Charles). So it is usually skipped by typical cruising sailboats.

I have gone around number of times in a shoal-draft boat, and we tend to go in and out. There are shallow parts where timing the tide is critical. There are few 35- and 40-foot bridges. Some parts are barely practical: Lewes to Indian River is very thin and even the smallest boats tend to go outside, and the Indian River Bridge is 35'; Indian River to Ocean City has a 5' bridge (!); OC to Chicoteague is fince except for a 35' bridge; Chincoteague has a reasonable chanel that is deep but mobile; Chincoteague to Wachapreague is rather thin and has a 35' bridge, and Watchapreague inlet is OK for shoal raft sailors in settled weather (big charter boats use it daily); Wahcapreage to Sand Shoal is quite thin, but I have done it twice, and sand shoal inlet is generally OK for shoa draft boats; Sand Shoal to Cape Charles is fine for shoal draft (done it twice) but there is a 40' bridge at the cape.

The reality is that larger boats stay out-side and stop at OC and Chincoteauge (trawlers drawing 12' use Chincoteague, with local knowledge - 6 feet is reasonable for visitors) if they choose. Smaller boats can run inside, according to their draft and the tide. They need to be careful with the weather, and NOT consider the inlets useable after the weather turns. You need to go inside while the weather is still fair.

The route does require navagation skill, attention to weather, a sense of adventure and a shoal draft (<3.5') boat, but I have done it 4x with a little girl for my crew. Great father-daughter times.


The biggest difference, behind the barrier islands, is the isolation. EVERYTHING between Cape Charles and Ocean City is either Nature Concervancy or park, and that makes it a very unique area. Not for those that like resorts, perfect for those who love nature.
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Last edited by pdqaltair; 07-27-2009 at 04:17 PM. Reason: more info
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Old 07-27-2009
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I had a group of friends, one guy had a 25' open power boat that wanted to make the circle. They had rushed all over the Bay and were "excellent" water men or so they thought. They bought the provisions (more beer than anything else) and picked up an Exxon road map for a chart (I am not kidding). They picked a good weather window and off they went. After a late start, they left just North of Baltimore and for the first night they stopped on the C&D canal. All was well. The next night they were south of Ocean City , so they anchored out in one of the many marsh areas. When they awoke in the morning they boat was high and dry. By the time the area re-flooded they limped back to Ocean City and called for the trailer to pick them up. Evidently the bugs and sun were enough to make them call it quits. I suppose the moral of the story is not to trust an Exxon Road Map!
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Old 07-28-2009
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Lessons....

Real charts! Truely, for a changable area like this, go on the NOAA web sites (booklet charts) and confirm the inlet areas and dredged sections each time. Last year's charts are "old."

Anchor away from shore or the bugs will eat you. Actually, in all of our trips (late August) we never really broke out the DEET, except on Chincoteage. Lucky, perhaps.

Tide. Generally 4-5 feet. It is wise to time some runs by the moon, not by your schedule.

A small-med power boat would be a fine choise... with some sense.
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