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Go Back   SailNet Community > Out There > Destinations > Chesapeake / Central US east coast > Chesapeake Bay
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Old 03-19-2010
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Swimming in the Bay?

I would like to know how others feel about swimming in the Chesapeake Bay. I keep the swimming to a minimum (checking out the boat bottom, prop, etc.), and I try (not always sucessfully) to keep the kids out.
Am I too paranoid? Are there "cleaner" areas, and areas to avoid?
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Old 03-19-2010
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The bay in general is pretty nasty IMO. A friend of mine got a bacterial infection diving on his boat, ate some skin off his leg but he was fine. Last year I dove on my boat in a swimsuit, this year I have a wet suit.

I personally feel that the deeper areas have a little less nastiness than the shallows by the docks. Plus, people put strange things in the water near docks and land.

YMMV
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I would never swim in the marina area but if I'm in a jellyfish free anchorage I have no qualms about swimming in the bay.
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Old 03-19-2010
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I dive on my boat with a full wet suit and immediately shower afterwards..

Regards,

Clay
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Old 03-19-2010
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Swim as much as you like, but...

Not in marina areas. Many forbid it for safety reasons... and it is done for maintanance anyway.
* Some folks pump their heads.
* Minimize swimming in fresh water areas after flooding events. Saltwater tend to kill everything pathenogenic within a day.
* Trafic is deadly.
* Electricity can "leak" into the water from many sources. There have been fatailities. I'm not saying I havn't doe it, but it is something to be VERY aware of.

Don't try to keep the kids out of the water! Soon enough they we be too old to be kids. If they failed to explore the things kids should explore when young, it will be OUR FAULT. If I can't jump in the water with my kids and her friends, I'ld sell the boat today... as it is, we've been swimming in the Bay for 50 years and loving it.

Forums are populated by a cautious and conservative lot. Always consult multiple sources of information.
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Old 03-19-2010
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We have been swimming in the Bay all these many years without any issues. Heck, we spend hours at a time just floating and lazying around. Adults, kids, pets.

We don't swim in municipal areas (run-off, "drainage", etc), or at marinas (electricity).

It's heavily sedimented water, more like a river than a lake or the ocean. That takes some getting used to if you've only ever been in pools and the like.

When the jellyfish show up (usually just after 4th of July), we don't go in much. That's one of the reasons we don't sail a whole lot during the peak summer months -- too hot and can't swim because of the jellies. But it's definitely not water quality that keeps us out.
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Old 03-19-2010
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We swim, float and play...we often spent hours hanging on a trailing line as young adults, as the boat sailed briskly along...often we would hang on to the next persons ankles and someone on my ankles to about 4 or 5 people...and if someone let go, we practiced MOB drill...too much fun.

Kids have always stayed too long in the water...cold, purple, shivers...but seem to be no worse for the experience. Often a warm rinse off, otherwise a drip dry with no ill effects.

Now we swim and float. No real worries about the water quality. If it is too cold, we may don a suit. Visibility too poor for scuba in most places

DOwnsides...scraping and bottom work WILL turn up tons of nasties, that you should not drink/eat or scrape against as they will easily infect.
Marinas are full of other risks that we choose not to play with. Will stain light colored bathing suits..

Best of luck.
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Old 03-19-2010
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Wow, lots of varying opinions on this.
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Old 03-19-2010
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We haven't swam in the Bay for many years now...reluctant to even scrape the prop. There have been too many cases of nasty infections from skinned knuckles -- bacterial infections that have to be treated for months with aggressive antibiotics.

A doctor, while swimming in the Magothy, scratched his hand, cleaned it thoroughly with antiseptic but still developed a 6 month wound, he later found these type of infections weren't being medically documented. He wrote the article for The Chesapeake Bay Magazine.

Ask any Waterman if he would swim.

If you do swim, make sure you're not downstream of a sewage plant., such as on the Corsica, off the Chester River, or downstream of Baltimore.

As the water temperature rises the threat also rises.

Ronbo
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Old 03-19-2010
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I swim in it all the time. A little poop won't hurt you. Avoid periods after a rain, though, and check your chart for those sewer pipes.
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