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Go Back   SailNet Community > Out There > Destinations > Chesapeake / Central US east coast > Chesapeake Bay
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Old 08-09-2012
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Sand Shoal Inlet, VA --- Channel information?

I'm heading our there in a few days and would be interested in any resent knowledge. I've been there a few times before, but it's been a few years and the sand moves. Also the bar leading to the anchorage by the old lifesaving station.
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Old 08-11-2012
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Re: Sand Shoal Inlet, VA --- Channel information?

Depths over the bar vary considerably, depending on the severity of the most recent storm and the direction of the winds. I've seen the bar awash at low tide and a month later it was submerged beneath 3 feet of water at low tide. It's a crazy area and the bottom is constantly shifting. Also, there are some wild tidal changes to contend with. Near the launch ramp at Oyster I've personally witnessed 10-foot tidal changes. Also, keep in mind there are lots of other locations where you can find safe, sheltered anchorage a bit farther back in the bay. Lots of small hooks to duck behind, depending on the wind direction, but as I've posted many times about this area, the bugs will eat you alive when the wind's not blowing.

Good Luck,

Gary
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Old 08-11-2012
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Re: Sand Shoal Inlet, VA --- Channel information?

Here's some additional information I just PM'd to the OP:

The small harbor behind the Coast Guard Rescue Station silted in many years ago and I had trouble getting a 21-foot Pro-Line center console fishing boat in and out of that area. There was a deep pocket in front of the old CG launch skids, but I'm pretty sure it's gone as well.

If the wind is coming from the southwest, which would be normal this time of year, there's a good anchorage near the mouth of Running Channel, which is a bit farther inside Cobb Bay on the south shore. The bottom comes up pretty quick there, so watch your depth finder closely.

Ramshorn Channel is completely protected, very deep, but the problem there is the tidal currents are incredible, probably exceeding 6 knots in some places.

Lots of good anchorages along the edge of Mockhorn Channel south to Magothy Bay, but this is one of those areas where local watermen tend to run down the channel at higher speeds and hit you with monster wakes at the crack of dawn.

The Magothy Bay area is a neat place to explore in a small boat, but unfortunately, unless your mast height is less than 40 feet you cannot pass beneath the Route 13 Bridge to Fisherman's Island. Many, many years ago I was able to easily navigate Smith Island Inlet, but that's completely silted in now and part of the surf line between Smith and Fisherman's islands.

During a really bad blow, some sailboats will seek safe harbor at the basin at Oyster. The channel is just 3-feet at low tide, and the basin is just 5-feet deep at low tide. At high tide depths at both locations can be as much as 10-feet. The bottom is black, sticky, gooey mud that almost requires a power washer to get it off the anchor and chain.

A little history on this area, 10,000 years ago, when the town of Oyster and the barrier islands didn't exist, this was ocean-front property. The sand dunes are still there, separating the town from the tidal marsh, and people frequently dig among the dunes to find ancient, native American artifacts.

Good Luck,

Gary
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Re: Sand Shoal Inlet, VA --- Channel information?

Thanks for the information.

I ran much of the inner passage ~ 5 years ago with my last boat, a Stiletto 27 catamaran. I was able to slip under the bridge (39.5' mast), scraping the VHF on every beam, proceeding at < 1 knot. I think we gave the fishermen on the bank a worthwhile show. With a draft of ~ 15" it was just the tool for the job. Now I have a bit more height and draft and am more circumspect.

But I loved the area and would like to share it with the rest of my family.
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(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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