5"5" draft too much for mid & upper Chessie? - SailNet Community

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Go Back   SailNet Community > Out There > Destinations > Chesapeake / Central US east coast > Chesapeake Bay
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Old 08-26-2012
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5"5" draft too much for mid & upper Chessie?

We're going to look at a boat today (Thats why it's raining), one concern I have is that it has 5' 5" draft. We had a swing keel before and really never worried about depths, would 5' 5" of draft be that much of a hinderance up here? The boat is a 2003 Beneteau 331.

Thanks in advace.
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Old 08-26-2012
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5"5" draft too much for mid & upper Chessie?

Last year when taking my Beneteau First 38s5 north for the summer, I anchored for the night in Pasadena. You really live in a beautiful place. Anyway, I draw 7' and was able to get in and out without a problem. I don't recall where the tides were though. FWIW...
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Old 08-26-2012
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Re: 5"5" draft too much for mid & upper Chessie?

The typical keel depth for the Upper Ches. is 6ft., deeper than 6ft. means that you run aground a wee bit further from the shore.
With only 3 'rocks' on the entire northern bay ... it really makes no difference.

The only 'tricky' area is the Susquehanna Flats / Harve de Grace area at the extreme head of the bay with its shifting mud shoals that are due to the Susquehanna River dumping massive amounts of silt behind the Conowingo Dam ... and which the mud/silt is now 'overtopping' the dam.
Hurricane Floyd in 1999 filled in a lot of creeks, but have continued to scour out and most 6+ ft. draft sailboats never sailed or anchored in them.

The typical keel depth for the Upper Ches. is 6ft.
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Old 08-26-2012
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Re: 5"5" draft too much for mid & upper Chessie?

The only sailboats that can safely navigate the Susquehanna Flats are Hobie-Cats! I've been sailing this part of the bay for 7 years and never ran aground. However, I see a couple boats hard aground every year. I would venture a guess that nearly all of they were either not paying attention to where they were going, or they didn't have a GPS/Plotter onboard.

Getting to Havre de Grace is easy as long as you pay strict attention to the channel. Keep in mind that massive, deep-draft barges traverse this channel every day, barges loaded down with huge boulders, mountains of gravel, and stone, materials used to construct jetties and stone bulkheads. Some of the barges draw 12 to 15 feet of water and the tugs probably draw at least 6-feet.

South of the Susquehanna Flats you'll find some great sailing areas, lots of room, not many crab pots, and some neat, sheltered anchorages to spend the night. If the wind's blowing from the south or east, Still Pond is a great anchorage. The Havre de Grace basin, the ditch in front of the VA Hospital at Perryville, the Spoils Islands south of Havre de Grace, several locations in North East River's upper reaches, the Elk River, much of the Sassafras River, Bohemia River and many, many other lesser known locations are all accessible with a 5-5 draft sailboat.

One of the best sailboat races I've seen is the Thursday evening races in front of Havre de Grace. Some really fast boats there and the races are always close. I'm not a sailboat racing fan, but this particular race is really neat - mostly Lightnings, Stars, and similar makes.

Hope this helps,

Gary
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Old 08-26-2012
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Re: 5"5" draft too much for mid & upper Chessie?

We went and looked at the Bene today, what a lovely boat, it's VERY well kept and attended to. It's in the best condition of any of the boats we have looked at. The owner is a real knowledgeable, nice and easy going person who is only selling the boat due to his wifes a transfer out of state. My Admiral gave the nod but mentioned she liked the Catalina 320 too (a few times). I had to ask her (a few times) what she liked best, she finally admitted the 320. I see advantages and disadvantages in either choice and would be happy with either. The owners presentation and care of the Beneteau 331 does give it the edge in my view BUT I want something the wife can't wait to get down to the marina for. So it looks like the Catalina 320 for us.

BTW here is the link to the Beneteau (Really cool spinnaker).

http://www.sailboatlistings.com/view/30496
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Last edited by swampcreek; 08-26-2012 at 08:08 PM.
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Old 08-26-2012
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Re: 5"5" draft too much for mid & upper Chessie?

We sail in these areas. If you have a chartplotter it will help you tremendously....and greatly reduce your stress level!
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Old 08-26-2012
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Re: 5"5" draft too much for mid & upper Chessie?

Just spent a week in the middle Chesapeake Bay with 5' draft. I would call that my maximum comfort zone. The main reason not that you'll run aground but it limits where you can explore and anchor. Although many boats have more than 5' draft I don't think it's a liability I would choose if I had a choice. I see it as a negative more than a deal breaker, but hopefully the Cat 320 has less draft and you can be happy about that.
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Old 08-27-2012
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Re: 5"5" draft too much for mid & upper Chessie?

Oh yeah, the Catalina wing keel has 4 - 4.5 draft it should be fine, I was just wondering about the Beneteau we were looking at.
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Old 08-27-2012
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Re: 5"5" draft too much for mid & upper Chessie?

Most know..'You havn't sailed the Chesapeake unless one has run aground at least once..'

I think the real question should be: Wing vs. Fin Keel when running aground in the Chessy?? Though keel depth is important..I'd also consider the type of keel as well..

Wing vs Fin Keel

http://www.beneteau235.com/keel.htm

Last edited by aa3jy; 08-27-2012 at 08:29 AM.
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