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  #1  
Old 02-20-2006
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Chesapeake Bay cruising guides

Looking for recommendations for a good Chesapeake Bay cruising guide, as well as any chart kits for same. Will be setting out from Deltaville around the end of April. Any comments on weather that time of year would also be appreciated.

Thanks,
John
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Old 02-20-2006
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To my knowledge there is one authoritative cruising guide sold in many places. I would recommend http://shop.sailnet.com but at present we're updating our book selection.

I believe it's updated every year or two. I have been relying on it for nearly 30 years now. It covers nearly all the navigable creeks too and is written by a sailing couple.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/188...Fencoding=UTF8

April as you may or may not know can be very iffy. We've had some of our worst snow storms in early april in years past. If you do start out in April, I'd stay out of the northern part of the bay until mid may.

Last edited by administrator; 02-20-2006 at 08:55 PM.
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Old 02-20-2006
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Thanks. Being from Indiana, I'm not very familar with the weather patterns in your part of the country. While I can find raw data, first hand info, is much better . I guess though if I could make through 22 Alaskan winters, I can probably survive .

John
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Old 02-20-2006
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The lower bay (below the RT50 Annapolis bridge) is much wider and on average deeper than the northern part of the bay where I do most of my cruising. Being that the bay is relatively shallow for the most part and unprotected we get what is called a very confused chop with waves coming from many directions and when the wind blows strong from the north or the south 5 to 6 foot waves (on the face) of short frequency are not uncommon, sometimes making for very uncomfortable conditions. Of course the frequency always seems to be one to two feet longer than your boat. It's been my experience that the wave and weather reports while accurate always seem a little less severe than actual conditions - but that's just my perception.

Check out Chesapeake Bay conditions at any time here:

http://www.ndbc.noaa.gov/Maps/Chesapeake_Bay.shtml

Last edited by administrator; 02-21-2006 at 10:07 AM.
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Old 03-05-2006
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I live off the York River on the lower bay where we sail most of the time. The good part is unlike the northern bay there are not a lot of boats per sq mile. You won't feel crowded. You do need to watch the two shipping channels however for traffic. We have the US Navy here and they like lots of room. Norfolk Harbor is very busy so you need to keep a good watch.

Get the guide published by Chespeake Bay Magazine. It's the best there is and one of the best published guide for any place. Very complete and valuable for navigating where local knowlegde might be important. They do a nice job for all tricky approaches (lots of them are). It's about $50 - just buy it. Get charts! Shallow water are common and in some places a bit tricky to just eyeball you way around. You need to be well planned for alternate routes. You also should feel comfortable hanging out a few days rather than fight the south bay chop.

April is maybe nice but maybe not. With a 25 knot wind on the lower Bay you can have a handful. This is worse than the ocean as the waves reflect off shoals and bars to double and triple frequencies from multiple directions to make some vexing sailing. The tip of the York River Spit has been a probelm for me too many times to count.

I would check all the charts and find as many holes to hide in as possible and use them as possible escape points if it gets ugly.

There are some fine places to anchor just not every place. Western shore is prety limited. Piankatank River has some very nice places close to Deltaville as a starting point. Fishing Bay and Jackson Creek are nice and actually close - maybe too close. A trip up the Rappahannock River to Carter Creek, the Corrotoman or Urbanna might be worth the trip. The Tides Inn is on carter Creek first class (or around the corner and anchor and dignhy in).

Due east is Onanancock, VA on the eastern shore and one of my all time favorite places. Eastern shore also would include Cape Charles (the town not the cape) and has a very nice marina and town to walk around in. Further North is Tangier Island and Crisfiled, MD. On the western shore to the south Mobjack bay has 4 rivers well worth the trip up with the East and North rivers having more protection than the Ware or Severn. Severn has a marina with fuel that you should note. The East goes quite far very deep. All exceptionally pretty.

Up the York River is not much for places to stop till you get all the way to the Coleman Bridge. Sarah Creek is a hurricane hole and also has a nice mariina. New harbor at Yorktown for a day tie up ($5). On the western shore south there isn't much after the York til you hit the end of the peninsula and get to Salt Ponds marina (Shallow draift to get in as the charts don't show the shoaling there). I can't get in at low tide.

From this point you need to head up the James to Hampton Creek or the Elizabeth to downtown Norfolk / Portsmouth. Just in side the bridge tunnel is a spot to the south you can anchor in if need be.

Much of the very southern lower bay has few places to hole up in so you need to plan for places to not get stuck where you don't want to be if it turns ugly. With the main shipping channels it's no place to get in trouble.

The sailing however is quite nice with long stretches of deep water. April is not a popular time but can be the begiinning of the season down here. End of April traditionally could be nice but last year was NOT.

I'll be out there at this time for sure just not sure about an extended cruise. I'll still be doing overnights and day trips.

With luck it could be an exceptionally great time. All marinas will have space open. Winds do blow better before Mid June or after early September. Sometimes it can be too much. Above 20 knots is not for the inexperienced captain or crew however. This is dangerous when the weather gets ugly so do not under estimate the danger. Most every place you can sail is more than a mile from shore and shallows at 2 miles are common. That time of the year you can't swim to any place before you'll die of exposure. With wind the days even when 70 degrees will feel cool if not cold so plan on warm clothing. No matter what the water will still be quite cold.
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Old 03-05-2006
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The post by the administrator on cruising guides is right on. It is the only one of the guides kept up to date year after year. We've been cruising the bay for 26 years and we still buy a copy every year.
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Old 03-05-2006
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Thanks for the very informative post Paul. That's the kind of info I was looking for.

John
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