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Old 03-12-2006
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h20ski is on a distinguished road
Maryland/ VA: offshore or C&D canal?

planning a summer cruise (40ft+ boat, well equipped) from north shore of Long Island to Charleston, SC. Is the coastal route off Maryland/ VA that much shorter than heading up Delaware Bay to the C&D and down the Chesapeake? are there enough safe places to pull into if taking the coastal route from Cape May to Norfolk? or does it simply depend on the weather forecast?
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Old 03-12-2006
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C&D vs. Offshore

Yes...it is MUCH less mileage and hassle to go offshore rather than fight the Delaware Bay and spend all the time getting down the Chesapeake and looking out for crab traps!
You can depart Cape May and then go in at Ocean City Maryland in SETTLED weather. Then you really have nowhere else to go in before you get to the Bay (about 120 miles as I recall) so a good weather window is a MUST before you depart Cape May or Ocean City. Ocean City is mostly a powerboat kind of place but it can be a lot of fun. The inlet is a bit of a zig zag but it is well marked and no problem in decent conditions.
Of course the Chesapeake is a destination you can spend many weeks exploring but if the goal is to get to Charleston then offshore is the quickest.
Alternatively, you can wait to make a decision on route until you get to Cape May and see the forecast. Sailing round the clock, you can get up the Delaware, through the C&D and down the Bay in 2 -3 days.
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Old 03-13-2006
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Cool hells gate and the c&d

i take it your not going through hells gate and i dont know if u know that your not supposed to sail the C&D although there is only one place you have to worry and its about halfway through. i did it last year fron conn. around long island (didnt want to deal with the currents of hell's gate) stopping in barnegate light, NJ then on south to florida. i bypassed the C&D based on time (its a lot quicker i think) even had a 10'+ shark follow me through the hudson canyon what a blast it was

Last edited by morgancountryman; 03-13-2006 at 09:36 AM.
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Old 03-13-2006
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(not worried about Hell Gate- big enough engine/ draft over 5 ft). Never been in there but isn't Barnegat a very dangerous inlet? also thought the channels, once inside, are very winding and narrow? any good, protected, deep water anchorage? Thought the only real NJ options are Atlantic City and Cape May; and maybe Manasquan? Thanks.
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Old 03-15-2006
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Annapolis is a Great Stopover

I've made the trip between Marblehead MA and Annapolis several times and I think you're missing a lot by bypassing the Chesapeake Bay. If your goal is to get to Charleston as quickly as possible, then sure, the off-shore route is your best/quickest bet...you could go off shore right from the top of LI Sound and jump out at Block Island. As you know there aren't that many stops between Block and NY Harbor and few, as well, between NY Harbor and Cape May.

People complain about the Delaware river trip to the C&D, but if you study the tides closely, you can make great time going up the Delaware River, and I've had some great overnight sails going up/down that segment.

The Bay is just a great take...Annapolis, St Michaels, Norfolk. If you're going down the ICW to Charleston, I think you'd get some excellent sailing along the way through Norfolk anyway. The bottom line is that if you're cruising your way down there, don't pass up the Bay.

Anyway...another opinion.

Moe Giguere
Apache 37
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Old 03-16-2006
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Offshore or Bay

We've gone both ways. Depending on the conditions, if it's a delivery I'd choose offshore. Then you don't have to deal with land masses and you get to sail a lot more.

If it's a cruise, I would definitely choose the Bay route for all the wonderful anchorages. As posted earlier, just keep in mind that you must follow the tides up the Delaware, you cannot sail the Canal, and you may find some wind in the Chesapeake depending on the time of year. We just posted a few articles about the Chesapeake at www.coastalboating.net and are in process of writing one about the different routes (offshore vs inland).

Either way you'll get a lot of BIG ship traffic - offshore you'll be crossing shipping lanes, inshore you'll be sharing them. Hail them on channel 13 if you can't determine their intentions. Takes alot of the stress of crossing and meeting situations out of the equation.

As to the stops, we've only stopped in Cape May, Sandy Hook, Block Island, and Montauk, but you can surely spot the lights of AC from 30 miles off. Like a Christmas tree and a good stop in bad weather (I've checked it out by land). Both Cape May and Sandy Hook are great staging areas for hops.

We've also transited the East River and it's not a big deal if you time your transit with the tides. Hell Gate can be quite fun - a real sleigh ride. Best part is going faster than the cars sitting on the East River Drive. We have an article about that posted on our website as well.

Either way, it's a great trip. Enjoy!
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Old 03-28-2006
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The only stretch that you'll have to be careful of is New Jersey's coast line. There aren't many good harbors in the case of bad weather, and some of the ones that do exist are dangerous to try and enter in rough conditions.

The Delaware River can be somewhat challenging, and if you're looking for a nice leisurely cruise down, I'd go the off shore route-as it is faster and simpler.

Also, one thing many people fail to realize is that the winds on the Chesapeake are fairly fluky at times, and can leave you motoring instead of sailing. The ocean winds are usually far more reliable.
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Old 03-28-2006
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h20ski...you are right about Barnegat being dangerous...Manasquan is OK but tight...read about some bridge work there not too long ago so you may want to check that with local marinas before leaving. Cape MAY inlet is also shoaling to 8 feet according to recent boatus reports which says that it should not be attempted in big seas.
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Old 09-23-2011
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I have gone both routes (bay and outside) and the outside trip from Cape May to Norfolk took us 25 hours. I wanted to break it up this time going down, and was wondering if anyone knew the distances Cape May to Ocean City and then Ocean City to Norfolk. I am debating a stop in Ocean City to avoid going overnight, but if one leg requires that, then I will just go all at once. The trip outside saves you about 3 days. Has anyone hearde any info on the intercoastal between Norfolk and Charleston? There had been some talk immediately after Irene concerning shoaling and crap in the water south of Norfolk due to flooding. Any info on this would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 09-23-2011
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Old post...but new thought from you,

We do go in Barnegat, but I lived in S Jersey for 18 years and yes it is trecherous, but OC Maryland is far worse.

Having done the reverse trip to LI, BI and Newport many times in the summer from the Baltimore area, and done the circumnavigation around the Delmarva a few times, I would not suggest planning to come in the Ocean City inlet unless necessary. Its shoals shift regualrly. We usually plan for the trip from Norfolk to Cape May or Cape Henlopen as one shot. OC in the afternoon with an outgoing tide and onshore breeze is challenging.

If you have th time it is worth the slog up the Delaware River to come down the Chesapeake in a few day trips seeing a few of our quint creeks and towns. The country was firts settled up through it and it has some neat places to visit such as Rock Hall, Inner harbor Baltimore, Annpolis, Solomns, St Micheals and so on. We find the flavor similar to some of the LI Sound towns like Northport, Port Jefferson, Greenwich, Greenport, Mystic and then even Newport and Block on the Naragansette Bay and Ocean. Take a few extra days and enjoy it


If you want some more info feel free to PM me

Dave
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