Hampton VA to Herrington Harbour South in June - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 12 Old 03-13-2015 Thread Starter
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Hampton VA to Herrington Harbour South in June

Well, it's time to move the boat again. I'm looking to make an overnight sail up from Hampton VA (north of Norfolk) to Herrington Harbour South (south of Annapolis). Any time I make a "big" trip, I always like to post it here for comments.

I'm planning to make the trip late May or early June (29 May - 02 Jun is my current window) to take advantage of a nice full moon around then. My crew will be some folks who are also sailors (have their own boats) but I'll be the only one with night sailing experience.

I worked out the trip assuming 3.5 knots as the slowest possible, and 5 knots as my desired average speed. I think at the slowest speed it will be about 31 hours, and at 5 knots around 22 hours. I was planning on departing in the morning around 0900-1000 on the day of departure so that we'll be in the appropriate destination area around sun up.

It looks like the primary hazard is going to be the weather (of course - thus the several-day weather window) and crossing the mouth of the Potomac River. I understand that it can get quite ugly in periods of contrary wind and current. Anything specific to look out for in the weather forecasts (local knowledge), or alternate anchorages on the south side if I need to wait it out (I'm assuming it is bad specifically when there's a strong offshore wind)?

From those of you with some local knowledge, anything else I need to know about? My review of previous posts mostly discussed the mouth of the Potomac in general terms.

Some additional information:
1. Standing watches underway on large vessels my entire adult life.
2. Did open-ocean night sailing two years ago.
3. Blew out my knee last year, so I didn't do much sailing last year besides some racing in March. I'm planning on going sailing a few times to make sure I haven't forgotten everything over the next few weekends.
4. Boat is in good condition - newly re-powered engine and cockpit. Also just fixed my navigation lights so I can do either deck height or mast height sidelights and stern light - that should help make sure I'm visible to the traffic I'm likely to see.

I'm looking forward to sailing more in the general Herrington Bay area, so I'm sure to be asking for more information and recommendations.

Thanks!

S/V Zephyr
1981 O H Rodgers 33

"The cure for anything is salt water - sweat, tears or the sea."
- Isak Dinesen
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post #2 of 12 Old 03-13-2015
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Re: Hampton VA to Herrington Harbour South in June

Be familiar with light lists and vessel light configurations especially the difference between a long tow vs. short tow
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post #3 of 12 Old 03-13-2015
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Re: Hampton VA to Herrington Harbour South in June

If you decide to stop south of the Potomac, there are a number of nice anchorages in and off the Great Wicomico. But be warned, there are an outrageous number of unlit fish traps in that area, particularly north of the mouth of the Great Wicomico.
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post #4 of 12 Old 03-13-2015
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Re: Hampton VA to Herrington Harbour South in June

I just made the trip in September from Herrington north to Little creek. Anchored overnight in Ingram Bay and saw more Dolphin swimming at day break than I have ever seen in my life, wonderful trip. One of the best protected anchorages I have ever seen, watch the shoals of course but aside from the markers the depth was obvious from Google earth on my Smartphone. Ran the whole bay on the same program, every time I got close to the shore and it tried to put me on a ferry landing or such, it was clearly confused by my whereabouts.
The roughest part was like you said wind on the nose crossing the Potomac we adjusted boat speed to control the slapping and the rest of the trip was great sailed most of the second day and did it all in two 9 hour stints.
Know your lights and big boat channels, if fogged in stay clear of the channels.
This was bringing my new CS30 home, made good speed I think.
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post #5 of 12 Old 03-14-2015
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Re: Hampton VA to Herrington Harbour South in June

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Originally Posted by jslade8581 View Post
Well, it's time to move the boat again. I'm looking to make an overnight sail up from Hampton VA (north of Norfolk) to Herrington Harbour South (south of Annapolis).
I make that general trip somewhat regularly. On your boat your times seem about right, perhaps a little conservative.

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It looks like the primary hazard is going to be the weather (of course - thus the several-day weather window) and crossing the mouth of the Potomac River. I understand that it can get quite ugly in periods of contrary wind and current. Anything specific to look out for in the weather forecasts (local knowledge), or alternate anchorages on the south side if I need to wait it out (I'm assuming it is bad specifically when there's a strong offshore wind)?
It's a short trip. If you look at good weather sources then weather will not be your primary hazard. The big deals will be commercial traffic and unlit fish traps.

The one narrow portion of the ship channel that cuts diagonally across the Bay just North of the Rappahannock River and the traffic system off Smith Point are your biggest concerns with big commercial traffic. The other concerns are tug & tows that run along "tugboat alleys" well outside the marked channel; they don't want to conflict with the big ships any more than we do.

If you stay a couple of miles off the Western Shore you'll avoid most of the fish traps. As you move West closer to Herring Bay there are a number of large fish traps. Stay a bit out and listen for birds that congregate on the traps.

I haven't found the mouth of the Potomac to be particularly bad (generally larger and heavier boats than yours) unless winds are well up against tidal current. East wind and an outgoing tide is worse than West wind and an incoming tide. Regardless, the response is easy - stay further East.

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Also just fixed my navigation lights so I can do either deck height or mast height sidelights and stern light - that should help make sure I'm visible to the traffic I'm likely to see.
Remember that you are not to run the deck-level lights and the masthead tricolor at the same time. When in doubt, turn on your spreader lights and/or shine a flood light on your sails.

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I'm looking forward to sailing more in the general Herrington Bay area, so I'm sure to be asking for more information and recommendations.
There are lots of cool places to sail within reasonable distances of Herring Bay.

G81A, G1, and R2 will be your touch points. R2 is a LOT further into Herring Bay than you think.

sail fast and eat well, dave
S/V Auspicious
AuspiciousWorks.com
beware "cut and paste" sailors.


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post #6 of 12 Old 03-14-2015
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Re: Hampton VA to Herrington Harbour South in June

Winds that time of year in the bay tend to be southwest 5 to 10 knots, so it should be an easy trip if you just stay a few hundred yards outside the channel. Most of the pound nets, with few exceptions, are well outside the main channel. The ones to be careful of are off Cove Point, Tilghman Island, and the mouth of the Rappahannock, all of which project well out in the bay. If you have 3G radar you can see them very well, though.

Good luck,

Gary
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Re: Hampton VA to Herrington Harbour South in June

Lotsa lights moving=stay clear!

CS 36M DIANTHUS
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Re: Hampton VA to Herrington Harbour South in June

Lot of good advice, thank you. I definitely appreciate the specific points and notes. I'll let you know how it goes!

S/V Zephyr
1981 O H Rodgers 33

"The cure for anything is salt water - sweat, tears or the sea."
- Isak Dinesen
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post #9 of 12 Old 03-15-2015
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Re: Hampton VA to Herrington Harbour South in June

We did a few times both ways. Our biggest concern were not the big ships but the tug/barge and trying to determine what was where. We really did not like the cheaspeake at night as boats, big, little.bages fishing ect are a bit everywhere and not everyone keeps a good watch; oh and we run both radar and ais.

we always went up to a cove near Deltaville had a few good sundowners and another good sail the next day.

Just our thoughts and opinion
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post #10 of 12 Old 06-10-2015 Thread Starter
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Re: Hampton VA to Herrington Harbour South in June

Follow-up to the original post.

We made the trip, departing Southall Landings, Hampton, VA on Sunday 7 Jun at around 9:15 am (delayed a weekend due to work getting in the way of finishing boat projects, and another day due to the weather forecast) and arrived Herrington Harbor South, North Beach, MD on Monday 8 Jun at around 6:40 am. Total time, 21 hours, approximate distance 116 NM, average speed above 5.5 kts.

My crew was made up of three buddies from work, two of whom own their own sailboats and one who is thinking of getting one (he's also been on big ships his entire adult life). This would later be shown to be a very good decision on my part.

We departed the pier, got underway, into beautiful weather with winds out of the east at between 5-15 kts, variable. Unfortunately, the sea state was a little nastier than I expected in the lower part of the bay - to get the sails up, we had to get through getting plunged up and down from rollers. As if my body was trying to break a record, I got seasick faster than I ever had before. We got ourselves on a nice beam reach heading north before I had to escape below to lie down for a few minutes. I got up on deck when I could.

We saw speeds of up to 7 kts under sail, which was great. The weather was gorgeous, sunny and warm. Every once in a while, the wind would drop out, and we'd start the iron jenny. I know some of you are purists, but we wanted to maintain speed for a pre-noon arrival the next day.

I seemed to have recovered nicely in the afternoon, which was great. I didn't eat anything because I was tired of giving it right back to the fishes, but my friends enjoyed a nice lunch. We got to see a large sea turtle (I didn't know that they came up into the bay!) and some pods of dolphins in the distance. At some point, I decided to refill the diesel tank as a precaution (I didn't want to do it in the middle of the night), and I discovered that it was a trigger for the seasickness.

Around the same time, we were approaching the mouth of the Potomac. The sun was still up, but on its way down. The wind was shifting south. We decided to gybe and head west, when the wind really picked up. We rode it on a nice reach, and then gybed north again. Normally, our boat hates to run (she tends to wallow and I have to rig a gybe preventer), but we wanted to see how she would do on a wing-and-wing. She proved she still hates to run. With the wind directly on our stern, and the sun dipping below the horizon, we decided to take down the sails and motor instead of reefing and gybing back and forth all night.

After getting the sails down, I was forced below for most of the night by the mal de mer after making sure all of the safety gear was satisfactory (jack lines, safety harnesses, and PFDs). The temperature dropped into the mid 60s, and just to get on long pants, sweater, and foul weather jacket for warmth was a real challenge. My friends managed the boat, despite some big following seas (they were reporting 4-6 feet). I wanted to join them up on deck, but my body wasn't having it. I just laid there and listened, dozing from time to time.

Around 3 am I was finally able to get up on deck, and I took the helm. During the night, we had been overtaken by a large cargo vessel. While I was on deck, we were overtaken by a large ferry vessel and we saw a few tugs and tows, but the traffic was very light. The stars were fantastic - that's my favorite part of a night sail. The moon came up at around midnight, and as we had planned, had 83% illumination and made it easy to see. The sea state was still pretty rolly when I got on deck, but it smoothed out over the course of the next two hours.

I had the helm until we made our final approach into Herrington Bay, when I was seized by another bout of seasickness when we started prepping for arrival. We got everything set up, and I decided not to take the helm based on my inability to stay on station. I turned it over to my friend. The approach was very well marked. The sunrise also helped illuminate everything. We were tied to the slip by 6:40 am.

My friends did a great job with the boat. I cannot overstate the helpfulness of an experienced crew. I've been afflicted with seasickness before out at sea, but usually I have several hours of warning and I'm usually not so debilitated. I stupidly thought that since this was the Chesapeake Bay, that I didn't need to take my medication prior to leaving (normally I don't need medication on a day sail, and I thought that this would be similar). This was the worst it has ever been. I have now tried everything except the scop patch, but I'm going to try to get ahold of some Stugeron 15 to try that first. Bonnie works a little for me, but the side effects include dry mouth and feeling of detachment that I don't like, and I still usually get sick.

Overall, despite the mal de mer, the trip was great. The sailing was top notch, we were among friends, we had beautiful warm weather, we told some hilarious stories, we saw the night time stars, and we got to be out on the boat for 21 hours. Thanks for all of the advice that we received.

S/V Zephyr
1981 O H Rodgers 33

"The cure for anything is salt water - sweat, tears or the sea."
- Isak Dinesen
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