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Old 06-02-2008
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Annapolis to Cape May / C&D canal / advice

Hello,
I'm planning to take a week to travel to Cape May, enjoy the weekend around there, and head back to Annapolis. I'm hoping for a little advice regarding how to time tides for the C&D and Delaware Bay, and info regarding anchoring at Cape May. I've heard that you can anchor reasonably well off of the coast guard station, but what about off of Delaware avenue (please see google maps, i wanted to post a link but was barred)
?

My thinking was to make a long haul from Annapolis to Delaware City, spend the night, then down to Cape May. I'm also curious about making the passage in a single trip, if you have any advice regarding that.

I'll be skippering a little 35' freedom that makes way at about 5.5 knots under efficient motoring (it can go 7.5knots, but at 4x the fuel usage), under sail she is efficient.

Thanks a lot,
Rick
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Old 06-02-2008
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Just made the trip from NYC to St. Michaels and back three weekends later. I suggest you search the threads on sailnet for C&D Canal, for Delaware Bay and for Cape May (and others.) Almost everything you need to know is there. We put in once at Summit North Marina on the W of the RR Bridge for an expensive 6 hour stay, could not get permission on 13 for Chesapeake City which seemed a better place. We anchored off the USCG station in good mud in Cape May - be prepared for a boarding and inspection. Get Eldridge for the tides at C&D and Delaware Bay and don't head up against a northerly or down against a southerly. And watch the ship and tug/barge traffic in the channels of the C Bay, the Canal and the Delaware. Monitor 13. Watch the shipping!
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Old 06-02-2008
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Last time and the only time we did this trip we left Cape May in the morning and spent the night tied up to a dock (can't remember the name of the place, I think it was Chesapeake City) under a bridge in the C & D canal. Next day early we were on to Annapolis and there by the late afternoon. As I remember, we motorsailed most of the way as the wind was not where we might have wanted it and the channels were fairly restricted.

As for the tides/currents -- in general, I try to take them on the stern (sorry I couldn't resist) and from what I remember of the docking exercise in the canal -- with what seemed at the time like a 3+ knot current running out of the Chesapeake -- well, suffice it to say that approaching a dock at 1/2-3/4 throdle is'nt something I do very often.

But seriously, with the long run in the Del Bay and the current in the C&D I think it's most likely to be a problem of optimization where the variables are time of day of the favorable current in the Canal and in the Bay, probable SOGs at various points on the route and where you can stop. I don't recall there being many places between the C&D Canal and Cape May where you can stop. As I remember there are serious navigational issues in the Del Bay / River (shallows and traffic) such that you probably don't want to do that stretch in the dark. My advice would be to play it safe and do it in two legs: Annapolis to the Canal (or some place near there) and the next day on to Cape May.

Good luck and don't forget to watch out for a wind against the current in the Bay -- we had no problems in that regard, but with the shallows in the Bay I imagine it could get pretty nasty with the tide flowing out (the current you'll be looking for) and the wind from the south.
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Old 06-03-2008
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We are doing this trip on fourth of July weekend from the Patapsco to NYC Statue of Liberty. Have done this 5 times before. Great anchorage through the C&D Canal, 5 miles south between two rockpile lights behind Reedy Island. Thats our first stop, then ride the current to Cape May. Best anchorage is at the CG station or go to Utsch's marina
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Old 06-03-2008
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The Delaware has signifigant tides and current, plan to go down and back up with the tide.
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Old 06-03-2008
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As Jim said, get the tide tables and play the currents as best you can. I don't think you can make it the whole way without it turning on you at some point but at at the lower end of the bay where it is wider the current will be less strong.
Good advice on avoiding opposing wind and current, the chop on Delaware Bay can be nasty and slow you down considerably.
Stay just outside the shipping channels and look over your stern rail often. The ships that surprise you are the ones that come up from behind. You also need to be looking for the Cape May Lewis ferry once you get down the bottom. Go into Cape May through the canal where I think the bridge clearances are about 54 FT.
A good GPS and radar would be very helpfull if you have them.
The Delaware Bay is not that tough to navigate and as long as the weather was fine I would not be concerned about doing it at night. In bad weather the GPS and radar would be must haves in my mind.
If need be you can run up the Cohancey River on the eastern side below Salem. I'm not sure but I think you can get into the Maurice River, also on the eastern side but well down the bay. Check the charts for that one.
Good luck.
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Old 06-03-2008
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Rick - Everyone's advice is good. I would definitely call the trip a "technical" one with the opportunity for lots of motoring. I would not call it relaxing - especially dodging traffic in the canal and on the Delaware, more so when there's fog. It can also be dangerous if you get an opposing wind and tide on the way down the Delaware. There are almost NO places to stop between the canal and Cape May. I'm guessing you'll probably be able to take the back way into Cape May if your air draft is below 55' (I can't remember - is that the right height?).
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Old 06-03-2008
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Rick,

I've done the trip up the Delaware Bay only once, but it was quite a ride! We were doing the "Round Delmarva" route, counterclockwise, and just happened to arrive at Cape Henlopen, Delaware, as the tide began to flood. Winds were light, so we were motoring. We rode the fair current all the way up the Bay, through the Canal, and down the Chesapeake to Tolchester Beach!

Watch out at night--some of the buoys are unlit. Double watch-standers, with radar was very helpful.
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Old 06-03-2008
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You get into the Maurice River if needed, water depth is 10 to 12 feet.
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