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xluke 06-09-2008 10:52 PM

Annapolis, MD to Cape May, tide advice?
I am planning to cruise to Cape May from Annapolis via the C&D canal on Wed June 18th and was wondering if anyone has any specific advice on how to time the tides? My boat makes way at about 5.5 knots under motor and Chesapeake City (~1/2 way point) is 50 miles from Annapolis according to my mileage chart.

Any other advice regarding this trip would be appreciated, although I've already learned a lot reviewing old messages.

Thanks a lot!

labatt 06-10-2008 01:36 AM

What you should pay most attention to (except for Cape May where you will have to deal with shoaling and will have to pay attention to depths) is currents. Go to Tidal Current Tables for predictions for the C&D Canal, Delaware River, etc. You'll want to ride the currents in the direction you're going for as long as possible. I have to get going now so I can't do your timing for you, but I'm fairly confident someone else will be able to help. It's an interesting run - just make sure that the current and wind are not opposing when you go down the Delaware, or you're in for a rocky ride. As you mentioned, there is very little that has not been discussed about your particular trip if you do a search for "Cape May", "C&D Canal", "Delaware", etc. We did it a year ago May and it was somewhere between rough and enjoyable.

xluke 06-10-2008 08:19 PM

This will make me sound extremely naive, but which direction is + vs - current?

Any specific advice re: timing of the trip would be a great learning experience for me.

Thanks again!

Vasco 06-10-2008 08:36 PM

just go, the tides won't make a lot of difference on the trip. I've caught a fair tide from Annapolis to the C&D in the past but it was just luck. You're better off getting up in the morning and going. As for Delaware Bay if you're as lucky as I am it'll be against you all the way. :) In the whole trip it won't make five hour difference whether you have a fair tide or it's against you.

labatt 06-10-2008 09:05 PM

Xluke - currents are reported as ebb (-) and flood (+). Ebb is outbound on a river, flood is inbound. Keep in mind that on a large river like the Delaware, you need to look at the "progress" of the flood or ebb. In other words, the river will start to flood at its mouth and then work its way up, so it won't reach max current at the head of the river until some time after it reaches max flood at the base of the river. Ditto on the ebb - it will start ebbing (flowing outbound) at the mouth of the river sooner than the head. This can work to your advantage or disadvantage. If you time it right, you can "ride the ebb" on the way down the Delaware and gain an extra knot or two of boat speed. As Vasco said, there's not an enormous amount of difference, but when you have to motor for an entire day I wouldn't mind saving even an hour! I hate to tell you this, but in my opinion the trip from the Chesapeake side of the C&D Canal all the way to Cape May is not a fun one, but can be a highly technical motoring and navigational experience (we did it in pea soup fog).

By the way - on the C&D Canal, the flood tide/current runs to the east and the ebb to the west.

It looks like you're best to leave the Delaware side of the C&D canal mouth around 4:42AM. Boy does that bring back memories :) We left Delaware City (just north of the C&D) at 4:30AM in pea soup fog and didn't arrive in Cape May until 6PM.

hawkj 06-10-2008 09:22 PM

Annapolis to Cape May, NJ
Last year I was told by the local NOAA office to use this info for the C & D Canal passage:
If from NJ, wait outside of the canal near the Salem Nuclear Plant until low tide, then wait for an addl 3 hours for the tide to go half way up.
Just north of the Nuc plant, on the NJ side is a safe spot to anchor while you wait for the correct tide. At that time begin your travel thru the canal. By the time you get half way to the Chess side of the canal their tide will be on the way down and the current from the canal will be flowing to the Chess. You will have the current with you all of the way thru from the Del bay to the Chess Bay.
I have done it and it works.
I used the same logic on the return trip and is was just as clean.
Good luck and have a safe trip.

chef2sail 06-10-2008 09:26 PM

We are also taking the same trip on July 4th and continuing to the Statue of Liberty in NYC. Timing the tides is important especially for the first part of the Delaware

It loks like high tide at the mouth on the Delaware River side of the canal near Reedy point is between 12 and 12:30 PM on June 18. You will get a 3 knot boost to sog for almost 5 hours allowing you to do almost 8 miles per hour or 40 miles with the tide. Plan accordingly. I would power through the canal and not stop in Chesapeake City as the anchorage ios very small....full of powerboats on short rodes and with a mean 4 knot currecnt in the back of the anchorage at the bridge.

We always go through the canal and down about 5 miles on the Deleware Side to anchor between Reedy Island. The are 3 low low lying islands on the Deleware side and anchoring behind them cuts any waves from tankers off. The coves behind the islands is deep...quiet and plenty of room. Set a good rode as there is a 3 knot current. There are two well lighted rock piles with 12 ft deep between them with the lights on the end of each rock pile and you go between them to get to the anchorage. It gives you a great start to Cape May the next day and is worth the extra couple hours from Chesapeake City and is a world of difference.

Check this out and feel free to PM me.
June Tide Table


sck5 06-10-2008 10:08 PM

I just did this trip last Friday (and continued on up to Rhode Island) - The tide and the wind were against us toward the southern end of the bay and we struggled to make even a couple of knots progress. I am not sure we would have been happier waiting around for a better time to go though - So I second the advice to just go. What I would say, however, is that there is a LOT of big ship traffic on the Delaware and it would be easier to do it in the daylight - We did it at night but you need to keep a sharp lookout - Radar helps a lot. Pea soup fog rounding Cape May was a bit nerve racking but OK if you pay attention to your GPS.

Sabreman 06-10-2008 10:35 PM

I've done the trip a bunch of times and echo the sentiment to leave early and not to worry too much about the currents. Keep in mind that the Delaware is shaped like a giant funnel. Thus, as you transit south, the effect of the current becomes less and less noticeable. Of course, the opposite is true heading back, but the worst of it - from the Nuc plant to Ches City is in really protected water, and pleasant (I like the canal).

Do NOT, repeat, NOT anchor in the vicinity of the Salem Nuc plant. Many years ago, we anchored there late one night in an effort to get an early jump the next morning. The current is wicked (it's near the bottom of the "funnel") and we wrapped our anchor line around the keel and eventually lost it at 0300. Good thing that we'd established an anchor watch and weren't cast adrift while sleeping. Instead of setting the second anchor (the primary parted while we were preparing the second), we set sail and sailed the rest of the night to Cape May.

The Delaware River part of the trip isn't the most fascinating, but with Cape May as the prize, it's ok. Good luck.

If you do anchor near the plant and find our anchor, PM me. :) :)

AtlanticBryan 06-12-2008 08:54 PM

Luke, this is slightly off topic, but when you enter the Cape May Canal from Delaware Bay, make sure you stay close to the ferry terminal to port. The water shoals very quickly on the starboard side. Once past the ferry terminal, the canal remains quite shallow at low tide for several hundred yards.

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