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Go Back   SailNet Community > Out There > Cruising & Liveaboard Forum
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  #1  
Old 07-30-2002
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DelMarva Peninsula

My husband and I are planning to sail the Delmarva Peninsula in Sept. Down the Chesapeake Bay, up the coast, into the Delaware Bay, over the C & D Canal and back down the bay. Does anyone have any advise? For one, the leg from the bottom of the bay up to Delaware Bay, anchorages, perhaps? Any good spots to stop? Any spots to stay clear of?
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Old 07-30-2002
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DelMarva Peninsula

I circumnavigated the Delmarva last year with two other boats, and know a fellow who did it again this year in his own boat (he crewed on one of the other boats last year.) Answering your questions could take a while. But first, some questions for you:

Where are you starting from?
How many days do you plan to take?
How big is the boat?
What is your sailing experience?

Most people do the circumnavigation clockwise and not counter-clockwise as you have outlined. That is more an observation than anything else. It works either way and you won''t know the best way until you start and have some weather forecasts to go on. And by then you''re committed to whichever direction you picked. Wind forecasts are usually iffy anyway, so go with what you feel comfortable with.

Please answer the questions above and that will help with more info. In the meantime, check out our sailing club''s website for a peek at last year''s Delmarva trip (www.cbpsa.org)



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Old 07-30-2002
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DelMarva Peninsula

I like clockwise:
Jump off from the Engineer''s Cove on the C&D well before the ebb so that you can stay on the crest of the ebbing tide for as long as possible down the Del. Bay (except on a SouthEasterly, then stay in the cove). Stops (but I usually dont stop): Cape May, Cohansey / Maurice R in bad weather - just ''hidey-holes'' nothing more., Little Creek inside the Ches Bay entrance --- that''s it !!!!!
With light winds predicted, I usually like to leave the Engrs. Cove near midnight on a favorable tide so that I can clear Lewes Del by noon to early afternoon with an arrival at Cape Charles at dinner time the next day. If you get the tides wrong in the Del. Bay, you will bob around endlessly going nowhere with negative speeds. Get a copy of "Eldridge tide tables" to help plan your Del Bay and C&D transit as it contains tidal flow velocity predictions.

When c-clockwise and a blow develops or there are very heavy swells from the SE due to Hurricanes, etc. out in the Atlantic , there is no place to ''hide'' between Norfolk and the C&D (''cept Cape May if you are good at ''shooting an inlet'') - once you leave Norfolk you are committed. When clockwise, you can duck into the Cohansey or the Maurice when the ''traditional super-severe Del. Bay T''storms develop, but they are somewhat off the ''beaten track''. When CW, I try to be clear the Del Bay by mid afternoon when T''storms are threatening (many pop-up suddenly without NOAA prediction).
If counter clockwise and a NW blow, layover in Cape May.

Be sure to check the weather carefully as the Del. Bay can get REAL snotty with super steep chop when tidal flow is against a NW or SE blow.

Be wary of many unlighted large navigation bouys near the Salem Nuclear Power plant and Upper Del Bay - they are close to the main channel & damnnnnn difficult to spot at night.

Its a GREAT trip.
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Old 08-01-2002
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DelMarva Peninsula

Thanks for the response. We are taking two weeks and sailing out of Cambridge. We will probably be going clock-wise. We have another couple sailing along part-way. This is the more logical route to take.
We have a 35 ft. Carter with a keel that (when hydraulically lowered) draws 6 ft. But, it also comes up into the a casing that is in the cabin and then we only draw 27 inches. Pretty cool.
This is our second season with this boat and have had several years of sailing in the past.
My questions is, what about the leg from Cape May south to the mouth of the bay? That seems quite long and I really don''t want to sail at night. This is our first trip outside of the bay. Is there refuge along that route?
Thanks for the info.
Deb
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Old 08-01-2002
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DelMarva Peninsula

Deb,

Sounds like you have a good boat for this kind of trip. Drawing 27 inches could come in handy if you don''t want to sail at night. When I did this circumnavigation last year with 2 other boats, we left Cape May one morning and sailed straight through to Norfolk, arriving in Little Creek about 32 hours after we left Cape May. (Well, one boat lagged behind, but that''s another story. They took about 6 hours longer.)

Here''s the rub -- there are limited choices for places to stop on the Atlantic side. You can go into Ocean City, MD. but that''s only about 1/3 of the way down. It also has an inlet that gets real rough if there''s a blow. Farther down into Virginia, the only real possibilities are Chincoteague and Wachopreague (I probably misspelled that one) neither of which has an easy entrance. Lots of shoals that will be most challenging if the weather turns bad.

In short, sailing all night makes the most sense, especially if you have the company of another boat that is about the same speed as yours. I always had one other boat in sight, which was comforting during a very black night on the Atlantic. But we also had light winds for most of the time and motorsailed about half of the time. If nothing else, it''s good to have someone else out there within radio contact.

Once into the southern bay, with two weeks for the whole trip you can take your time coming north. There are almost too many places to stop at to mention. But one suggestion is Crisfield, MD. Very boater friendly town as I found out in June during my 10 day bay cruise. Also don''t miss Solomons Island, MD. You really can''t go wrong with almost any place on the bay. Check out a cruising guide (the one from Chesapeake Bay Magazine is great) and see what interests you.

One other thing -- if you take the Cape May Canal from Delaware Bay, be aware that there are two bridges across the canal with 55 ft. clearance. That probably won''t be a problem for your boat, but I want to mention it.
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Old 08-06-2002
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DelMarva Peninsula

Thank you.
went to your web site and read the trip log. Sounded like some trip. After really concentrating on the charts, an all-nighter from Cape May sounds like the way to go.We used to sail all night on our 23ft. Irwin all over the bay from Rock Hall and were fine. But, the boat wasn''t mortgaged, either. I guess that''s why we have good insurance and excellent life vests. Duh!
So, I asked my husband about doing some practise runs at night to get the feel of it again. Up to Annapolis or Baltimore would be about right. Am really looking forward to this trip. By the way, the cruising guide is really good. We found San Domingo River up to St. Michael''s through that book. Awesome area, no traffic. Feel like you''re parked in someone''s "expensive" back yard and the "crab" fisherman look at ya kinda crankily if their line is under your vessel. But, all in all, a beautiful area!
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Old 08-06-2002
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DelMarva Peninsula

I am planning on sailing from the Philadelphia area to Cape May then up to A/C. Have never done Deleware Bay....

Hope to do entire trip to Cape May during daylight hours.

Any tips?? (leaving Aug 9 or 10,2002)
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Old 08-06-2002
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DelMarva Peninsula

My first thought was to make sure you hit the tide going out of Del. Bay, but since you''ll be in the Delaware River and Bay the whole time, it probably makes no difference. Reportedly the Delaware Bay with a stiff breeze against the tide is not a pretty place. The only time I was on it the wind and tides with both with us, and we had a great sleighride to Cape May. At times the GPS had us going 10 knots speed over ground when the big rollers would come up behind us and we''d surf down the wave. great fun. Just be prepared is all. Their aren''t many good spots to hide on the Del Bay if the weather turns foul.
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Old 08-16-2002
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DelMarva Peninsula

Deb,

I just reread this thread and meant to comment on this earlier: check your insurance policy to see if it limits your area for sailing. If it does have limits, get a rider for your insurance policy to cover leaving the Chesapeake and specify the dates for your trip (allow extra time in case of weather, etc.) All it probably will take is a phone call, and it shouldn''t be all that expensive. When I did the circumnavigation I think the rider cost me $25 for two weeks of coverage.

Glad you enjoyed my club''s website. It was quite a trip. Great time was had by all. And I have 3 copies of that cruising guide -- latest one on the boat, an old one at home, and the oldest one at work. They are great for daydreaming.

Let us know how it all goes!
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Old 09-16-2002
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DelMarva Peninsula

Have donne the DelMarva counter clockwise going from Norfolk to Ocean City (22 hours) for the first leg then up the Delaware Bay to CD canal for the second leg...then meandering down the Bay. Just recently went from CapeMay to C&D motoring in 12 hours.
Recommendations:
Ocean City inlet is good in settled weather and Marinas/Food/Boardwalk make it a fun stop....but make sure you have a settled forecast.
If I had to do it again, I''d make second leg to Cape May then to C&D...the trek from OC to C&D is quite long and the entrance is difficult to see at night with all the shore lights...despite good GPS Waypoints.
Just run the Delaware outside the main channel markers and the recommendation to catch the wind and tide together rather than opposed is a good one... our first trek was a nasty chop and the second was a pond!
If you tie up at the bridge in the C&D canal...be most careful of the current as it is wicked around the narrows there.
An excellent first "Bluewater" cruise...good luck.
P.S. For those a bit intimidated at doing it alone, nautech offers a round delmarva cruise annually (www.nautechenterprises.com) and Jim and Marji Favors are excellent hosts and capable leaders.
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