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sail975 05-23-2006 03:26 PM

C&D Canal
Given favorable weather and tide conditions would you transit the C&D canal at night (starting around sunset)? Or would it be better to wait until morning and fight the current?

Biggest concern is ship traffic. We are big enough and have a radar reflector so we should show up on radar but we don't look forward to being passed by large ship traffic in tight quarters at night. In this regard what is the proper way to find out whether any comercial or other traffic is heading through? See if anyone answers a securitee (sp?) call?

Thanks for any advice!


sailingdog 05-23-2006 04:37 PM

First thing I would do is keep a listen on VHF 16 and 13, as those two channels should give you a fair bit of warning on ships transiting.

How unfavorable is the currrent? Would it prolong your transit of the canal much? Do you have good running lights and a decent spotlight?

I believe the proper spelling is Securité as it is from the French.

gc 05-23-2006 05:10 PM

I don't think the canal is as much of a problem as what you do at the other end. Since you ask the question, you are not very comfortable with sailing at night in unfamiliar waters. Think about what you do at the other end. The canal is not much of a problem. It is well lit. Monitor 16,13 and you will hear about any ship traffic. Passing ships is not as much of a problem as you might think. The canal is deep right up to the edges (well for recreational boats anyway), so give the ship the middle and you take the edge. There is LOTS of room - realize that ships can meet and pass in the canal. And don't make a securitay call, listen instead. You probably don't need to warn other boats that you are coming through the canal. And the ships will give you plenty of warning.

sail975 05-23-2006 08:20 PM

Thanks for the feedback. We have appropriate running lights and a good spotlight so that combined with the lights in the canal shouldn't be a problem. I have no problem sailing at night but this isn't sailing and I have never been through the canal so yes, that experience is unfamiliar. Of particular concern is the wake thrown by large boats in tight quarters. I'm not worried about either side it is just getting through the canal. Once through we'll probably drop the hook in the Bohemia River to sleep. Judging by the comments I guess it isn't rediculously tight and I hope wakes and currents are not too bad?

sailingdog 05-23-2006 08:30 PM

Just remember that the larger boats will generally go slow enough as to not cause a signifcant wake.

The real problem I see happening, is that some of the large boats can displace significant amounts of water, and if a tug is pulling a heavy barge, the amount of side thrust thrown off of his props can push you around quite a bit. Of course, this is affected by what kind of boat you are in...

genephares 05-23-2006 08:33 PM

you mentioned the word ''sail". I believe you are not allowed to sail the canal. gene

BEANS 05-23-2006 08:54 PM


Originally Posted by genephares
you mentioned the word ''sail". I believe you are not allowed to sail the canal. gene

That's correct, you can only motor though the C&D. There are 6 bridges you must pass with the minimum clearance of 133'.
Keep mind of your stern. traffic can sneak up on you. At night the entire canal is lit up better then a shopping mall parking lot. Its a nice trip.

RichH 05-24-2006 12:31 AM

The C&D is well lit; and, as other posters stated: simply stay to the sides when being passed by large ships. Ch. 13 is the communications channel in the canal. Be aware that a large ship running against a full current may create a large 'suction wake' .... so give them plenty of room when they are against the tidal flow.

There are two 'stopover' places in the middle of the canal: Summit North marina (just east of the Rt. 896 bridge - north shore) where you can get a slip, etc. or the engineers cove where you can anchor (Chesapeake City / Rt. 213 bridge). The engineers cove on the south side of the canal and 'just east' of the Rt. 213 bridge 'was' a bit tricky to enter due to shoaling/silting at the entrance that required you to favor the 'western' / right side of the entrance ... through to the restaurant on the shore ... then anchor anywhere in the back basin. There is a 'rumor' that the silted entrance has just been or soon will be dredged .... but Im not sure, so favor the 'bridge side' of the entrance and take it slow if entering the engineers cove. You might want to phone the Army Corps of Engineers at Town Point Control (Md.) station for further info.
When going 'down' the Delaware Bay, the engineers cove is a good place to anchor so you can leave before the tide turns ... and get flushed all the way down the Del. Bay. When transiting the canal in either direction, I usually stop and anchor in the engineer's cove to wait for a favorable tide, especially when going into the Del. Bay. The tidal range of Chesapeake is only 1-2 ft, the Del Bay is 4-6 ft. Strong winds on the bays will definitely affect the tidal flow through the canal.
Fighting the current in the canal is NOT a pleasant thing to do.... better to 'hole up' and wait somewhere, etc. The 'controlling' tide station for the C&D canal is "Reedy Point" on the Delaware River.

The Upper Chesapeake, this year is fairly free of crab floats; so, a night passage is quite safe if you stay in the main channel. But that can change quickly if the crabs start 'running'.

If you are going west to east (and on a favorable tide) the eastern / Delaware River end can be quite confusing at night as the Delaware River channel markers are easily confused with the shore lights, etc. and the Delaware River tidal current can be swift enough to promote a lot of sideways drift until you reach the main Delaware River Channel ... use your GPS when navigating this portion into the Del. River at night when the tide is running.
Just south of the canal entrance on the Del. River and near the Salem Nuclear Power station (NJ) there are quite a few unlit buoys/nuns that border the main channel ... so a good searchlight may be in order.

The Delaware Bay is NOT a place to be in a SE or NW blow when the tide is against the wind --- very short very steep chop. Be aware that the western shore of the Delaware Bay is a severe thunderstorm 'incubator'; and, even if NOAA is totally silent about T'storms if you see rapid cloud formation on the western shore - get ready for a 'snotter'.

Have a good trip. Hope this helps.

colehankins 05-24-2006 10:33 AM

you can improve your time by staying as close to the side of the canal as possible. The rocks are on a 1 to 1 ratio or 45 degrees so 10 away is 10 fot of water. You will see a marked improvement in the sog by about 1 kt.
The lights play tricks on you eyes. If there are 2 or more lights out you think there is a bend in the river. Tell them I said hi at the tap room.

catamount 05-29-2006 07:07 AM

To follow up on colehankins, you can use your depth sounder to follow a depth contour.

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