Annapolis to New York in Late April? - SailNet Community

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  #1  
Old 11-29-2006
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Annapolis to New York in Late April?

I'm trying to make a decision...

We need to bring our Passport 40 up from Annapolis to Lake Champlain. Our proposed route is:

1) Annapolis to C&D Canal
2) C&D Canal down the Delaware and around Cape May
3) Along coast to New York Harbor
4) Turn left at the Statue of Liberty and go up the Hudson River
5) Step the mast in Albany and enter the Champlain Canal
6) Transit the canal to Lake Champlain to Willsboro Bay Marina

I have talked to several other people who have done this route late Spring (i.e. late May or June) and I have the maps, cruising guides, etc. The difference is that we're looking to do it at the end of April. I have been told that it can get pretty hairy down around the Delaware Bay that time of year - big square seas - often 10 foot plus. I'm less worried about the winds (most likely 15-30kts from what I hear). Looking at Weather Underground, I show several times during the months of April and early May with 10ft+ waves. If we find this to be the case, we've discussed heading farther offshore for the trip up.

We will be launching our boat in March. We will probably get a few days of sailing in before the longer trip. This will be our first time on the boat. We hope to get the prior owner on the boat to show us around for a day.

For the trip, I only have a little heavy weather experience myself, so I'll be bringing with me a couple of people who have already sailed these waters in heavier weather. I plan on renting a life raft, and we already have jacklines and harnesses.

Can anyone tell me anything about what to expect this time of year? We're looking at doing it the last two weeks of April. We estimate 8 days (stopping each night), but are leaving 6 days of extra time so we can deal with poor weather or other issues. Alternatively, we may just run up the coast and push straight through to New York Harbor (entering in daylight). I need to make a decision NOW as to whether we will be doing this or not. I'm pretty booked for the month of May so otherwise I'd have to wait until June, and I don't want to pay for storage in Annapolis for that long.

Any and all thoughts would be greatly appreciated!

Chris
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Old 11-29-2006
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Chris... I think your plan is do-able but I'd like to see you with more lay-over time built into your schedule. Going down the Delaware Bay is generally easier than going up but I've never seen anything like 10' waves in the Delaware...if you're out in anything less than 30 knots AND go WITH the tide from the C&D you might see 4-5 footers on a reach with the wind out of the northern quadrants as it usually is when blowing.
With your Passport can you get under the 55ft. bridge to get in the back way to Cape May? This would be the only part of the passage that would really concern me as otherwise you need to go out and around and into the inlet which is all weather but shoaling a bit and has recently had dredging again. The problem going outside here is that after the all day run down the Delaware....you don't know what conditions will be like offshore as you round the corner so you'd have to wait for a really benign forcast up around the C&D to make that run. If you can go under the bridge, you can proceed down the Delaware in rougher weather and duck into Cape May till you get a good forcast for day hops up the coast. Atlantic City, Manasquan and Sandy Hook are all good stops or you can just blast north on an overnighter in settled weather. From there, you should have no worries.

Since this will be your first trip in the boat...the most likely bad thing to happen is a dead engine due to the crap in the fuel tanks being stirred up by the short/choppy seas. I respectfully suggest you get your tanks polished and carry extra filters for the Racor AND know how to change it and purge the engine before you go.
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Old 11-29-2006
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Labatt,

I've done Annapolis to New England via the C&D Canal and Delaware Bay three times on different boats, all trips in mid June. From Cape May we went offshore to Block Island, Narraganset Bay, or Buzzards Bay.

Each time, conditions were different.

The first trip, we went through the canal at night, nonstop from Annapolis, and anchored in the Delaware River just outside until daybreak. Conditions on Delaware Bay were benign, and we went right out of the Bay into the Atlantic without bothering to stop at Cape May, turned left and headed for Block Island. Pretty good sailing.

The second trip, we anchored overnight somewhere before the Canal, then in the Maurice River on our way down Delaware Bay, and then from there went in the "back door" to Cape May. This was mostly "motor sailing."

The third trip (this past summer), we started down the Delaware River (after leaving Chesapeake City around 07:00) with the tide against us. The wind was blowing out of the southeast at 25 knots, right up the Delaware Bay. Around mid-day the tide turned in our favor but with the wind against the tide, the waves started to develop. We saw some of the famous Delaware Bay "big square waves," perhaps approaching 8 feet (mostly more like 5') but it was manageable (just hard slow sailing). We anchored off the beach on the west side of the Cape May pennisula around midnight, after beating all day, and then went through the Cape May canal the next morning. The winds were still strong out of the southeast, and there was a good swell running, so waves in the Cape May inlet were pretty interesting, but we punched through all right. You can read more of our logs from that trip here: http://sailing.thorpeallen.net/Greyhawk/Delivery/

Regards,

Tim

Last edited by catamount; 05-02-2009 at 08:50 AM. Reason: update URL
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Old 11-30-2006
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I'd just like to echo Cam's warning about old crud in the tanks stopping you dead because that's exactly what happened to me a year ago last Sept doing a similar self delivery trip from Annapolis to RI. Everything was fine until I went down the Delaware bay when the wind and tide were opposed creating the short steep waves and the engine went dead. I had lots of filters and after that it was a daily routine to change the filter or have it die again - which it did before the root cause of the problem finally sunk in...... duh. I had never had a dirty fuel problem before on my previous boats (and I was Not religious about filter maint) but a couple years of little use on a pair of 60 gal tanks baking in the Annapolis sun on my 'new to me' boat is a whole different world.
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Last edited by christyleigh; 11-30-2006 at 10:19 AM.
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Old 11-30-2006
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We didn't have any problems with old tank crud clogging our filters and stopping our engine during GREYHAWK's wavy beat down Delaware Bay. Why? 'Cause we weren't running the engine, that's why!

Hey, isn't this SAILnet? :-)

Well, GREYHAWK was designed to sail well to windward. The other boats we saw out there that day were motoring or obviously motorsailing, and fuel tanks were definitely being shaken up! Clean your tanks and be prepared with spare filters, and rig up a set of filters in parallel so you can switch between them with the flip of some valves and keep running.
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Old 11-30-2006
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Make sure your boat insurance covers the month of April and the track of your trip.
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Old 11-30-2006
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Labatt-
You can also get historical data from the offshore weather bouys directly from NOAA at http://www.ndbc.noaa.gov/hmd.shtml
That will show you what the offshore wx in April has been in years past.

If you are going offshore instead of ICW, be very careful with the NJ coast. Many of the inlets are unuseable in bad wx and there is shoaling way further offshore than you might think, making the water all the rougher again. Take a good look at chart depths and remember how they'll affect surface waves, especially when tide and wind are adverse.
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Old 11-30-2006
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I plan on sailing as much as possible. The motion of the ocean is much more comfortable under sail than power when the waves are going, as long as the current is with you and you're doing decent movement towards your goal. If not, motorsailing is the way we'll be going down the Delaware. I'm going to check into getting our tanks cleaned though. Our insurance will indeed cover the trip - already checked on that - but thanks for the outside the box thought! We are not going via the ICW as we draw 5'8" and I hear much of the inside route through the north is HEAVILY shoaled. I'm still trying to find out what our air draft is to see whether we can duck in through the Cape May canal (which is our preferred route).

I already reviewed a few sites regarding documented wave heights from the weather buoys, and they show that each year there are a few days in April and May that wave heights that exceed 10 feet, but they are the exception as opposed to the norm. One day in 2005 the waves were over 16 feet!! Winds were blowing between 15 and 30 pretty consistently throughout the month. Does anyone know what wave period/wave height ratio makes for square or difficult to navigate waves? I'm trying to figure out how to best read the charts. My wife suggested I get in the bathtub with my rubber duckie and run some scale experiments

Last edited by labatt; 11-30-2006 at 04:45 PM.
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Old 11-30-2006
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Take all of your ski clothes as well as your wet-weather gear. You may want several sets, so you can wear one while the other dries out. Facemasks may come in handy, as well as snorkeling goggles. You have no idea how cold it will feel, out on the water with an option of being wet on top of it. Be aware that it can snow in New York in April.
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Old 11-30-2006
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I'll probably be putting my snowmobiles away the week before we go I'm hoping for a mild end to the Winter, like last year. I still recall back in the '80's when we got a blizzard on April 30th!
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