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Old 04-23-2008
DrB DrB is offline
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Merrimack River Help

Looking for wisdom/advice from anyone familiar with the Merrimack River/Newburyport area in MA. My boat is on the hard at Overland Boatyard in Newburyport. Launch date is in two weeks.

Will need to bring boat back to the home port of Marblehead. The million dollar question is when to get out of the Merrimack? My vote is to go out just after slack tide on the on the start of the flood tide to help keep steerage. Other idea is to go out at slack tide towards the very end of high tide. Obvioulsy a strong onshore wind will make things interesting at the mouth in any condition.

However, I heard that going out with the ebb tide and the current is okay too, but another person side that steerage is hard to maintain because the river current during the ebb flow between the jetty will be extremely fast (as much as 6 to7 kts) making steering very difficult and there is a good chance of broaching. There is not a lot of room to go through with a 6 foot draft boat during a falling tide and the deeper part of the channel is near the jetty wall. Loosing steerage there could mean a crashed boat.

Experiences? Tidbits of wisdom?

Thanks.

DrB
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Old 04-23-2008
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I'll defer to any local Newburyporters you may find, but my vote is to go out on the rising outgoing tide, timed to get over the bar before high tide. That way, if you ground, the tide's still rising. If you go in about 2 weeks, the tide will be at the half-moon, so not that strong, depending on the river outflow from rain. Sounds like a good time to try it. Plum Island partially shields the bar, so I wouldn't be too worried unless there's a strong Easterly, in which case wait til it passes.

I've been in and out of there a couple of times, long ago. My home port back then was Marblehead, where I grew up.

Last edited by nolatom; 04-23-2008 at 09:44 PM.
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Old 04-23-2008
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It's been awhile since I have been over there but you should be about 3 1/2 miles from the bridge at Rt 1. Leave a half hour or so before slack tide and you should be fine as long as you can chug or sail along at 5k or so. Check your tides and current forces in some publication like Eldridge and have a fantastic wonderful trip. You should not have too far to go to clear the Merrimack hence not a big issue if you time your departure prudently.
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