first cruise from Baltimore to New Rochelle NY - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 7 Old 05-30-2008 Thread Starter
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first cruise from Baltimore to New Rochelle NY

In the next couple of weeks I plan to pick up my used sailboat in Middle River, Maryland and sail it back to my home location in New Rochelle (that's on the Long Island Sound. I plan to sail up the Chesapeake Bay, across the Chesapeake-Delaware canal (part of the intercoastal waterway), down the Delaware Bay and then up the coast of New Jersey. Then up the East River, through Hells Gate (I know I have to time this carefully to make sure its a slack tide time, and then into the Long Island Sound. I've not done this before, I'm just finishing the coastal navigation course and I'll be taking the first coastal cruising course in a week. I'm hoping someone with experience along this route can tell me what areas are high risk areas and what to look out for. I'll be sailing with a couple of friends who have limited experience and in addition to the depth finder and compass on the boat (it's a 30 foot sailboat with an Atomic 4 inboard motor) I'm buying a new marine gps unit (haven't decided which one yet but I'm leaning toward a handheld garmin. Hopefully some of you old saws will have some good advice for me. Thanks. My wife thinks I'm a nut, but this is not unusual. I should have begun sailing years ago, I'm 59 and I haven't felt this excited about anything in years, just love this sailing sport and can't wait to get out again.
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post #2 of 7 Old 05-30-2008
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There are definitely lots of posts on similar trips. Do a search for "Hell Gate", "Cape May", "Atlantic City", "Delaware". We made a similar trip, but our destination was Lake Champlain so we skipped Hell Gate but added the Hudson River and the Champlain Canal. I can honestly say that the most important thing is to 1) Give yourself plenty of time to make the trip, and 2) Enjoy the time. Do you have any specific questions about your trip?

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post #3 of 7 Old 05-30-2008
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As Labatt said, there are lots of posts re: this route.

To recap some of the points for you:

1. Be sure to take plenty of time for this trip. Do not try to meet a schedule. You will be traveling in some waters which can be difficult and downright dangerous, even for experienced sailors.

2. The trip up the Chesapeake and through the Canal should not present any special challenges, if you choose your weather. You should time your Canal transit to concide with slack tide or a favorable current. Lots of posts on this point. Be sure to listen carefully to weather reports on the VHF several times each day, paying particular attention to forecast wind speeds and direction.

3. You do not want to make any portion of the trip against strong winds. So, going up the Chesapeake you do not want strong northerly winds (anything over 12-15 knots), and going down the Delaware Bay you do not want strong southerly winds. Going up the Jersey Coast you do not want strong northerly winds.

4. Be sure to have paper charts onboard for the entire trip, as well as a GPS. Although it's a bit expensive, I'd be sure to get the Chartkits covering the Chesapeake Bay, the Delaware Bay, and the Atlantic Coast up to New York.

5. Study these charts carefully before you go, looking for best routes and for places to stop along the way. The Chesapeake has a number of good stopping places; you can stop in two places in the C&D Canal itself, and one just north of the exit of the Canal off the Delaware River. The Delaware River and Bay have very few places to stop, and it's a long way from the Canal exit to Cape May.

6. With a 30' boat, Cape May is a good place to stop over and await good weather before venturing up the Jersey coast. You can go in the "back entrance", which saves a lot of miles, as your mast will fit under the bridge.

7. There are a few stopping places on the Jersey coast. Atlantic City is the easiest and is OK in most weather conditions. Manasquan and Barnegat Bay are OK, too, but can be problematic when the wind kicks up. Sandy Hook is a good spot to stop also, before heading on up the East River.

If you do your homework carefully, and if you really take your time to enjoy the trip and to pick your weather conditions, this can be a great trip. However, it is not a time to "push things a bit". In particular, the three bodies of water you will be traversing can be very nasty: the Chesapeake because it's shallow and has very short steep seas, the Delaware Bay because it has a long fetch for waves to build, is relatively shallow and has few stopping places, and has a lot of commercial ships to stay clear of; and the Jersey coast because it's open ocean, waves can build quickly and create "unsafe" conditions, and there are few good places to duck in to get out of bad conditions.

I would add just one more thing: the Atomic-4 is not known as a particularly reliable engine (to be charitable). Nor is it very strong. You should therefore plan on having to do some portion of the trip under sail alone, and be prepared to do so if the engine should quit on you. Many boats which have not been well maintained have engine trouble once they get into rough water, since debris in the bottom of the tank gets stirred up and sucked into the filters. They may do fine on weekend trips, but when you get into real waves and begin bouncing around a bit things deteriorate quickly.

Hope the trip goes well.


Last edited by btrayfors; 05-30-2008 at 11:30 AM.
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post #4 of 7 Old 05-30-2008 Thread Starter
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Smile very helpful responses, Thanks

This is great, I really appreciate your words of caution and helpful advise, I plan, as you have advised, to study the charts and to carefully monitor the weather. I'll be in no hurry on this trip and I've learned over the years to not rush, especially when you're a beginner. Again, really appreciate the advice I'm receiving. Thanks. My wife thinks I should trailer the boat home but that sort of defeats the purpose of having a boat and at some point you have to get out and get some experience.
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post #5 of 7 Old 05-30-2008
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Roy...check the threads mentioned as there is really a lot of info here on the whole trip. Bill gives excellent advice. May I suggest a couple of other things:
1. Redundancy in GPS...get a cheap unit with lots of extra batteries that you can put in a waterproof pouch and use if your primary fails.
2. Make sure your get your fuel tanks polished and filters changed before you leave.
3. Get a handheld VHF as backup for your main VHF or in case the mast comes down.

After you've had a chance to read the available'll find lots of help with any remaining questions you have.

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post #6 of 7 Old 05-30-2008
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You should also look at the Coast Pilot, which can be downloaded for free. I would also emphasize one point mentioned by btrayfors . There is a good portion of your trip off the coast of New Jersey where there is no inland alternative. The harbors along there may have the look of harbors of refuge, but in bad weather they are notoriously treacherous. It is especially a big problem coming in from the sea at places like Mansaquan, where the waves get large and breaking waves are not very visible form the ocean side. You probably want ot be extra cautious about your weather window in this area.
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post #7 of 7 Old 05-30-2008
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A friend of mine just made this trip in a new-to-him boat last week (from northern Chesapeake to somwhere in Connecticut where his new marina is). They did get beat up by the wind off the coast a bit but nothing too bad. All the advice above is good, though
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