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Go Back   SailNet Community > Out There > Destinations > Chesapeake / Central US east coast > Chesapeake Bay > Sailing in the Potomac River
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Topic Review (Newest First)
01-14-2012 02:35 PM
pdqaltair
Quote:
Originally Posted by mltroy View Post
Curious as to what is meant by "mouth of the Potomac". Is it just where the river meets the Bay? If wind and current are opposing at the mouth of the river, how far East and South do the nasty conditions extend?

Can you avoid them by crossing from say, Reedville to Tangier? Or would that put you right in the middle of it? Could you travel north on the west side of Tangier and Smith Islands or would it be better to just travel up Tangier Sound?

Thanks for any insight.

Mary Lou
Rhodes 22 Fretless
Rock Hall, MD
Yes, going out a ways can help, though the center is enough. I've done that stretch on brisk days many times. It's only exceptionally rough right at the mouth, in my expereince. Or rather more confused, as the waves come from 2 directions.

Traps and prohibited areas? Just keep watch and check the chart.
01-14-2012 01:51 PM
jameswilson29
Quote:
Originally Posted by mltroy View Post
Curious as to what is meant by "mouth of the Potomac". Is it just where the river meets the Bay? If wind and current are opposing at the mouth of the river, how far East and South do the nasty conditions extend?

Can you avoid them by crossing from say, Reedville to Tangier? Or would that put you right in the middle of it? Could you travel north on the west side of Tangier and Smith Islands or would it be better to just travel up Tangier Sound?
I think of the lower Potomac as starting east of Cole's Point, where the Potomac widens to more than 5 miles across - close to the width of the Bay near Annapolis - and is subject to the same tidal flow as the Bay, along with the current/outflow from the Potomac. The widest portion of the entire Chesapeake Bay is south of the mouth of the Potomac River, just south of Tangier Island.

The particular turbulence I have observed are relatively small areas near, and just west of, the two points - Point Lookout to the North and Smith Point to the South.

I would not run up and down the Smith Island/Tangier Island east side of the Bay. The charts show numerous prohibited areas, restricted areas, fish havens, obstructions and wrecks. The main channel and markers are much closer to the western side of the Bay.
01-14-2012 01:18 PM
T37Chef
Quote:
Originally Posted by BubbleheadMd View Post
This is a great story. Having visited the area many times, I can envision exactly what happened to you. Luckily, you only had to pound your way downriver a short ways before you rounded Point Lookout. You probably had a sweet, downwind ride all the way up the Bay after that.
Yes we did, covering some 90+ miles in 14 hours, average SOG of about 6.5 +/- (I know that seems minuscule to some, but for us it was a rewarding accomplishment )

After rounding Tilghman Point on Eastern Bay and down the Miles we had a most memorable windward sail into St. Michaels. Days like those I will never forget, we got to see several of the bays personalities in a span of 24 hours, gotta love it

http://www.sailnet.com/forums/chesap...peake-bay.html
01-14-2012 12:31 PM
kd3pc
Quote:
Originally Posted by mltroy View Post
Curious as to what is meant by "mouth of the Potomac". Is it just where the river meets the Bay? If wind and current are opposing at the mouth of the river, how far East and South do the nasty conditions extend?

Can you avoid them by crossing from say, Reedville to Tangier? Or would that put you right in the middle of it? Could you travel north on the west side of Tangier and Smith Islands or would it be better to just travel up Tangier Sound?

Thanks for any insight.

Mary Lou
Rhodes 22 Fretless
Rock Hall, MD
I think you will find that when it is nasty, both the potomac from the Birthday Cake mark (about 12 miles up the river) to the bay, as well as the bay itself can be pretty nasty. If you are transiting north south (or vice versa), you can get some relief staying closer (in the lee) to the eastern shore - but that makes watching the water much more important. Alot of the water around Tangier and Smith Island is quite thin, and even more so when it blows east west. And you lose the ability to run to a hole, if things get worse. IN a blow, perhaps a bad habit I learned way back, was to stay in the deep water with plenty of room to run, or be pushed around...there have been times that I motor, head in to the wind and waves at mid throttle - and just stay still and have control. Much better motion.

Transiting east to west or vice versa you will need to be on your toes, but as a previous poster indicated, it is a great way to test your skills. Not sure though that I would want to be in it in a small, or mostly open boat, unless you have a buddy around or onboard who can help you out.

Best of luck, and I am sure others will chime in.
01-14-2012 09:39 AM
mltroy
When it's nasty, how far do the bad conditions extend?

Curious as to what is meant by "mouth of the Potomac". Is it just where the river meets the Bay? If wind and current are opposing at the mouth of the river, how far East and South do the nasty conditions extend?

Can you avoid them by crossing from say, Reedville to Tangier? Or would that put you right in the middle of it? Could you travel north on the west side of Tangier and Smith Islands or would it be better to just travel up Tangier Sound?

Thanks for any insight.

Mary Lou
Rhodes 22 Fretless
Rock Hall, MD
01-13-2012 10:23 AM
zz4gta
Quote:
Originally Posted by chef2sail View Post
Mouth of the Potomac on wind opposing tide reminds me of Delaware Bay..3 second interval square waves

Dave
Very true, when it's blowing 20-25 with opposing current in the potomac, it reminds of conditions on the bay when it's blowing 30-35. Short steep nastiness in a 25' boat. You do however learn how to drive a boat through bad waves. I feel like this has given me a slight advantage over some other racers who's clubs don't typically race in 30+ conditions.
01-13-2012 01:51 AM
chef2sail Mouth of the Potomac on wind opposing tide reminds me of Delaware Bay..3 second interval square waves

Dave
01-12-2012 01:20 PM
zz4gta I kept my boat there from 2008 until this season (mouth of the St. Mary's) it can get nasty, especially if you get a good SE breeze with 30 miles of fetch and opposing current. It's a great place to sail when the weather is good, typically a bit more wind in the summer b/c of the wide open spaces.

Honor Pt. Lookout, the shoal moves. I've been around it more than 2 dozen times and if there's breeze, it's either a run out of the river and a beat up the bay, or beat out of the river, and a run up the bay. You'll pay your dues if you sail there a lot. But I don't think it's dangerous as long as you don't feel you "HAVE" to make it somewhere. I was supposed to deliver my boat to a race on a nasty friday once, decided leaving at dawn on Saturday made more sense. It worked out. Just be smart about it.
01-12-2012 09:44 AM
aa3jy I've heard it said that one sees religion when crossing the mouth of the Potomac when winds and current go counter...
01-12-2012 09:30 AM
BubbleheadMd
Quote:
Originally Posted by T37Chef View Post
Some of the worst, if not the worst conditions I have ever experienced on the bay were at the mouth of the Potomac. Like MLS, we experienced it on our first visit to St. Mary's. We left a beautiful, tranquil, calm, anchorage at Horseshoe Bend just before dawn for a sail up the bay headed for St. Michaels.

I coulda, shoulda, woulda listened to the entire weather report, but made the rookie mistake of we have to make the destination by so and so. By the time we reached the mouth of the St Marys river I knew we were going to be in for a ride, but really had no idea. If I recall correctly, winds were SE 30-35 apparent, against the tide of the Potomac, under/near a new/full moon (cant recall which).

Combined with our limited experience, time frame, and the conditions, we opted to motor sail through it. It was the first time (second year with the boat) everyone on board (including our children, 2 & 4 at the time) were clipped in with a harness, life jacket, and full foulies.

We did make great time though once we rounded Point Lookout turning North headed for Eastern Bay and St. Michaels. About 14 hours later we arrived in St. Michaels just before dusk, dropped anchor and enjoyed two bottles of wine that evening, feeling great.

Anyway, the Potomac and the Northern Neck are beautiful, I hope to get down to the Potomac again this or next year and explore up the river more. Cant wait, but I will pay much more attention to the weather this time
This is a great story. Having visited the area many times, I can envision exactly what happened to you. Luckily, you only had to pound your way downriver a short ways before you rounded Point Lookout. You probably had a sweet, downwind ride all the way up the Bay after that.
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