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Go Back   SailNet Community > General Interest > General Discussion (sailing related) > Maine to Chesapeake Fall Passage
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Topic Review (Newest First)
09-26-2012 12:35 PM
JonEisberg
Re: Maine to Chesapeake Fall Passage

When you reach Cape May, there's a good chance you'll be confronted with a situation commonly faced by southbound cruisers in the fall - namely, a brisk NW breeze, or the forecast of one, blowing down Delaware Bay...

Ideally, you'd want to ride a NW breeze down the Jersey coast, fall sailing doesn't get much better than that. But you'll likely have to sit in Cape May to wait for it to move to the NE (which can often afford a very nice sail up the bay), or blow it self out... As nice a spot as Cape May can be to hang out for a bit, a good alternative could be to continue on down outside the Delmarva to the Chesapeake Bay Entrance, and back up to Deltaville from Cape Charles...

This route is actually roughly 25-30 miles shorter (and considerably more so, if the in-out distances of your likely stopping points headed down the Chesapeake are factored in), and if the breeze was moved from the NW to NE by the time you make Cape Charles, you'll have a nice sail back across to Deltaville, as well...

This route makes more sense if you're in more of a delivery mode at that stage of the trip, it will involve an overnight sail, as the only recommended stop along the way would be Ocean City, MD... But, Cape Charles and Onancock on the Eastern shore both make for nice stops, if you're inclined to do a bit of relaxing or exploring before the final leg over to Deltaville...

Of course, the real benefit of this route is the possibility of maximizing the amount of SAILING you might be able to do... Unfortunately, the Delaware/C&D route most times involves a LOT of motoring...

One other option exists, if you decide to take advantage of a frontal passage to go down outside... The ride across the Delaware Bay Entrance can be pretty sporty in a fresh breeze behind a front, but if you cross over to Lewes, DE to await a frontal passage, you'll be superbly positioned for a nice ride down the beach...

Lewes is a nice little town, rarely visited by southbound sailors in the fall... On my trip south last winter, I didn't leave NJ until New Year's Eve, and wound up bypassing Cape May in favor of Lewes to await the arrival of a very strong front on the night of the 1st... Spent a very nice New Year's Day wandering around Lewes and catching up on some sleep, had a nice dinner in one of the town's numerous restaurants... the city marina was closed for the season, but amazingly, the showers were still open... Just as advertized, the front came thru in the middle of the night, and I luckily rode the ebb from the bay down past Cape Henlopen, the start of a totally kick-ass sail down down the coast... Fantastic start to another trip south, and the beginning of a new year...



Oh, and if you do head up Delaware Bay, you might find this helpful... I can't imagine why NOAA stopped publishing these graphs in the Tide Tables some 25-30 years ago, I'm really glad I saved mine...

09-26-2012 11:27 AM
chef2sail
Re: Maine to Chesapeake Fall Passage

Rik,

There are free moorings there also, I agree with Port washington.

We usually stay at Northport on our way back to the Chessie as we have friends there and there is a sentimental attachment to the town for us, but have stayed in Port Washington also.

Great place
09-26-2012 09:50 AM
rikhall
Re: Maine to Chesapeake Fall Passage

One of the nicest, most hospitable spots we stayed on our transit (actually stayed two days) was Port Washington YC, just north east of Hell Gate before you go through NYC.

Walking distance to restaurants, laundromat, West Marine. Lovely place, lovely people.

Rik
09-26-2012 06:56 AM
Tempest
Re: Maine to Chesapeake Fall Passage

Days are getting shorter/ nights longer and colder. You should leave soon if you're going. As others have mentioned, make sure you have a reliable engine. If you haven't checked things like the impeller, alternator belt, changed fuel/oil filters etc. Check trans fluid. in awhile, I'd do so before leaving and carry some spares ( impeller, thermostat, antifreeze etc..) . I don't know what your fuel tankage is but you might want to carry an extra 5 gallons. And keep the tank full.

Cape Cod canal. By the time you get in the neighborhood of Block I, Cuttyhunk etc..you'll know how things are going, and can make a decision to go offshore to cape may or continue through the Race into Long Island sound. Weather, crew fitness etc will help dictate your decision. I'd stay flexible, and have multiple plans at your disposal. Know where all your bailout points are and what services are available to you along the way.

Entering a strange ( new) harbor at night can be stressful at a time when you are most exhausted... so if you're stopping I'd make sure to arrive with some daylight. As Chef mentioned, If you plan on 40 miles a day average, you can begin to plan around that.
Keep in mind that many marina services ( fuel docks, launches, showers, etc ) are likely on shortened, off season schedules now.

Make sure you have plenty of ready to eat foods to keep strength up. If you get in to any snot, you won't be doing much cooking.
If you sail through the night, have a thermos or two of soup, coffee, etc and some sandwiches ready before nightfall, and all the other safety systems..ie jacklines, tethers.

Eldridge will likely be your most used resource.. you need to be able to hit currents at the right time. Forcing a schedule is where people get in to jams, so I would remain flexible and adjust and adapt the schedule to the conditions, the ship and the crew..

Have a safe trip..
09-25-2012 11:57 PM
paulk
Re: Maine to Chesapeake Fall Passage

A lot of your progress will depend on the weather and how much the crew can take. On one passage we left Harpswell ME at about noon on Saturday, and arrived in Southport CT on Monday morning before breakfast. Most of that trip was made under a reefed mainsail and fully furled jib. We entered the Cape Cod Canal with that combination up, against the tide, doing better than 10.5 knots according to the GPS. We had some breeze. The last time we headed south, we left Rockland at about noon on a Saturday and had to essentially power upwind most of the way to Gloucester. There we grabbed a mooring and some sleep before continuing into headwinds & rain to catch the tide at the canal. Small craft warnings were flying in Buzzards Bay when we to the other end of the canal, and we wore ourselves out in the slow, wet beat power/sailing up to New Bedford.
We had a miserable experience in Padanaram (South Dartmouth) There are few/no facilities there any more, and the New Bedford YC was inhospitable. Friends had a much better reception in New Bedford proper, where the waterfront has been entirely redone and marina slips, facilities, restaurants, hotels and moorings are plentiful and eager for business. We ended up coming back the next weekend to bring the boat down the rest of the way, and the weather was more favorable. Going with a crew of 2-3 will limit how far you can push in a day. I like having at least five for overnights because it allows getting some sleep in. That way when you get to a place where the navigation is tricky, someone is more likely to be awake enough to make the right decisions. Even then, the trip you plan is long enough that you'd want to stop and get some real sleep along the way. Depending upon when and where you are, there will be logical spots to pull into while you wait for the tide to change at the Race, or Hell Gate, for example.
Your idea of giving it three weeks should provide you enough weather window to avoid the bashing we pushed through.
09-25-2012 10:53 PM
chef2sail
Re: Maine to Chesapeake Fall Passage

Atlantic highlands to Cape May is 105-110 nm in a straight line sail. Averaging 5 knots that's more than a long day. That's 20 hours. The time of year the OP is going with 11hours or less sunlight would make it a day and a night.

We haves used Reedy Island about 7 miles south of he C&D Canal as a stopover point in case you can not make it o the canal or yu want to Tate for the run down the Delaware River
The whole way with the tide.

I have done the trip to New England or back over 35 times. There re advantage to doings hot fro Block to Cape May as well as disadvantages. Crew strength and experience as well as boat preparation are definite factors.

Dave
09-25-2012 09:48 PM
mgiguere
Re: Maine to Chesapeake Fall Passage

Have done the round trip many times. It's really fun. If you have a good crew, you can decide to go non-stop if in a hurry, or stop overnight along the way...probably would not go thru hell's gate during the night. Radar is very valuable if you have it because you will be crossing Boston and NY shipping channel. It's nice to see them (during the night) and can tell their direction. The Jersey coast can be done in a long day from Atlantic Highland (NY Harbor) to Cape May. We've always had great sails from Cape May to the CD canal...study Eldridge so you leave at the right time. I've always left when the current is slightly against you...that way it's with you or neutral when you finally reach the canal. Cape May to Annapolis is 24 hours....if you want to stop, Chesapeake City is the place to lay over. Anyway, fun trip. Good Luck.

Moe
09-25-2012 09:05 PM
klem
Re: Maine to Chesapeake Fall Passage

This trip is a very common trip for delivery crews (although many keep going past the Chesapeake) in the fall and is certainly doable although it can be pretty cold and rough. It is not a bad shot from Penobscot bay, past Monhegan and to the Cape Cod Canal. If things get rough, Gloucester is a good place to duck into. On a 33' boat, the trip to the canal should be 18-30 hours depending on conditions (it will be a lot longer if you are trying to push or sail into a strong headwind and sea). Once you get south of the canal, harbor hopping your way down is not too bad or you can again run straight through. I would highly recommend going inside long island. Once you get south of new york, there are not many harbor options until you enter the Chesapeake. As long as you have cruising guides for all of the areas covered and do your reading ahead of time, there is no reason why the trip can't be done.

The real question is whether you and your boat are up to the trip. Do you feel sufficiently experienced? Do you have anyone going with you, this would help a lot? Is your boat in good shape? These are things that only you can decide.
09-25-2012 08:00 PM
CalebD
Re: Maine to Chesapeake Fall Passage

Another consideration.
Do you have a reliable auto pilot or steering vane on your P33? It can be done without an auto pilot but allows you a lot more freedom and generally makes watch standing a bit easier.
Do you have radar? Maine = fog.
Do you have charts for the entire trip yet?

It sounds like a fun trip to me. You might be able to pick up some crew along the way from here/sailnut or other forums.
You would likely learn a lot and (hopefully) gain a lot of confidence in your and your boat's abilities.

I say go for it. Get going soon.
09-25-2012 07:40 PM
priscilla
Re: Maine to Chesapeake Fall Passage

I don't mean to spoil your adventure...an it is an adventure, but in your planning figure the length of the voyage and all of those expenses plus the value of your time. What's the cost to haul, ship, an relaunch at Deltaville. BILL
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