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post #1 of 11 Old 02-08-2017 Thread Starter
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Cambridge to Crisfield

Not familiar with this stretch of water, what is there to know?

It looks like 70 miles, what Anchorage would be ideal along the way? I'm unfamiliar with the water rounding around the blackwater refuge

It looks like this part of the bay is skinny, and likely the shipping is busy?
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post #2 of 11 Old 02-08-2017
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Re: Cambridge to Crisfield

It sounds like you're planning to sail up Tangier Sound and exit via Hooper Island Strait?
I'm going to guess (and hope) that your boat is of shallow draft.

I've visited the area last year but I'm not an expert. There's a few possible routes-

Sail over to the Big Thoroughfare and cut through Smith Island to exit into the bay.
Sail north up Tangier Sound and exit via Hooper's Strait
Sail south and exit into the bay via Tangier Island.

As far as bail-out points, there really aren't any if you take the Tangier Sound route until you get to Solomon's.
If you exit via Smith Island, you could sail over to Point Lookout if you needed an escape, then Solomon's further north.

You can hide in the Little Choptank, but it requires that you sail damn near to Sharp's Island Light and then south into the Little Choptank. There's a red nun "2" that is the safest place to turn, but depending on the time of year, it will be lousy with crab pots because the whole area is shallow. I used to use that area as a place to avoid foul current during the Eastport to Solomon's race. The advice I was given was "Tack on the second bump." I drew 5 feet with that boat.

That whole area is wild and beautiful and requires a little more attention to your charts.

When are you going, and what are you sailing?

Alacrity, 1981 Tartan 33 #168
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Sailboats are hard to come by down around Crisfield, and I'm curious about buying one up north, and how hard the trip down would be. I have only experience around the Tangier Sound, so I've never been "out" in the bay. I've never dealt with shipping traffic.

Just curious right now.
Hopefully I'll find one more local to the lower eastern shore.
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Re: Cambridge to Crisfield

The shipping traffic won't be bad and there's a very good chance that you can sail outside of the channel in the shallows where they would never go.
The trip down doesn't have to be difficult at all, provided that you do it during the right weather.

Just my personal opinion but based on where you'll be sailing, consider something with shallow draft or perhaps a centerboard.
Solomon's should have plenty of good boats for sale on Craigslist and other ads, and it's not very far at all from Crisfield.

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Re: Cambridge to Crisfield

Unless you draw less than 3 feet, you won't be able to transverse the Great Thoroughfare - it's real skinny water on the sound side of the island.

For jumping off points, there's the Honga River, which is a great anchorage once you round the hook a couple miles upriver.

Hooper Straits is a deepwater passage and tugs use it all the time when bad weather is approaching. About 12 feet of water most of the way.

If the weather cooperates you can make the trip in a long day's sail, go through Kedges Straits, past Solomons Lump Light, and go straight into Crisfield.

There is a good anchorage in Dougherty creek adjacent to the state park, and also the cove at West Creek. Be careful at both locations because the bottom can come up fast. Black, gooey mud.

Sommers Cover Marina is a nice place to spend the night as well.

Good luck,

Gary
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Re: Cambridge to Crisfield

Thanks for the straight dope on the Big Thoroughfare, Gary. I tells ya, this sounds like an area made for a Morgan 30 with centerboard.

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post #7 of 11 Old 02-08-2017
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Been through the Great Thoroughfare on a Grampian 26 whose draft was 4'6"...

Update: This was done in the 21 century not the 19th century...

Last edited by aa3jy; 02-08-2017 at 05:08 PM.
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Re: Cambridge to Crisfield

On an extremely high tide, which happens in that region, you can get through the Great Thoroughfare with a 4'-6" draft, but you have to hit it just right. I ran that slice through the island many, many times in a 21-foot center console fishing boat and frequently churned mud on the east end of the cut while drawing just 18 inches. Many of the island's watermen get through at dead low tide, and I have followed them through, but their boats are modified vee bottomed and draw very little water. Captain Butch Tawes and Curtis Johns showed me the best route through the Thoroughfare, which often was marked with just a pole sticking out of the mud.

That same area used to be much deeper, especially when Alan Tyler's Crisfield Lady, the mail and school boat, made a daily run from Smith Island to Crisfield to take the kids to school, pick up the mail, take on a load of diesel fuel and get supplies for Alan's restaurant. When the old boat began running aground due to siltation of the Thoroughfare he had a 105-foot catamaran constructed that zipped over the skinnier water like a shot, and was later used for one of his Tangier Cruises boats running from both Crisfield and Point Lookout. I wrote a feature story on Alan many years ago, and it was published in the Washington Post and Baltimore Sunpapers. He was a true entrepreneur and loved life to the fullest. Not sure if he is still alive, though.

Now, I was able to get through the cut in Tangier Island last summer with no trouble at low tide, though I did drag bottom in a few spots and I only draw 4 feet. Spent the night at Jim Park's Marina, which is pretty shallow as well, and I had to nose the boat into the slip because there was not enough water for me to back in. Though I didn't get to see Jim that evening, one of the other guys onboard went to his home and paid the slip rent, and when Jim asked who was the captain, my friend said "Gary Diamond." Jim responded, "is that old bastard still alive?" Than laughed as he took the money. At one time, Jim was big in the commercial fishing business, but found it a lot easier to just be a marina and boat yard owner.

The channel has silted in on the North Channel and if you draw more than four feet it's a good idea to favor the south side where depths still range to 7 feet at low tide.

I forgot to mention, the locations on the bay's western shore where you can take refuge and anchor for the evening. Solomons Island is an easy in and out location with lots of sheltered places to hole up for the night. Been there lots of times and never had a problem even during the worst weather.

Another is Point Lookout State Park, in Lake Conoy. You will have to anchor relatively close to the launch ramp, and not block it's access, but it is doable and completely sheltered in bad weather. The entrance through the inlet is about 7 feet deep, and depths to 12 feet can be found just out from the launch ramp pier.

Good luck,

Gary

Gary
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post #9 of 11 Old 02-08-2017
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Re: Cambridge to Crisfield

I made this trip last summer and went thru Kedges Strait on the north side of smith island i want to say it was 65 KM but i could be wrong, Do not get close to Bloodsworth island on its west side lots of old tanks and stuff that were targets at one time some come very close to the surface. We went from Cambridge to Solomons first night then to Crisfield next day. I can't pass Solomons with out stopping at the tiki bar

Last edited by Jim_W; 02-08-2017 at 03:49 PM.
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Re: Cambridge to Crisfield

Many years ago, I played music at the Solomons Tiki Bar. It was a fun job while it lasted.

Gary
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