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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My father and I are planning a week long trip to the Chesapeake Bay in July 2009 and wondering if anybody knew of some marinas with cheap travel lift fees around the area? My J/24 hull #123 is originally from Annapolis so I feel as though this would be a very fun trip! This was not possible until last Friday when I purchased a truck specifically for a tow vehicle.

Also, does anybody have any suggestions for small boat destinations. We are looking to stay at marinas every night and we are very interested in the history of the Bay.

Thanks a bunch.
 

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You'll have a great time!

Cheap travel lifts. I doubt it. You may do better further south, away from Annapolis.

Get a good guide book. Chesapeake Bay Magazine has a good one. So is the "gunkholers guide." There are 3 books I know about small boats going around the Delmarva: "Eastern Shore, Western Wind", "Beteen 2 Bay and the Sea", and "Circumnavigating the Delmarva Peninsula - A Guide for the Shoal Draft Sailor". All are available through Alibris, though the first 2 may be out of print. I am guilty of having written the last, about 3 trips with my daughter aboard our Stiletto 27. There is also some information on my blog, listed below.

Must-sees? Many are listed in the the guides, but these are a few favorites:
* Tangier Island. Occupied since the 1600's, very isolated, interesting history. The British holed up there before sailing to Baltimore and bombarding Ft. McHenery (the Star Spangled Banner).
* St. Michels and the museum there too.
* Cape Charles. OK, nothing to special, but a nice starting point. The Cape Charles Hotel is pricey, but is a very nice restored example.
* Annapolis is crazy, but you shouldn't miss it.

You could try lifting in south, perhaps Deltaville. Go to Tangier, Solomons Island, Annapolis, St Mikes, Oxford, Solomons, Smith Island, and Deltaville. That might work. Some open water, some sheltered. We did all of that in Stiletto, so there are some similarities. None of this should present draft problems.

Have fun!
 

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That sounds like a fun trip. Just be prepared for some fairly hot/sticky weather that time of year -- make sure you have plenty of ice and drinks. Breezes will typically be better in the afternoon and evening.

You can plunk the boat in almost anywhere. Once you know your route/itinerary, ask us again for cheap travel lift recommendations.

Since you mention that you are interested in the history of the bay, I will repeat pdq's suggestion to visit St. Michael's, MD. Ther eyou will find the chesapeake Bay MAritime Museum, which is good for a day or or two of exploration. St. Michael's is also a fun town and good spot to provision, with an ACME grocery store in easy walking distance ot the harbour.

Another interesting/historical location is Calvert Marine Museum, located at Solomons Isalnd, MD (western shore, at mouth of Patuxant River). And of course, Annapolis.

My overall advice is to not try to see the entire Bay in a week. Maybe pick one section (Upper, Mid, Lower) and take a good look.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks ya'll! I will definitely keep all this in mind. Really it's nice to get sailors opinions that have been there personally. This is exactly what I needed though, now it is time to narrow down the places I would like to visit. I don't mind launching the boat myself; it's just a pain in the a$$.

Thanks for your help, I will let ya'll know the places I plan on visiting to see what your opinion is ( I don't want to stay someplace crappy) As I am a lake sailor and this is going to be a once a year thing to the coast.
 

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As a lake sailor, do a quick check of things that might be different on the Bay.

Thanks ya'll! I will definitely keep all this in mind. Really it's nice to get sailors opinions that have been there personally. This is exactly what I needed though, now it is time to narrow down the places I would like to visit. I don't mind launching the boat myself; it's just a pain in the a$$.

Thanks for your help, I will let ya'll know the places I plan on visiting to see what your opinion is ( I don't want to stay someplace crappy) As I am a lake sailor and this is going to be a once a year thing to the coast.
Anchoring comes to mind (all mud and sand bottoms). A Chesapeake Bay chart book (ADC has them) might be smart. Extra fuel. Print tide / current charts from the net.

Enjoy!
 

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Also, consider a motel at least every few nights.

Thanks ya'll! I will definitely keep all this in mind. Really it's nice to get sailors opinions that have been there personally. This is exactly what I needed though, now it is time to narrow down the places I would like to visit. I don't mind launching the boat myself; it's just a pain in the a$$.

Thanks for your help, I will let ya'll know the places I plan on visiting to see what your opinion is ( I don't want to stay someplace crappy) As I am a lake sailor and this is going to be a once a year thing to the coast.
Showers. AC. I did all this on a similar boat, and it is fun IF you break it up.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
pdqaltair,
I read your blog and am loving it! Some of the pictures are amazing, things I want to experience. I'm sure my father will get on the forum here in a little bit and he is extremely more knowledgeable than I about sailing. I am more of a the deck hand when he is on the boat!

One of the things I am worried about is navigation, would it be worth buying a GPS and charts? Or could I just use the old school paper charts?
 

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I don't find gps very neccasary in the Bay...

pdqaltair,
I read your blog and am loving it! Some of the pictures are amazing, things I want to experience. I'm sure my father will get on the forum here in a little bit and he is extremely more knowledgeable than I about sailing. I am more of a the deck hand when he is on the boat!

One of the things I am worried about is navigation, would it be worth buying a GPS and charts? Or could I just use the old school paper charts?
But paper charts are required. Buying a chart book is best. There is also a lot on line (Office of Coast Survey) but by the time you printed what you needed, the ADC chart would be less and much better.
 

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Charts

I like the chartbook "Maryland Cruising Guide" from Williams & Heintz. The smaller format is great for navigation on smaller boats. It has lists of marinas as does the previously mentioned "Guide to Cruising Chesapeake Bay" from Chesapeake Bay Magazine. Both have distance charts that can be very helpful in planning a cruise.

I agree a GPS isn't necessary though if you have a handheld that gives you lat/lon it may help figuring out where you are on a longer run. However, the Chesapeake (particularly the Upper Bay) is really well marked. Most navigation is line of sight.

Be aware that summer thunderstorms can be ferocious (good weather info is required). The weather channels on your VHF will suffice although we like having a dedicated weather radio. You will encounter commercial traffic and lots of recreational traffic on weekends.

I would suggest keeping Annapolis as a destination but launching on one of the rivers north or south of it as it will be cheaper. BTW, if you are a baseball fan keep Baltimore in mind as a destination. It's a long but interesting trip up the Patapsco and Camden Yards is within walking distance of the Inner Harbor.

Sounds like a great trip. Enjoy the planning process.

Mary Lou
Rhodes 22 Fretless
Rock Hall, MD
 

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Cost about $120 for a splash. Anywhere from $100-$140. Same to haul you out. And I know all about launching a 4' fix keel boat on a trailer. ;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
zz4gta,
YES, that is what I like to hear. That is not very expensive at all, I don't mind launching but retrieving a J boat is tough. I am not worried about the summer wind considering I am a southern lake sailor but hopefully it will not be that bad. Thanks for all the help, keep the comments rollin in!:D
 

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I've experienced some of the same no wind conditions during the summer. The best short trips I've done start early in the morning (when there's a little breeze) tie up for lunch at a marina or bar and then hit the water again in the afternoon into the night (when the breeze comes back). Best to be off the water from 12-2pm unless the forecast is calling for something above 10.

Let us know when your in town, I'm just up the Potomac river.
 

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J24,
You will have a great time cruising the Chesapeake. I would recommend the "Gunkholers Guide to Cruising the Chesapeake". This book will have every port and marina with navigation information, phone numbers and services. There is a list of way points in the back for plotting and recommended trips. There is also information on what to look for and things to do in different ports.

The Cutty Sark Marina at Little Creek in Norfolk (south end of bay) is reasonable for this end. They where $11.00 a foot last year for haul out, block and launch. I think the same would apply for a for your circumstances. They also had a one way price.
 

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Sadly, much of that is true.

I've experienced some of the same no wind conditions during the summer. The best short trips I've done start early in the morning (when there's a little breeze) tie up for lunch at a marina or bar and then hit the water again in the afternoon into the night (when the breeze comes back). Best to be off the water from 12-2pm unless the forecast is calling for something above 10.

Let us know when your in town, I'm just up the Potomac river.

More so when the forecast is light southwest than other directions.

It is often good planning, if you are in a situation where you have a schedule to keep, to carry enough fuel to motor for 60 miles or so. This should eliminate fuel-only stops that can really slow things down and make what could have been a nice evening on the hook followed by a trip to the next stop, into a mad and never ending search for gas.

It would be lovely to sail all of the time; that is not the reality when trying to cover ground on the Bay in the summer. The wind is often either light or (worse) on the nose with a foul tide and light. Sailing in a 7 knot breezy you may find you VMG to be 3 knots, but with a foul tide that is 2 knots.... Best to hit the engine and make 5 knots vmg and day-sail later.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thanks for all your help, I will let everybody know where I am going here soon because I definitely want to prepare for this trip. Here is the rig I had coming down from Annapolis but with a different tow vehicle now. I had so much fun for the 2 days that I was there I definitely want to go back!

<img src="http://photos-h.ak.fbcdn.net/photos-ak-snc1/v314/88/105/23206911/n23206911_34222535_1526.jpg"</img>
 

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My first "cruise" boat...

was pictured above at Park Marina. We were 2 days into a 2 week trip around the Delmarva. Much like yours, it was a very able sailor with spartan accommodations. My crew was my 10-year old daughter.

Looks like great fun!

A book that gave me a lot of good ideas was "cruising on a micro-budget" by Brown, I think. Makes you think simple rather than "West Marine Catalog."
 

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I have sailed The Chesapeake Bay for 32 seasons. I would like to add a few points. First, pay close attention to bugs. Get something that will get rid of them. Some say anything with concentrated DEET and others recommend Skin So Soft. Whatever, just make sure you are covered. As to winds, the past 2 seasons have been pretty good for summer sailing with wind with good breezes all through August. But that was before and we don't know how this summer will shape up. Be prepared for hot and humid windless days. I second the recommendation to get a copy of Gunkholers Guide to The Chesapeake (link is to Amazon). And for planning there are several websites that can help. I suggest you register for ActiveCaptain (click link). Also, there is an excellent Demo for NOAA Charts overlaid on Google Maps (link).

Lastly as to a place with reasonable travel lift, I just got a quote from a local marina just South of Annapolis, Casa Rio Marina (I don't thin they have their own webpage, but they are listed in several lists of marinas with a goggle search). My boat is a 27' sloop here is their quote:
Haul,Launch,Power Wash, & Block $ 324.00
Environmental Fee 27.00
Land Storage per day 12.00

This is fairly local to me and they allow you to do the work yourself. It is just off West River/Rhode River on Cadle Creek.
Now for places to visit... of course you need to see Annapolis and perhaps Baltimore by water. Also, St Michaels and if you want to venture further South a stop at Solomons Island would be nice and of course Tangier Island is always worth the trip. Regardless where you go, make sure you experience some of Maryland's famous Crabs. By the way, pick up a copy of Beautiful Swimmers for some reading while here.

Sorry, I forgot to add some info about summer squalls. Make sure you are off the water by 4pm. Most severe summer storms come after that. These can be brutal with winds topping 60+ knots and rain that reduces visibality to a few boat lengths! Marine VHF Ch 16 will announce warnings for severe weather so that is a good idea to monitor that as well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
WOW, thanks mccary! That is some good stuff. You sound like a veteran of the waters. This will be my first time sailing a boat in salt water so this should be interesting. I can't wait, this is going to be an amazing trip. The most difficult part I foresee is the inexperience being very stressful and making it not as fun.
 

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If you like history...

you might read Michner's "Chesapeake" before hand. It is somewhat fictionalized, but entertaining and educational as well. You do have to read the notes in the preface regarding what is real ad what is not so real.
 

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The most difficult part I foresee is the inexperience being very stressful and making it not as fun.
Hey, one of the best parts about The Bay is, while it is thin water (shallow), it is almost all soft mud. There are a few places with rip rap but they are the exception rather than the rule. Your biggest problem will be deciding where to go with limited time (anything short of a lifetime is limited time).

About fiction on The Bay,
Mitchner's Chesapeake (amazon link) is a good read (a bit on the long side). When he was writing the book I had the pleasure of meeting him in St Michaels one morning. One of life's real pleasures. His book spans about 100,000 years, so be prepared. It runs frmo an Indian's first encounter with an oyster through Nixon's resignation.

You might also want to read John Barth's The Tidewater Tales (amazon link).
 
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