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Yikes! I may be transferring to Maryland (Greater DC area) and I need to get the low-down sailing the Chesapeake. What is the slip availability in Naptown/ Eastport? How about Solomon’s? (Work is in Gaithersburg.) We’d be hauling a 34 footer back east sometime in the fall/winter. I’m assuming that it will go straight into winter dry storage. What does that entail? San Francisco Bay has spoiled us and we are currently in a great marina – clean bathrooms, “free” ice, double fingers, park like setting. My wife and I are both “boat people” so we are not adverse to spending a little more on our passion. Our boat draws 6’. Is this really a problem? Also, I’m guessing that we will need to buy some light air equipment like a half oz spin and a 140% #1 genoa. I’ve sailed once on an AYC Wednesday night beer can so my experience is limited. What are places you guys sail to and is it true that most of the bay is too shallow to sail? My wife is dead set against the possible move and thinks that life as we know it will cease and we’ll be unhappy sailing there.
 

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George,

I think you'll have a blast sailing the Chesapeake!

Your 6 foot draft is fine. I prefer a bit shallower, but I would consider boats with drafts deeper than 6' for the Bay too. There will be a few special places that you won't be able to get into, and a few shortcuts you'll have to pass up, but 90% of what you want to visit will be accessible.

And it would take several lifetimes to visit that 90%. Compared to San Fran Bay, you are talking about many orders of magnitude more destinations that are available. Honestly, your choices are virtually limitless.

Solomons is a fairly long haul from Gaithersburg. If that's where you end up living, I think you will want to plan to keep the boat somewhere roughly between Deale Md and Annapolis. There are quite a few options there, most within about an hour drive of G-berg. Solomons would be closer to 1 hour 45 minutes. I imagine the prices are comparable to or less than San Fran.

Our sailing season spans from March to November. Some press on year round.

Depending how competitive you are, many cruising folks just have a single 0.6 or 0.75 oz chute. If you already have a 130 genny, you'll likely be fine -- I would wait until you get a better feel for the conditions hereabouts before modifying the sail inventory too much.

Good luck! Don't rule out the move due to sailing concerns. This is a good venue!
 

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George the bay is one of the best sailing places in the US. You can find a great marina, you will want a genoa which you did not really use on SF Bay and a good light air chute. If you are going to race your boat then you need a full suit of light air sails. There is much better overnight/weekend cruising on the Chesapeake than on the SF bay. Very different sailing but still both are great.. and yes I have been on both. Depending on where you end up, let that drive where you look for a marina but there are very posh to very basic in the larger towns.
 

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If your working in Gaithersburg, will you be living nearby? (I Live in Gaithersburg/Rockville) If so, you should also consider marina on the Magothy River, Patapsco River/Rock Creek/Bodkin Creeks or even North of there.

The Chesapeake is one of the best cruising grounds in the world, you could spend your entire life sailing the bay and still not see it all. Yes, many places on the bay are shallow, but the majority is easily accessible and you will find wonderful anchorages abundant.

Marina prices vary widely, usually based on facilities and location. Annapolis is going to be the most expensive, but offer some great conveniences and of course a prime sailing culture, just be willing to pay big $$$ for it. The Magothy has few public marinas, I think the residence like that :) But it is a ideal spot on the bay for sailing North or South. The Patapsco has many marina's and I am most familiar with them in Rock & Bodkin Creeks. I don't think you will have much of a problem finding a slip for a 34 foot boat anywhere, but it seems once you need 40' or larger the slips become more sparse around here, however the economic situation seems to have kept more boats on land than normal?

The one thing you will miss is the great restaurants in San Fransisco/Berkley.


Just a few quick thoughts, I'm sure others will chime in with their thoughts...
 

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George,

I live about 5 minutes up 270 from Gaithersburg and I keep my boat in Annapolis. It's about 55 miles and it takes me from 50 minutes to 1 hr 15 minutes depending on traffic, number of cops running radar, the route I take, etc. I usually take the Beltway to Rt. 50 when going out to Annapolis, but I go "the back way" through Columbia, MD to get home to avoid the sport bike wackos on Rt. 50 in the evenings.

I wouldn't think of keeping my boat in Solomons. That's a great town and dockage is much cheaper than Annapolis, but I don't want to spend the 2 hours on the road each way.

I used to keep a boat up on the Patapsco River in Pasadena, MD. Dockage is cheaper up there and the drive was about the same as getting to Annapolis, but the scenery wasn't as good as Annapolis (unless you like to see steel mills, factories, etc.).

Other convenient options for you include the Magothy, South, West, and Rhode Rivers. I've seen lots of stickers for Herrington Harbor Marina (Deale, MD) on cars in my neck of the woods, but I personally consider that to be too far of a drive as well.

Don't even consider keeping your boat on the Potomac in the vicinity of DC.

For marinas with amenities, try Mears in Eastport (tennis courts, continental breakfasts on weekends, pools) or Chesapeake Harbour (pools, workout facilities, beach access, restaurant on site). I'm sure other folks have some worthy opinions in this regard as well.

As everyone else has said, there are endless possibilities for cruising the Bay. St. Michael's, Solomon's, Rock Hall, and Kent Narrows are all popular destinations from Annapolis, but you can drop a hook in a different place every night for the rest of your life and still not see everything.
 

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I think you will want to plan to keep the boat somewhere roughly between Deale Md and Annapolis. There are quite a few options there, most within about an hour drive of G-berg.
I am not disagreeing with JRP, but consider the holiday/weekend traffic, Deale and Annapolis are not ideally located from G Burg/Rockville...why? You would need to use the Capital Beltway/Rt 50, you don't want to do that often if possible.

From G Burg/Rockville, the Patapsco/Magothy Rivers would be much less stressful to get to IMO, as you can head east through Howard County and Anne Arundel to reach these areas and avoid the weekend beach traffic.

Look at a map, you'll see what I mean :eek:
 

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Hey, T. Would you recommend Bodkin if George has a 6' draft? I remember Bodkin being a little shallow, especially down the Back Creek Side. Detailed charts consisted of a drawing from the Sea Scouts. :)
 

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I am not disagreeing with JRP, but consider the holiday/weekend traffic, Deale and Annapolis are not ideally located from G Burg/Rockville...why? You would need to use the Capital Beltway/Rt 50, you don't want to do that often if possible.
T, George could go the back way from G'Burg. Up Rt. 27, across Brink to 650 (New Hampshire Ave) south, left on Brighton Dam Road to Ten Oaks, left on 108, Take 32 East to 97 south and then it's either Rt. 50 or Aris T. Allen Blvd from there.

All told, it's 10 miles shorter than the Beltway route but about 10 minutes longer. However, the traffic is far more consistently light that way (except in rush hour, but it still beats doing 270 and the Beltway).
 

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I'll add that if you plan to race, your focus should be on the Annapolis area unless you want to be hours away from your boat. There doesn't seem to be much racing actvity (Keel boat) around Deale or Solomon's or anywhere between Annapolis and Deltaville. Besides Annapolis, Deltaville, VA and Hampton, VA seem to be were there are active keelboat racing fleets on the Chesapeake. If you're a crusier, Solomons or Deale will suit you fine and might be a tad less expensive than Naptown but not much. Deal is right on the Bay, but Solomons is a couple of miles up the Patuxet from the Bay. Herrington Harbor in Deale will likely be among the nicest marinas you'll find anywhere and since you're used to SF prices it might even seem reasonable. There is an advantage to being on a river off the bay as they often can be a more sheltered place to sail when the Bay gets ugly.

As far as slip availablity, getting straight into your first choice marina might be something of a problem but you can almost certainly find somewhere to keep the boat while you wait. I think your timing might be good as some folks are having to give up their boats in the current economy.

Finally, as others have said, a 6' draft will limit what creeks you can enter, but much of the Bay itself is 25-35 feet and double that in places so the idea that the bay is not sailable is wholly unfounded. There are many anchorages that carry 15' or so of water close to shore so you'd have no problem there, though I assure you some channels will have you sweating a 6' draft. Still, I recently did a race from Annapolis to Hampton, VA (about 120 miles) on a boat with close to 6' draft so you'll have plenty of room to sail. Also, since the bottom of the Bay is mud, you generally don't wreck anything when you do manage to find bottom, which you inevitably will. Tow Boat US unlimited towing is a good investment. Welcome to the East Coast, I think you and your wife will quickly come to enjoy the sailing here.
 

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Pain,

Yes, agreed. I do the same when I have to go to work in Arnold :( Its just my opinion, I like to visit Naptown, and if my wallet could afford it I would keep my boat there too, I guess I just rather spend the $3000-$5000 a year I save keeping the boat North on something/one else ;) I don't mind sparrows point, I just don't look at it :) and I am not a dockside social member of a marina so I could not care much about amenities, just good sailing folks and a good marina.

There is unarguably more BS to deal with driving anywhere near Annapolis during the summer, the Bay Bridge back ups, the Severn River Bridge back ups, the speed police everywhere, the unpredictable Capital Beltway, even 97 sucks! But then once your on the boat it is pretty sweet to be near Annapolis isn't it, oh wait, I wouldn't know. ;) LOL

I should mention the big plus for Annapolis or South (Deale, Herrington Harbor) is the less boat traffic & crab pots, and usually more wind as well as the central location on the bay.

I have been sailing/boating the Chesapeake since I was a kid and haven't seen half of it!

Welcome
 

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Don't even consider keeping your boat on the Potomac in the vicinity of DC.
while there are certainly more options, etc., if you're on the Bay, if you are down near Mason Neck/Woodbridge (S. of Mt. Vernon), as our boat is, you have decent sailing just 25 mins. from our house (Arlington), vs. the 50-90 mins. to a bay marina.

yes, the bay is a better place to sail and I wish I wasn't 87 miles from the mouth of the Potomac ... but I also do a lot more sailing because my boat's a lot easier to get to whenever I want.:cool:

just another point to consider, though 6' is cutting it tight in the Occoquan R., where we are.
 

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Get a cruising guide to the bay.

Chesapeake Bay Magazine prints a good one. Also the Gunkholers Guide to the Chesapeake. They are thick and they are group efforts. I think no one person has visited every worthwhile harbor and cove. Where your 6' draft won't go, your dingy will.

And when you get a taste for the ocean side - I'll toot my own horn - I have a guide to the Delmarva coast that I sell through Alibris, and some stories about the area on my blog, below.

Welcome!
 

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We're on the Magothy and love it..

We had a slip in Deep Creek (private pier) off the Magothy for years and loved the location and community. We're now on a private pier in the Little Magothy and enjoy being 10 min closer (now only a 5 min ride, not 15 min :) )

You and your wife will love sailing here. The sailing community is active and by and large welcoming.

Try joining a Yacht club to jump start your "sailing the bay" experience! For example...

Magothy River Sailing Association

Most clubs have racing AND cruising events, so you can pick and choose how you'll participate, and it helps ease the new cruising ground jitters to follow someone else into an anchorage!

Welcome!
 

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Hi George:

You will enjoy the Bay a lot, and if you race, the Annapolis area is the right choice. The winds, however, tend to be lighter in the summer. I would recommend you keep your boat in the water year round as we do. There is great SF bay type sailing in the fall, winter and spring. (We usually pull out in July-August to get the bottom done when rates are lower.) You may also want to equip your boat with a bimini (as opposed to a dodger) to protect you from the sun in summer.

You'll thoroughy enjoy the scene here.

Moe
Apache 37
 

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Love the Chesapeake

Assuming you're gonna live somewhere near your work, The Magothy is probably your best bet. Spent 20 years there with my boat at the community marina. Problem is there are not a lot of public marinas.
I would stay out of Annapolis except to visit, too much weekend traffic both on land and on the Severn.
Currently my wife and I live in Baltimore but I would never keep a sailboat there. It takes 2 hours to get out of the river. We keep our boat in Herrington Harbour South (about 20 miles South of Annapolis, near Deale) one of the nicest marinas anywhere. It also is centrally located meaning both the mouth of the bay at Norfolk and the head of the bay at the C&D canal are within reasonable distance. I'd rather drive the hour it takes me to go the 50 miles from my hous eto the marina and then be on the bay when I get out of the marina than spend 2 hours dodging container ships in the Patapsco River.
The Chesapeake has literally thousands of miles of coastline with quite coves and small towns everywhere. Oxford, St Michaels, Gratitude, The Corotoman River, the Solomons, Tangier -- I could go on forever. It would take me two lifetimes to see them all.
As you surmised, you're gonna need light sails, 140-150 genoa, cruising spinnaker for cruising. If your race you'll need a full suit of light sails.
As a bonus we have the Chesapeake Bay Blue Crab
Hope to see you on the bay
 

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Chesapeake beauty

I wanted to comment on the OP's closing comment, as I've been there:

Comment: "My wife is dead set against the possible move and thinks that life as we know it will cease and we’ll be unhappy sailing there"

Work took us in 2001-2006 from SoCal to Maryland and our attitude was similar - "well the new job is nice, but what are we going to do in Maryland"? Fast forward to today, we live in Laguna Beach (Paradise) and are finalizing plans for our live aboard, cruising life and we are heading back to Annapolis. In our experience the Chesapeake is the best kept secret in the world and Annapolis will be our base for East Coast, Carribean cruising in 2010/2011. My wife is life long California girl (I'm from Boston) and now tells anyone who will listen that she wants to retire to the Chesapeake because of sailing, food and fantastic people. Her transformation is such that she is the driver for us to pack up and head out for the cruising life (lucky me).

As the saying goes in the Chesapeake "you can anchor in a different location every night for the rest of your life and never be in the same place twice." We plan to exercise/confirm that statement. We have our favorite places to go, but you'll figure them out. Tell your wife to give it one sailing season to see what she thinks and I guarrantee you'll both be hooked. Feel free to PM me if you have any other specific questions.
 

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In our experience the Chesapeake is the best kept secret in the world
I must be honest, and so should the others who posted here and sail here...the Chesapeake sucks!

No one should come here...ever, stay away, is there nothing to see or do, the people are nasty and we like it that way. You can't sail anywhere, the is noooooo wind whatsoever, the crabs are not nearly as good as yours from the west coast, the anchorages are few and far between. If I could move somewhere else where we could actually use our boat I would in a second. Seriously stay away, you will hate it

You guys should be ashamed of yourselves!!!
:laugher
 

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Don't listen to T! Chesapeake Bay people are awesome, especially me. In fact, when you move here I'll come over your house. You have beer, right? I love beer. LOTS of it. Make sure you have a pull-out couch that you're comfortable sleeping on. With my bad back, I'll need your bed. Here's a picture of me on my wedding day:



Also, make sure you have plenty of toilet paper for when I come over as I am fond of chili. I also like Reader's Digest, so keep a stack handy by the terlet. Oh, here's a picture of the missus when we visited Pastor Dave's house:




And here's a picture of T and Chuckles when we surprised JRP by showing up at his house, just as Mrs. JRP was putting the meatloaf on the dinner table (great timing!). She didn't make enough meatloaf, so JRP had to eat a Hot Pocket. That meatloaf was so good I had to lay down a "two flusher" in JRP's master bathroom (it has grabrails) before we headed out to the bars.



While I'm thinking of it, do you have a car? Sometimes I need to get places and I don't have one. If you leave the keys out somewheres, I won't have to knock on your door and wake you up when I need to go to my parole officer's house.

Yeah, come on out to the Chesapeake! We'll eat some orsters and crabs at my place. Stop by and pick some up on your way over.
 

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Chesapeake Bay sailing is somewhat different as others have said than SF Bay in the number of neat historic towns and destinations all within a short 1-2 days sail. I have sailed in SF and the huge winds are great.

My suggestion is 1 of three spots.( In all of these spots its a short sail to the Bay proper and you can sail the large river when its blowing to hard on the bay.

Annapolis- crowded, touristy, high energy good restaurants, lots of money (pretentious- Ego Alley), great Wed night racing, acccess to the whole Bay. Slips priced double everywhere else. Chandleries and mechianics substantially priced more than anywhere else, horrendous traffic from DC and Gaitherburg. Last week it had a 14 mile backup as someone jumped of the Severn River Bridge

Magothy- Scenic, laid back, acccess to many northern Rivers without nettles( jellyfish). (seems those in Annpolis and south rarely visit Chester, Still Pond, Rock Hall, Whortons Creek which are north of the Bay Bridge)Cheaper by $3000 than Annapolis. Few public marinas and clubs

Rock Creek/ Bodkin on the Patasco- Great wide river sailing up to Inner harbor Baltimore when its too windy on the bay. The comment about the steel mill is minimal as it has the same impact as the prison (Alcatraz) in SF Bay had on you there. and the one about dodging the container ships is amusing . When the container ships leave the Patapsco they do not just evaporate, they go down the bay 80% of the time (duh). I am also sure you never saw any container ships while sailing in SF Bay. Rock Creek and Bodkin are scenic...close to Bay sailing (we put our sails up 5 minutes away fromt he dock on Rock Creek), acessable to the C&D canal and Delaware River to get to Cape May and take trips to New England ( We are headed to Mystic Connecticut this year), cheaper and have great ammenities. Our Maryland Yacht Club has a pool, restaurant, fuel dock etc if you want that. Mechanics and winter storage are cheaper, by thousands. Also traveling here from Gaitherburg is a much much easier drive. The chances of nightmare accidents on the way to Annpolis iocreases 10 fold at least on weekends. Remember the only way to the Eastern Shore of Maryland and its beaches in the summer for most residnets is across the Bay Bridge which is located right next to Annapolis.

Any of these three choices are good ones. The sailing here is great. The destinations are scenic and historic, and you will never get to see them all. And most of all the sailing camradierie of the Chesapeake Bay sailors is super. There are a number of Sailnet memebers from here. Just think also when you are not sailing in the winter, Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York are less than a 3 hour drive away so your cultural oppertunities will be exponentially expanded.

Dave
 
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