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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
A buddy of mine has been pestering me for years to take my boat up the Patuxent and visit his family's country home on the waterfront. I've finally given in and am making the trek up from Deltaville this July 4 weekend. His place is about 20 miles up river. I imagine I'll have to motor most or all the way up the Patuxent, and I'll try to catch the tide to give my slow boat a little push up the river.

I'll have to pass through the 231 bridge. The coast pilot says this about the bridge:

(50)
The highway bridge over Patuxent River at Mile 18.8, from Town Point on the west side to Hallowing Point on the east side, has a 49-foot swing span with a clearance of 16 feet. (See 117.1 through 117.59 and 117.567, chapter 2, for drawbridge regulations.)
(51)
Benedict, a village just below the west end of the highway bridge, is the head of commercial navigation on Patuxent River. A marina at the south end of Benedict can provide gasoline, berths, and some supplies. Minor repairs can be made; marine railway, 32 feet.
(52)
Navigation on Patuxent River above Benedict is difficult because of the numerous fishtraps and stakes.
(53)
Overhead power cables with a clearance of 60 feet over the main channel cross Patuxent River at Mile
20.9. The supporting towers are marked by private lights.

§117.567 Patuxent River.
(657) The draw of S231 bridge, mile 18.5 at Benedict, shall open on signal; except that, from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m., the draw shall open on signal if notice is given to the Toll Captain at the Administration Building at the east end of the bridge before 6 p.m.

Anyone have local knowledge of the bridge, whether there are any holiday restrictions, etc. Or any other advice about transiting the Patuxent? I don't think it's a big sailing destination beyond Solomons, and I've never been up it in a boat. My air draft is about 45 feet, water draft 2 feet.

Thanks, Scott
Gemini Catamaran Split Decision
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
Thanks John, I've been up past Point Patience. Another buddy's dad lives in the retirement home just past and to starboard of the point. I've been able to tie up to the complex's dock a few times, but I think they'll be off elsewhere celebrating the 4th this time.

I'll definitely try to make St. Leonard's creek and avoid the current under the bridge if possible. I don't care for anchoring in Solomons. It's pretty crowded and the holding isn't so great.

MMR, I'll be sure to post a trip report! If anyone has any contact information about the bridge, I'd really appreciate it. I can't imagine that it opens often and I don't want to make a surprise visit.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks Snipp. I'll give them a call. This looks to be my big sailing adventure for the summer. I pulled out the spinnaker this evening to take a look at it. I've never flown a spinnaker, but one came with the boat. It's red, white and blue, and I thought it would be fun to try to fly it in celebration of the 4th.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
Just back after the week long trip from Deltaville, up the Patuxent and back. The weather was awesome, and I did lots of sailing. Winds were pretty steady 10-15 everyday, and at no point was I hot, becalmed, drenched by a thunderstorm, or overwhelmed by insects.

On the leg up, I overnighted in Reedville and the Honga River. Reedville stinks if you are downwind of the fish plant. It smells like cat food. The Honga river doesn't seem like a popular spot to visit, but I've now been there three times this year. It just seems like the wind is always blowing me there, and I prefer to sail rather than motor hugging the Western Shore to my ultimate destination (as it seems many others do).

I saw dolphins in the Rappahanock, Reedville and Fleets bay. On the way up there were stingrays everywhere. At first I didn't know what they were. They just looked like brown blobs in the water. But then a few passed close by the boat. It was pretty cool watching them swimming, their wing tips breaching the surface.

I was able to motor sail most of the way up and down the Patuxent. The river was nice enough, with plenty of power boaters, but only a handful of sailboats. The river is shallow, but I think it would be a great place for a small daysailer. There are few markers upriver of Solomons. I ignored them and never touched bottom.

I arrived up river at the Benedict bridge around 5pm Sunday afternoon. Despite having phoned the bridge earlier in the week, and being assured that the bridge opens 6am-6pm everyday, without holiday restrictions, the bridge did not open. There was no response by vhf, and the phone just rang and rang. Guess they quit early on Sunday evenings. I probably should have phoned earlier to let them know my arrival time, but I wasn't sure I'd make it by 6pm.

But anyway, the bridge opened the next morning. I waited until after rush hour to pass through, but on the way back down the river, I had to pass during rush hour in order to catch the tide. My apologies to all the people I made 15 minutes late to work. I can be a selfish ahole sometimes.

There are powerlines at the power plant north of the bridge. The posted height is 60 feet, but I had some pucker factor passing under them. One set of lines didn't look very high, and I think it's a very rare sailboat that travels north of Benedict.

Because of time constraints, I only had one day to stay at my buddy's place, but we had a great time, and his family's place is beautiful. I had only been there once before about ten years ago. The river below the power plant is nice enough, but we took his brand new center console stinkpot out and motored further up the river to Jug bay. The river narrows and is much more picturesque than the wide and developed lower river. He let me take the helm, and I had a blast bombing along at 25 mph.

The trip back took me two long ass days of sailing. Skipped Reedville this time. The stingrays had all disappeared. I don't know where they went that fast. I tried raising the spinnaker at one point. It would have been the perfect point of sail all day, but there was too much wind for me to raise it single handed for the first time, and I gave up. I need to try it in lighter winds, and perhaps with the admiral aboard to woman the helm.

I don't know that I would recommend the Patuxent to a fellow cruiser. It might be fun to head past Solomons if the winds and current are favorable. But it is a haul all the way up the river. I wouldn't do it, if I didn't have a reason. That said, I might try to make this trip an annual event.

Scott
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Wayne,

No need to try to change my opinion of the Pax. I had a great time on it. I was just trying to be cautious in my assessment of it. The charts show limited depths outside a small channel. I don't want to encourage anyone to go up it, having only been up it once. Running aground is no big deal for me, but I'm a former monohull guy, and know what a PITA it can be to run aground in one.

It was a little bit of a disappointment not to see more sailboats past Solomons. There was a newbie in a recent thread who took his new to him daysailer into the bay and had some problems. If the depths are good for your boat, seems like the PAX would have been a better place to take his boat.

Thanks for your recommendations for other places to check out. I'll try to visit the places on the lower bay this summer, and hopefully the places on the PAX on a repeat trip next summer!

Scott
Gemini Catamaran Split Decision
 
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