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Discussion Starter #1
I was talking to a friend today,and he told me the Chesapeake isn't good for sailing.It seemed odd to me as I've been crabbing and Power Boating there for many years and see a ton of SailBoats.This is an area I hope to sail in so I thought I'd get some educated answers,plus what is a good Starter sailboat for there ?
 

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The Chesapeake is a wonderful place to sail. The wind is typically light and variable late July and August and you get late day thunder storm but there is a great sailing community and lots of places to go. I would look for a shallow draft (less than 6') boat with a lot of sail area on the light side for best performance. Many of the production cruising-racing boats fulfill these requirements.

Good luck!
Tod
 
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Spring and fall have the best winds; warm weather holds well into October and the winds are the best in the fall too!

Tod
 

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Discussion Starter #5
What was his reasoning behind the statement?
I didn't ask him,I guess I should have,I know he's a powerboater and has a boat he stays on in the northern Chesapeake,he said he loves to sail,but I don't know him to have a sailboat.I'm glad I don't believe everything I hear.
 

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I tell everyone I meet that the sailing on the Bay stinks (;)).

1500 miles of shoreline, depending on how you measure. More if you count the rivers. I think few people have seen even most of it.
 

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Farr 11.6 (Farr 38)
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I have sailed on the Chesapeake bay for the past 30 years and have sailed on much of the U.S. Atlantic coast at one time or another. While I am very partial to the Bay and think its one of the best cruising grounds that I have sailed in, it is in no way perfect. As others have noted, the winds tend towards the light side for much of the year. It can be miserably hot and humid during summer. I had a friend who worked charter boats in the Med and Caribbean and she would refer to sailing on the Chesapeake as sailing in a mudhole, the water brown and comparatively shallow. Just about the time that the winds get good, the temps drop below freezing and cruising stops (unless you have a boat with a heater). And so, if judged by those criteria, there are better places to sail.

But on the flip side, the Bay offers an amazing number of beautiful and diverse anchorages spread out over an ever changing shore line. They vary from good sized cities like Baltimore and Washington, to a slew of quaint little towns, to rural backwaters where there are almost no signs that man has been here before you. The currents here are relatively benign, the channels well marked, and the bottom usually soft. With a decent turn of speed there are often dozens of nice anchorages within a comfortable day of sailing. There are great service yards and you can sail almost year round in the worst years and all year long in the best. There is also very high caliber racing as well as scads of opportunities for casual trots around a race course.

So from my perspective as a glass is half full kind of guy, the Chesapeake is way more than half full even if much of the year its more than half full with mud colored water.

Jeff
 

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I have a buddy that lives in Annapolis and he would sum it up like Jeff H. Pros and Cons. He brought his boat to RI and commutes back and forth on weekends. In fact, there are several that do so, from the Chessy, in our marina. Southwest flies from Baltimore to Providence and he kept a car in monthly parking at PVD. A couple more do the same from Canada.
 

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I'd argue most sailing places are what you make of them.

Ask the guy if he had like a 9 foot draft or something... Probably not a good choice in the upper bay.

Like Barnegat where you have anything over 4 foot draft :)
 

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Like so many other things- It depends.

Jeff explained it pretty well.

I think it's fairly ideal as a learning-to-sail environment. It's usually benign, with manageable winds and many bail out points if you get into trouble.

There are times when I tire of the short chop that arises from the shallow depth contours, and I really wish the ecosystem hadn't been ravaged because the water would be cleaner. Most of the time though, I think the bay is great.

A lot of history and good cruising here, as well as racing.
 

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JeffH sums it up well...I would add this,

The bay is a fairly easy place to sail, not that I have sailed in many others places...the bay is a pretty great place to sail.

Mostly soft mud, which is good because if you enjoy gunkholing you can find some real treats...especially if you have a 4' draft or close, and sneaking in a place like Still Pond Creek you will likely bump the mud.

The bays health is not great, but it is getting better and the brownish color has more to do with the rivers dumping silt, especially in the Northern portion, once you get down past Annapolis the color begins to clear up as the bay opens up.

Probably some of the most challenging things about sailing the bay would be learning how to sail in light air, thunderstorms in the height of summer, and boat traffic on the weekends...oh yea and crab pots ;)

The bay offers so many differnet personalities...like mentioned if you want to visit a city you can head up to Baltimore, dock in Fells Point and Canton area, go ashore for some good restaurants and entertainment. We recently just spent the night in the Inner Harbor to see a Ravens football game...we have done the same to see an Oriloes game, both just a short walk from the harbor to the stadiums. If you prefer, visit a smaller town like Annapolis...a drinking town with a serious sailing problem. Want something quaint. ..St. Michael's, Oxford, Chestertown, Cape Charles, Have de grace, Rockhall, Cambridge, just to name a few...each with their own unique personality. Just want to find a secluded ancorage, there are so many I wouldn't even try to make a list.

Spring and Fall are best for sailing but the last year it was great even in August, winds were often present which is unusual but welcomed. If its a mild winter unlike last year you can sail right through if you pick your days well. I hope to go out for a overnight this weekend...temps in the high 40s during the day, high 30s at night. Then after that it looks like we're going to get a cold spell, which might end the season, we shall see.

Marinas, clubs, and other places to keep a boat are plentiful and for the most part, reasonably priced. I currently pay about $4300 a year at a club for a slip and membership. There are cheaper and there are more expensive. Some have beautiful grounds and offer many amenities, some are more DIY working yards...some might be just a dock.

I have grown up on the bay, my earliest childhood memory was going to see the tall ships sail up to Baltimore in 1976 to celebrate our bicentennial in Baltimore. Most of my family had or have boats, my Grandfather was Commodore at Baltimore Yacht Club where I spent many a summer learning to swim, sail, and fish. Sailed with my best friend on his families boat for many years out of Middle River. My Aunt and Uncle invited me aboard their Bristol 35.5 every summer for a week long trip on the bay. My cousin, better know as my "Uncle John" taught me to sail on the Magothy in a sunfish off Blackhole Creek. Yea...salt water, or should I say brackish water runs in our viens...:)

The bay is a pretty awesome place to have grown up, I'm 44, and I haven't seen most of the bay it seems sometimes...

So, I dont know what your friend was talking about...perhaps he was confused ;)

All said, I wouldn't advise anyone come here to sail...its awful...stay away ;)
 

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I agree with most of what's been said. The Chesapeake Bay is nice and, if convenient for you, isn't a bad choice. I think Newport, RI, and southern New England are a little better but as others have said, it really depends on how you want to sail.

Day sails out of Annapolis are quite fun. Several nice places are within a weekend to week long trip.

My draft is close to 7 feet but I was still able to find more than enough places to anchor.

For me, the downside was the short chop and fickle, mostly light, winds. But I spend most of the time in the Caribbean so I have a different comparison point.

The other thing that surprised me is the lack of what I would call cruising friendly landfalls. There are many nice places to anchor but when it came time to dinghy in for happy hour or some sightseeing, many places didn't have dinghy docks or were labeled as private. It may just be that I didn't have enough local knowledge to understand the customs but from talking with others, many people go into marinas when they want to do something on land.
 

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The absolute best sailing waters in Chesapeake Bay, from my experience, are located near the mouth of the Potomac River between Point Lookout and Smith Island, and south to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. There's always a good breeze, and while this part of the bay is pretty wide, and can get pretty choppy, there's lots of great anchorages that are totally sheltered.

Currently, my boat is moored at the head of Chesapeake Bay, and there are lots of days when there is no wind at all - not a whiff of air to sail on. The only convenience for me is that it's just a 40 minute drive through the country to my home, so I can get in lots of short day sails. Point Lookout is 3 hours drive time from home.

Over the past 6 decades, I've managed to explore a lot of the bay and it's tributaries, mostly by powerboat, and I can truthfully say that I'm confident that I have barely scratched the surface. This 10,000 square mile estuary has a lot to offer sailors that love to cruise and explore local history - more places to go than anyone could possibly imagine. Granted the water quality is deplorable, and probably will never get any better than it is right now, but that seems to be the case with all bodies of water in the world - not just the US. It's an unfortunate fact of life that we have to contend with.

So, tell that person that sailing here is as good as it gets, but if, and only if, he or she takes the time to explore the bay in it's entirety.

All the best,

Gary :cool:
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Thanks everyone for your input,I was really hoping for replies like this because I have fallen in love with the Rivers that lead to the bay as I crab a few times a week mainly on the Wye,Chester or Balls Creek,but have never really ventured into the bay as I'm a trotliner not a potter.I'm assuming the Bay is even more beautiful than the Rivers and it's very close to my Beach house in De and really not that far from my home in Nj.I look forward to getting out there once I land a boat.
 

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I can throw a rock to the Delaware bay from my house but keep my boat in Cambridge. The water in the Chesapeake seems clear compared to the muddy De bay. The sailing is way better in the Chessy and there are endless places to cruise too. I drive an hour and twenty minutes to sail but could walk to my boat if I kept it in De. if that tells you anything.
Jim
 

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The sailing sucks here. If you have to ask then you shouldnt bother

Much better up north in New England where you only get 4 months season and have the privilege of paying exorbitant marina rates or anchoring outside the prime anchorages which are full of local owned moorings which are not for you

You determine and make the best of whatever sailing area you go to. All are different and have tradeoffs.
 

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Ask how many Chessy boaters vacation in New England and compare it to how many New England boaters vacation in the Chessy.
 
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