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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Looking for advice about a sailing trip and I believe this is probable the right place. I have a 24' sloop Lapworth Trojan 1968, 6hp engine, no GPS, 4' draft. Last year was my first year sailing and I think it was a pretty successful year. My boat is docked on the Rhode river and I took it out about 70 times last year. I went from needing help pulling in and out of my slip with a motor to being able to sail into my slip single handed. In this first season of sailing I was able to navigate to Annapolis, Eastern bay, and Herring bay. These where all day trips, so I do not have much night sailing experience. A few times I have sailed at dark in the Rhode river coming in at sunset. Looking at my charts it will be approximately a 60 mile trip from the Rhode river to Smith Is. I plan on making this trip in May while I still have spring winds. Here are a few questions anything else will be great!

How long will this take (15-20knts. wind) ?
Will the currents make a big difference in travel speed?
Should I drop anchor in the Bay if we need to rest or find a river ?
Good places to eat and sleep on the Island ?
How hard is it to navigate Smith Is. channel ?
Should I go in the channel at night?
Where can I tie up ?
Do I need GPS ?
 

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Lapworth,

That's a pretty long trip for one leg in a boat your size. If you could average 4 knots, it would take you 15+ hours even if you could sail the rumb line. Consider doing it in two legs, so that you can arrive with plenty of daylight as you approach Smith Island. A good stopover might be Solomons.

Don't just anchor out in the middle of the Bay -- you need to find a sheltered anchorage to spend the night. Good luck!
 

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cruising all I can
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Stopping at Solomons Isl. is a good idea to break up the trip. I visited Smith Isl. in the Summer/Spring of 2007 with My Family aboard our 32' Centercockpit Sloop w/ a 4' Draft without problem. I chose to enter the Island on the west side during the day . The water is shallow there but not terrible if you follow the channel markers. As far as a place to dock you have 2 choices the Marina/Bed and Breakfast (great people,facility etc.) or the town dock. you could also anchor in off the eastern channel and dingy to land. The Island is small and provisioning is limited. the museum is nice and the 3 small villages are fun to bycycle through and just enjoy the scenery.
we liked it , hope you will too.
 

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Thanks for the idea of Solomons, but is 4 Knts the best I can expect ? I know on a fresh breeze with only my main sail I do 3.5 Knts.

The more I see the less I know.
You might do better, you might do worse. If you plan your departure to coincide with a nice strong nor'wester, you'd skip along nicely. But if it ends up being a beat to weather, you'll be covering more distance possibly at a slower pace -- a 3.5 VMG upwind in a boat that size isn't unthinkable.

So it could hinge on whether you are on a schedule/timeline or whether you can wait for the most favorable winds.

But 4-4.5 knots is probably a good figure for planning purposes. If you average more than that, all the better.:)
 

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Lapworth,

I typically averaged 5 knots when on the bay in my Islander 26 with winds at 8 to 10 knots and I think you should be fairly safe with that assumption. I would not drop anchor in the bay as there is lots of traffic at night. There is a book called the Gunkholers Guide to the Chesapeake they is a great addition for someone wanting to explore the bay. It has all the marinas listed with services and recommended area for shelter and anchorages. There are also some recommended trip routes.

Good luck on your adventures the bay is a fun place to explore.
 

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Thanks for the idea of Solomons, but is 4 Knts the best I can expect ? I know on a fresh breeze with only my main sail I do 3.5 Knts.

The more I see the less I know.
There are different kinds of speed when navigating a vehicle through a liquid environment. Presumeably since you mentioned not having a GPS, you are talking about your speed through the water read from a knot log.

Speed through the water is the least useful for any kind of navigation time calculation. For it to be of use, you have to also have an accurate knowldge of what the current is doing to you. Speed through the water plus or minus current will give you your speed over the ground.

Speed over the ground (as shown by a GPS) can be used to calculate how long it will take to get somewhere, so long as you can sail directly to that point. If you have to tack to get to your destination, then the distance you cover towards your destintion (Velocity made Good) is needed to determine when you'll get there.

Example:

4.5 Knots through the water
1.0 Knot current against you
3.5 Knots Speed over ground

Now if you have to tack to get to your upwind destination your VMG might be 3 knots or so. Which is what you would have to use to accurately determine how long it would take to reach your waypoint.
 

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Just my two cents...I would break up that trip even on a larger boat, most of the time. There could be exceptions, but planning on being able to make 60 miles puts a lot of pressure on your for the day. Breaking it up would make it much easier and safer, not to mention more enjoyable. You can always choose to go farther if the conditions really are perfect for it. But I'd plan on breaking it up.
 

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Just my two cents...I would break up that trip even on a larger boat, most of the time. There could be exceptions, but planning on being able to make 60 miles puts a lot of pressure on your for the day. Breaking it up would make it much easier and safer, not to mention more enjoyable. You can always choose to go farther if the conditions really are perfect for it. But I'd plan on breaking it up.
I agree unless the purpose is to get experience night sailing on longer passages. If that were the case, leaving home waters at night/wee morning hours for a daytime arrival is probably the way to go vs. leaving in daylight and arriving after dark.
 

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AEOLUS II
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I have a Garmin hand held GPS with a small color screen -$300

Without upgrading the software I get coastline and channel bouy graphics.

It really comes in handy and beats cruising for an hour up a river only to discover it's the wrong one!!
 

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Tartan 37C
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Looking at my charts it will be approximately a 60 mile trip from the Rhode river to Smith Is. I plan on making this trip in May while I still have spring winds. Here are a few questions anything else will be great!
Smith Island, the Island that time forgot....

We went to Smith this summer, still there but barely. Once the last tourist ferry leaves at 3:30 EVERYTHING is closed. Nice to walk about, but as for food or people forget it .

Saw 4-6' of water in the channel at high tide, was hard aground at the dock at low (love that Chesapeake mud). Getting into the marina was fun, was aiming at the furthest dock and by the time we were lined up, I was looking at the last slip, must have been 3-4 kts coming through the cut.

Leaving at high tide we had a following current at 4-5 kts and found ourselves crabbing through the channel. Ended HARD aground right between the marks. Was lucky to have had a ex-waterman who was visiting who they got out of bed to pull us off. Had us heeled over at 30+° pulling us the 6" back into the channel.

It was quite interesting listing to the watermen on the VHF saying, another sailboater just ran out of water in the same spot as those other ones, maybe we should put some stakes in there. Needless to say we could see 3 or 4 of them and they were just too busy pulling pots to see if they could help.

First time I sailed into Smith was in the mid 80's, there was no marina, pulled up to the town dock, was told by the locals we were one of the first larger sailboats they ever seen come in. Very sad to see that there were dozens if not hundreds of workboats leaving at o'god hundred back then and this time there was maybe a dozen. The island's population is probably 25-50% of what it was then.

As for the OP's questions:

How long will this take (15-20knts. wind) ? Depends on the direction. Agree with all from Rhode doing it in one hop is not advisable. Solomans to Smith is good.

Will the currents make a big difference in travel speed? You'll see up to 1.5kt in the bay around the Pax river, half the time it's going with you, the other half it's not.

Should I drop anchor in the Bay if we need to rest or find a river ? Take the above advice, and do NOT anchor in the bay.

Good places to eat and sleep on the Island ? Get there before 3pm and there are a few options, after that nothing at all

How hard is it to navigate Smith Is. channel ? On a 1-10, and 10 being the hardest, I'd give it a 7. The channel is cut right through the sunken island, so you have 3-6' cut right through 1' of marsh. Add to that there are some wicked currents and the channel likes to wander on it's own.

Should I go in the channel at night? Good luck! I don't think the locals go in at night....

Where can I tie up ? It's a buck per foot at the Smith Island marina, nice new docks, shower and lounge with AC.

Do I need GPS ? If you know what your doing, you don't. But for $100 or less you can get a GPS to tell you your coordinates that you can plot onto your chart.

Sailing from the Rhode, you have lot's of great 1 day sails: St Michaels, oxford, Wye River, Solomons, etc. But doing Smith as a 1 day trip ain't gonna happen. Feel free to PM me as I'm at Herrington Harbour S on the southern part of Herring bay.

Smith Island Sunset:
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks for all the advice I think everyone has me conviced its a two day trip. I do tend to try and push the limits and my crew always thinks we can make it happen to. Looks like over night trips for now.

" Greatness is not in where we stand, but in what direction we are moving. We must sail sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it-but sail we must, and not drift, nor lie at anchor. " Oliver Wendell Holmes
 

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Is there a reasonable place to anchor with 6' draft and dinghy in to visit Smith Island? I've looked over the charts and the resolution I have doesn't provide a lot of insight. I'd look at Shellenberger's book, but it's buried under a project ...
 

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Is there a reasonable place to anchor with 6' draft and dinghy in to visit Smith Island? I've looked over the charts and the resolution I have doesn't provide a lot of insight. I'd look at Shellenberger's book, but it's buried under a project ...
With 6' you might want to consider getting a slip at Summers Cove in Crisfield and taking the ferry over, in fact next time I'm thinking I'll do the same and I draw 4'2".

Here's a screenshot to give you an idea of how skinny the water is at Smith.

 

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I tried to go to Smith Island once, but after running aground in the channel (with a 3.5 ft. draft) 3 times, I turned around and had a wonderful sail back across the bay to Point Lookout. Maybe I'll check the tide tables next time.

As mentioned above, the channel markers need to be followed, as the channel is where it is, and where it isn't, there's marsh that's barely above or below water. The island is so low cars on the road look like they're traveling across water, and what looks like a straight shot into town from the bay will run you aground.
 

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Aeolus II
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Experience...

I have a 24' sloop Lapworth Trojan 1968, 6hp engine, no GPS, 4' draft.
One point in reading your post and the responses, have you done any weekends? Before you sail to Smith Island you might consider starting out with a few shorter weekend visits to some good local anchorages. I would suggest Dun Cove just north of Knapps Narrows on Harris Creek. Also consider the Little Choptank. Its a longer trip, but might make a good shakedown for your Smith Island trip. You defiantly need to learn navigating small creeks and channels as well as the open Bay.

Back to recommendations on Smith Island trip. I would defiantly plan a stop over for Solomon's Island. The stretch of Bay between West River and Patuxent River (both western shore) is a long stretch with few or no harbors of refuge.

Also, keep in mind wind direction. When you day-sail you can decide to head for Bloody Point rather than Thomas Point if the wind is more favorable, but when heading south in a strong northerly you will be tacking a long time. So, make sure you have adequate fuel supply on board because motoring might be the answer.

I remember back to when I first had my 22' boat. I planned all winter (as I suspect you are). I made it a cruise not a trip to a single place. I went to Solomons, to Smith, to Tangier Island, Then Chrisfield and to the Honga River and finally home to West River. Make sure you get a copy of Cruising the Chesapeake, A Gunkholer's Guide by William H Shellenberger. It is an expensive book at $39.95 but worth every penny.

In addition to anchoring techniques, you need to brush up on your dead reckoning. When I made my first long cruise (1977) there were NO GPSs so navigation was the only way. And The Bay is wide enough that you can be out of sight of land if there is any haze. If you are going without GPS (this is perfectly fine, sailors have done that for centuries) make sure you mark your chart with times, as you pass markers and DR Plots, etc as you sail. You might also want to add a hand bearing compass and some simple dividers to your Nav kit. It's a Big Bay but not so big you can't do it with simple instruments. A VHF is a good idea (maybe a handheld).

Also, you might like to take a dingy. It can add to your experience and be invaluable if you do run aground.

One last recommendation. Make your plans to be OFF the Bay before 4PM each day. Every bad squall I have been in came up after 4pm.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Mccary

You have me figured out pretty good. I do use a handheld VHF and have a hand bearing compass plus a good compass near the helm. The one weekend trip I made was by accident I'll try to make a long story short. Me my brother and his son Departed from the Rhode river early 11/30/07 and planned to be back the same day. We used my brothers 22' Trophy (Great fishing boat) to help me get my first and only boat a 24' Lapworth Trojan. I bought Sea Chase for $ 750.00, needed work but I think it was well worth it and plus I learn more when I fix her up. Well any way we picked up Sea Chase at noon. We could have made it to Oxford by 11:00 am ( bad navigating). Next problem was the guy who I bought the boat from held us up at least an Hour. Our third mistake was we should have started towing right away but instead me and my nephew sailed her out off the Choptank.Then at dark our DR skills wheren't very good to say the least, we hit the shoals of Herring bay. Made it to Herring Harbor North by 10:00pm in the sleet, rain with no fuel but plenty of mild hypothermia. Found a Hotel in Chesapeake Beach, it took all night to get our body temps back up to normal. Finaly made it back Dec. 1 the marina wanted to know what happened to me arriving a day late. I told them I was on "Island Time".

I would like to bring a dingy but I thought it would be difficult with a 24' Boat?

By the way I am converting my brother from a motor boat S.O.B. to a sailor. Thats one less wake to eat.

"LITTLE BOATS ROCK BETTER" Me
 
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