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Old 14-04-2012, 12:05   #1
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C&D ship canal to Cape May

Hi All,

I need to transit the C&D ship canal and Delaware Bay to Cape May as part of a delivery of a 40' sailboat from the Chesapeake to New York Harbor. The boat can manage about 6 1/2 to 7 knots under power.

The boat is located about an hour from the entrance to the canal, can anyone share some insights on how quickly I can make it to Cape May assuming I can pick my departure time to work with the tide.

Also, any thoughts on transiting the canal at night? I am not adverse to the idea if I thought there was going to be less commercial traffic or less traffic in general. Someone suggested avoiding Delaware Bay at night.

I am looking to optimize my time and do the delivery over a weekend. This could mean leaving Maryland at night or early in the morning on a Friday/Saturday with the hopes of clearing Cape May Saturday evening. Is this possible?

Your insight is appreciated. Thanks!

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Old 14-04-2012, 12:48   #2
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I try to hit chesapeake city near slack. Then rude out in the tide. You dint want to be upper deleware iWork an incoming tide. You won't do the whole stretch with the tide but lower bay it won't matter. Not sure where you going from cape may. If you are going non stop then push off the coast more then you would think. That stretch can receipt a short steep chop. Think 5 to 8 with short frequency. Seems able to do thus whenever it feels inclined. Good luck

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Old 15-04-2012, 03:08   #3
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Re: C&D ship canal to Cape May

The C&D Canal is well lit, so going through at night isn't an issue. If you meet ship or barge traffic, don't be tempted to crowd too close to the rip-rapped edge to get out of the way, even if your depth finder says 10-12 feet. The bottom is stepped in terrace fashion, and the locals have a habit of dumping old vehicles off the banks. You could conceivable hit one that's sitting on the "terrace".

Tidal currents can run 2 knots in the canal and upper bay and 1 knot at the mouth. Wind against tide in the Delaware Bay is nasty. Planning your transit with the tide is a smart thing to do.
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Old 15-04-2012, 03:43   #4
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Re: C&D ship canal to Cape May

I have done that trip several times, once at night. If you leave at slack you will have the tide with you about 2/3 of the way. It will take about 8 hours at 6.5 kts.

Running at night isn't that difficult. The canal is a piece of cake as it is lit up almost like daylight. The Delaware Bay bouys are all lit and you just have to keep in between. But you do have to sort out the confusing background lights. The time I did it at night I had nothing more than a handheld GPS. A chartplotter would make it very easy.

Don't worry too much about traffic during the day. You will probably be passed by a couple of big guys, but stay on the greens or even just outside going down.

If you are staying in Cape May there is a small anchorage near the CG station. But stay out of the nearby channel.

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Old 15-04-2012, 04:35   #5
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Re: C&D ship canal to Cape May

As above regarding the C&D Canal. If you are contemplating going through the Cape May Canal, make sure of your air draft. The fixed bridge at the East end of the canal will limit you to 55 ft for clearance.
Do not go where the path may lead.........
go instead where there is no path........
and leave a trail.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
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Old 15-04-2012, 05:47   #6
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Re: C&D ship canal to Cape May

The stretch of ocean (and you must go outside) between Cape May and Sandy Hook can be quite trecherous if you don't choose the right weather window, and there are few if any places to pull in if things get hairy. Pick your weekend by weather, Cape May point requires respect.
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Old 15-04-2012, 05:48   #7
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Re: C&D ship canal to Cape May

I've done that trip both ways in a 30 foot boat. From Chesapeake City to the Cape May anchorage off the Coast Guard station was about 12 hours when I caught the tide just right. (I think I left right at slack current at Chesapeake City.) And your 40 footer should run significantly faster.

If the wind runs against the tide in the Delaware Bay, the chop is truly unpleasant. But I got caught for several hours in such a situation on my southbound trip, gritted my teeth and toughed it out, and made it in to Chesapeake City an hour or two before dark.

Not the most fun of trips, but it's really not too tough, as long as you don't try to fight the tide or go when a gale is blowing. The Waterway Guide to the Chesapeake Bay has a good detailed read on how to time this trip, when to run in shallows versus the channel, etc. It's worth reading.
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Old 15-04-2012, 06:00   #8
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The rail bridge is 45 feet when down. All other bridges are 136 feet and up. The cape may canal bridge is 55 feet I think

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