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Old 26-06-2008, 02:52   #1
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Going South on the Bay from the Susquehanna

First timer on this site. I want to bring my 23' O'Day down from the north end of the Chesapeake Bay to Cape Fear. Any advice on anchorages, sail vs. motor and time frame. I plan on taking this trip in late September. I have sailed the upper Chesapeake for the last four years as
I was stationed at Aberdeen Proving Ground. I know the Bay can be finicky. I still like the challenge.
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Old 29-06-2008, 09:27   #2
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Hi, neozonny, and welcome!

That should be a fun trip, and that's certainly a great time of year to be sailing the Chesapeake and the ICW.

Tom Dove is a great source of info -- Tom Dove Home Page

Also, Google "cruising ICW" or "ICW anchorages", and you'll get a ton of information. You can search on Cruisers Forum exclusively, by using our custom search engine -- Cruisers & Sailing Forum

Good luck!
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Old 29-06-2008, 11:10   #3
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As you plan out your trip down the Bay it 's a good idea to identify as many possible locations. As you head to southern end you will find the places you can stop are farther apart. You might be on one side or the other and you want to leave the options open. Should the wind pipe up over 20 knots the waves can become high and frequent with the mouth of the Potomac another spot to watch for since if it blows any place it's usually there. A stiff fetch against a rising tide can make waves stand up 10 ft tall and about 70 feet apart and no place close to hide.

Late September is a good time of the year and anchoring weather gets quite comfortable. You need to start watching for dominate NW winds. They can be a good run but they can also be quite dangerous. Weather windows tend to last and you may see a nice one or a bad one. It's generally nice through mid October before it can turn ugly for periods of time.

A Chesapeake Bay Guide is most helpful. There are several for the ICW that would be worthwhile as well. I would try to take as long as possible coming down the Bay in September. Both eastern shore and western shore have a lot to see and in the off time of the year anchorages never full.

One you leave Portsmouth, VA you can expect infrequent sailing with mostly motoring.
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Old 30-06-2008, 05:46   #4
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Thanks for the info. I only have a couple of weeks to accomplish this. (R&R) I am in the Army in Afghanistan. I have moved the family down from Maryland (Aberdeen Proving Ground) to NC. I need to bring the boat down and trailer it to my uncle's house in Shallotte. He lives about a mile from a ramp on the ICW. I know this is not a cruising boat. I have spent several long weekends at anchor over in Fairley Creek, across from the Bush River, just off the Bay. I should be OK. Now I have to talk the wife into coming along. She definately goes along on the weekends, but this is a whole new ballgame.

Is Tangier Island the best anchorage or should I stay close to the mainland?
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Old 30-06-2008, 06:16   #5
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neozonny,

I used to sail an ODay 222 on the Bay out of Tabbs Creek in Virginia. You should be fine in your 23 footer, unless a strong front with gusty winds comes through. That's why you need to listen to what Paul is saying. Be aware of all the safe anchorages along your route so you can duck in if things get dicey. If you get caught in a blow, you may only be able to run off before the wind, so look for shelter on the Eastern Shore side.

Besides your charts, be sure to buy a good, recent cruising guide to the Bay--it will give you all the info you need, including sketch charts of entrances to the cozy little anchorages that you'll be able to access with your boat.

Watch out at the mouth of the Potomac, as Paul suggests. Likely the roughest area of the Bay when conditions are bad.

Tangier is an interesting stop, if you have time. Be aware that the inflowing tidal currents are a bit stronger on the eastern side of the Bay. The creeks over there are twisty with many shoals, and the low marshes don't give a lot of lee shelter if it's blowing hard.

If you stay to the western side, some anchorages in Virginia are Mill Creek (off the Great Wicomico), Indian Creek (small marina with fuel and water 3 miles in, 1 mile walk to Kilmarnock for provisions/restaurants, or hitch a ride), Jackson Creek (south of Stingray Point), Horn Harbor (north of New Point Comfort-ssulivan got in there with his catamaran), Salt Ponds (Hampton area), then Portsmouth/Norfolk.
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Old 30-06-2008, 06:20   #6
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Two weeks is not a lot of time. You may want to study the ICW charts and figure miles. The legs down to and from Annapolis needs to put you some place to jump off from. That becomes the key for the whole trip. Getting somep place so you can make a good leg that day and the next. Planning more than a few days at a time is hard to do and be right. We have done Rock Hall to Solomons Island but that is a 60 nm leg and you need a lot of speed to make that distance. Tangier could be a stop. The current at mid tide can be a little strong but there isn't much for anchorages just the marina. If you were doing the tourist thing it would be nice but it seems you really need to be moving fast as you can during the first part of the trip. From Solomons Tangier becomes too close for a full day.

You might want to get to Solomon's Island for a stop then from there the weather will dictate. Getting beyond the Potomac is the next leg and that could be Reedville, VA. If the weather forced you to the eastern shore you could make Crisfield as that is just over 40 nm. A zig zag course might be best if the wind switched. Crisfield back across to Fleets Bay or the Piankatank sets you up well for the next day. Getting into the Mobjack put you near us and is a reasonable jump to get down to Portsmouth. You may want to be in Portsmouth for the night then make the first lock opening at the Dismal Swamp (they don't open on demand). The Dismal Swamp may be reopened as in a normal year it stays open to late October. It cuts off some distance so it's worth the effort to use that route. It's on fire right now so it's hard to say what will happen by fall. Water levels also may be an issue too. You need to check that just before you leave to get an idea. In Norfolk / Portsmouth there is only one anchorage at Hospital Point. Hampton Creek in downtown Hampton is another good hole but making a lock opening from there in the morning is too far.

Youll need to map out as many places as practical and based on your ability to make distance go with what makes sense. I think you have to call this on the fly since time is important and ability to make miles is very important on the down the Bay legs. A weather day here or there and you could come up short. If you got the right weather you might do an overnight passage and make a long day pay off down the Bay as you can't do that on the ICW. Once you get to Portsmouth it's just winding through the ditch so mototing speed is going to dictate how far and how fast.

It could still be a fun trip.
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