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Old 05-04-2011, 11:49   #1
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Planning the DelMarVa

My brother and I, with possible others, are planning on doing the DelMarVa (circle the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay) on May 25 to June 3, 2011. Appreciate any advise available on this 400 mile sail. Sailing on Beneteau 423 (43 foot) and depending on wind conditions at the time, plan either clockwise or counterclockwise transit to be able run downwind on the ocean leg. Been cautioned about approaching ocean side major inlets with opposing ebb tide and shoreward wind/sea conditions. Appreciate any other cautions or advise. I have been sailing since 1960 and Bro. has USCG "6 Pack" license. Been sailing together for last ten years on Chesapeake Bay only for week at a time.

Sail will be in training for Bermuda Ocean Race (BOR) , Annapolis to Bermuda in June 2012.

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Old 05-04-2011, 12:05   #2
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Re: Planning the DelMarVa

That's a fun trip, and a good shakedown for a Bermuda passage. You're smart to choose your direction based on the weather forecast. It's about three or three and a half days if you do it non-stop, so you should be able to get a good idea of what to expect weatherwise. May-June is a good time to try it.

From my experience, try to catch the tide in the Delaware Bay, whichever way you go. It will make a huge difference in that leg. We went counter-clockwise, and entered the bay just before the tide started running in. We had 1-2 knots of fair current pushing us all the way up the bay, through the C&D Canal and down to Tolchester Beach in the Chesapeake. Great ride! Also keep a careful watch at night offshore--lots of fishing boats out there, and their lights and maneuvering can be confusing.

BTW, CF member Thinwater is very knowledgeable about sailing around the Delmarva Peninsula. Maybe he'll chime in.

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Old 05-04-2011, 18:17   #3
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Re: Planning the DelMarVa

what hud said about currents is really true in the c and d canal. you want to have the current with you (or at least not against you) when you go through. It is worth waiting if you hit it wrong. we found the large ship traffic heavier by far in the lower Chesapeake and in Del. Bay than we did when we got outside. But the whole route is pretty heavily traveled so you have to keep a good watch wherever you are.
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Old 05-04-2011, 18:22   #4
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Re: Planning the DelMarVa

All good advice. I would add that the Delaware can be a real bear if a strong wind is blowing against the current--like six-eight foot seas and green water on deck bad. There is tons of ship traffic, but there is no need to sail right in the shipping channel for most of the way. We usually stay out of the shipping channels deliberately as much as possible on both the Chesapeake and the Delaware, though at night there are less crab pots to watch out for in the channel if you are motoring. A lot of the time you can sail parallel to the channel, but safely out of it. In recent years there are many fewer crab pots to watch out for.
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Old 05-04-2011, 18:38   #5
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Re: Planning the DelMarVa

Originally Posted by Hud3 View Post
That's a fun trip....
There is more on a trip like that (though in a much smaller boat) in this thread.

It has some more stuff on currents, anchorages, bridges, etc.

Etc also including Hud's (aka, the Virginia Gentleman) account of a time he did the trip DelMarVa


The sea is always beautiful, sometimes mysterious and, on occasions, frighteningly powerful.
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Old 06-04-2011, 05:29   #6
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Re: Planning the DelMarVa

be careful paralleling the channel in the lower chesapeake. I did that and came close to bashing into a barge that was anchored with spoil from dredging. One dim light was all they had on a huge barge. It was lost in the radar clutter of the bridge/tunnel.
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Old 06-04-2011, 06:43   #7
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Re: Planning the DelMarVa

For sure, be careful sailing on the edge of the shipping channel in the lower Chesapeake. Sailing up from Florida, I came up for my watch at 3am and my mate said, "just hold this course till (whatever)". Within minutes, before I even studied the gps, I noticed I was on an intersecting course with a ship coming directly from port.
I immediately called the ship, gave my position, asked he could see me and he radioed back, "turn hard to starboard to buoy (whatever)". I thanked him.
My mate sailed us right into the middle of an intersecting channel. You have to watch for intersecting traffic.
We'd had tens of passages through that area but fatigue can sink a ship in short order.
I'll never forget it, and at night I always clip on my back up VHF radio onto my pdf if i need to make a quick call. If a ship can hear that call, it may be too close.

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