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Old 20-10-2011, 11:02   #1
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Cape May to Norfolk, Outside - Any Advice ?

Hey everyone. We are waiting in Cape May NJ for a window to jump outside to Norfolk VA. We have never done th is leg before. We don't want to go up the Delaware and down the Chesapeake if we dont HAVE TO.

So the weather is ahaping p to give us some nice NW to E winds for two days to get us there, but We are curious about any conditions or things that we should look out for on this specific leg of the trip. Sure, we'll look out for the usual things, but are there any things specifically on this leg that we should be aware of and look out for?

We've also noticed Ocean City MD is about 40 miles south of Cape May, but we dont know anyone who has ever put in there as a stop on the way to Norfolk. i called TowBoat US and they sait that you can get in there with 6 feet of draft just fine to anchor or get a slip.

Is there anywhere else along the way from Cape May to Norfolk that we could pull in in a sailboat with 5.5 feet of draft and 45 foot tall mast, or is it just a one shot deal from Ocean City to Norfolk?

Ive got the charts and cruising guides, I'm just looking for personal experience and advice here.

Thanks!

K
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Old 20-10-2011, 12:18   #2
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Re: Cape May to Norfolk Outside - Any Advice ?

The navigable inlets come up in some of these threads about sailing "Round Delmarva"...

round delmarva - Google Search

I've only done that leg once, and didn't use any of the inlets. My only advice is watch out for the fishing boats and nets, especially at night.
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Old 20-10-2011, 13:32   #3
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Re: Cape May to Norfolk Outside - Any Advice ?

I have to admit to never passing that route outside. Why not the Chesapeake via the C&D? Other than the canal, it is all sail-able in your boat, plenty good places to stop, and about a zillion sights to see
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Old 21-10-2011, 13:54   #4
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Re: Cape May to Norfolk, Outside - Any Advice ?

Well, to be honest, we just dont feel like sailing the extra 100 miles or 50% longer journey to go north on the Delaware and then south in the Chesapeake. We also want to gain more ocean experience so that we can get more comfortable and do longer passages We are up to 36 hour passages now, so a 48 is the next logical step: two nights at sea. I don't know if that's the best way for us to do it, but taking bite sized pieces seems to work for us right now. For example, taking a 5 day passage seems too much for us right now, but getting comfortable with 36 hour jumps is manageable.
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Old 21-10-2011, 14:25   #5
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Re: Cape May to Norfolk, Outside - Any Advice ?

Chincoteague is not too bad...and about halfway...always call for escort if bad and you need to get in or follow a commercial guy..

There are other inlets that aren't too bad like Great Machipongo...again you may want to hail someone to see if you can follow them in.

Last sailboat I took south offshore was a 42 Catalina..with total crew of 3...we left after a cold front passage from 15 miles north of Cape May and made Norfolk in 24 hours...Coinjock in 36. We Motorsailed to keep the speed up but sailed wind alone for the better part of the first 8 hours when it was honking 25-30 from the northwest.
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Old 21-10-2011, 14:44   #6
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Re: Cape May to Norfolk, Outside - Any Advice ?

Many times. Nothing special, except staying several miles out--shoals extend out far a few places near the southern end.

OC isn't much fun in strong on shore conditions, but it is easy other wise. Do be aware of the semi-submerged jetty to the south. The amusement pier makes it very easy to spot (just south of the ferris wheel).

Chincoteague is good during the day even in a swell and not suggested in poor visibility or after sunset (the markers are well spaced and hard to see in the dark). The only dockage with be the Chincoteague Inn (just west of the old swing bridge) and the town dock (between the bridges), both on the south side. There is no fuel in town, unless you walk across the street to the service station (very close to the town dock). The slips in the town dock can be a bugger to get into if the tide is running (it always is) so tie up along side instead, close to the slips.

Both will manage your draft easily.

These 2 posts have some info:
Sail Delmarva: Trip Report - 2010 Delmarva Circumnavigation
Sail Delmarva: Trip Report - 2009 Delmarva Circumnavigation.

Enjoy the trip!
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Old 21-10-2011, 14:48   #7
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Re: Cape May to Norfolk, Outside - Any Advice ?

Also passing south of Chincoteague is Wallops missle range...in coast pilots for more info...may want to check to see if hot that day.....
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Old 21-10-2011, 14:54   #8
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Re: Cape May to Norfolk, Outside - Any Advice ?

+1 on staying a few miles out of the shoals. When we left Cape May we got into wind against tide a few miles out of Delaware and that didn't make for a nice start of the trip. Though it subsided quite quickly. Norfolk channel is tiring after 24 hours in the ocean - lots of ships in a narrow channel, so coffee or hot chocolate is suggested
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Old 21-10-2011, 15:17   #9
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Re: Cape May to Norfolk, Outside - Any Advice ?

If you are planning an almost 180 mile trip offshore and through major shipping channels...well yes...then expect waves and shipping..

I have made the run power and sail numerous times and EVERY time it has been uneventful AND fun if you use even the SLIGHTEST amount of common sense/seamanship.

The weather windows do get smaller and smaller as you get past mid-october...so don't delay too long as the ride will be challenging more and more as you wait.
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Old 21-10-2011, 15:29   #10
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Re: Cape May to Norfolk, Outside - Any Advice ?

Ocean City no problem with your draft. We went into one of the marinas (I think it was Sunset, but I can't remember) last year with 6' draft, no concerns over tides. Funny, though, it was a big marina, nonetheless, we were the ONLY sailboat, when we needed ice delivered they referred to our location as "the" sailboat...
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Old 21-10-2011, 15:33   #11
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Re: Cape May to Norfolk, Outside - Any Advice ?

Second the stay offshore. We did the trip in a Pearson 30 with 5 feet and found 15 feet of water 3 miles off. Run from sea bouy to sea bouy and you should be OK.

We put in at Ocean City and had no difficulty unless you call going aground on the shallow spot just inside the channel.

The only other place we went in was Watchapreague. Big mistake. Shallow and curvy all the way into town. Local knowledge for sure. I'm not certain your 5 1/2 would go. There seems to be a decent anchorage just inside the channel entrance on the south side. The channel itself is a little scary, long and straight with the north edge very close in. It a bit unnerving to see wading birds next to the boat. It's a long passage from Watchapreague to Cape Charles at the entrance to the Chesapeake.

That's what I know. If I did it again, unless time is a constraint, I'd do the Chesapeake.

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Old 21-10-2011, 17:46   #12
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Re: Cape May to Norfolk, Outside - Any Advice ?

I have done that run once and up and down the Chesapeake lots of times. WAY less ship traffic on the outside once you get away from the approaches to Delaware Bay until you get to the approaches to Chesapeake Bay. Nice to do the latter in the daytime if you can. Its well marked but often has a lot of traffic headed for the same spot you are.
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Old 21-10-2011, 19:56   #13
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Re: Cape May to Norfolk, Outside - Any Advice ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dick Pluta View Post
The only other place we went in was Watchapreague. Big mistake. Shallow and curvy all the way into town. Local knowledge for sure. I'm not certain your 5 1/2 would go. There seems to be a decent anchorage just inside the channel entrance on the south side. The channel itself is a little scary, long and straight with the north edge very close in. It a bit unnerving to see wading birds next to the boat.
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Yes, the anchorage just inside is fine (south in horseshoe lead--the holding is bad to the north). Making it in to town would require high tide and there is little there anyway, and I like small fishing towns. But I skip Wachapreague proper (did go in once with a catamaran).

The channel just through the inlet is straight as an arrow and fairly wide. The only catch is that the entrance bar at the outer end of the entrance is ~ 7 feet and can break in a swell. The current runs about 3 knots at peak flow. Other than that, it is a very simple entrance, easier than OC.
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Old 22-10-2011, 02:01   #14
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Re: Cape May to Norfolk, Outside - Any Advice ?

Excellent replies. Thank you all for the information about the inlets and the recommendation to stay out as far as the sea bouys. We are up. it's 4am and we should be hauling anchor to leave cape may soon. Next check in from Norfolk on sunday afternoon I hope.
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Old 06-05-2013, 21:39   #15
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Re: Cape May to Norfolk, Outside - Any Advice ?

Just a late note.

Two of us ran from Sandy Hook down the coast to Cape May with a morning stopover in Ocean City to refuel in a 47' sailiboat. It was Labor Day weekend and every amateur possible had rented a fishing skiff in OC making for difficult maneuvering in a strong current. We draw 6' and had no issues. It was the 2nd time in OC as we had entered there on an earlier trip from Norfolk to CT for alternator repairs. We too were the only sailboat at Sunset and had to make all our own repairs and arrangements as "they only work on powerboats, no sailboats". The marina specializes in sport fish tournaments.

As others have mentioned be aware of shoals far off land. With the current and any wind expect a very lumpy passage...I would expect it to be a very rough passage in big winds as it is so shallow far off land.

Lots of fishing activity off Chincoteague requires full time radar and visual watch at night. The fishing fleet zig-zags all over the place without a concern for your course so be prepared to alter course significantly.
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