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Old 28-06-2015, 07:36   #1
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Chesapeake Bay in July

We have chartered a Yacht in The Bay (Deltaville) next month. I have been looking at the weather forecasts, and there are thunderstorms nearly every day. Most of my sailing has been around England, and I have never sailed in this kind of weather. What special precautions should I take against lightning strike, violent squalls? Are these storms at a special time of day? Any advice welcome.
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Old 28-06-2015, 07:46   #2
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Re: Chesapeake Bay in July

There's often a THREAT of scattered thunderstorms, usually afternoon. Think 4 o'clock plus or minus. Not usually a problem; they often don't happen. Forecasting, augmented by radar and/or real-time smartphone apps (for example), helps mitigate.

Visibility is usually good enough so you can see weather approaching, and NOAA's VHF weather alarms are useful. Just keep likely bolt holes in mind, head there and tie up or anchor if necessary.

-Chris
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Old 28-06-2015, 09:27   #3
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Re: Chesapeake Bay in July

Afternoon thunder storms are generally of short duration, although they can pack strong winds they don't last long enough to kick up much wave height. If you get caught out reduce sail or drop/roll in all sail and wait it out. Usually less than 30 minutes.


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Old 28-06-2015, 09:39   #4
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Re: Chesapeake Bay in July

I keep my boat in Deltaville. As noted, the storms are usually heat convection and thus later afternoon. The national Weather Service will broadcast warnings over the VHF and you should WX Channel 02 frequently. They can easily be seen and dodged if you have a radar. If underway, drop sails and try not to get caught in a channel or any place where maneuvering is critical. At anchor, let out more scope. The winds can pick up to 30 kts fast (and rarely higher) but they pass through in 20 minutes or so.

I do hope your charter has air conditioning. You'll probably need it, and the system probably will not have a genset, so you'll need a marina. Plenty of them.

Go over to Onancock (Eastern Shore). 5 hours sailing. If you get there early, you can take center spot in the anchorage and let out all the scope you want. Or, if you need power for your air conditioner, take a bulkhead position at the town marina. Quick dinghy ride to the town dock; eat at Mallards. If you tie up at the marina, you are already at Mallards. You'll like the town and the restaurant.
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Old 28-06-2015, 10:04   #5
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Re: Chesapeake Bay in July

Use a smart phone or tablet with the Nexrad radar app--it tracks individual storm cells and forecasts their direction, velocity, and ferocity. It can tell you within a quarter of a mile and less than 5 minutes when the storms will arrive, and the best way to maneuver to avoid them.

If you are going to get hit, put your portable electronics in the oven or microwave, and get the sails down, especially if you are in a catamaran. The cloudtop height on Nexrad will give you an idea of whether there will be wind blasts in the storm, but its an inexact science-I've seen over 60 knots a few times.
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Old 28-06-2015, 11:07   #6
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Re: Chesapeake Bay in July

The thunderstorm potential is certainly real, but in no way is it a deal breaker.

You will generally see the onset of the storm - an ugly copper-colored sky. This usually will allow you anywhere from tweny minutes to as much as an hour to seek shelter. If you get caught in the middle of the lower bay, where it is quite wide, you may have to ride it out. The storms are short lived but certainly dramatic if caught unaware.

Best bet is to be settled in, either at anchor or at a dock, by 3:30pm if storms might be forecast. Wind speeds can approach full gale, and when combined with heavy rain, visibility and navigation can be a challenge. Things are easier with chartplotters, but I would still take a couple compass headings and check the depth contours prior to the arrival of the storm. And of course, batten down all the hatches.

There are a ton of great short-hop cruises in that area so you will have a huge variety of anchorges and/or marinas only a few hours sail to choose from. If time is limited, stay on the west side of the bay and pick a river or two to cruise. If you have more time, visit the eastern side of the bay - maybe Tangier Island?

Get a good guidebook. Chesapeake Bay Magazine puts out a good one, with suggested one week and two week cruises. If a history buff, you could use that as your theme. Or maybe just try to sample bay cuisine with crab cakes in Crisfield, peelers in Onancoke, etc.

Chances are you will never encounter any bad weather, just the heat and humidity. Stay hydrated and enjoy the cruise
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Old 29-06-2015, 10:21   #7
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pirate Re: Chesapeake Bay in July

You will be HOT!

Often you will find little or no wind.

There may be black flies.

Imagine - I recall all too many July days on the Bay with sails slatting idly,motoring over oily, flat calm seas, under a broiling hot sun, in high humidity while swatting at swarms of black flies. The thunderstorm is almost welcome.....and the crab cakes beckoning on the Eastern Shore seem almost a dream....

Other days are lovely - I also remember a July 4 sail out of Solomons with 15-20 knots of breeze under a bright sun and 85 degrees.
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Old 29-06-2015, 10:46   #8
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Re: Chesapeake Bay in July

Sail at night. Only madmen sail the Chesapeake in mid-summer. Actually, they don't. They drift. They suffer heat exhaustion. They suck fumes from the engine motoring back in. They sail around a HUGE number of inexperienced nut cases with high speed boats. They do a lot of things, including listening to a lot of complaints from passengers; What the definitely do not do is "sail" much at all.

Sailing at night in the dead of summer is consistent, steady, fresh winds, cool temps, beautiful stars. Because the land is hot from the day, the wind is constant and predictable through the entire night.

Sailing the Chesapeake in the day begins (if lucky) in March. Ends (during the day) by June. Starts again in late August....I've gone as long as sailing in 70F temps in January on a mild winter...

best of luck.
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Old 29-06-2015, 11:04   #9
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Re: Chesapeake Bay in July

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Originally Posted by Moody46CC View Post
Go over to Onancock (Eastern Shore). 5 hours sailing. If you get there early, you can take center spot in the anchorage and let out all the scope you want. Or, if you need power for your air conditioner, take a bulkhead position at the town marina. Quick dinghy ride to the town dock; eat at Mallards. If you tie up at the marina, you are already at Mallards. You'll like the town and the restaurant.
It's only about 8'-10' deep there at the anchoring area and is very well protected. The winds can barely get in there.

They have a dinghy dock also just to the right of the Dock Shack.

There are also four of five art places in town these day plus the same ancient movie theater we went to as kids in the 60's. They also have a bakery on Main Street before the theater

Tom

Onancock High School
Class of "74
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Old 29-06-2015, 11:32   #10
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Re: Chesapeake Bay in July

Westsail374 sums it up totally. Hot, Buggy, and no wind. Maybe too many jellyfish to get in the water. If you can reschedule that might be a good idea, fall is beautiful! As for July I would rather be in a dentist chair!
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Old 29-06-2015, 12:33   #11
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Re: Chesapeake Bay in July

All of these responses are spot on. The only thing I can add is be sure you allow enough time to get to your destination. I learned the hard way when I first cruised the Bay 50 years ago that leaving in the afternoon to get somewhere by sundown can be disasterous. We got caught in a thunderstorm to beat all thunderstorms at the mouth of the Choptank River, so they are to be reckoned with.

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Old 29-06-2015, 12:45   #12
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Re: Chesapeake Bay in July

It of negative answers here.....many many days they call for T Storms.....if %'s over 50 be careful.....most of the advise I see here looks Ok......you normally have plenty of time to react.

As to the heat and jelly fish.....|some days can be hot.....sailing only at night a little over reaction.....its hot on the bay during so day so why sit in hot anchorages during the day and sail at night?

There are hot days and cool days.....here's hoping you get your share of the latter!
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Old 29-06-2015, 15:36   #13
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Re: Chesapeake Bay in July

The 10 day forecast for Onancock is low 70's to mid to upper 80's. Not bad.

If you want to anchor, visit Onancock during the day and then go back out the creek to Parker's Marsh where you can get a breeze.

It's on the activecaptain website for Onancock Creek.

If you need a break, you could always get a Bed and Breakfast a short walk from the anchorage in Onancock Creek.

https://www.google.com/search?q=onan..._AUoAg&dpr=1.5

Then there's Tangier Island where you can dock, get a room, and enjoy some of the best seafood you've ever tasted.

https://www.google.com/search?q=onan...r+Island%2C+va
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Old 29-06-2015, 15:56   #14
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Re: Chesapeake Bay in July

Chesapeake July = hot, Hot, HOT! I don't remember a cool day july thru sept in Annapolis... :>)
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Old 29-06-2015, 16:06   #15
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Re: Chesapeake Bay in July

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Chesapeake July = hot, Hot, HOT! I don't remember a cool day july thru sept in Annapolis... :>)

That's because you were in Annapolis. The bay is very narrow up there.

You have to sail to the rural areas further south. Eastern Shore side is best for catching the SW breeze in the evening.

There aren't a lot of good anchorages but there are a few like Parker's Marsh that I mentioned. (Kiptopeke isn't bad if the wind stays SW and doesn't get above 10 knots or so. It's really good in the Fall with a Northerly wind))

Also, seems lots of folks have been using too much a/c. We didn't even have a/c until like the 1970's in most homes on the Eastern Shore but I cannot remember it being too hot unless I was on a tractor in the middle of a field cultivating.


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