There are 3 ways out of the Chesapeake Bay
- North through the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal and out the Delaware Bay: This is pretty accessible from anywhere in the Maryland
portion of the bay. I took this route
once in less than 24 hours from Rock Hall, MD to the ocean, sailing continuously except for stopping a few hours to get a favorable tide in the canal. The Delaware Bay has a reputation for being kind of rough, but when I was there it wasn't any worse than it was out in the ocean.
A common trip in this area is to leave the northern Chesapeake through the canal, then sail south to the mouth of the Chesapeake and back to your point of origin.
- South through the mouth of the bay: Just sail down the bay and on out. I've done that from Annapolis
in 6 or 7 days (plus stopping here and there), anchoring
overnight every night and not pushing hard during the day. I think you can do it in a couple days sailing 24 hours/day. There are lots of good anchorages
in the bay. When you get to the region of Norfolk, keep your VHF
on and listen for the navy
escorts - they have mobile exclusion zones around their ships.
- South through the ICW
: Same as out the mouth of the bay, but go into the ICW
at Norfolk. Take the ICW to Morehead City
, NC and out into the ocean. From Norfolk to Morehead City
took us about 7 days of actual sailing, anchoring
or staying in a marina each night. (There is no way I would try to travel the ICW at night, but the guys with "local knowledge" do it all the time.) My actual time is longer because I get tired of driving through the canal every day and end up staying over a few extra days here and there. Morehead City has an excellent inlet, so heading out from there is no problem.
f you think you might do this, I suggest you first get a set of ICW charts
and reference books
to see what you would need to do. I found there are places where we must stay in a marina (because there is no place to anchor
within reasonable travel time for that day) and places where we must anchor
in a less-than-desirable spot (because the marina is too shallow to get into).
The year before last, we went outside from Morehead City to Charleston SC (~2.5 days) where we met a crew that had done the same thing and were jumping off to the Bahamas
from there. They said theycould have gone directly from Morehead City, but they had some work they wanted to do on the boat first. Charleston has an excellent inlet.