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Old 04-08-2019, 18:32   #1
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Chesapeake Bay safe harbor...

Hi everyone. I have lived in Hampton Roads for most of my life. I was here for Hurricane Isabel and the others back in the 90ís and we never evacuated even when the governor said that we should. However, we never owned a boat of any real value then. My question, for those of you who have done this for a while is this: If a real hurricane was coming toward Hampton Roads/the mid-Atlantic, how far up the bay and or up one of the various rivers should I take my boat? I am retired and with a day or two of advance knowledge could get to most anywhere on or around the bay. I am not really starting a dialogue on how fast is my boat etc. I am really interested in knowing what experienced sailors would do with their boat. Would you tie it up well in Portsmouth or Hampton and pray or is there safety to be had by moving up the bay, and/or inland and if so, is there common bay knowledge that you should basically get to Marina X or Latitude Y?
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Old 05-08-2019, 03:57   #2
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Re: Chesapeake Bay safe harbor...

In a hurricane you want as small fetch as possible, as few boats around that can drag into you as possible, and for the storm center to go over land as far as possible.

I personally, if I had the choice, I would not stay in Hampton roads, if a strong hurricane was forecast. I would head at least halfway up the bay, and head up one of the creaks/rivers For a decent anchorage. There are a whole bunch of decent options.
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Old 05-08-2019, 06:27   #3
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Re: Chesapeake Bay safe harbor...

Many insurers will cover up to 50% of the cost of hauling out in advance of a named storm. If their numbers didn't show hauling out was the best way to protect your boat, they wouldn't pay for it. The key is getting on a marina's hurricane haulout list now and not waiting until a day or two before the storm hits to arrange a haulout.
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Old 05-08-2019, 07:26   #4
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Re: Chesapeake Bay safe harbor...

I personally think this guy is very good. i learned a lot from his articles. https://www.yachtsurvey.com/finding_refuge.htm
Study it, understand it and you will find refuge in Chesapeake. I think key is waiting to know the exact path, then planing for it. Models are getting very good at predicting the path. Use it to your advantage. If you choose wisely, you only need to plan for 90 deg in wind shift.
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Old 05-08-2019, 08:10   #5
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Re: Chesapeake Bay safe harbor...

Gotta watch the storm surge way up in the creeks sometimes. As they narrow down, it can get intense.
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Old 05-08-2019, 08:40   #6
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Re: Chesapeake Bay safe harbor...

St Mary's City. Miles river. Shaw Bay. Wye River.
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Old 05-08-2019, 08:54   #7
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Re: Chesapeake Bay safe harbor...

Quote:
Originally Posted by 4arch View Post
Many insurers will cover up to 50% of the cost of hauling out in advance of a named storm. If their numbers didn't show hauling out was the best way to protect your boat, they wouldn't pay for it. The key is getting on a marina's hurricane haulout list now and not waiting until a day or two before the storm hits to arrange a haulout.

While this is basically true, I researched it and many yards will want $1000-$1500 yearly just to put you on their list and the insurance company will not pay half of that. I did not find any that did not charge at least $500 to be on their list. This also means that you plan on sitting in one place the whole hurricane season just to make sure you are not too far away from your haulout point should a hurricane come your way. If you're in transit somewhere you had better have a better plan than that.



To address the OPs issue specifically, when Florence was threatening the east coast last year we went to the Sassafras river. It is well protected and narrow and windy so there is no long fetch from any direction. It also has a relatively small watershed area. Don't underestimate the effects of rainfall on a large watershed in a hurricane. One thing we didn't count on was the effect of water management plans of the various local governments on navigability of the bay. While there was no problem in the Sassafras, the dam managers on the Susquehanna decided to release large amounts of water ahead of the storm in anticipation of large amounts of rain. They obviously had not done this for some time as the increased water flow in the river washed huge amounts of wood debris off of the banks and made the northern Chesapeake almost un-navigable for a couple of weeks. You certainly would not have wanted to try it in the dark. There were tree size logs all over the place.
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Old 05-08-2019, 10:43   #8
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Re: Chesapeake Bay safe harbor...

Thank you all for your feedback. We are looking at a Cat so there is no easy haul out marina here in Hampton Roads other than Ocean Yacht in Portsmouth and the mega yachts get preferential treatment there. It appears that the consensus is to head further up the bay as opposed to inland vis a vis the James River toward Richmond. Furthermore, feedback appears to favor anchoring in one of these inlets versus finding a marina along the northern neck or so. Do I understand this correctly or am I reading more into what is being said? I realize that future storms are going to be stronger etc and I feel that Hampton Roads is pretty exposed overall.
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Old 05-08-2019, 11:12   #9
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Re: Chesapeake Bay safe harbor...

There are lots of hidey holes in the Chesapeake up rivers and creeks that would provide a protected anchorage with minimal fetch, wooded banks to block wind, and soft bottoms if you do go aground. One key is to stay away from other anchored boats - a dragging boat can hole/sink your boat! If you find a good spot, you will likely be very isolated, meaning that if you stay on the boat and end up in extremis there's no one around to help. We've been through several hurricanes. We always make sure the insurance is paid up, spider web the boat in the slip, double up with good, new lines and lots of chafe gear and get off the boat.
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Old 05-08-2019, 11:17   #10
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Re: Chesapeake Bay safe harbor...

Going up river isn't a good strategy. Think about Isabell where the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay wind field pushed a huge amount of water into the bay. It had to go somewhere and it went up the rivers until the water overflowed the banks as the river narrowed. Downtown Annapolis was flooded and many boats that were hauled floated off their stands as most Bay marinas do not have tie downs
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Old 05-08-2019, 11:19   #11
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Re: Chesapeake Bay safe harbor...

The Cape Charles Yacht Center can haul cats up to 26' wide
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Old 05-08-2019, 11:23   #12
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Re: Chesapeake Bay safe harbor...

What about going through the lock and into the Great Dismal Swamp Canal ?
Zero Fetch and Zero Surge.
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Old 05-08-2019, 11:28   #13
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Re: Chesapeake Bay safe harbor...

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Originally Posted by Jebtrois View Post
Thank you all for your feedback. We are looking at a Cat so there is no easy haul out marina here in Hampton Roads other than Ocean Yacht in Portsmouth and the mega yachts get preferential treatment there. It appears that the consensus is to head further up the bay as opposed to inland vis a vis the James River toward Richmond. Furthermore, feedback appears to favor anchoring in one of these inlets versus finding a marina along the northern neck or so. Do I understand this correctly or am I reading more into what is being said? I realize that future storms are going to be stronger etc and I feel that Hampton Roads is pretty exposed overall.
I think Cobb's can haul out most any boat but they are usually full a week or so in advance of a possible approaching hurricane

https://cobbsmarina.com/
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Old 05-08-2019, 11:51   #14
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Re: Chesapeake Bay safe harbor...

Hauling would be my first recommendation. But if you were determined to ride it out, I would go up the James River north of Jordan Point. There are a number of cutoffs and hurricane holes in that area. Less than 1 day trip for most boats.
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Old 05-08-2019, 12:10   #15
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Re: Chesapeake Bay safe harbor...

The region is plentiful for locations.
Further up the Bay will protect one from the wind of a direct hit- it generally becomes manageable below 50 knots after landfall.
Find a cove or lee that protects from the directions expected, particularly in reference to which side of the Bay it travels.
On the surge effect- if the eye passes east of the bay the ssurge will be maybe but blow out more likely.
If the eye passes west of the Bay then wind created surge becomes real.
Isabel specifically pushed the water to the head of the Bay where the 11 foot rise happened.
As far as the Susquehanna Dam, anticipate it will always dump water expeditiously because it has little holding power remaining because of silting.

Up any of the western shore rivers will work.
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