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Old 13-07-2015, 10:59   #1
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Sailing the Chesapeake Bay

I'm new to the forum and to sailing.....My wife and I just finished our ASA 101 cert. a few weeks ago at the top of the Chesapeake Bay. We've been out a few times in the last few weeks with terrible wind. My questions for all the Bay sailors is "Where is the wind?" It's been practically zero. I've heard that July is one of the worst months to sail on the Chesapeake. When will it pick up? What are the best months for sailing on the Bay?

Ray...
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Old 13-07-2015, 11:10   #2
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Re: Sailing the Chesapeake Bay

There are tons of resources for you to find out when wind happens on The Bay.

You can find weather patterns from govt sources (NOAA - National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration).

You could look it up in any of the published cruising guides for the Bay.

That's just for starters. You could also ask anyone on a dock.

Good luck, congratulations on passing your ASA.
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Old 13-07-2015, 11:25   #3
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Re: Sailing the Chesapeake Bay

There is usually always wind during the Spring and Fall Months. In Summer, you will have prevailing winds from the differences in temperature between land and sea but up there where you are may be different from other areas.

In the bay down here, it's usually SSW. (with no fronts nearby to affect it)

For example, in Pensacola, FL, the sea breeze would normally kick in some time between 11 am and 1 pm. It would be South -Southwest and move West as the day went on. This occurs every day ......... unless a front is close enough to affect it.

We came out of a small craft advisory at 1 pm yesterday so we down on this part of the bay would have had some pretty nice wind to sail in but it may have been bumpy because I believe the wind had been NE during the night which would bring in the ocean waves to mix with the bay wave.
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Old 13-07-2015, 19:54   #4
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Re: Sailing the Chesapeake Bay

Hopefully you'll get lucky and get some fresh breezes, but ya, July can be hot and still. Watch out for those thunderstorms. the last time i was there, that derecho blew through just after a romp I had running in 25-30 knots true with gusts well into thirties. That was July 1 or so and allowed me to cover serious miles under sail. I had trudged all the way up to Annapolis under power, still and hot. On the way down, wye river-Portsmouth, I was in fleece, goretex, and wool cap in July. Surfing like crazy, and learning that a crealock really does have a sweet helm. It ain't hype.

When I was sailing to Annapolis to st Michaels one day, because of really favorable winds, I was thrilled to see everyone else on the move under sail. Lots of weekenders and summer cruisers, all under sail on the bay, and then tucked away at anchor later in the evening.

Have fun-


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Old 13-07-2015, 20:02   #5
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Re: Sailing the Chesapeake Bay

Dear Ray What is "terrible wind"? I can tell you that this has been a pretty windy season since March/April/May and there were many June days with steady breezes above 10 and much at 15, gusting to 25. But yes, the three summer months can be very hot, humid and generally low wind speeds, mainly southerlies. But it is a myth that there is no wind in the Chesapeake. The Bermuda High sits in the Atlantic in the summer and that's what dominates the prevailing weather patterns, but just wait until October and November with plenty of really good days. Even as early as August you get some cold fronts coming in with strong NW winds from Canada lasting a day or two or three as harbingers of fall.
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Old 13-07-2015, 20:35   #6
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Re: Sailing the Chesapeake Bay

This past Friday was great sailing weather. On an almost 20 mile tack toward Worton Creek from North East I just moved the traveler as the wind clocked a bit more abeam.
Saturday was more typical, air blowing directly from wherever I wanted to go at any given moment. Somehow I never did think "Gee, I wish I were home mowing the lawn or doing my taxes".
Paul Annapolis tells it true - no wind for 3 months on the bay is a myth. And as Cheoah points out we've had some polar fleece days and evenings recently. Cold air over warm water makes for interesting sailing and spectacular late afternoon thunderstorms.

As for the best months to sail on the bay, I pick April to November.
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Old 14-07-2015, 04:50   #7
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Re: Sailing the Chesapeake Bay

It all goes back to what is the best way to learn sailing/boating. Take a course or get experience.

You will need both the skill and experience on the water. Get used to watching or checking the marine forecast online.

Of course down here, they many times will predict 10-15 knot winds but if you sail over to Kiptopeke you can easily have 20-30 knots coming in.

Up in your area, they should be able to predict it a bit better though.

On light wind days, we many times have a nice breeze within say 3-4 miles of the shoreline but beyond that toward the north just at or passed Thimble Shoal Channel the wind many times is zero for the next 10 miles or so.

You just have to learn your area.
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Old 14-07-2015, 06:41   #8
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Re: Sailing the Chesapeake Bay

I can remember a time years ago when many sailors here in mid-bay didnít even bother with sailing in July and August. Then something changed. The last few years, summer winds have returned. Still not as good as spring and fall, but still good.

So far this year, that hasnít been the case. Good winds have been scarce.


However, my experience is also it depends on where you are on the bay. Winds tend to be better south of the bay bridge.
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Old 14-07-2015, 09:14   #9
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Wink Re: Sailing the Chesapeake Bay

We sail on the Lake of Lucerne (in Switzerland) with winds at 3 knots, and have sailed in the Christmas winds of the Caribbean with winds of 35 knots. Get your reefs right, and just accept that sailing is always going to be a slow way to travel, and the wind just doesn't matter. We had a great time for two summers bumming around the Chesapeake. Enjoy!
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Old 14-07-2015, 10:24   #10
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Re: Sailing the Chesapeake Bay

Thanks everyone for your input. Being new to the area and sailing I'll have to learn to be more mindful of the weather forecast before going out.

Ray...
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Old 14-07-2015, 11:10   #11
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Re: Sailing the Chesapeake Bay

I never sail teh Bay in July or August: hot, humid, & hazy, with no wind. Try September and October.
-Steve, on the NW Severn in Virginia
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Old 14-07-2015, 11:17   #12
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Re: Sailing the Chesapeake Bay

Quote:
Originally Posted by 2RSqrd View Post
We've been out a few times in the last few weeks with terrible wind.
Ray...
What have you been having for breakfast?
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Old 14-07-2015, 13:09   #13
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Re: Sailing the Chesapeake Bay

July and August are the WORST sailing times on the Bay! No wind, high humdity, high heat, bugs and afternoon thunderstorms. The best time is April thru June and then Sept. thru November (and some years well into December). For July and August I' highly recommend going north to New England bypassing Long Island Sound. The Sound is the same as the Bay in July and August. JMHO
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Old 15-07-2015, 09:38   #14
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Re: Sailing the Chesapeake Bay

All true, but a bad day sailing is better than a good day at the office.


S/V B'Shert
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