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Old 02-11-2019, 12:51   #1
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Navigating the Potomac?

I'm thinking of sailing up the Potomac to Washington, or as close as close as I can get. I assume there will be very little actual sailing, mostly motoring. How realistic is this for a sailboat with a 7' draft? Are there places to anchor comfortably along the way? Any obstacles or hassles that I should be aware of?
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Old 02-11-2019, 14:32   #2
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Re: Navigating the Potomac?

We went up last October. It’s a deep well marked channel all the way. Spent first night about 20 miles in on N side,Combs creek, plenty deep. Next night in Mattawoman creek,your draft probably too much to get far in but plenty of space nearer entrance.unfortunatly there’s not much left to see of the Ghost Fleet in mallows bay. Spent several nights on a mooring at Gangplank marina,$35 per day includes secure dingy landing. Excellent value and a great experience,walk everywhere. Floating fish docks interesting!
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Old 02-11-2019, 14:37   #3
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Re: Navigating the Potomac?

Made the trip last year.

tidal currents and the wind can be strong. I made 6-7 knots. Took me one day from washington dc to reedville. It would be a shame to see someone motoring this.
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Old 02-11-2019, 17:17   #4
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Re: Navigating the Potomac?

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Originally Posted by Dr. Sea View Post
I'm thinking of sailing up the Potomac to Washington, or as close as close as I can get. I assume there will be very little actual sailing, mostly motoring. How realistic is this for a sailboat with a 7' draft? Are there places to anchor comfortably along the way? Any obstacles or hassles that I should be aware of?
We did it with 6'7" draft. No problems, there is a 25 foot channel all the way, and most of the way it is pretty deep shore to shore. Just watch your charts.

There are not a lot of good all weather anchorages for a deep draft boat. We anchored in Breton Bay on the way in and out which broke it up into an easy day.

How much sailing you get to do will really (surprise!) depend on the weather. Some days you can all the way, others... well... not so much. Our trip up was done in wind so light it wasn't measurable. We sailed most of the way back down. The tidal current is strong enough that you'll need to take good mind of it is you are sailing, not so much if you motor.

If you are lucky you'll be treated to some cool explosions going past the Navel Surface Weapons Testing Center...
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Old 02-11-2019, 17:58   #5
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Re: Navigating the Potomac?

We second Gangplank Marina. People are always great. Right in the heart of DC with easy access to the best amenities. Our friends that come to visit us in DC by boat always stay there.
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Old 04-11-2019, 16:20   #6
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Re: Navigating the Potomac?

Thanks for the good info on the channel depth and width and several good stopping points. The CB Cruising Guide made the navigable channel look very narrow and unforgiving. What about bridges? I couldn't find any info on the overhead clearance. My mast height is 71'.
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Old 04-11-2019, 17:15   #7
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Re: Navigating the Potomac?

Active captain says Woodrow Wilson,the only bridge,is 75ft at edges of channel and 83 ft in center (except the hanging navigation light in dead center)Fuel is available alongside at James creek marina,at entrance of Washington channel.
Read about the ships in mallows bay,very interesting.
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Old 04-11-2019, 17:52   #8
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Re: Navigating the Potomac?

We did it a few years back with 6.5ft draft. We anchored in front of the Captitol City Yacht Club, who were very cruiser friendly. Only issue with your draft would be the limited spots to anchor on the way up if ypu don't make it in a day.
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Old 04-11-2019, 19:51   #9
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Re: Navigating the Potomac?

I forgot,there is another bridge,the Harry Nice but it’s over 100ft
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Old 05-11-2019, 02:58   #10
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Re: Navigating the Potomac?

Quote:
Originally Posted by steamgoat View Post
Active captain says Woodrow Wilson,the only bridge,is 75ft at edges of channel and 83 ft in center (except the hanging navigation light in dead center)Fuel is available alongside at James creek marina,at entrance of Washington channel.
There are also power lines around Woodbridge. They are very high.

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We did it a few years back with 6.5ft draft. We anchored in front of the Captitol City Yacht Club, who were very cruiser friendly. Only issue with your draft would be the limited spots to anchor on the way up if ypu don't make it in a day.
The overhaul of the DC waterfront included a lot of mooring balls. There is very limited anchoring now.
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