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Old 16-07-2019, 16:20   #1
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Newby On The Chesapeake - Goin South

It looks like we will be buying a Beneteau 473 in Rock Hall, MD toward the end of the month. Plan is to spend a week or so there getting familiar with the boat and then sail to the Norfolk area. We will likely stay there for a couple of weeks so the daughter can see DC and then its south to Brunswick, GA.

I've sailed all my life and my last boat was a Stevens 47 but it has been 5 years since I sailed a big boat and I have zero experience on the Chesapeake. So any advice or strategy help is appreciated.

How long should the trip from Rock Hall to Norfolk take? Any tips on routing or good (cheap) places to stop on the way? Some of the marina's I have looked at online want over $150 a night for a slip, not from me! Decent anchorages?(though the heat may make that miserable) Cool things to do? Marina suggestions near Norfolk or the mouth of the bay area?

My initial preference going south would be outside around cape hatteras but the boat is ICW friendly so maybe that would be less taxing on the crew. We would need to make it in 2 weeks or so max.

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Old 16-07-2019, 16:31   #2
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Location: VA Beach/Norfolk, VA
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Re: Newby On The Chesapeake - Goin South

Dock rates will become lower as you head South.

Onancock, VA is $2.00/ft or you can anchor for free within 100 yards of the dinghy dock

Cape Charles is also $2.00/ft

Onancock and Cape Charles are Eastern Shore side

You can also anchor at Kiptopeke and when you get all the way down in Willoughby Bay

Up MobJack Bay are also many areas to anchor on the Severn river etc. Check active captain for more details

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Old 16-07-2019, 18:00   #3
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Re: Newby On The Chesapeake - Goin South

Get a mooringin Annapolis for$ 25 on a weekday. Stop in Solomon’s island. After that the bay gets wider. Beware of fish traps especially at night. If you hear seagulls, tack to deep water immediately! They hang out on the fish trap sticks. The whole trip is about 125 miles. AIS is a big help. Tugs stay out of the channel, so you need to keep a good lookout. Watch for late afternoon thunderstorms.
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Old 16-07-2019, 18:16   #4
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Re: Newby On The Chesapeake - Goin South

For the Norfolk, Va. area you can either anchor in Willoughby Bay and dinghy into the two marinas on the east side (watch your depth departing the Elizabeth River into the Bay's southern channel). Rebel Marina in Willoughby Bay is my go-to. $2/ft, showers, laundry, courtesy car. Great folks all 'round. However, that area is a ways away from shopping and entertainment. Willoughby Bay is my homeport, BTW.

Downtown Norfolk, about 9-miles from the Ches. Bay (Also mile marker "0" for the ICW), has Waterside Marina (rates unknown) but you are right there in downtown with the Battleship Museum, Harborside Mall at the foot of the docks, and transfer service is provided to Harris Teeter for provisions. An alternative to that is to anchor on the other side of the Elizabeth River at Hospital Point (Portsmouth side, off the Naval Hospital). Decent holding there in 6-15 feet. Boat and barge wakes, be aware. You can then dinghy around the corner to the public dock there and take the ferry across to Norfolk. Portsmouth does have a lot to offer as well.

Hope that helps and enjoy! :-)
Cruising highly skilled Marine Electrician. Will work for beer, smokes and slip fees...and other important boat stuff
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Old 17-07-2019, 05:45   #5
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Re: Newby On The Chesapeake - Goin South

We usually do this trip by going from Rock Hall to somewhere like the the South River (Selby) or Galesville then to Solomonís (anchor in Mill Creek)
Then to the Reedville area (Ingraham Bay - we like to go up Mill Creek there as well but there are many other places). From there to Fishing Bay or Mobjack. Then to Norfolk or Cape Charles if you want to stop early.
You can go faster or slower but this puts us in by happy hour every night.
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Old 17-07-2019, 06:15   #6
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Re: Newby On The Chesapeake - Goin South

If daughter wants to see DC, go up the Potomac and use a city center mooring,you can walk everywhere. We did it last Oct.enjoyed it.
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Old 17-07-2019, 06:23   #7
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Re: Newby On The Chesapeake - Goin South

Congratulations on your purchase!

I have a 473. Let me know if I can help with any questions about the boat.
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Old 17-07-2019, 06:45   #8
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Re: Newby On The Chesapeake - Goin South

Could take a day and half..or..a life time and never see all of ‘The Bay’ of the largest estuaries and coast lines of the US..

Let me destination in Brunswick..BLM.. be careful of over zealous Ga. DNR agents after HB 201 takes effect the first of next year...


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St.Mary’s, Ga.
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Old 17-07-2019, 07:16   #9
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Re: Newby On The Chesapeake - Goin South

I bought a new to me 1991 Sabre 34T in Annapolis and sailed it to Wilmington last year. We went through Norfolk via ICW.

You milage may vary, but I spend alot more then one week getting the boat ready. Perhaps a newer boat will take less time that I invested in the prep, but I am sure glad I did. I am far from an expert, but it took me multiple trips to Annapolis to get the boat ready. From servicing engine, to fixing minor things, to simply getting comfortable with a new to me vessel.

Sailing in Chesapeake was great, we did daylight only sailing and made it to Hampton Roads in 3 days. This was motor sailing to get the most mileage. I was on a tight schedule. I am guessing it would be an extra day from where you are at.

Plenty of nice Marinas on the way that were very reasonable. During the week the bay was empty, one day it felt like we were the only boat out there.

Good luck in your journey.
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Old 17-07-2019, 08:48   #10
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Re: Newby On The Chesapeake - Goin South

There are dozens of very pleasant anchorages along the way. I highly recommend investing in a cruising guide. Some of the river entrances are pretty twisty, but a recent guide should help you through. We have spent weeks anchored without air conditioning, and never found it a problem. A 12v fan will keep you comfortable.

Don't forget the eastern shore, there are lots of nice places to stop there.
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Old 17-07-2019, 09:04   #11
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Re: Newby On The Chesapeake - Goin South

Annapolis is by far a closer and more convenient place to get to DC than from Norfolk. You actually might want to go there to finish "fitting out" before heading south. BTW, don't be surprised if you have to motor all the way to Norfolk. August on "The Bay" are notoriously hot, humid and windless (SW if a breeze shows up). JMHO
PS: If you're going to BLM I hope you already have a contract as they were full for hurricane season the last time I checked.
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Old 17-07-2019, 14:15   #12
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Re: Newby On The Chesapeake - Goin South

If you want to stop in Solomon’s and it is too hot for anchoring, Calvert Marina is $1.00/ft. Plus $5.00 for one 30 amp. Elect. Other marinas have nice amenities and are on the same side of the creek as the strip and over twice as expensive, but you can dinghy across for the difference. We make it in three days from Annapolis to Norfolk (Little Creek or Hampton).
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Old 17-07-2019, 15:12   #13
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Re: Newby On The Chesapeake - Goin South

Downtown Hampton is a good alternative to Norfolk.
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Old 29-07-2019, 10:15   #14
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Re: Newby On The Chesapeake - Goin South

There are a ton of reachable creeks almost the whole range of the Chesapeake. It's great for anchoring out. You'll benefit from a cruising guide, or just map study, as to the approaches into the creeks. Just bear in mind, most points have extended sandbars, and sometimes the approach can be a little sideways. Sand also shifts, so check the live conditions as to current and local traffic as you are there.

Anywhere 25' or less could have crab pots, and if you see 1 float, expect it is 1 of a 100. They are usually laid out in rough lines - sometimes parallel. Try to take good advantage of the trip, it's a nice area.

If you have time, you might buy something like this as a precaution - it's a good general investment:

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