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Old 16-01-2021, 11:29   #1
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Where to keep the boat? Mid-Atlantic

This is the year that we will be buying a boat. However, we are conflicted on where will be the best place for us to keep it. We are located in Philadelphia (You can literally put a dot in the center of the city and go out from there to find a marina.

The closest and easiest place for us to get to is the Delaware River. We would be able to get to the boat every weekend and on holidays without issues. We have a marina selected already should we choose to keep the boat here and the marina is protected and many boats do not haul out over the winter. My Chief concerns with keep the boat in the Delaware are that it has heavy commercial traffic, the waters are not very clean and usually have debris that could damage the boat and also make swimming less safe. Pollution also makes it less ideal for swimming and fishing out of the river. But for community and racing on the river -- there is plenty to be had. So being close and the ability to be with other boaters are the advantages.

Then we could consider keeping the boat "down the shore" on the coast of New Jersey. The advantages there are that we would have open ocean and coastal sailing available at will. We would also have the beaches and beach towns to visit while we are down there and we can use the boat as a residence on weekends. Anchorages wouldn't be hard to come by. https://marinas.com/browse/anchorage/US/NJ/ Downside is that we would need to haul out every winter and also less protection from hurricane season.

Our last thought is to keep the boat in the Chesapeake Bay area. This is about 1:45-2:00 hours away form where we currently live. The bay, of course, is the center of US sailboating and we would have many qualified individuals available to work on the boat. The waters are safer and cleaner than that of the Delaware. It offers ample protection from storms. There are plenty of places to drop anchor. There are many beaches that we can visit with the girls and the dog.

I also think it is important to share they WHY we are doing this. We are multiple years into our plan to take sabbaticals from work and spend a few years with out girls (who are now 7 1/2 and 5 1/5 years old). I am currently considering going two routes. Buying a boat for the next 4 -5 years to keep on the Delaware and sail as much as possible. Our cash budget for the boat is about $35k as we would sell the boat and need to buy something bigger once we decide to take our work sabbaticals and cast off. We would probably get 25%-50% more usage out of our boat because of simple proximity to its location just 2.5 miles away from our home in the city. If we were to keep a boat on the coast of New Jersey or in the Chesapeake we would be able to buy a larger boat because of the marinas that are available. (the Delaware doesn't really have much as far as marinas are concerned when they get about 35 ft). We are certainly comfortable buying a more expensive boat and keeping it for the next 10+ years so that we do not have to go through the hassle of buying a small boat down only to sell it a few years later to get something that will work for cruising with the family. Our budget here would be in the $60k range as a down payment plus whatever is needed to upgrade and maintain the vessel. We could go higher -- but we do not necessarily want to do that. So that would put our budget for a larger boat in the $250,000 range so that monthly payments are comfortable. (we do have the budget to have others do labor on the boat when needed as well) Another limiting factor is that I only get 3 weeks of vacation a year plus your traditional holidays. Decembers are probably the busiest time of year.

Anyways, we are looking for advice on what you have done and what you may do in our situation to maximize our time on the water, but also make that time as enjoyable as possible. We want to be able to swim, fish, and get to beaches.

If there is any further information that I can provide just let me know.

PS: Our sailing experience is exclusively on the Delaware river and sailing J-Boats in the 21-27 foot range. Clearly we do not own a boat at this time and use what the local yacht clubs have to offer.

PPS: I also recognize the privledge that we have in being able to even think about doing something like this as a family. We are truly blessed.
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Old 16-01-2021, 12:33   #2
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Re: Where to keep the boat? Mid-Atlantic

Having transited the Delaware bay several times I saw little to nothing recommending it as a fun place to base a boat. For a little more drive time base it in the upper Chesapeake. Much better sailing - cleaner water, lots of interesting anchorages and places to go.

I have no knowledge of New Jersey - I've always stayed well offshore from Cape May to R.I.
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Old 16-01-2021, 14:52   #3
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Re: Where to keep the boat? Mid-Atlantic

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Originally Posted by dougweibel View Post
Having transited the Delaware bay several times I saw little to nothing recommending it as a fun place to base a boat.
Yeah, it is all about racing on the Delaware river.

Do you know of, or can you recommend, any marinas in the upper Chesapeake?
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Old 16-01-2021, 15:02   #4
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Re: Where to keep the boat? Mid-Atlantic

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Do you know of, or can you recommend, any marinas in the upper Chesapeake?
There are many. I'd use ActiveCaptain to see which might fit your bill. Perhaps one of the several on the Bohemia river - I think I'd rather sail out of there than Havre De Grace or the North East river. I've anchored out a fair amount in the upper bay but the only marina I've used was an overnight to meet friends for dinner at the Summit North marina which is actually on the C&D canal. It is well protected but not the best location IMO.
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Old 16-01-2021, 16:29   #5
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Re: Where to keep the boat? Mid-Atlantic

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Originally Posted by dougweibel View Post
There are many. I'd use ActiveCaptain to see which might fit your bill. Perhaps one of the several on the Bohemia river - I think I'd rather sail out of there than Havre De Grace or the North East river. I've anchored out a fair amount in the upper bay but the only marina I've used was an overnight to meet friends for dinner at the Summit North marina which is actually on the C&D canal. It is well protected but not the best location IMO.
That is very helpful, thank you. I was thinking Havre De Grace off of the bat because of the proximity. Bohemia River is about the same drive time. I used to have some clients in that region. Not too much there...I guess you just sail to the small towns.
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Old 16-01-2021, 18:54   #6
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Re: Where to keep the boat? Mid-Atlantic

Lots of not great choices. We lived in the Rittenhouse Square area for decades.

Our choice was Delaware City Marina. T worked for us because our last few years before retiring we lived on the boat every other week.

The smaller the boat the more options you have. And all of the options have compromises, if you are interested in the Chesapeake then you can drive a lot faster than you can sail and you want to get as far down as you can gut for the drive. Others are better for that than me.

In the C&D you have Chesapeake City with a marina and now maybe one across the canal, been a while.

Then Summit North about mid canal.

Delaware City Marina on the Delaware on the old canal. The town itself has a bit to offer with the historic fort, and some civic happenings and Crabby Dicks restaurants with outside water view dining.

Greenwich, NJ has a couple of marinas and haul out facilities. It is worth a trip to reconnoiter the area and its a small but historic old town.

Did not like the marinas just South of the airport. Noisy, decrepit (when ai saw them) and exposed.

Going North you have Riverside and maybe Burlington.

Of course with a smaller boat smaller marinas become viable like Delanco on the Rancocas Creek.

We spent several hears in Delaware City, always in the water. Of course we have a steel hull, but others did not and survived. Not without consternation. The vast majority haul their boat for winter. Those that dont get bubblers. Bubblers dont do much when the up river ice jam breaks, but i never saw anyone with ice or debris damage. OTOH some boats were damaged on the upper Chesapeake by debris coming down from Cononwingo when the let the damn spill.

More than once I stood at Penns Landing and watched guys sailing while making negative forward motion due to the current.

They closed the West Marine in Philly many hears ago due to excessive “shrinkage.”

All depends upon what you want to do and how big a boat you want to do it in.

I would recommend checking out Delaware City and Greenwich.
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Old 16-01-2021, 21:15   #7
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Re: Where to keep the boat? Mid-Atlantic

Havre de Grace is pleasant, but has a long narrow channel out to the bay. We prefer the Bohemia but then you are limited to shoal draft. I’ll give a shout out to Bohemia Bay Yacht Harbor where we are based.
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Old 17-01-2021, 05:29   #8
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Re: Where to keep the boat? Mid-Atlantic

We found Delaware Bay boring. And not much to visit in between the Canal and the ocean. We've read it can be especially uncomfortable in wind-against-tide situations, not unexpected, but haven't experienced that ourselves.

We've stayed at Lewes and Cape May; nice places... but then boat rides are pretty much instantly in the ocean... or not gonna happen, if weather isn't cooperating.

Many folks from PA and DE keep their boats in Rock Hall, MD.... lots of good marinas to choose from, and sailing can be good from there... but there are options further north (Georgetown, H d'G, etc.). ActiveCaptain and the Waterway Guide can help pinpoint marina options...

There are lots of great destinations in the upper Chesapeake.

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Old 17-01-2021, 09:48   #9
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Re: Where to keep the boat? Mid-Atlantic

I would recommend choosing your favorite place to dock your boat and then buy a house close to it. I live about 10 minutes away from my boat which is on a morring in Atlantic Highlands. I am able to go sailing numerous days each week without spending much time getting to the boat.
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Old 17-01-2021, 09:50   #10
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Re: Where to keep the boat? Mid-Atlantic

I wouldn't consider the Atlantic coast of New Jersey, its damned rough and 4 indifferent harbours. Plus the worlds biggest collection of carelessly driven sportsfishermen
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Old 17-01-2021, 10:24   #11
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Re: Where to keep the boat? Mid-Atlantic

This is a no brainer. Go to the Upper Chesapeake. Havre De Grace, Bohemia River, Rock hall, Worton Creek, etc. Many choices. I live minutes from some Delaware Bay marinas and I keep mine on the upper Chesapeake. I don't believe anyone ever published a Delaware bay cruising guide. I can testify that it is worth the drive.
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Old 17-01-2021, 10:33   #12
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Re: Where to keep the boat? Mid-Atlantic

There's a reason the Chesapeake Bay area is so popular with sailors. You have a long season with hundreds of places to sail to either as day sails or overnight. The fact that you would buy a larger boat would provide you with better conditions for your family to enjoy the experience. If the kids don't enjoy it then your time aboard will be limited and not very happy. I would recommend marinas on the eastern shore of the bay starting with Rock Hall and the going south. That will give you the best sailing and support areas. The Delaware Bay really has no great destinations and anchorages and the Jersey shore is very limited in where you can go and also subject to off shore storm swells. JMHO
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Old 17-01-2021, 10:38   #13
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Re: Where to keep the boat? Mid-Atlantic

Nice quality of a boat is that its portable. Start by keeping the boat as close to where you live/work as possible, keeping the commute to the boat brief. If you find that that is not a fulfilling scenario, try one of your other options. At some point you may conclude that your time spent traveling back and forth to the boat is such that youd be as well off keeping the boat way down south (aka the Florida keys) where the sailing waters are real nice and you can easily fly Philly to Miami. Lots of options
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Old 17-01-2021, 10:54   #14
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Re: Where to keep the boat? Mid-Atlantic

Rock Hall MD appeared to be a popular location for people from Philadelphia. When ever we would stop there as a transient there appeared to be alot of boats with PA homeports and the people we meet were from the Philly area.
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Old 17-01-2021, 11:06   #15
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Re: Where to keep the boat? Mid-Atlantic

Take a look at Spring Cove Marina, Rock Hall -- which is in-need of slipholders. The facility has large acreage, big trees, nice-in-summer SW exposure, swimming pool, and a sweet and kind great-grandmother owner/operator who also lives on-site.
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