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Old 15-07-2022, 17:08   #1
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Help me understand Chesapeake Bay Chop

Coming up on two years now sailing the Chesapeake Bay and I can't still not figure out the waves conditions in the bay. Just got back home for 4 days out sailing the bay (I sail maily between Annapollis up to the Proving Grounds). Yesterdays trip back to marina is exactly the scenerio that is perplexing me.

Setout from Middle River heading around Hart Miller and turned south, with 5 knots of wind and basicly <1 foot waves. Slow sailing but very plesant. Winds picked up but never saw greater then 12 knots of wind, mostly stayed under 10 knots true, and for most of the trip wave conditions were similar <1foot. However there was about an hour where it just turned to complete chop (no change in wind conditions). 3-4 foot steep waves with like 3-4 second periods (I saw several small fishing boat struggling to get back in during this period). Then as quickly as it happen, it went back to the <1 foot waves and beautiful sail with basicly the same wind conditions.

What am I missing? Just trying to get were I can feel semi confident of the conditions I am going to experience and keep getting surprised.
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Old 15-07-2022, 17:56   #2
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Re: Help me understand Chesapeake Bay Chop

I would guess you entered an area where the wind and the current were opposed, and then sailed through and left it. It is surprising how much rougher even a little wind vs current conditions can be.
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Old 15-07-2022, 20:15   #3
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Re: Help me understand Chesapeake Bay Chop

As contrail mentioned, wind opposed to current is a most common cause. Otherwise, you could be experiencing waves from something like a squall, which would have had much higher winds than you observed, that came and went ahead of you. Or, a significant change in water depth over some distance could change wave characteristics.
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Old 08-09-2022, 11:26   #4
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Re: Help me understand Chesapeake Bay Chop

I sail on the south side of the bridge, and the bay waves are often driven by tides and wind. Sometimes the wave front as tide comes up the bay looks like a wake. When coming out the tides interact with flows from rivers and smaller bays. The tides coming out of eastern bay and main @ bloody Point can be like a washing machine.
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Old 08-09-2022, 11:45   #5
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Re: Help me understand Chesapeake Bay Chop

Quote:
Originally Posted by dan104 View Post
I sail on the south side of the bridge, and the bay waves are often driven by tides and wind. Sometimes the wave front as tide comes up the bay looks like a wake. When coming out the tides interact with flows from rivers and smaller bays. The tides coming out of eastern bay and main @ bloody Point can be like a washing machine.
Was just down in Saint Michaels for the Labor day weeked (went around Blood point not thru the narrows), had a great trip. So was in this exact area. Came back north Sunday morning, and washing maching is right. Had gentle 8 knots winds out of south with incoming current of only 0.3 knots. I planned the return trip to have wind and current aligned. Was expecting pretty flat conditions. Still a washing machine and at times was very uncomfortable ride once we rounded the point. From Bloody Point up north to the bridge was rough. Calmed down once we got past the bridge. I kinda figured a lot of it was interactions between the smaller rivers and bays entering the main bay, and the huge amount of boat traffic for the holiday weekend. Had 3 foot chop from all directions at about 1-2 seconds south of the bridge and as soon as I got north of bridge settle right down to less then 1 foot wind driven waves from the south

Still struggling to predict good conditions on the bay, but slowing getting better at it.
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Old 08-09-2022, 12:57   #6
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Re: Help me understand Chesapeake Bay Chop

Think of it as part of the fun of the Bay, not as easy as lake sailing, but lots more fun!
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Old 08-09-2022, 13:31   #7
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Re: Help me understand Chesapeake Bay Chop

This was wind against tide low bay.

Near the shipping channels where the depths change rapidly waves were near 8'.

Largest I have seen in the bay on a relatively nice day.

I got surprised after I sailed out of a protected anchorage and cleared all land blocking the Northerly winds.

Dodger frame got broken by a breaking wave and I was holding on to a winch so was not to get pushed overboard. Bow lights also failed due to bow being under water so much.

Video is after about 3 hours into the crossing from Kiptopeke to Little Creek after thing had laid down a bit and I could hold the camera and steer at the same time.

I only have one reef so had the wrong sail up and too much of it. I was about to furl in the jib. ( one week later though the furling line came loose so I was lucky on this day)

Also rigging is maybe 20 years old and was a concern.

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