Originally Posted by Captn_Black
All the best mate! Chesapeake is a nice place to start sailing, but brush up on your COLREGs, the shipping
is pretty heavy. Though there are lots of little bays and creeks to drop the hook in if you want to explore.
Hmm. Understanding the Inland Rules (Chesapeake Bay is inside the COLREGS demarkation line) is always important. Shipping is not particularly heavy. From bottom to top there are about nine places that require attention. Six are traffic related.
At the bottom of the Bay the confluence of channels heading to Hampton Roads
(Thimble Shoal Channel), York River (York Spit Channel), and Baltimore
(Chesapeake Channel) mean staying alert and keeping your head
on a swivel. Traffic isn't necessarily channel but could be anywhere. Dual watch on VHF
16 and 13 helps with situational awareness.
Next up is the Rapahannock Shoal Channel. This is a narrow dredged channel that runs from southeast to northwest and concentrates shipping. Crossing over can be interesting. Because it runs at an angle and is very narrow it's easy to get tunnel vision avoiding the greens and run headlong into a red. Cross perpendicular to the channel.
The TSS at Smith Point again concentrates traffic. You can avoid it by staying well East or just honoring the TSS - stay in your lane on the outboard
All through the lower Bay tugs and tows run in unmarked moderately deep channels called tugboat alley East and West. They don't want to compete with the big boys either. They can be headed nearly anywhere. Lots of sand and gravel and some coal heading up rivers and even creeks.
Up near Pax River NAS is a set of large yellow metal radar
targets used for practice runs by Navy
pilots. Don't hit them. They're on the chart as an obstruction.
Up near Herring Bay there are fish
traps that extend further into the Bay than the charts
indicate. Don't hit them either. They aren't properly marked. You won't hurt anything but it's embarrassing and people yell at you.
If you are heading into Annapolis
, 1AH at Tolly Point is much further into the Bay than you think as you head
up. Do not go inside 1AH as there is no water
The anchorage for Baltimore
is just below the Chesapeake Bay
Bridge. From there to mouth of the Patapsco River the channels get complex and the water
outside them more shallow. Again, not a lot of traffic but when there is you just need to stay out of their way.
North of that the water gets very shallow outside the marked channel and the tugs and tows concentrate as they funnel into the C&D canal
. Again, stay on 16 and 13 and you'll know what is going on.
In between are some of the most wondrous cruising grounds on the planet.