Delaware/Chesapeake Bays

Posted Nov. 4, 2008 at 11:05

We raised anchor at 7am and left Cape May out the inlet, around up the Delaware Bay on a forecast of W10-15 with gusts to 20kn, worried a bit about the conditions we'd encounter as the flood tide started coming in and up the Bay...  The first hour, around Cape May was indeed choppy a bit - however, Dora, the good-witch, waved her magic wand and calmed the wind down to 5-10kn then further down to 0-5kn with a nice sunshine...  We enjoyed a romantic, fast motor-sail up the Bay, averaging 9kn, sometimes hitting 10kn with the flood giving us a 2-3kn push.

The favourable current continued through the C&D canal.   We had a bit of a confusion at the entrance to the canal, because the two-red lights were flashing and the guide says that there may be a temporary closure...  So we hailed channel control and they were quite oblivious about it and seemed to imply the channel is open... we continued.  A couple of minutes later, the next boat hails channel control...  Finally, channel control asks some tug in the area to verify what the lights are doing (obviously, lowly cruisers can't be trusted to know what they're doing).  "They are red".   So channel control tries something.  "Still red".  More fumbling at channel control.  "Now they're green".  Leaves you with a warm fuzzy feeling that channel control know what they're doing.

We got through in one piece and went for the Bohemia River anchorage... However, as we were slowly entering, the depths were disappearing and somewhere around less than 6.5ft we started dredging through the soft mud bottom...  We dredged a small turning circle, out we went and anchored near the south side of the river entrance as there were no strong winds forecast.

We pulled out the barbecue to cook dinner and enjoyed the sunset.

Dora catching up on beauty-nap after a long day

Next morning we slept in, so we decided to take a short one and moved to explore the Sassafras River and anchor there. It is a very pretty river winding among tree-covered sand-dunes with houses/cottages lining both shores.  We also found out we're not the only ones looking to go south:
For half an hour or so, there was one  flock of (Dora thinks) swallows after another appearing across the shore and flying above us.  I ducked below decks to seek shelter from the purple rain (it appears the birds were on a berry diet). 

Since we're total strangers to the Chesapeake Bay, we used the extra time to get our bearings and figure out the plan for next day (which ended up being going to Annapolis Landing Marina to refuel and shower at $2/ft).

As we phoned the marina in the morning, while underway, we were informed that daylight savings' over and to call back really after 9...   A couple of hours later, the waypoints for the last part of the trip got moved and we went another 12nm further to Herrington Harbor South Marina...  Here, as BoatUS members we got 10c off the diesel (ok that's not much), but... instead of the regular $2.50 transient rate, we paid $1.25/ft plus $4 for electricity - a total of $54/night in a beautiful marina, with beautiful, clean facilities, really nice staff  (felt like we're back on Green Bay of Lake Michigan).  The shower facilites are a real treat. We're offered a courtesy ride to the nearby West Marine/grocery store, etc...

I really dread the thought of going through the ICW...  Even the guides say that boats drawing less than 6 feet  go through with no problems - most of the time.   I've started looking up people's experiences on rounding Cape Hatteras, and looking at the longer term weather windows, and maybe getting a second opinion from a professional forecaster before we head out (But, then again, I was going to bypass Chesapeake Bay as well to save time, and here we are...)  We'll see...