Saturday, July 4, 2009

Circumnavigating the Delmarva Peninsula — A Guide for the Shoal Draft Sailor

The full text of this guide is available by clicking the "buy it now" button on the right side-bar. A book summary link is posted just below the button.

Significant Corrections and Additions, 1st Half 2009
All links checked 1-1-2009
Ship John Shoal Light, Mid-Delaware Bay
Narrative Insertions
Calvert Cliffs State Park. The beach is identifiable by the presence of bathers and fossil hunters—since all other nearby beaches are government or private property—a low treeless marsh in the background, and small white signs posted at each end of the beach (you may be able to spot with binoculars) reminding visitors to stay on the main beach and not wander under the cliffs.


On-line Navigation References.

A fellow sailor has converted NOAA charts to JPG files. Small boat sailors have loaded these into their IPODs as wells laptops.

Delaware Bay and Coast

Chesapeake City Entrance
The entrance to the basin at Chesapeake City has shoaled at the center to less than 4 feet. The East and West sides have 6 feet of water at low tide.

Lewes, DE Facilities
Llyods’s IGA Grocery store
611 Savannah Rd, Lewes, DE
0.3 miles south of the rt. 9 bridge, just off rt. 9.

The Inside Passage – Summary.

Chincoteague to Wachapreague. Shallow and winding, with a 40-foot fixed bridge at Wallops Island. Some small powerboats use the inside passage, but nearly all sailboats report going outside. Those that went inside reported repeated groundings. Read de Gast and Schildler (Appendix III) for firsthand descriptions. The Chincoteague or Wachapreague Coast Guard Stations are good sources for recent information. The ocean punched right into the Inside Passage at Gargathy Inlet during a 2006 winter storm, nearly destroying the passage, but the Coast Guard takes a 40-foot launch down the passage weekly and reports that natural tidal action is restoring the channel (Spring 2008). I have not run this stretch as I cannot clear the bridge to Wallops Island.
Wachapreague to Great Machapingo Inlet. No bridges. Shallow and winding, with 4-foot minimum draft. North bound boats not stopping in Watchapreague will find Millstone creek and Horse Shoe Lead easier to navigate. The area between G”NC” and G180 is quite shallow and subject to changes. There is a discontinuity in the numbering system across Great Machapingo Inlet and significant shoaling. It is most straightforward to continue southeast to within 1/2 mile of the inlet to R8, close to its mouth, before continuing southwest. Stay to the south in this area, since the shoal in the center of the inlet seems to have migrated south and east. Do not short-cut from G11 to G193. Do not pass this area or the Little Sloop channel below ½ tide. Stay very close to the markers, specifically G155.
Great Machapingo Inlet to Oyster. No bridges. Shallow and winding, with 4-foot minimum draft.
Thin water from R206 to G215. The Rams Horn Channel is deep enough, but watch the markers closely between G225 and G217; it is easy to get them out of order. Slow down to get good agreement between the chart and the markers. Spot the next marker before each turn.
Oyster to Fishermans Inlet. Shallow and winding, with 4-foot minimum draft. 40-foot bridge at Fishermans Inlet. The Sand Shoal Channel is broad and deep… though we did have 2 fisherman ask us if we were lost. Not too many sailboats in these parts. There is a nice fair weather anchorage behind the southern tip of Cobb Island, but it is guarded by a 4’ bar and must be approached from the Northeast Channel.
Water thins to 3-5 feet between G262 and G265.
From G261 to G262 channel seems to be further west than indicated than marks. Deep water, but you may have to look for it.
From G255 to G249 generally 4 feet.
There has been a report of an uncharted submerged obstruction approximately 20-25 feet channelward from the Virginia Inside Passage Daybeacon 240.