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Author Topic:   Cruising around the Delmarva Peninsula in a 13
SteveC posted 01-10-2002 07:00 PM ET (US)   Profile for SteveC  
Several years ago I took a trip in my 13' Whaler from Annapolis, up to the top of the Chesapeake, through the C & D canal, over to the Delaware Bay and down about 25 miles. I pulled into a small creek, set up a tent on a small deck I had mounted in the boat and camped over night. That night a cold front came through (strong NW winds). The next day I pounded back up to the C and D Canal, through the canal, and surfed about 50 miles down the Chesapeake. Even the 13' whaler is well behaved in a following sea.

The question is: Does anyone have experience in cruising in these boats?

My plan is to go all the way around the delmarva peninsula, covering both the Chesapeake and Delaware bay's and a distance along the Atlantic Coast. I think there are canals and bays along the ocean coast for the whole distance between the bays, but I have had the boat out in the ocean and it didn't sink. Any thoughts on what to take, whare to camp, etc.

triblet posted 01-10-2002 08:25 PM ET (US)     Profile for triblet  Send Email to triblet     
Pick your dates, and be flexible. There are
some decent sea condition forecasts from
the US Navy taht go out six days. Don't be
shy about finding a good pub and holing up
for a day or two.


JBCornwell posted 01-10-2002 09:11 PM ET (US)     Profile for JBCornwell  Send Email to JBCornwell     
Ahoy, SteveC.

Sounds like high adventure to me. Be sure to keep a log, record your thoughts and experiences, take lots of pictures and write a book about it.

The world is full of young boaters (8 to 80) who would be thrilled to share your adventure. I would be in line to buy your book before you get back.

Red sky at night. . .
JB :)

witness posted 01-11-2002 12:09 AM ET (US)     Profile for witness  Send Email to witness     
Sounds like a fun trip! From the DE bay you could take the Canal that connects to the Rehoboth Bay, then into the Indian River. But at this point you would have to exit the Indian River Inlet and take the ocean run to the Ocean City inlet. From here you could take inter-coastal water to Chincoteague, but then I believe you have to pop back out into the ocean until you get down toward Wachapreague, at which time you could hope back on the west side of a few barrier islands (this section from Chinco to Wacha I'm not certain about, but its gotta be pretty desolate).
If you decide to do it, I'd be willing to stay in ear shot while you ventured along Delaware's coast and into OC. I run our 25' outrage there from spring to late fall. I have plenty of very good weather sites that could be a real asset when trying to plan in advance, complete with wave high predictions etc... (maybe you could even follow me out for tuna :), we did see some nut out last august in a zodiac. supposedly he was out there for more than a day.)
Anyway, it seems to me that you just have to be flexible and go when the weather predictions say to. If you could get a few buddy boats to check in with at different legs it might be best. But it does sound like a great adventure and one I wouldn't mind doing myself one day.
bigz posted 01-11-2002 07:34 AM ET (US)     Profile for bigz    
Steve, I believe in a 13 you could from Rehoboth Bay navigate inside all the way to Cape Charles. Lots of ins and outs though, so if you had time limitations you'd have to take them into consideration.

On the Delaware Bay you could again in the 13 more or less hug the Delaware coast. Commerical shipping and big tugs out in the bay would be one of your biggest hazzards. Also, in the C&D if you hit it wrong with a major ship passing through be prepared can shove you right up on the rocks.

You'd need a good depth sounder, of course charts and a real plus would be a fix mount GPS over a handheld.

There was a 13 if I recall that did the entire ICW a number of years ago, also 2 fellows in a Montauk from Norfolk to Miami.

Sounds like a fun adventure, wish you the best if you give it a go. Tom

Clark Roberts posted 01-11-2002 09:05 AM ET (US)     Profile for Clark Roberts  Send Email to Clark Roberts     
for cruising in a 13, Big Z gives really good advice! Sounder, gps, charts! Do some "arm chair cruising" before you wet the bottom! Here's my 2 cents> be very "weather wise" and check the national scene looking for that front on the way or developing and remember that the NOAH forecasts are sometimes outdated! Like an old Whaler brochure states..."someday the weather gods will turn against you and the only thing between you and safe haven is your Whaler".. I think I got that almost right, anyway it has happened to me and it's true. As to cruising a 13 I have had some particularly memorable trips. One (in a 1984 13 Sport with 40 Mariner) was from Marco Island (Goodland) Fla. 20 miles accross the Gulf of Mex. and picking up the Everglades Wilderness Trail at Everglades City. Then south through everglades to Flamingo State Park (100 miles) for overnight in motel then return next day. The gulf was choppy but slow planning speeds and the two 13's(Another 13 with 48 Johnson was along) did a fine job... Now, once in the winding everglades the 13's were in their element! Not a better boat to run this course! In my experience, the fun factor goes up as the boat size goes down! Get local advice, watch the weather (and charts, gps, sounder.. etc and another boat for company is good also) and go for it! Clark... Spruce Creek Navy
witness posted 01-11-2002 09:56 AM ET (US)     Profile for witness  Send Email to witness     
I know for a fact that you can not go from the Rehoboth Bay to Ocean City without taking the ocean route (about a 25 mile ocean run), even in a jet ski. There is at least one major sand bar (maybe more) and I also believe one bridge that would prohibit this in the Assawoman Canal. As far as going from Chincoteague to Cape Charles, I'm not sure, but I'll get back on that one...
cjd posted 01-11-2002 10:05 AM ET (US)     Profile for cjd  Send Email to cjd     
Actually, I have kayaked from rehobeth bay to the assawoman, and a 13 whaler could make it. There is a new bridge at 26, and while you might want to wear your old shoes, you could make the transit. That said, the run from indian river to OC inlet by ocean should not be a problem, and if it is, I might reconsider the expedition. BTW, I used to live on the branywine river in DE, and I always imagine a kayak run from there to my folks place in South Bethany. would take some time, but would be a fun bunch of days. BTW Wintess, We spoke concerning a stripped doem Montauk in Chevy Chase. I didn't but the boat, but am still looking. Know of any steals on an 18 outrage (mid 80's)?
witness posted 01-11-2002 10:23 AM ET (US)     Profile for witness  Send Email to witness     
I am suprised you say that. People I know of took their jet ski through in July and had to walk it over a few spots (i.e., around the Salt Pond for one) and it was not an extreme tide like we get in spring and fall. But like you said, if you do it, bring walking shoes and maybe a push pole, but certainly skeeter killer.
As far as an 18 outrage, I don't know of anything, sorry.
Hey, all this talk about this area makes me think maybe a Rendezvous would work here.
blackdog posted 01-11-2002 10:28 AM ET (US)     Profile for blackdog  Send Email to blackdog     
You probably already get "Chesapeake Bay Magazine" but if you do not it is probably a good resource. Sounds like a great trip!

Z is correct. That Commercial Traffic is tough on the Delaware! Is there a way to time the C&D crossing to avoid the traffic?


blackdog posted 01-11-2002 10:41 AM ET (US)     Profile for blackdog  Send Email to blackdog     
You probably already get "Chesapeake Bay Magazine" but if you do not it is probably a good resource. Sounds like a great trip!

Z is correct. That Commercial Traffic is tough on the Delaware! Is there a way to time the C&D crossing to avoid the traffic?


cjd posted 01-11-2002 10:55 AM ET (US)     Profile for cjd  Send Email to cjd     
Sorry I was not clear. I almost guarantee you will be walking a little. Let me know if you undertake this trip. I might be able to rest stop around the DE line. i would offer to meet up on the water, but with the shape of the family boat, you would likely have to tow me along.


bigz posted 01-11-2002 02:55 PM ET (US)     Profile for bigz    
Steve if you can afford the forward shelter for the 13 would be a great addition for cruising and of course the flying top. I would strongly suggest the use of dry bags well secured for just about everything you'd be taking. By the way cellphone coverage on the Delaware is just marginal if you had any thoughts to use one along with your VHF.

Clark's solid advice on weather and planning as I'm sure your aware will be the crucial part of the trip. The better planned the better prepared and the more enjoyable the whole experience will be.

Mike, I realized the shallow situation, wasn't trying to disagree -- should say very shallow in places that's the reason I stated "believe a 13 could".

I also was not excluding making the run outside. That though could be a wait and see proposition, maybe to long on the wait part.

It appears you can get through from Chincoteague back to the Chesapeake just above the cape at least in a 13. Remember out the lower Chesapeake is "big" wide and open water though you do have plenty of places to run in if the weather turns snotty --- could have headaches there more than the run down outside.

Gene, you can call the C&D office in Chesapeake City, I have been told, to check on what is tentatively scheduled since the ships have to pick up pilots.

Gene we hit a big tugs wake (she was heading back north full blast) at speed, was like hitting a wall of bricks as we flew up out and over with a landing wallop that felt the 27 had broken up in little pieces along with my lower jaw. Best guess had the 27 airborne the entire length maybe 5 ft or so off the water. When you hit them slow like, the bow goes zip what seems like straight up, you teeter a split second when the stern is raised then the bow drops wack with nose almost under then the stern follows with a jolting crash.

The northern Chesapeake around say Rising Sun or down on the Sassafras River in the Georgetown area or over around Harve de Grace would make a nice group get together area for a few days before July 4th, right after schools get out. Easy cruising area, with lots of places to see and things to do for all ages and all sizes of boats.


dauntlass 18 posted 01-11-2002 05:44 PM ET (US)     Profile for dauntlass 18  Send Email to dauntlass 18     
Elk Neck State Park at the mouth of the Elk River, North East River, Susquehanna River and Sassafras River has a very good public ramp facility. Four ramps paved with docks alongside each ramp. Very, very large parking lot for tow vehicle and trailer. They also have campgrounds. I believe the fee to launch is $10, includes the parking. Have used it many times and run as far down the bay as the Kent Narrows from there. The mouth of the C&D Canal is east of the ramps about 6 miles.
SteveC posted 01-11-2002 05:56 PM ET (US)     Profile for SteveC    
Thanks everyone for all the helpful advice, particularly concerning water depth in some of the canals. I have the handheld GPS and VHF, plus 5 hp yamaha, just in case (and lot's of fuel). Last time I went through the C and D canal, I intentionally followed a big ship. I figured I would rather have it where I can see it, plus the traffic is spaced out.

A small tent with air mattress can be set up very comfortably on the 13 foot boat. But, I agree, the flying top would be very nice to have.

Does anyone know the typical weather pattern alaong the coast? Chesapeake is generally SW for fair weather, with cold fronts from
the NW. If this is the case in the Ocean, perhaps timing a cold front for the ride down the coast with the wind from behind is possible. Although I have quite a bit of experience in the Chesapeake, the Ocean is intimidating.

Scott Leidig posted 01-11-2002 07:41 PM ET (US)     Profile for Scott Leidig  Send Email to Scott Leidig     
Steve I would be intrested in going along with my 18 Outrage.Maybe some other whalers would join in.Where would you launch from.
SteveC posted 01-11-2002 08:24 PM ET (US)     Profile for SteveC    

I plan to start at annapolis. I'm thinking 4-5 days in May.

blackdog posted 01-14-2002 01:56 PM ET (US)     Profile for blackdog  Send Email to blackdog     
might be a bit chilly burr........
witness posted 01-14-2002 02:58 PM ET (US)     Profile for witness  Send Email to witness     
and even worse than chilly, windy. we were supposed to do a few kayak trips down toward chincoteague the last few Mays and have been consistantly blown out.
Bigshot posted 01-14-2002 03:35 PM ET (US)     Profile for Bigshot  Send Email to Bigshot     
Man that brought back some bad memories. A friend brought his boat down from the Cape because his parents bought a new house in Oxford, MD. We dropped it in in NJ and went through the C&E canal about 9:00 am. Beautiful 45 degree February day. About 1 hour down the Ches it started getting nasty, then rainy. Then a nasty squall kicked up. It took us about 4 hours to get to the Annapolis bridge? There were 6' crap all around us in a 21' Parker with a 90 on it. We had 3 bilge pumps working, and could only go 12-1500 rpm's. Any faster and the speed would cause us to surf down the swells, sometimes semi pitchpoling us which would throw us off course, etc. The VHF blew out and no cel service and my bud was scared to death so I was driving in uncharted waters(for me).

The waves were coming in all directions and thank God for a pilot house. Stuff was breaking on the windshield and over the transom. We finally made it to Tilghman Island bridge about 4:30, should have been there about noon. Man was that scary. If that boat capsized we would have had 15 minutes left to live in cold water. I never knew the Ches was that nasty. First time I ever kissed the ground too. We were afraid to try and cut towards shore due to the wave height and lack of a chart(lost it). Basically it was a stupid thing to do but was too late to change.

Moral is in January, you are nuts! Stay close to shore and have the right safety equipment(waterproof too). that trip will be great when the conditions permit it and just because Whalers don't sink, don't mean they don't capsize and 40 degree water is no fun. Not being a downer, just use common sense. Enjoy and keep us posted. Maybe some other Ches boaters will want to join you?

blackdog posted 01-14-2002 03:44 PM ET (US)     Profile for blackdog  Send Email to blackdog     
might be a bit chilly burr........
blackdog posted 01-14-2002 04:17 PM ET (US)     Profile for blackdog  Send Email to blackdog     
Big Shot,
He is planning on early May. Surely only a mad man would go in January ! Oh, I guess Feb is just as bad :)

Double post Gene!

Mark Gallagher posted 01-14-2002 08:40 PM ET (US)     Profile for Mark Gallagher  Send Email to Mark Gallagher     

Good luck, sounds like a great adventure.
When you are passing through the C&D canal let me know. I would like to meet up possibly in Chesapeake City or you could come 5 minutes into the Elk River to my marina and I'll surely have the BBQ fired up for a lunch or dinner stop. You might even want to make it a stop off on your journey.
Keep me posted. Mark

Bigshot posted 01-15-2002 10:53 AM ET (US)     Profile for Bigshot  Send Email to Bigshot     
KeysWhale posted 01-16-2002 05:37 PM ET (US)     Profile for KeysWhale    
My brother and I took our 13 ft out the indian river inlet many a time back in the early 70's. Of course we never told the parents. Use to be a sandbar on the south side where some family friends flipped there boat, and lost one person. Like any inlet it has its good and bad days.

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