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Author Topic:   Navigating from Solomons Island to Washington DC
Christopher1 posted 12-01-2006 03:45 PM ET (US)   Profile for Christopher1   Send Email to Christopher1  
Navigating from Solomons Island to Washington DC:

I need advice from any users potentially experienced in navigating from the Chesapeake Bay to Washington DC. My father is in poor health and has a '89 27 full cabin so it needs to be moved. The boat has just recently been re-powered with twin 2001 Yamaha OX-66 225 hp outboards with pretty low hours and serviced accordingly.

I am experienced in driving and docking the boat and have taken the USCGS boating course and passed but have no real experience in taking long trips. More specifically, here are my questions:

1)Does anyone have any idea how long a trip like this would take? I know that it will be expensive gas wise but there is no way around that and we are ready to incur the costs.

2)Is this in any way a dangerous or demanding journey outside of the large time commitment required to make the trip? What kind of maximum size seas can I expect?

3)His charts are outdated. What type of charts are the most reliable and comprehensive as far as navigation aids, bouy numbers, etc?

I'm sure that I will have further questions but this is a good start.

Thanks for your help!

rtk posted 12-01-2006 05:42 PM ET (US)     Profile for rtk  Send Email to rtk     
Sorry to hear about your dad's health.

Trips by boat can be a bit dicey if you are unfamiliar with the waters, no matter how well you prepare. It can be fun to explore though.

Have you thought about having the boat transported by land by a boat hauling company? No worries about sea conditions, weather windows, time off from work and all that fun stuff.

Just a thought. Best wishes for your father.


kamie posted 12-01-2006 07:14 PM ET (US)     Profile for kamie  Send Email to kamie     
Chris, Sorry to hear about your dad.

It's not a hard run at all, although it is long and this time of year there are places where gas is not always available, lots of the marina's are closed Sundays. Solomans Island is at the mouth of the Patuxent River. You need to enter the bay, head south about 20 miles to the mouth of the Potomac. From there you can take the Potomac river north to DC. Are you going all the way up river to the DC marinas or someplace south of that? If your going all the way to DC you have about 110+ miles ahead of you of some really beautiful river.

For charts, you can go to West Marine and they have one of the Potomac and one of the Patuxent that will probably be good to have onboard. Together they should cover the stretch of Bay you will be traveling.

Gas stops:
With a full tank from Solomans you should be clear all the way into DC, if your not
Cobb Island is 70 miles into your trip and there are several marina's on the island.
Colonial Beach is across the river from Cobb Island, also with several marinas
Goose Bay Marina in Port Tobacco, MD is 90 miles into your trip
Waugh Point Marina is about 100 miles
Sweden Point Marina is around mile 120
There are several more stops on the way.

Time to do the trip, really depends on the weather. The river can kickup and it can go from dead flat to 2 to 3 footers in the afternoon. Watch the weather. I would say your looking at 7 to 9 hours, depending on seas. I would also not classify this as a real dangerous journey, althoug it will be long. You might be better, if possible to break it up, into 2 days, just so your rested and fresh.

If you have more questions, feel free to ask.

Yiddil posted 12-01-2006 11:44 PM ET (US)     Profile for Yiddil  Send Email to Yiddil     
I agree with kamie...Not to difficulta trip BUT, with no experience I would strongly suggest getting some crew aboard to help with everything from Navigation to lookouts.......About 9 hrs sounds right but I would call ahead to different weight points you can stop, rest, maybe take a break, eat, etc....make these calls as you plan out your trip so you can get a feel for services and options along the way....And absolutely check the NOAA weather, Coast guard weather channels as your passing through three different water bodies with different attitudes...add weather, wind , and season, tides and you could have some issues with navigations.......Also, get the boat checked out real good and insure PDFs, extra safety gear, and different extra parts and tools should you need them.....Dangerous trip, not really unless you come ill prepared ......water is pretty cold this time of year....

Its better to be safe then sorry,,,,,

Ask away...I Know the river pretty good....from the Bay to maybe colonial beach...Cobb ISLAND....

wyeisland posted 12-04-2006 03:21 PM ET (US)     Profile for wyeisland  Send Email to wyeisland     
This sounds like a great trip. Your boat should handle it perfectly. Buy the map book. Start early with a full tank. Fill up at lunch. Go fast when the water is smooth. Be sure to get BoatUS tow insurance for at least $300 per incidend and be sure your radio works and your cell phone is charged.
PS. If you need help please contact me.
Chuck Tribolet posted 12-11-2006 12:14 AM ET (US)     Profile for Chuck Tribolet  Send Email to Chuck Tribolet     
When I first read this, I thought your were talking about
Guadalcanal or Tulagi or Savo. ;-)


kingfish posted 12-11-2006 08:16 AM ET (US)     Profile for kingfish  Send Email to kingfish     
Now *that* would be a trip!!


Marlin posted 12-11-2006 10:34 PM ET (US)     Profile for Marlin  Send Email to Marlin     
Kamie's info and advice is excellent. Overall, the Potomac is well-marked and makes for pretty straightforward navigation. There are few surprising shoals, and generally speaking, fairly deep water nearly bank-to-bank until you get within 15 miles or so of Washington DC; at that point you'll need to pay more attention to the markers.

For fuel late in your trip, the Occoquan River offers several marinas. As with all the other marinas on this trip, you should make some phone calls to determine if they'll be open.

With a 27-footer, the Potomac is unlikely to challenge you with weather. However, daylight can be kind of short this time of year, so be sure to get a very early start or plan on two days. Also, if you don't have cold-weather boating experience and equipment, you might want to look into moving the boat by land, or laying it up at Solomon's until spring when the water temperature gets back up over 60. With water temperatures typically in the low 40s right now, the river can be a dangerous place for the unprepared.


OIA posted 12-12-2006 12:34 PM ET (US)     Profile for OIA  Send Email to OIA     
You may want to consider purchasing the Mid-Atlantic Waterway Guide ( Although not suitable for navigation, the book provides total miles and miles between points along with nearly all the services available along the route. The book also gives points of interest to look out for. At $40 it's a good deal, especially if you find yourself enjoying the trip and want to take another excursion (perhaps in the summertime).

John Mirassou
Redondo Beach, CA

Christopher1 posted 12-12-2006 02:00 PM ET (US)     Profile for Christopher1  Send Email to Christopher1     
Thank you for everyone's advice and feedback. I just got word back from the Solomon's mechanic that the boat has been fully serviced and I'm planning on making the trip on Sunday.

I will definitely take all of the advice offered regarding starting early, buying charts, insurance, etc.

I am currently scheduled to have the boat hauled out at Fort Washington boatyard. Just in case this falls through, I would like to have a back-up plan though. If anyone knows of any other boatyard/marinas please let me know.

Great site, great people, great resource.

Thanks for the help.

Marlin posted 12-17-2006 07:40 PM ET (US)     Profile for Marlin  Send Email to Marlin     
So, Chris, how'd it go? You couldn't have asked for nicer weather in December!

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