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Old 08-06-2015, 02:50 PM   #1
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Chesapeake Cruising Ideas (lower to mid-Bay)

We are taking next week off and the plan is to point the bow south down the Potomac to the Chesapeake Bay. We tend to travel around 8 knots and are about 70 miles down the Potomac to the mouth of the river. Plan is to leave on Sunday or Monday, overnight at some point on the Potomac (probably Colonial Beach), round Point Lookout on Monday, and return to the Potomac to meet friends at Colonial Beach on Friday. Question is where we should go from Tuesday through Thursday (I know, not a ton of time). Have thought about Tangier or Smith Islands, or Solomons, but open to other ideas. We could extend the three days on the Bay a bit.
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Old 08-06-2015, 03:56 PM   #2
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Sounds like you prefer marinas vs anchoring (do you have a dinghy?). Nothing wrong with that but affects itinerary choices.
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Old 08-06-2015, 04:17 PM   #3
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We are fine either way. Anchor is our general preference, but we are doing Colonial Beach with friends who want to stay at a marina and get golf carts. We actually anchor with this group just about every weekend, often Friday through Sunday. We do have a dinghy. I really wanted to do the mini loop this year to Dismal Swamp, but just don't have enough time.

EDIT - we will likely want to hit a marina one night, maybe Weds, to take on water, pump out, and refill the cooler/fridge.
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Old 08-06-2015, 05:08 PM   #4
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We did a trip down that way last month. A night in Solomons, a night at the Tides Inn, and a night in Solomons on the way back to the Kent Narrows. Solomons is always fun with multiple marinas. I filled up the fuel tanks in Solomons for $2.25 a gallon.

This was my first visit to the Tides Inn. If you are interested in a resort style stay, the Tides Inn was great. We had dinner in the restaurant at the inn and it was quite good.

You could also try Crisfield, It has a large, easy to access marina, and a few decent restaurants within walking distance. It can have a kind of ghost town atmosphere, especially during the week.

I have heard good things about Cape Charles. I've been there by car, but not by boat.
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Old 08-06-2015, 10:09 PM   #5
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Chesapeake Bay Cruise

We run around the Bay in a Grand Banks at about 9 kts, just a tad faster than your cruise speed. We berth the boat up Glebe Creek, 3 miles from the Potomac which is 12 miles from Smith Point. At our speed, when we exit the Potomac we have to choose north or south. Solomons is about 35 miles from our dock, Deltaville is about the same distance south. Both destinations are 4+hours, for us a "full day" is around 6 hours, so from Solomons to The Tides Inn, which is about an hour up the Rappahannock from Deltaville, is about as far as we want to go. Cape Charles is an interesting place and I encourage a visit but it's a long way down the Bay. So to address your question, Colonial Beach to Solomons will be 6+hours. If you want to continue north, consider St Michaels and Oxford, both of which offer marinas and nice anchorages. From there you could easily travel to Rock Hall or Herrington Harbor, if you want a resort style marina. From Herrington, a trip to Crisfield is within range and from there you could head back up the Potomac. This itinerary would take about 6 days,but wouldn't leave much time to visit the places you stay. Shorten it a bit and go from Solomons to Crisfield with a side trip to Tangier (and I might use one of the ferry or mail boats as the Tangier Channel can be tricky. Then back home. If you choose to go south, the Tides is a nice stop but count on 2 hours after rounding Windmill. Crisfield could be a destination from Colonial Beach, then Onancock, where you could anchor or tie up to the small muni dock, back across the Bay to Deltaville or the Tides.Or head up one of the rivers that empty into Fleet's Bay and anchor. or go to Reedville, anchor out or tie up, an east wind in Reedville will be a bit unpleasant.
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Old 08-07-2015, 02:34 AM   #6
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From Colonial Beach, you may want to consider cruising to St Mary's City. It's a peaceful, beautiful anchorage along the shores of St. Mary's College, and it's a historical site with some interesting exhibits (including the Dove sailing ship).

From there, I'd recommend going around Point Lookout to Solomon's or, if the weather is right (that part of the Bay can get pretty rough), to Tangier Island and then Crisfield. I've never been to Tangier by boat -- went by plane each time, and the waters around that area looked very shallow. Stay in the channel!
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Old 08-07-2015, 10:58 AM   #7
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Thanks very much everyone! Nothing like some local knowledge, and from people that share similar speed/draft boats. I think on the way south we will stay at St. Mary's instead of Colonial Beach, then decide on the next stop based on weather (long range report looks pretty good for summer on the Bay right now, but we all know how accurate those can be). I've always wanted to see Tangier. My old flying school used to do a trip every year, but we never made it. I'm sure my wife would love a spa visit at the Tides. So many choices and so little time. Then again, we carried over the mindset from the sailboat that once you are on the boat, that is the destination. I expect it will be a great week no matter what! Again, thanks for all of the contributions.
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Old 08-09-2015, 09:46 AM   #8
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I'll ditto St Mary's as a nice anchorage. If you haven't been to Tangier, that is a must do at least once. Very unique (including Parks' marina!) and golf carts too!

Let me add Urbanna as a great destination. Very cruiser friendly town and often you can even anchor off if there is room. Deltaville is another nice stop, and if you are anchor minded Fishing bay on the back side is a lovely anchorage, then you if you want to go into town you can dinghy in, take a long walk or bum a ride. Some anchor in Jackson Creek if there's room, it's a little more convenient.

On the east side, time permitting Pocomoke River is pretty and Pocomoke City is very cruiser friendly. But certainly not as luxe as going to the Tides!

There are so many choices depending on what you want to do. Chesapeake Magazines cruising guide book is an excellent resource.
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Old 08-11-2015, 06:58 AM   #9
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Cruising ideas - Mid Bay

We did the Nanticoke a few weeks ago. The Nanticoke is a beautiful river and the folks at the marina in Seaford were very friendly. George
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Old 08-13-2015, 08:07 AM   #10
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Chesapeake cruising ideas

If you turn south out of the Potomac River, there are a number of creeks and coves on the western shore with great anchorages before you get to Windmill Point. Restaurants available on the Great Wicomico River as well.
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Old 08-13-2015, 10:03 AM   #11
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Once you depart the "Potomac Ocean", it really depends on what kind of experience you seek. If "quit and serene" is on the agenda, then go east to the shore. Don't overlook Onancock as we always injoy the town. Once over on the shore, you can them come north and visit Crisfield, Tangier and if time allows, you can cross back to the Western shore and do Solomons before heading south back into the Potomac. Nice to have options....Have a great trip!
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Old 08-17-2015, 03:32 PM   #12
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Thanks to everyone for all the suggestions. So this is how the week wound up. We spent Sat and Sun nights on the hook locally with friends. We returned to our marina on Monday morning to re-provision, get fuel, etc. Had a bit of a late start, leaving to head south around 1300. The weather wasn't great, and by the time we turned south near Port Tobacco, we were taking wind and waves on the nose in about a 3 foot confused chop. The boat was handling it fine, but it was getting tiring driving. So as we approached Colonial Beach (already close to 1800) we decided to pull in for the night (there was no way we were going to make St. Mary's by sundown). Stayed at Nightingales marina, which is a tiny marina and motel run by an amazingly nice couple. We've been there before and always enjoy the beautiful grounds.

Tuesday morning NOAA had a small craft warning up with predicted 3.5 foot seas at 3 seconds (basically big, messy chop) and 30 knot gusts out of the north. As anyone who has done the Bay knows, it can be really bad at the mouth of the Potomac, particularly with a north wind, which is just what was predicted. They were also predicting thunderstorms in the afternoon. So, we decided to stay put and had a wonderful day walking the area and just relaxing. The wind died down by early afternoon, which had us reconsidering our decision, but when thunder heads began to form all around us, we were happy to be where we were.

Weds we went to St. Mary's where we tied up at the college dock (with their permission) to explore the historic St. Mary's city (think of a much, much smaller Jamestown). Anchored in Horseshoe Bend for the night and enjoyed the meteor shower. By now it was too late to make Tangier and be back to meet friends on Friday, so Thursday we visited Coles Point Plantation marina just to look around, then explored the three creeks/rivers off the Yeocomico, deciding on the end of the Shanon branch to anchor.

Friday we headed to Cobb Island where we had some great fried oysters, after which we explored the Wicomico river to Leonardtown, before cruising back to Colonial Beach Yacht center to meet our friends.

Saturday we rented a golf cart and hit a few restaurants, then enjoyed a great band at the marina restaurant/Tiki bar on Sat. night. Sunday we returned to our home marina.

Did a total of 255 NM and burned around 70 gals. of diesel, usually running between 1400-1600 RPMs (need to dip the tank to get an exact reading). Ran the generator a grand total of about an hour to make coffee on the mornings we were anchored out. Amazingly, we didn't really need the AC due to much cooler than normal temps with lower than normal humidity, although we did run it when at the marinas.

Next year, the plan is to actually make the Bay and we plan to anchor out more, but the weather will likely be the deciding factor again. It was a GREAT trip. The only bad thing was that the sea nettles were really bad so we never got to go for a swim. Our favorite spot was the anchorage in St. Mary's (would use it again). We never had to pump out or refill water, so we now know the two of us can easily do a week straight on the boat without having to stop. A big advantage of having the boat in salt water for the week (it is fresh upriver where we keep her) was that almost all of the fresh water algae on the bottom has died and fallen off! Much more fun than a haul out and pressure wash.

One casualty from the trip, my binoculars fell off the pilot seat onto the carpeted floor. I thought they were fine, but it turns out one of the prisms is out of wack, so we will need to send them for repairs. Fortunately, this was on the way home yesterday, so we were OK without them, but I now plan to get a second pair both for back up and so my wife and I can be using them at the same time. I'm going to start a new thread for recommendations, and hopefully it won't turn into an anchor thread discussion.

Lastly, we had with us the following books, all of which were very different but combined made an amazing resource: Discovering the Tidal Potomac (the only Potomac guide I've found, although it is about 10 years out of date), Guide to Cruising the Chesapeake Bay (more marina/town oriented), and Cruising the Chesapeake: A Gunkholers Guide (geared more toward anchorages).
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Old 08-17-2015, 03:45 PM   #13
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sounds like a nice trip. I miss the Bay a LOT having grown up there and cruised it extensively. Maybe next year we'll make the trip north and hit the old haunts...
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Old 08-17-2015, 03:49 PM   #14
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Good cruising! Committed to staying in the fun, low stress zone.. that's the ticket!
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Old 08-17-2015, 04:10 PM   #15
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I miss the Bay too. Wife and I were recently reflecting how nice it would be to have our boat there. Glad you made it to St Marys.

But I don't miss the sea nettles. Those things were the bane of my existence up there.
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Old 08-17-2015, 05:03 PM   #16
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But I don't miss the sea nettles. Those things were the bane of my existence up there.
Agree. I'd heard about them but never knew how bad they get. On the other hand, they were cool to watch at night with a flashlight. We also saw tons of the non-stinging "walnut" or "comb" jellys. They are cool to see at night with the neon flashes. We also saw a lot of crabs swimming. At first I thought they were fish until I got the light on one. We were like kids at night watching everything swimming around us. I also never appreciated just how large the Potomac is, particularly around the mouth. It is like a whole cruising ground unto itself. Several of the firing ranges were live - we could hear the range boats on the radio and hear the booms, but we were lucky not to be rerouted. Coast Guard pilots were doing practice landings as we passed the station at the mouth of the St. Mary's. Really an amazing area.
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