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Old 08-24-2014, 03:45 PM   #1
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Chesapeake Bay Cruisin

We are currently in Beaufort NC, 200 miles from the end of the ICW and the Chesapeake Bay. We'll stay a couple of days and if I can tear the admiral away from here I've planned 6 legs to ICW 0 and the anchorage at hospital point. If the traffic is not too bad and the wakes acceptable we'll stay at hospital point a couple of days and tour Norfolk and Portsmouth.

After that we'll enter the Chesapeake the USA's largest estuary. With it's many rivers, the eastern shore, western shore and many small towns it has to be a cruisers paradise. With so many choices I have to narrow an itinerary down to encompass 1 month. We plan on being in Annapolis in early October for the boat show.

So I need some help in deciding where to go and what to see. The month of September from Norfolk to Annapolis. We like to anchor and will visit marinas when necessary. Anchoring requires dinghy access for our dog which can be a challenge as we are finding in the rural areas of NC and SC.
Any cruising guides you have found helpful, please pass along.

Lastly we will probably leave our boat for the winter in the Chesapeake so some helpful recommendations for storage will be helpful. How far south do we need to be to avoid hauling for ice?

Thanks in advance for all advice.
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Old 08-24-2014, 04:19 PM   #2
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Capt. Tim, you are in for some of the very best cruising. Atlantic Yacht Basin just inside the lock at Great Bridge is in fresh water and usually ice free.

At Portsmouth you can tie up in the little harbor right down town. I think it says no over night, but many have. The Chesapeake is a pretty dog friendly area. The mooring field in Annapolis is great with many dinghy docks. Any dock at the end of a street is public. Quarter Cove or Granary Creek on the Wye River East are some of my favorites. San Domingo Creek off the Choptank at St. Michaels is quiet with a public dock at the end with a park. LeTrappe Creek just inside the hook at the entrance is good.

Tim there are too many anchorages to mention until you are in an area. It's all good. We are planning on being back up there in a couple of years.
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Old 08-24-2014, 04:20 PM   #3
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Atlantic Yacht Basin in Chesapeake Va., is a first class operation. Covered dockage in fresh water near a major airport is a hard combination to beat. If you need work done, they're the people to do it. James Taylor is the yard manager. There's even a top notch yacht brokerage on the premises.
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Old 08-24-2014, 05:03 PM   #4
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Dismal Swamp or Virginia cut route?

All ICW or a side trip out to Hatteras, to Manteo on Roanoke, Isl then back to ICW?

Both VERY worth doing so if you have the weather try the Hatteras route...it's great to sit back on autopiliot for those long open water stretches after the ditch...the other way is always doable no matter what the weather is but once you have the Alligator/Pungo Canal...it's pretty tedious the second time on forever....however there are nice stops that route too.

The Cheasapeake is SO vast a cruising area...you are better off keeping a thread open and let people give you ideas 2-3 days ahead of your schedule so you can plan accordingly to your pace, finances, weather, etc...and people can shotgun a couple suggestions rather than try and condense a whole cruising guide into a couple paragraphs.

What type of stops are your pleasure? Do you have military access to rec areas?...some basics will help let you sort through the PILE of info you will get!!!!
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Old 08-24-2014, 05:24 PM   #5
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We are currently in Beaufort NC, 200 miles from the end of the ICW and the Chesapeake Bay. We'll stay a couple of days and if I can tear the admiral away from here I've planned 6 legs to ICW 0 and the anchorage at hospital point. If the traffic is not too bad and the wakes acceptable we'll stay at hospital point a couple of days and tour Norfolk and Portsmouth.

After that we'll enter the Chesapeake the USA's largest estuary. With it's many rivers, the eastern shore, western shore and many small towns it has to be a cruisers paradise. With so many choices I have to narrow an itinerary down to encompass 1 month. We plan on being in Annapolis in early October for the boat show.

So I need some help in deciding where to go and what to see. The month of September from Norfolk to Annapolis. We like to anchor and will visit marinas when necessary. Anchoring requires dinghy access for our dog which can be a challenge as we are finding in the rural areas of NC and SC.
Any cruising guides you have found helpful, please pass along......
We recently completed a two and one half month cruise from Charleston, SC to the head of the Chesapeake Bay and back, including Washington, DC. I kept a log and am working on publishing it but it may be a while.

We went up the eastern shore of the Bay and back down the western shore. We found that many of the small towns along the trip are not doing well. Closed stores, lack of restaurants, etc. even though several had new public marinas. I don't know what you would be looking for on land so it's hard to make recommendations.

I will say this though, Hospital Point anchorage didn't look very inviting to us. It's open to the weather and open to boat and ship traffic and there's a lot of it in Norfolk/Portsmouth. There are two free docks on the Portsmouth side. We spent one night in the southernmost free dock (High Street Landing). For us, it wasn't worth it. There was constant noise from the shipyard across the river, noise from the ferry and noise from the people walking by. The northern free dock would have been a slightly better choice because it is farther from the shipyard.

The highly touted German restaurant on High Street is overrated in our opinion. It's more of a beer place and my wife's beer was $7 for a glass.

On our way north we stayed on the Norfolk side at Waterside. The Waterside Center is just about dead but the docks and facilities were fine and it's a short walk to restaurants and a large mall.

While we started with a plan, what we ended up doing was going day to day, staying longer in fun places and moving on if we didn't enjoy the area. While we had some longer days on the ICW, on the Chesapeake we usually ran three to six hours a day depending on the destination.
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Old 08-24-2014, 08:34 PM   #6
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Tim, don't skip by Tangier Island. It is worth a stop. Parks Marina is the transient marina. Milton Parks is a treasure, but he may try to steal you lady. Truly an interesting place. The only place I have seen where family is buried in the front yard.
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Old 08-24-2014, 08:51 PM   #7
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By far the best guide IMO is Chesapeake Bay magazines's "Guide to Cruising Cheapeake Bay. Years of as well as current local knowledge, great illustraions of anchorgaes, and so on.

Cruise Guide

There is a nautical book store on the Beaufort waterfront that probably has it, and if not them the bookstore on the Morehead waterfront.

I'll echo Ron's estimation of the Mile 0 anchorage. The one time we anchored in the area we did so on Hampton Flats when a northerly was blowing. Another place to consider going is Hampton itself.

Having cruised each side of the bay a few times, it is so hard to come up with a narrow list of recommendations. I suggest you give the above mentioned guide a good read and then maybe come back to us for opinions. The Chesapeake is a gunkholer's dreamland, the only marina , or dock of any kind for that matter, we ever stayed at on the main bay north of Norfolk was Anchor Bay East in Dundalk because that's where we bought the boat and came back for other work on subsequent trips.

How long are you going to be in town? There is a possibility I can get over there Tuesday, could lend you an old copy of the Guide if you haven't found one, and discuss the trip and various spots on the chart.

Looking at the weather, you don't want to leave until Wednesday. Then I would strongly recommend a day or two anchored in Cape Lookout Bight, the ultimate anchorage on the east coast if you love unspoiled, undeveloped beaches. If possible, after that, go up the Pamlico Sound via Neuse River, anchor in beautiful, wooded South River. Then on to Ocracoke, either anchor in the harbor or use the cheap National Seashore docks if they are open after refurbishing. Manteo is fun, it has a rudimentary free dock and both a city and a nice private marina. The ICW is Dullsville all the way to whatever canal you end up taking on the north side of the Ablemarle. Be careful of the weather on the sounds though, a two foot "chop" can rock your world and it gets nastier from there.

We did not bring a dog with us on our cruising, because of the limitations they impose, but off hand you should not have issues most places on the Bay.
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Old 08-24-2014, 10:10 PM   #8
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If you like river cruises with lots of wildlife, take a look at the Pocomoke river which connects to the Bay just South of Crisfield on the Eastern Shore. Reasonable boating accommodations can be found at the City of Pocomoke (about half way up the river), or Snow Hill (top of the boating part of the river). Nice side trip and very protected on windy days when you might otherwise be hunkered down at a marina.

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Old 08-25-2014, 07:52 AM   #9
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Tim, I'd be happy to kibitz about anchorages and marinas up here in this neck of the woods...

But in the meantime, you might look for a copy of "Cruising the Chesapeake" a Gunkholer's Guide" by Bill Shellenberger. He's anchored almost everywhere up here, and he always cruised with dogs aboard.

An anecdote: Some folks were buying that book at a local West Marine. The clerk offered to sign it for them. They had no clue what he meant. It was Bill

Ref in-water winter storage... it freezes here, and we deploy an ice-eater when necessary. OTOH, dry storage is easy to find.

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Old 08-25-2014, 08:30 AM   #10
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Thanks guys for all your input.
I have an issue to take care of on the home front and may have to leave the boat. Won't do it here in Beaufort NC but probably in Oriental. So I'll look closely at all your inputs soon.

Anybody know who to contact to have an elderly person evaluated to determine when they need in home care or living assistance?
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Old 08-25-2014, 12:57 PM   #11
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Anybody know who to contact to have an elderly person evaluated to determine when they need in home care or living assistance?
For health reasons or psychiatric? Start with an MD that treats geriatrics, may need a referral from the person's primary care provider. Been going through this with my mother for awhile, just recently had to move her to next level of care.

There are a lot more services and it is closer to the airport if you go to Morehead City rather than Oriental.
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Old 08-25-2014, 01:32 PM   #12
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What state? Some more socialist states have elderly assistance advocates to make sure they get reasonable care versus abuse from family members...the services reach beyond just those but may be a source of info.
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Old 08-25-2014, 01:38 PM   #13
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Baltimore Inner Harbor. Stay at the Baltimore Marine Centers at Inner harbor instead of along the wall. Plan at least 2 nights here.
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Old 08-27-2014, 11:27 AM   #14
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OK, thanks guys. Looks like I have 2 choices near ICW MM 0. High street landing which is where I believe Don mentioned and North Landing, both allow free tie ups.

We are currently in Oriental, a very small town with a sailboat problem. Too many of em. Anyway we found the free dock and will stay thru Thursday. We want to stay on the ICW and the Virginia Cut route so our itinerary from here is Belhaven, free city dock or the North Anchorage Alligator River Marina or anchorage if we can find one with shore access, - Midway Marina near Coinjock NC Norfolk. Well do the dismal swamp route southbound.

I found "Cruising the Chesapeake" a Gunkholer's Guide" by Bill Shellenberger. Thanks Chris. Will be reading that over the next couple of days.

The dock-master at Beaufort NC was kind to give us some used charts of the Chesapeake so Im up to speed with charts now.

Our plans once we get to the Chesapeake are very fluid and open. It looks like we will have about 6 weeks on the Chesapeake before it gets too cold. We would like to attend the Annapolis boat show in mid October and leave the boat in that area for the winter. So will be looking for some storage options in the Annapolis area. Does the boat need to be out of the water? We live in Tampa so will not be checking on the boat frequently.


Will definitely do the inner harbor at Baltimore, either this year or next.


I have found a licensed person to evaluate my elderly friend early next week. Based on her recommendations I may have to fly home. We'll see.
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Old 08-27-2014, 11:57 AM   #15
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............ Our plans once we get to the Chesapeake are very fluid and open. It looks like we will have about 6 weeks on the Chesapeake before it gets too cold. We would like to attend the Annapolis boat show in mid October and leave the boat in that area for the winter. So will be looking for some storage options in the Annapolis area. Does the boat need to be out of the water? We live in Tampa so will not be checking on the boat frequently..
You should get reservations for a marina for the boat show as soon as possible. Now would not be too early.

Boats are typically pulled out of the water in that area but you may be able to find a place with bubblers that let you keep it in the water.

Annapolis is a pretty high priced area for marinas. The eastern shore of MD or VA is probably cheaper, especially as you move away from the Bay Bridge.
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Old 08-27-2014, 12:08 PM   #16
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For the boat show I would suggest you get there early and grab a mooring. There is a dinghy dock over toward the Academy. Hopefully, it be usable. Sure would save a lot of walking.

Don't forget that there are mooring balls and some anchoring room by going through the Spa Creek bridge. Same deal on the docks at the end of streets.

Try the marinas on South River or West River at Galesville for winter storage. I like Hartge's Yacht Harbour. Good people and I have stayed 2 seasons there. You should probably reserve a space if you want to be hauled out. That gives peace of mind. All the marina parking lots turn into boat storage lots. West River is great to headquarter out of. 12 miles below Annapolis, almost straight across to the Choptank with its great anchorages as well as Oxford and Cambridge. I love the place.
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Old 08-27-2014, 01:07 PM   #17
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Don't forget the Chesapeake Magazine book, invaluable overall and anchorage specific guide. Consider having the boat hauled and stored at Anchor Bay East in Dundalk, a Baltimore suburb and a fairly close drive or cdab ride to BWI airport. I and the PO used them a lot for work on my boat and recommend them. You could also discuss in-water storage there, there were a few live a boards that did that.

That is a pretty short day from Bellhaven to Alligator River. We anchored several times at Bellhaven just below the bridge, but that was before the new town docks. Our next northern stop was anchoring off Broad Creek on North River, I seem to recall seing people taking dogs to shore but cannot gusrantee that.

Also, there is a free dock across from Atlantic Yacht Basin (great people by the way) right before the Great Bridge bridge and lock.

If you go the Dismal Swamp route, you have the free Elizabeth City town dock, free docks at the locks and at the NC Visitors Center, plus the anchorage near the Deep Creek lock. Another alternative to consider is the Hampton Public Piers in Hampton, great location, good services and reasonably priced.

There is a chance I could get over to Oriental tomorrow if you want any consultation. Do you plan to hit Ocracoke? The weather forecast looks ideal.
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Old 08-27-2014, 01:38 PM   #18
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When you get to Annapolis....there's a bar in the corner of the downtown square area... McGarvey's

BarsAnnapolis.com | McGarvey's Saloon | Your Blackbook for Barhopping

The owner (if still around) was I think a Navy pilot and then commercial. The bar beer is "Aviator" and behind the bar is a line of pilot helmets. Most are from Navy Pax River test pilots...but one towards the right end looks a little different because it's a helicopter helmet. There's a different kind of sticker on the back and you used to be able to bet the bartender for a free beer what the sticker said.

PM me when you are there and I'll tell you the secret sticker....see if they are still willing to meet my request.

Last time I was there the "new" bartender was clueless but game and fun.

I had lot's of good times there except for one night on the way home from work there was a SEAL team in there for a rehearsal dinner. I was in uniform and they would come by me to chat me up...but my mistake was my comment..."No SEAL is going to buy a drink with me in here"...boy did that get expensive but worth every dang dime!!!

I hope they are all still tipping a few at McGarvey's and not the worse for wear.

Annapolis can be a blast...I just think the boat shows are overrated and it's like Disneyland at it's worst...stand around in line till you can't take it anymore, get shoved and jostled, can't get into places to have a cool one or eat. But it is nice at night when the crowds leave and you can dingy/walk around and meet a great variety of active boaters, people in the business.
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Old 08-27-2014, 01:39 PM   #19
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What state? Some more socialist states have elderly assistance advocates to make sure they get reasonable care versus abuse from family members...the services reach beyond just those but may be a source of info.
So true, but nobody to protect the family members from the socialist state. It recently cost us $27,000 including two state appointed attorneys to "protect" my MIL and and another attorney to try to get the state to butt out. Net result, $27,000 less for my MIL's long term care only to have the state approve of our plan of action and financial management that we had put in place 13 months before..

Sorry, off my high horse now... best of luck to the OP.

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Old 08-27-2014, 01:42 PM   #20
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Our plans once we get to the Chesapeake are very fluid and open. It looks like we will have about 6 weeks on the Chesapeake before it gets too cold. We would like to attend the Annapolis boat show in mid October and leave the boat in that area for the winter. So will be looking for some storage options in the Annapolis area. Does the boat need to be out of the water? We live in Tampa so will not be checking on the boat frequently.

It's generally nice here until slightly after Veteran's Day (depending), so you could easily have more than 6 weeks up here...

Yes, many boats here are hauled and blocked, especially if you'll not be near enough to visit. We usually stay in for 3 out of every 4 years, with our own de-icer and metered electric, but I'm only about 10 minutes away and I can check often. (I think we're hauling this year, though, per schedule.)

Likely haul-out locations include Galesville (Hartge's) on the West River as Don said, Anchor Yacht Basin (where we are) or Holliday Point Marina on the South River (and a couple more, up river), and I think three on Back Creek in Annapolis/Eastport: Annapolis Landing, Port Annapolis, and Bert Jabins Yacht Yard. Not sure about Annapolis Landing... and there are probably more in there too, depending on your timing. Bay Bridge Marina, right at the east side of the bridge, could maybe work. Baltimore might be another option, but I'm not real familiar with haul-outs up there.

Anyway, have a look at those locations, various marina details in ActiveCaptain or elsewhere, see what/where appeals to you... and what other thoughts/questions you might have.

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