Thursday, December 1, 2011

a postcard from the Cape

First of all, my thanks to BayDog for clarifying the fact that the "Jersey Shore" I mentioned in yesterday's post is not the same locale as the famous, or maybe infamous, television show "Jersey Shore".  I have not seen the show, but have heard about it.  The chance of meeting some of the characters would frighten me more than dealing with a steep six foot chop.  Thanks, Dave, for putting my mind at ease.

I heard from several folks about the Bay, mostly in comments to this blog.  I don't know how many people take time to read the comments so I will post some of the information here.

From Anonymous...

I sail the upper Delaware Bay quite a bit in Thistles and Flying Scots and it can get really hairy really fast. Some of the other members in my club have sailed the length of it in small boats as well, and their comments are essentially the same.   Ship wakes have not been a huge deal for me in the past but I'm paranoid even in the best conditions. Its best to stay well clear. Also, there is a man made jetty that runs down the middle of the river south of New Castle that can be easy to miss if you're not paying attention. 

From Jim

I was raised on the Dela.Bay. I've run it in a canoe and numerous times in 16-ft. Comet, so it's navigable by small boat--BUT! It's listed as one of the three most dangerous bodies of water in the US. You'll need much more pilotage than you're accustomed to in the Chesapeake. There are shoals where a shoal draft boat can run abround nearly out of sight of land, wrecks just below the surface, oyster banks, and plenty of current.  On some days it can be calm, even beautiful, but it just demands attention and respect. When it's behind you, you can count it as a great new experience.

From MaryLou  (who has advised me on just about every trip we have made on Chesapeake Bay)

De Gast ("Western Wind, Eastern Shore") and Schindler ("Between Two Bays and the Sea") both talk about the strength of the tidal currents and the extensive shoals but they had very different trips between the C&D and Lewes. Upon reaching Lewes, Schindler remarked, "I found the Delaware not a bad bay to sail. I expected much worse and kept looking for it. It was only at the mouth when I was bucking the tide and heavy winds, that I realized the Delaware wash showing me her ugly teeth." Schindler made 2 stops between the C&D and Lewes.  On the other hand De Gast who only made one stop, said upon reaching Lewes after battling 25 knot winds and steep six-foot waves, "I had never, in such a small boat, sailed as long and as uncomfortably as I had that long afternoon."

On the map at the top I've marked Lewes, Delaware and Cape May, New Jersey, plus a couple of the stopping places used by small boat sailors - Bowers Beach and Fortescue.  Which shore we sail on will depend on wind and tides.  My preference, though would be to sail on the Jersey shore - no not the tv version - so we could visit Cape May.  My interest in Cape May has been piqued by my friend Barry's video postcard, above.  Cape May is very appealing, but it would mean at some point a sail across the mouth of Delaware Bay.  We'll see.

Thanks for the information guys, thanks for the video Barry.  Very nice, helpful information.



Baydog said...

I'd prefer that show to disappear altogether. More people think of those idiots when they hear 'Jersey Shore' than what coastal New Jersey's been called for years.

S R Wood said...

Steve -- I'm watching this with gerat interest because I hope to make the same trip someday. Have you thought about installing a self-bailer? These can really be helpful if you take water over the side, or even capsize and right yourself. A scared man with a bucket is good, but a self-bailer will just gurgle away as long as you're moving. I'm definitely putting one in my boat.

Bill said...

Cape May is a neat little town and pretty area. But if your goal is to get around the horn, so to speak, you might consider saving the visit to Cape May for later, by car. Crossing Delaware Bay seems like maybe the hard way to go about paying a visit to Cape May.

Steve said...


I do have a self-bailer, his name is Bruce.


I got to say visiting by boat might be more work, but there is no better way to arrive on a waterfront town by water. We'll have to say what the the tides and weather say.