Sunday, June 11, 2017

C&D Canal

The last two days have been interesting and have represented big changes for Thistle and crew. We have moved from the protected brackish waters of the Chesapeake Bay back to the big salty Atlantic.

Near Annapolis we passed under the Chesapeake Bay Bridge that connects Annapolis and the Eastern Shore. We also have a "Bay Bridge" back home in California that connects the East Bay to San Francisco. Although this is a nice photo, our bridge is prettier.

We anchored Friday night just outside Worton Creek and it was beautiful: calm, quiet, wooded shores; only eight other boats; and a pair of nesting bald eagles.

Saturday our goal was the little anchorage basin at Chesapeake City where boats typically wait for a favorable current through the C&D Canal. We dropped the hook around 1pm and settled in to watch the show.
Being Saturday, lots of locals came in for food and drinks at the Chesapeake Inn. There was plenty of swimming, music, fun, and laughing; it reminded us of our Delta back home.

As we watched the sun set, we determined that 6:55am Sunday would be the perfect time to ride the current through the C&D Canal.

Sunday morning we were up at 5:30 making coffee and ready to go by 6:30. The only problem low tide this basin barely has 5' of water. We quickly ran aground, so we backed off and tried a different route closer to larger boats. We found 5' of water there and made our way into the canal at exactly 6:50. Close enough!

The C&D Canal has an interesting history. It was first proposed in the early 17th century!  After years of discussion and five years of construction it finally opened in1829; much narrower than it is now and with four locks. Barges were towed through using mules on towpaths. Over the decades numerous deepenings and widenings have resulted in a 14 mile long, 450' wide, 35' deep sea level canal. Many large ships use every day to shorten the trip (by 300 miles) from Philadelphia to Baltimore.
Our transit of the canal was easy and traffic-free. We saw one other cruiser going our direction, three powerboats going the opposite direction, and no ships at all.

Our planning paid off because we got quite a lift from the current. You can see our boat speed is 5.3 kts, but our speed over the ground is 8.3 kts - that's a 3 kt boost! Yippee!

The Delaware Bay was windless and flat, but we saw a few of these little lighthouses on the shoals, and we saw lots of ships heading north.

And then we saw the Cape May lighthouse, the sandy beach full of holiday makers, and finally felt the Atlantic swells. We were in salt water again, on our way north again after four weeks in the Chesapeake Bay. 

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