Annapolis -> Cape May


Super Anarchist
Helping a buddy bring his boat to Cape May. It's currently in Deale Maryland.

For all intent and purpose, this will be a fun guys weekend type thing so we're going to drop anchor/moor/slip at night. I've done some sailing in Annapolis and have been as far north as Baltimore. We were hoping to break it up into two nights/three days to Cape May. Any suggestions on best way to break it up with night life scene in mind? Nothing crazy, just a stop with some bars within walking distance I think will do. Anyone along the way who wants to meet up for a beer is welcome as well.

I've been to Baltimore but it seems like a bit out of the way for a stop. The only other thing that seemed obvious was to get the river/back creek bit done during the day. So maybe Annapolis to Havre de Grace (that is based solely on Google maps restaurant search indicating it has more places to eat/drink than any other place north of Baltimore). Is this really a two day trip instead of three? Ideally we'd be secured at a dock/mooring each night before dark.

Focus is on relaxed fun over timeline.

Plan is to depart Annapolis on 4/14 weather dependent.

Any route suggestions keeping this in mind?



Harve de Grace is an OK option, a bit past the turn for the C&D.

Look into Chesapeake City, right on the canal. Really small town, though I do know they have a bar/restaurant or two.

Rock Hall and Baltimore don't really make sense unless you're looking to create a stop. Don't think there are many other options with civilization...

Assuming a 6kt avg, I'd plan for a two day trip. If you are only going to sail and want to be liesurely, 3 days, and then Rock Hall might make sense. Small Eastern Shore fishing town, haven't been in a long time but there's gotta be food and booze.

Not much happening on the Delaware Bay till you get to Cape May.

Have fun



Super Anarchist
Done this many times. Both ways. Nothing worth stopping at in Delaware Bay and yea Baltimore is off the track. But so is HdG.

Day 1 is Deale to Rock Hall and its short and easy.

Day 2 is Rock Hall to Chesapeake City in the C&D; also short and easy. BTW, its a longer day but you could do Deale to Ches City in one day.

Day 3 is Ches City to Cape May (use the tides/current and check bridges in Cape May canal).

Edit to add the Dude above got it same at same time. There is good food/drink in Rock Hall. Ches City is OK if anchoring in Engineers Cove... avoid Shaffers(?) on the canal if its even still there. Can't recall but one side is dry county, no? Gosh its been a while, LOL

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Super Anarchist
Cecil both sides and not dry. Huh, maybe a Sunday thing? Just recall a VERY miserable delivery from Maine, a snotty beat up the Delaware Bay and pulling into Shaffers dead tired, cold, wet miserable and my wife (then girlfriend) and I just wanted to drink our blues away but no such luck. Can't recall why... just recall no booze. Finished the delivery the next day to Naps and drank ourselves silly at a place that is no more :-(



New member
The Chesapeake Inn in Chesapeake City is fun. We go there after Wednesday night races when they have 1/2 price tacos. Shaeffers on the other side has reopened. Might be worth a visit but we haven't been there recently.

On the way up the bay last summer we stopped at Fairlee Creek for fuel and noticed Jellyfish Joel's Tiki bar next to the entrance. It might be interesting for a younger crowd but I have no personal experience (Fairlee is right off the shipping channel so very quick to visit even if the entrance is a bit exciting). There is also a restaurant/bar at the marina - again no experience since we wanted to get going up to the Bohemia River.

Havre de Grace is very much out of the way for the C&D canal.

Still Pond is a nice and popular anchorage. But no bars nearby as far as I know.


many trips>>> maybe 30... best bay bridge to cape may ferry dock time 12 hours .. worst the 26 hours. pay attention to forecast..( the ocean at cape may is cold..) you must enter the Delaware river just before the outgoing tide starts (you could see 2knts of current at Salem). any sea breeze will make the Delaware positively brutal after noon . stay on the eastern edge of the channel, west is shallow. there are crab traps and oyster beds keep watch . the bay to the c&d canal can be pleasant. the Chesapeake Inn basin is a little shallow but you can stay and eat in their bar. shaffers is refurbished has bar, ice and beer, nice bathrooms and may have rooms , nasty current staying at the dock. noisy bridge traffic if your trying to sleep.. there is a marina down the canal on the right. if the weather is good the Delaware at night is very doable. winds tend to calm out (be its colder) and the channel lights may be visable for 10 miles. its like taxing down a big run way. . keep to the channel until 10-11 miles out then maybe 180 to cm. cape may canal bridge clearance is like 52-54 feet, if you draw more the 6 feet stay in the center, cape may harbor is shallow , real shallow don't cut corners. get at towus or boatus card. I would suggest rescheduling to mid may

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I've done this run a few times in both directions, depending on the boat you can watch the tides and weather and make it in two days. Spend an extra night hanging out in Annapolis or Cape May and make one stop in Delaware City; Delaware City Marina is easy access, cheap and good folks; Crabby Dicks is just down the street with cheap food and drink and good people watching.



What does the boat draw?

Stopping points w/beer ranging from start to finish

Mill Creek (Cantlers)

Rock Hall (shallow)

Fairlee Creek Tiki Bar (shallow)

Chesapeake City (Shaeffers/Chesapeake Inn)

nothing in the Delaware



Super Anarchist
Good info so far. Thanks, All!

Current plan I think is to depart Annapolis at dawn on 4/14 and make it as far as we can in the 12 or so hours of sunlight. At least to Ches City. If it seems like we can get to Delaware City before dark and tide is favorable, maybe we should? Am I grossly misjudging the distance and currents (haven't plotted it yet)?

Is there anyplace to stop on the Jersey side of Delaware Bay? Just thinking in case it's too much of a slog and we want to duck in...




There are 4 marinas on the Jersey side but they're really fishing marinas and are barely open so far. The striper run should start soon so they're sort of getting ready, but there's not much going on yet. Even when they're open, there's not much in the way of accomodations for transients.

If you need a sheltered place to anchor, the mouth of the Cohansey is about as good as it gets. 2 marinas are up the river, but unless it's an emergency, I wouldn't bother. The other 2 marinas are Money Island and Fortescue, but there a bit away from the channel. Fortescue is best for accomodations, but it's a fishing town. Money Island rarely gets sailboats and doesn't even have transient slips. But, if you need to stop, they'll work something out.

If you don't stop at Chesapeake City and head through the canal before dark, you can anchor behind Reedy Island instead of going to Delaware City. It's not as sheltered as the mouth of the Cohansey, but it's not bad if conditions are right. You can also anchor in the Salem River but it's a little out of the way. Reedy Island to Cape May is a pretty common transit for people who don't stop in the canal.

Like others said, make sure you time it so you're leaving the canal or Reedy Island at exactly the right time, tide-wise. It can take all day if you time it wrong. You're better off just staying put and waiting if you miss the tide turn.



Super Anarchist
Boston, MA
Murph, I did this in 2004 on my freedom 40. Left deale around 8 am and had no trouble making ches city in one day, motoring because was on the nose. 2nd day was ches to cape may but we went outside because rig was too tall for the canal. the delaware river sucks :) We had wind against and it was a miserable passage so watch how bad your hangover is ;)



Get off my lawn.
Chesapeake Bay/Vail
what type of boat? too tall for Cape May canal?

if you catch the tides right on day two, if you're able to do 7kts+ you should be able to make Cape May on Day two.

Delaware Bay is the most god forsaken stretch of water in the galaxy.

in fact, I'd rather go down the Chesapeake and up the coast than transit Delaware Bay again ....

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New member
I have done the trip down (and up) Delaware Bay dozens of times, usually as part of a passage to or from New England. It can be tolerable, but it is not generally a pleasant trip. The Bay starts narrow, but then gets wide and seemingly featureless (except for the Salem nuclear plant on the NJ shore). There is a lot of commercial traffic, and the channel is lined with shoals, some surprisingly shallow, which can limit your ability to get out of the way of the ships in places. AIS is a very useful tool, so ships can track you and you can call them by name and make passing arrangements. It is a good idea to study the charts before going down the Bay, so as not to be surprised by the shoals and submerged breakwaters on either side of the channel.

When you get to the lower Bay, things open up on the NJ side so you can safely leave the main shipping channel and make your way over to Cape May. I have not gone into Cape May from the Bay side, so I can't be of help in that endeavor.

The suggestions earlier about riding the tide are good ones. They also apply to passage through the C&D and even in the upper Chesapeake Bay.

If you go through the C&D at night, be aware of the railroad lift bridge. It is supposed to be left in the up position except when trains are scheduled, but that is not always the case. The bridge is black, and while it does have lights, if you are running fast with a fair current, it will sneak up on you. You really don't want to go through it when it is lowered! You may encounter commercial traffic in the canal, usually tugs and barges, so be prepared to squeeze to one side or the other.

I can't give a lot of advice beyond what has already been suggested for making a cruise out of this trip. I have always done it as a straight-through passage. April can be damn cold, however, so if you can do it later, that might be more pleasant.



Super Anarchist
The bottom of the bay on the Del. side has Lewes, which is nice, though that's so far off course as to be irrelevant if you're doing the C&D to Cape May. Otherwise - lots of estuary and pretty birds.... sand.... etc.

I'll second the Chesapeake City, MD stops, on the grounds that that's where my high school/college regular cruising ride stopped during spring/fall transits between Philadelphia (Tinicum Island) and Worton Creek... which, by the way, is not bad anchorage. Fairlee Creek is good, too, but be aware of a specific channel to get in and out. Great protection from a squall line.

Back to Chesapeake City, both the Chesapeake Inn and the Bayard House are nice enough. We held a wedding for a kid at the former, and, they have courtesy boat parking (in addition to the good anchorage there in the cove). You could land at the small dock, or, dinghy it over from your anchorage and use one of multiple slips that fit a 16' skiff just fine.

Note what Stan says ^^. Might want to monitor VHF-13 for the Corps of Engineers announcements such as the choo-choo bridge (75d 42.2 W) and expected traffic. If you get to that lat/lon eastbound and the bridge is down, there's a cove with a bar/restaurant/marina on the left about 300m before the bridge. (It's actually the original cut of the canal, pre 1959 or so).

Drop a note if you need someone to help consuming beverages, a lift to secure provisions, etc.

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Super Anarchist
Ok, so Delaware Bay is going to be slogtastic. Will go easy on the rum the night before and bring a bunch of bonine and maybe a scope patch if the forecast is really bad.

Bump, It's a Seidlemann 299 which is a bit of a diversion from what I'm used to but I'll be damned if I can't get it up on a plane! (/s)

Ryley, I'd much rather be on your palatial Freedom 40 than 30+ y/o MORC boat... Thanks for the advice, though!

Atoyot, we should be in Annapolis by 1930 on 4/13. There will be shenanigans if you're looking for trouble.

Thanks all for the tips! Keep em coming if there's anything new...


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