Nov. 27, 2017 – The C & D Canal

It’s a beautiful sunny morning as we prepare to get an early start on today’s voyage. We’re adding some extra time to the travel day since we see that we’ll be going against the tide for most of the day. Oh well, you can’t beat Mother Nature we just try to accommodate her. Our goal today is to complete our northward run on the Delaware River, turn west into the C & D Canal, then come out on the other side in the Elk River which is effectively, the upper northern portion of the Chesapeake Bay.

We untie from our dock at Greenwich Boat Works at 8:55 am and as Tracy pulls away, we wave goodbye to Marvin as he’s working in his marina. He’s been a pleasure to spend time with as he has lots of stories about the history of the area and his family marina.

We navigate the ess curves of the Cohansey River once again staying in the middle of the river. It’s near low tide so our depths are about six feet shallower than when we came upriver, but we still have plenty of water for navigation. As we approach the mouth of the Cohansey, we’re hit with the expected current and as the boat moves along at 9.4 knots, our speed over ground is a whopping 6.7 knots! This will be a long day and it’s fortunate that we left somewhat early so we do not run out of daylight. As we look to merge into the Delaware River channel, there’s a cargo ship motoring upriver already in the channel, so we watch our radar and the actual terrain for merging. It doesn’t take long to realize that at 6.7 knots, we have no worries about risk of collision with the cargo ship. In fact by the time we merge with the channel, he’s 2 nautical miles ahead of us.

Our first attraction of interest is the Hope Creek Nuclear Generating Station on the New Jersey shore. We had learned from Marvin yesterday, that this nuclear power plant sends the majority of its power to New York City. I guess that’s why the lights in Times Square are so bright. It’s built on an artificial point and as we cruise around it we’re approaching the Baker Range and Liston Range with with range lights that are reported to be the brightest lights in the western hemisphere! Once we complete the runs of the Baker Range and Liston Range, we’re able to see the entrance to the C & D Canal. This is a 14 statute mile cut thru northern Delaware and Maryland that takes boaters and commercial traffic from the Delaware River to the Chesapeake Bay.   It’s virtually forty feet deep from shore to shore and today, we’ll need the entire width.   When we enter the canal, there’s no traffic ahead and Tracy confirms that we’re clear to stern. After being in the canal for about a mile or so, I see a blip directly to our stern about 1.5 nautical miles behind and gaining. As it approaches we see that it’s a large working Coast Guard vessel, so I move to the starboard side of the canal and give him plenty of width to overtake us as we’re still only travelling 6.7 knots. I thought is was somewhat odd that he passed us with silence on the radio, but I figured that he recognized that we had given him the channel, so he didn’t have to ask which side to pass us on. Once he is completely ahead of us and we negotiate his wake we fall back into follow the Coast Guard leader and continue our journey west on the C & D. After we’ve passed the Summit North Marina, which is approximately the halfway point in the canal, we hear the Coast Guard vessel radio to a barge ahead of him. The barge says he can pass on either side of him and they agree that the Coast Guard will pass to port. The overtaking is complete well before Chesapeake City and now it’s our turn to pass the barge. I radio to the Gulf Coast and ask the captain for preference of side and he confirms that we can pass to port also. As we start our overtaking, we’re now about a mile from from Chesapeake City. Just as we clear his bow, we reach the no-wake zone of Chesapeake City and we slow down, but the commercial traffic does not! So after we clear Chesapeake City inlet, we resume the pass. Again we’re nearly past the Gulf Coast bow and we hit a second no-wake zone and end up falling back a second time. Once clear of the no-wake zones and looking at open water ahead, we finally pass the Gulf Coast for the third and final time and make way for the mouth of the Elk River and the end of the C & D Canal.

During the pass at Chesapeake City, I had called Foster Schucker to let him know of our progress. Originally he was going to meet us at his marina if we had arrived by 2 pm, but since the currents have been at our bow all day, we are now looking at 3:15 pm to arrive and that puts him into another commitment. But he says that once we pass the bridge at Chesapeake City, we should have about another hour of travel to arrive at Bohemia Bay Yacht Harbour. As we complete our passage of the C & D Canal, we turn slightly southwest and head directly into the afternoon sun for the short run on the Elk River to Bohemia Bay.

The entire Bohemia Bay is shallow with no specific navigable channel. It’s mostly 6-7 feet deep and we decide to just take it slowly and work our way into the marina. We call Andrew the Dockmaster and he guides us into the marina and meets us at the fuel dock for a pump-out and to tie up. Bohemia Bay Yacht Harbor is a beautiful marina with covered slips, some covered parking for vehicles and plenty of amenities (although some are shut down for the season now). We set a plan to put a couple of loads in the laundry, then let Frankie run the grounds for a while as we do the laundry. He really must’ve needed the exercise because he ran full out for a good ten minutes. We were getting tired just watching him! One thing we found out about him is that when he gets running along pretty quickly he starts hopping like a rabbit. What a goof!

With the laundry done through the washers and both loads started in the dryers, we went back to Kailani to wait for Foster to show up. He had said earlier in the day that he could make it to the marine by 6:30 pm, bit he got out of his afternoon commitment a bit early and was knocking on our door at 6:00 pm. He stayed for a good hour and a half and left us with some great information, recommendations, and locations to visit during this southerly swing and for next year along the loop. As Foster was leaving, we learned that he actually lives ten minutes from where his afternoon commitment was and yet, he drove an hour and a half to spend that same amount of time with us then, drove back home for another hour and a half. As soon as he got home, he sent out an email to Dave Skolnick, Harbor Host for Annapolis and to Doug Smith, Harbor Host for Solomons Islands to let them know that we were heading their way and to look for us to contact them. That’s what we call service. Thanks Foster!

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