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Carlita's next big adventure


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Circumnavigating the Delmarva Peninsula has been on my bucket list for a long time. Ever since my first road trip to the area on a cold fall day about 30 years ago, looking out across the marshes and sounds teeming with migrating birdlife, trying to see round the next bend only to be denied by the road leaving the water, I knew that I needed to come back one day in my own boat.

Carlita may not seem like the ideal boat for this but when you look into it a little deeper, she may be more ideal than you might think. Shoal water abounds allowing greater exploration, being able to sail in 6-8” of water will be a big plus. Near the northern end of the Eastern Shore is the Assawoman Canal which is crossed by 2 low bridges with a listed vertical clearance of 3.9’. The canal is no longer maintained and is only used by small craft. She may be cramped by cruising boat standards but they cannot do it, compared to open boat cruising she is luxurious.  Having lived aboard her for a couple of months and taken her in some pretty big water I am sure that we can handle it. The only weak link may be me. I will turn 78 in a few weeks and I have had Parkinson’s disease for the last decade and am nowhere near as physically capable as I was.

 

I currently have Carlita in the shop and modifying her centerboard trunk to the mk3.2 location which will allow me to reef her further when going upwind. This trip will give me a great opportunity to evaluate the modification over a wide range of conditions.

 

The large chart shows the whole voyage. See the red course line starting and finishing at B&B, lower left. The small chart starts at the southern tip of the Delmarva peninsular. For anyone not familiar with the area, the highway running through the chart is the Chesapeake Bay tunnel bridge. The soundings are in feet and it is 5 nautical miles between the pins.

Chart Cape Charles.png

Chesapeake cruise1.jpg

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Well Graham that is pretty ambitious. It makes me wonder what I am doing sitting on my duff. This is a photo from 2007. Sally and I were sailing outside of Oyster. I have been back a couple of times but not often enough. Have you got dates in mind?

 

 

IMG_1504c.thumb.jpg.c175d6306dcd6e50521fa1a03b737498.jpg

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Joe,

 

Great picture. Yesterday if I could. Bathroom remodeling takes longer to do than you hope. I am almost done and I am flatout on Carlita's trunk and freshening up  her varnish. I hope to get underway within a couple of weeks. 

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Those are some amazing waterways behind the barrier islands.  When I was young, we went fishing out of Wachapreague and I have good memories of the old Wachapreague Hotel that sadly burned in 1978.  I take it you are then planning on taking the Lewes-Rehobeth Canal behind Cape Henlopen?  That still leaves a pretty good passage up Delaware Bay to the C&D which could be interesting given the rep of Delaware Bay but the Chesapeake is what I know and my home ground and something for everybody.  I never did the keelboat version of the Delmarva loop when I had my big boat, and regret that.  There may be another keelboat in my future and if so, it's on my list.  You have connections on the Bay but if you need more, I'm sure myself and others can find them.  Enjoy!

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Thanks Brad. I have heard that Delaware Bay can be humiliating at times but I believe that it is mostly wind against tide so I will have to try and go with the flow as best as I can. I see that I can split that passage into two legs which would make it easier to work the tides. Of course being an optimist, in my planning I see fair winds and tides with sunny skies.

 

I have never cruised the Chesapeake but I have done 6 deliveries south through the Bay where we ran non stop except for one trip where we pulled in to Solomons for the night when it started to snow. 

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I did this trip with my Cape Dory 28 last year and had a lot of fun. The Delaware Bay wasn't too bad, of course we have the diesel so we just slogged it out against the tide which was slow but otherwise no trouble. You're right about it being mostly wind against tide. With a small boat I think you have options for stopping and waiting out the tide cycle that we didn't have. I'm jealous you'll get to explore the coastal waterways we didn't get to see. I do dream of building a smaller boat to do that kind of exploration because there is just so much exploring to do here.

 

I think we might pass you going the other way. We're taking the Cape Dory (and our B&B Two-paw) down to North Carolina on May 14th for a couple weeks of cruising.

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👋 

being a new boat builder I have lots&lots of questions, but the one I have is about finishing bright work as with others they use varnish to finish but with the improvements of uv stabilized epoxy why would you not use epoxy once and be done instead of varnish which has to be refreshed every couple of years.

 iam really envious of those  who have completed their boat and started to enjoy the fruits of their labor, I hope to be sailing buy September and get to mess about this year

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I'll be following your travels with great interest. 

 

If you need any supplies (or a place to shower) I'm available, I live near the VA/NC border.

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Hey Cruzer , the 14th is close to my departure date so I will certainly  look out for you. We are just up the Bay River from the ICW. Your 4' of draft might be marginal at the end of our dock as our tidal height is wind driven.  You can anchor 100 feet straight out from our dock in plenty of water.

 

 

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Mark,

 

This is a little off topic here but I have bad news for you. There is no magic bullet for varnish. Epoxy has very poor UV resistance. There are some coatings that hold up a little better than varnish but they are heavily pigmented and do not look quite as good. If you want a quick long term coating, go for something with a solid pigment coating, paint.  Alan said the day when we looked at my aging varnish that he might add a few touches of brown paint on his boat and maybe experiment with some feau streaks.

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Graham, 

Depending on your actual schedule, May 25 at 2 PM is the rehearsal day for the Blue Angels over the Severn and Annapolis Harbor.  They will do their show on May 26 for the Naval Academy graduation ceremonies.  A great show, but the water will be covered in boats.  If you want to stop close to Annapolis but not deal with the crowds, the Magothy River has a lot to recommend it, and I can connect you w/ folks there.  Sadly, I'm stuck in CT, but I sailed a lot of the Magothy Wednesday night races on friends' boats and a word in the right ear would have you on the starting line.  My big boat was kept up Mill Creek, south of the bridge and closer to Annapolis, and it has nice protected anchorage and a killer creekside crab house.

 

I have a ton of good stops for you from Baltimore down to the Mobjack Bay, but as a starter, this month's Spinsheet magazine has a good article on the largest of the Eastern Shore rivers, the Choptank River.  You can read Spinsheet online at spinsheet.com.

 

Coming south past Baltimore, be aware of several shoals and bumps just north of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.  While none of them are shallow enough to fret Carlita's draft, the cross chop that can build up on them is wicked, and if a big ship is heading out of the Patapsco River, its wake can build up on those shoals and really surprise one.

 

Further south, Solomons, MD on the Patuxent River has a wonderful harbor, excellent marinas, restaurants and good anchorage.  Jutland Creek, off of the Potomac, just inside Pt. Lookout, is a good anchorage and marinas are right there too.  It sheltered me for a 2 day blow when I just had enough of beating myself up on a passage south.

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I haven't sailed the entire Chesapeake, but a lot of it. I will be adding a bunch of pics to Skeena's page, as I just got back from taking her to the Chesapeake and sailing for three days. It was amazing. We gunkholed in a few spot where the water wasn't a foot deep at low tide and watched the Ospreys, Herons and Eagles work their prey. The Chesapeake is just an amazing body of water, and the CS Mark III boats are perfect. Bring good screens, but I guess you know that. I never an get used to the size of bugs in warmer climates.

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That is all good info Brad.  I would love to see the Blue Angels again but I won't in the Annapolis area that early as I am intending to do the trip anti clockwise.

 

Steve, I look forward to seeing your pictures and hearing about your trip. 

 

Matt, It is a minimum of 700 nautical miles.

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Graham,

I have plenty of room at the dock behind my house in Lynnhaven inlet, if you need a place to stop, or any other logistics,  just ask.  

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Dwg,

 

Thanks for the offer. I will be near the beginning of my cruise when I pass Lynnhaven Inlet, if I have not forgotten or broken anything critical I should be okay but it is nice to know that there is a refuge right there if I need it.

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