The advice given on this site is based upon individual or quoted experience, yours may differ.
The Officers, Staff and members of this site only provide information based upon the concept that anyone utilizing this information does so at their own risk and holds harmless all contributors to this site.
I'm planning my second trip to the Chesapeake and would like to venture into the Atlantic north of the mouth of the Bay. This area has barrier islands with marshy areas inside and less than ideal channels to the inside.
I have three anchors sized for a Catalina 25 and one anchor sized for a 31'+ boat. I have 400' of anchor rhode.
I know it's generally not prudent to anchor off a lee shore. My interest in doing this is from previously cruising inside Atlantic barrier islands, resulting me hoping to avoid the aggressive bugs.
So here's my inexperienced cruiser question: can I reasonably expect to anchor outside an Atlantic barrier island while aboard overnight? I think the answer is "yes", but don't want to learn a lesson the hard and expensive way.
Second question if you say "no" to the previous question: would a bigger anchor let me reasonably expect to do this?
I have anchored offshore for the night in the Gulf of Mexico and in the Delaware Bay, but in both cases it was unplanned. In one instance we were unable to enter the inlet at night and in the other, we had severe engine trouble and just couldn't get there. In both cases, we were lucky that weather was mild. I wouldn't plan a cruise that included anchoring in the Atlantic, especially in a small, swing keel coastal cruiser, because you'd be way too exposed if the weather unexpectedly turns bad.
Each year, a group of sailors circumnavigate the Delmarva peninsula in a fleet, to gain offshore cruising experience, and, I haven't done that cruise, but they enter one of the inlets and anchor in that area. I've heard mosquitos can be bad there when the wind is out of the west. I always carry mosquito net covers for all hatches and can keep the hatches open. Some mosquito netting isn't fine enough to keep out no-see-ums, so I use the finest netting I can find. My advice is anchor inside and prepare for the mosquitos. It's only one night, unless the weather turns bad the next day. If it does, you'll be glad you're in a sheltered area.
The concern isn't the adequacy of your ground tackle. The problem is that weather prediction is still not exact, and if it turns bad, you have no place to shelter from it. It's too late to try entering an inlet in those conditions, so you'd be stuck sailing a small coastal cruiser along what might be a lee shore, and, if you're heading south, you'd probably be sailing against a fringe of the Gulf stream current.
The better choice would be to enter Cape May Inlet, weather permitting, exit into the Delaware Bay, and transit the C&D Canal into the Chesapeake Bay.
Steve Milby C&C 35 Landfall ("Captiva Wind"); Cal 25 ("FahrvergnŁgen") Past Commodore
While I havenít anchored overnight in an ocean swell, I did spend a long, long night trying to sleep on an exposed anchorage in Long Island Sound. The evening started out calmly with a NE breeze, then switched to southwesterly and built through the night to 20 kts. The anchorage, of course, was wide open to SW and we were trapped. Too dark to attempt a move in this rocky harbor. It was one of the only time Iíve experienced seasickness, and itís impossible to do anything. Certainly not fun. Iíd take that experience and double it if in the ocean.
Looking at a chart of the islands just north of the mouth of the Chesapeake, I see very gradual depths (teens and twenties) going out several miles into the Atlantic. Let's assume (for a moment) a calm night--very little wind along the shore... Swell can be coming from weather systems thousands of miles away, and depending on is size and direction, there will be some area where the waves are gradually squaring up until they become breakers. Further out, it can be more like an elevator going uppppppppppp..... and downnnnnnnn....... Predicting and choosing where to be out there can be tricky. Add to that an unexpected squall line coming across the bay and the flat Delvarva Penninsula, kicking up steep, short seas that cross the swell along the Atlantic shore, and......
You should also expect Delmarva to generate a sea breeze that builds through the late afternoon and evening, adding local chop on top of the long-distance swell, calming down after dark.
I'd get some nets.
Dave Bristle Association "Port Captain" for Mystic, CT PO of 1985 C-25 SR/FK #5032 Passage, ex-OUPV Now on Eastern 27 Sarge (but still sailing when I can). Passage, Mystic, and Sarge--click to enlarge.
I'll add that the ocean cruisers I know (and I'm not really one of them) don't anchor out overnight off an ocean shore--they either go inside somewhere or stay under way. An exception can be in conditions when they can't negotiate an inlet until the tide turns.
Thank you everyone for sharing your experience! I have not experienced anchoring overnight in swell and chop, and didn't consider it. Now I know, but might plan for one night anyway so I can feel the misery!
I am curious. What is your planned itinerary? Why does anchoring outside the bay interest you? The same risky anchoring situation is present along leeward shores in the bay, too!
I just love the feeling of sailing in a C25 in calm conditions with gently rolling 10 foot swells on the ocean. But I also like sleeping soundly while at anchor!
I'm in the early planning stage with no itinerary. I'd like to go to Tangier for a night, then cruise along the Eastern Shore (looks like some nice places to hide and some nice marina facilities), then sneak into the Atlantic for a day or two. I think/hope I can anchor somewhere inside Fishermans Inlet before heading out and after coming back from the Atlantic.
If you want to join us and the timing works out, another boat would be welcome!
Anchoring outside in the Atlantic interests me because I want to go outside in the Atlantic. It'll be a new and bigger adventure!
Notice: The advice given on this site is based upon individual or quoted experience, yours may differ. The Officers, Staff and members of this site only provide information based upon the concept that anyone utilizing this information does so at their own risk and holds harmless all contributors to this site.