Sailing To New York City
Sailing To The Mouth Of Delaware Bay
|Looking back over the flat marshes bordering the Delaware River at the last bridge crossing the C & D Canal. This one carries Delaware Route 9 to Delaware City, which is about a mile north of the canal (to the right, in the picture).
As we motored out of the mouth of the canal, the waters of the Delaware River were slightly choppy with small waves, presumably due to conflicting currents. Right away, we saw a big ship heading up the river, and we saw lots of other traffic during the day. Delaware Bay was much busier than Chesapeake Bay, at least when it came to commercial traffic. On the other hand, I don't think we saw a single recreational fishing boat during the whole trip down Delaware Bay, something that would never happen on Chesapeake Bay.
There were plenty of other interesting comparisons to Chesapeake Bay:
- Cruisers on the Chesapeake have dozens and dozens of navigable rivers and creeks on which to roam, most of which are deep enough for sailboats. On Delaware Bay, though, there are relatively few navigable tributaries, and virtually none that are suitable for sailboats. The only major tributary to Delaware Bay is the Delaware River itself, while Chesapeake Bay arguably has ten or more major tributaries.
- If you're tacking up or down Chesapeake Bay, you can usually sail for miles before you have to tack, since the water is deep enough. On the other hand, Delaware Bay has a narrow deep-water channel that is everywhere surrounded by numerous troublesome shoals. When you're cruising down Delaware Bay, you can look around you and see miles of open water, but don't be deceived. Look at the chart, and you'll see that shoals with only three or four feet of water can pop up miles from shore, even right next to the main shipping channel. What kind of cruising ground is that?
- Chesapeake Bay has hundreds, if not thousands, of decent places to anchor a sailboat, especially if you include the tributaries. On Delaware Bay, you could probably count the number of decent anchorages on one hand, and have fingers left over. That's a slight exaggeration, but you get my point.
- The topography around Delaware Bay is very flat, and much of the shoreline consists of unbuildable marshes. Therefore, there are very few towns along the bay, and the scenery is not very inspiring. In fact, the most notable sight, visible for miles up and down the bay, is the gigantic, steaming, nuclear power plant at Salem, NJ. Although Chesapeake Bay has its own nuclear power plant (at Lusby, MD), you hardly even notice it given the splendid array of natural scenery on the Western Shore. Needless to say, Chesapeake Bay also has plenty of towns chock full of marinas and other services for visiting cruisers.
Overall, as a Chesapeake Bay cruiser, I was quite surprised and disappointed by the slim pickings on Delaware Bay. It would be fair to say that I won't be sailing Sunspot up here any time soon.
I have lots of pictures of ships on Delaware Bay, so the next nine pages are mostly pictures, after which the story continues.
|A container ship comes down the river, while a recreational trawler plows its way up the river, heading into the wind and tide.
|A closer view of the ship, Cap Van Diemen; there are more pictures on the next page.
||Buoy 5R, just over five miles down the river from the canal.|