Reedy Island, Delaware Bay
Monday 11th July 2011
Distance run: 63 nmiles
Anchor up early again and on our way soon after 0600. We motorsailed up to the top of the Chesapeake and into the C&D canal where we were gratfied to find that we had calculated the tides correctly and had 2 knots of tide pushing us along. The C&D (Chesapeake and Delaware) canal which joins the two bodies of water is around 14 miles long so we were soon well along it. We had done a lot of motoring since Washington and thought we'd check out depths at the fuel berth in a marina halfway along the canal and fuel up if possible. We rang them and were assured there were 9 foot depths at low water,and as we were on a rising tide we happily went into the marina to fuel up.
Our worries first started halfway in as we touched bottom once, then sat on the bottom but managed to slither across,and then touched bottom again before reaching the fuel berth. We pointed out to the staff there that we had touched botton even though we only draw 6 feet,and they insisted if we had stayed in the middle of the fairway (which we did!) we would be okay. We slowly took on fuel and water to allow the tide to rise a bit more,and then set off back to the canal. Although we touched bottom again in the same places on the way out, we thought we were home and dry when suddenly we were not moving anymore. This time we were stuck hard in the entrance to the marina, and no amount of coaxing was going to get us off the bottom. Fortunately we were sitting on a nice soft sand bottom.
We had two choices - either wait until the tide rose enough to float us off, or make use of our TowBoatUS subscription and get them to tow us off. We had been advised by several US cruisers to take out a years' subscription for this service, and we were glad we had. They arrived in a rib within 30 minutes, attached a line to the stern and pulled us off backwards, towards and very close to the breakwater. They were obviously familiar with the area,and said that the deep water is right next to the breakwater and to get in and out of the marina you have to go as close as you dare to the rocks! Their advice for the future is to contact them and ask them about depths, rather than the marinas themselves.
Anyway, we were soon on our way having done the paperwork which showed the cost at $790, but to us nil. Our $140 subscription had already paid for itself.
We reached the end of the canal with no further mishaps,and turned south against both wind and a 2-knot foul tide for 4 miles to Reedy Island where we would have to pass through a gap in a submerged dyke to anchor for the night and catch a favourable tide and hopefully wind in the morning.
By the time we reached the gap in the dyke, the foul tide had increased to 3+ knots and we could not believe how narrow the gap was! Steve actually relished and really enjoyed this challenge, and carried out an expert ferry glide through the gap. We both gave a big sigh of relief, found a suitable spot and dropped the anchor, still in a racing tide. Once we were sure it was well dug in, we settled down for some supper, and were treated to yet another storm, with lots of thunder, lightening and rain, and increased wind, but not much more than 20 knots.
We settled down for the night,and were awake again for another storm at 0100. Deep joy!
The buoys on sticks mark the gap in the dyke - not a great deal of room for error!