Charts are outlined and numbered
on the pictures above.
NOAA Charts downloads:
NOAA charts :
US Notice to Mariners:
7 Day forecast: Cape
May, NJ and Chesapeake
Delaware Bay: South
of East Point, NJ to Slaughter Beach, DE
of East Point, NJ to Slaughter Beach, DE
Marine Text Forecasts by Zone - Graphic Interface
Offshore Marine Text Forecasts by Zone - Graphic
High Seas Marine Text Forecasts by Area - Graphic
NWS radiofax charts for the NW Atlantic
May, ferry terminal
POINT- Chesapeake and Delaware Canal
Delaware Bay Entrance
and Delaware Canal Entrance
Coast Pilots: http://nauticalcharts.noaa.gov/nsd/coastpilot3.htm
Captain's notes: Complete description of the area: Coast
Chapter 6, Page 202 to 231.
-C & D Canal:
Chapter 7, Page 232 to 238.
The challenges of sailing the waters of Delaware Bay are:-busy
commercial traffic, -strong currents, -many shoals, -very few
sheltered anchorages and when tidal currents and strong winds
opposes the bay can become very rough.
Bay: The bay is an expansion
of the lower part of Delaware River. Deep-draft vessels use the
Atlantic entrance,which is about 10 miles wide between Cape May
on the northeast and Cape Henlopen on the southwest.Vessels can
enter Delaware River from Chesapeake Bay through the Chesapeake
and Delaware Canal,which is described in chapter 7.
Cape May is the extensive peninsula on the north &SHY;
east side of the entrance to Delaware Bay.Cape May
Light (38 °55'59"N.,74 °57'37"W.),165 feet
water,is shown from a white tower with a red cupola
and two white dwellings nearby on Cape May Point.
off Cape May are mixed
clay and sand
and have the consistency of hard pan;the ridges run in
approximately the same directions as the currents.
Traffic Separation Scheme
A Traffic Separation Scheme has been established off the entrance
to Delaware Bay.(See chart 12214.)
Delaware Bay is shallow along its northeastern and
southwestern sides,and there are extensive shoal areas close
to the main channel.The bay has natural depths of 50 feet or
more for a distance of 5 miles above the Capes;thence Federal
project depths of 40 feet to the upper end of Newbold Island,110
miles above the Capes,thence 25 feet to the Trenton Marine Terminal,
115 miles above the Capes,and thence 12 feet to the railroad
bridge at Trenton.(See Notice to Mariners and latest editions
of the charts for controlling depths.)
The mean range of tide is 4.2 feet in Breakwater
Harbor,5.5 feet at Reedy Point,5.6 feet at Marcus Hook, 5.9 feet
at Philadelphia,and 8.0 feet at Trenton.(See the Tide Tables
for daily predictions for Breakwater Harbor, Reedy Point,and
The current velocity is 1.8 knots in Delaware Bay
entrance.(See the Tidal Current Tables for daily predictions.)
Strong north westerlies are prevalent from November through March;
gales are encountered about 1 to 3
percent of the time.It has been reported that with sustained
north westerlies over an extended period of time, lower than
predicted low tides may occur in Delaware Bay and River and its
tributaries.Seas build to 10 feet (3 m)or more about 1 percent
of the time from November through March.High seas are most likely
with northwest or southeast winds. Average seas run 3 feet (0.9
m) from October through March.During the summer, prevailing southerlies
are often reinforced by the sea breeze and afternoon wind speeds
may reach 15 to 25 knots.Strong easterly or southeasterly winds
Breakwater is the popular
name for the
anchorage areas behind the outer and inner breakwaters north
and west of Cape Henlopen. Harbor of Refuge is the outer and
deeper of the two areas; Breakwater Harbor is the inner area.
of Refuge is behind the
breakwater that begins 0.7 mile north of Cape Henlopen and extends
1.3 miles in a north-northwestward direction.
Harbor of Refuge Light , (38 °48'52"N.,75 °05'33"W.),72
feet above the water, is shown from a white conical tower on
a cylindrical substructure near the south end of the breakwater;the
station has a fog signal.A light marks the breakwater near its
The harbor has depths of 17 to 70 feet between the
breakwater and a shoal ridge, 8 to 12 feet deep, 1 mile to
the southwestward. The deepest water is behind the
Harbor of Refuge Light.The entrance from southeastward is deep
and clear,while that from northwestward across The Shears has
depths of 10 feet or less. Harbor of Refuge affords good protection
during easterly gales.
A strong set into Harbor of Refuge reportedly occurs across the
southern entrance during tidal floods.
Harbor, between the inner
breakwater and the shore, is excellent for light-draft vessels
in all weather except heavy northwesterly gales and even then
affords considerable protection.
The inner breakwater begins 0.3 mile southwest of
the tip of Cape Henlopen and extends 0.8 mile in a
west-northwest direction.A light is shown from a skeleton tower
on the west end of the breakwater.A dangerous sunken wreck,covered
15 feet,is about 0.3 mile
300 ° from this light.
The Federal project for the canal provides for a channel 35 feet
deep and 400 feet wide.
An anchorage basin is provided on the south side of the canal,
opposite Chesapeake City.The entrance to the basin is subject
to periodic shoaling. In July 2005, depths of 9 to 9.8 feet were
in the entrance; thence depths of 3.4 to 12 feet were inside
the wharf on the west side of the basin.
The mean range of tide is 5.5 feet at the Delaware River end
of the canal and 2.7 feet at Chesapeake City. High and low waters
in Delaware River are about 2 hours later than in Elk River.
The current velocity is 2.6 knots on the flood and 2.1 knots
on the ebb at the Reedy Point bridge,and about 2 knots at the
Chesapeake City bridge.The flood sets eastward and the ebb westward.
(See the Tidal
for daily predictions for Chesapeake City.) Storms may increase
these velocities to 3.0 knots or more;at such times, tows usually
have difficulty in making headway against the current.
The Chesapeake and Delaware
Canal is a sea-level waterway
that extends from Delaware River at Reedy Point, Del., to Back
Creek at Chesapeake City, Md., thence down Back Creek to Elk
River and Chesapeake Bay. The Reedy Point entrance is 51 miles
above the Delaware Capes, 35.5 miles below Philadelphia. Reedy
Point, on the north side of the Delaware entrance, is jettied
and is marked by a light; the jetty on the south side is similarly
Note .The system of marking the channel with buoys and
lights is from each entrance and reverses at
vessel in the waterway shall be raced or crowded alongside another
vessel.Vessels of all types, including pleasure craft, are required
to travel at all times at a safe speed throughout the canal and
Right-of-way: All vessels proceeding
with the current shall have the right-of-way over those proceeding
against the current. All small pleasure craft shall relinquish
the right-of-way to deeper draft vessels, which have a limited
maneuvering ability due to their draft and size.
Vessels will not be permitted to stop or anchor in the ship channel.
the canal by vessels under
sail is not permitted between Reedy Point and Welch