Sunday, May 19, 2013

The C&D Canal, Connecting Chesapeake Bay and The Delaware River

Being in the main downtown Annapolis district has its advantages, but it has some disadvantages also - the crowds tend to last way past our bedtime, and we're usually up 'til midnight.  So we were ready to continue our northward trek the next morning, plus we had a beautiful forecast for the day.  This would be our last day on the Chesapeake Bay.  There was plenty more to see, but there's also still lots ahead of us - DE, NJ, NY, the Erie Canal, Canada, Georgian Bay, North Channel, Lake Michigan, Chicago and the IL, MS, OH, and TN Rivers to home.

First sight out of Annapolis is the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.  Hard to get one shot to do it justice so here are a couple.

Baltimore is the next big city on the port side but we continued on past the Sandy Point Lighthouse northbound.

Not long afterward, a large ship came out of Baltimore headed our way so I turned on the radar to gauge her speed.  She would definitely be overtaking us so we adjusted our course to the east of the ship channel to let her pass about a mile off of our port.  That eased the effect of her wake tremendously when we did eventually have to cross it.  No furniture rearranging this time (see Portsmouth to Deltaville post).  Here's the NCC Danah from Panama.

The east and west shores begin to close in on you as the bay narrows on the north end and the landscape becomes very pretty, lots of rolling hills and farmland.

And then in the midst of all that beauty, we spot a mess/gaggle (literally) of something on the starboard side.

It turned out to be a mobile home community on a hillside, tightly packed and layered on several levels, we assume so everyone had a "water view."  It probably is nicely done but from the water it looked like a mess and I'm sticking to that observation! 

This was a cool-looking barge just coming out of the C&D Canal heading southbound.

Speaking of the C&D Canal, that stands for the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal which connects the Chesapeake Bay and the Delaware River.  It is a very busy canal handling all of the ship traffic on the north side of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, primarily Baltimore.  It saves the shippers out of the Delaware Bay 300 miles, eliminating the run down the coast of Delaware and then back north up the Chesapeake. As we approached the canal we were surprised to see marshland again.  We always love the look of the marsh grass, but we found out later that with the marshland comes the sand gnats again.  Thought we had left them all behind in GA and SC.  Not to worry though, we still have our Swamp Gator spray from the hardware store in Darien, GA!

This pic gives special meaning to the term, waterfront property!

And finally we were in the official canal.  So long Chesapeake Bay.  Wish we had experienced better weather conditions while there but you work with what you are dealt.

Appropriately so, each end of the canal has a city in place - Chesapeake City on the east end and Delaware City on the west end.  Chesapeake City has a free dock and we got the last spot available.  We had just passed some other loopers a few miles back so we invited them to raft up to us for the night.

This is the Mortensen family from Canada, our neighbors for the evening - Joanne, Erik, Mannie (dog) and Henning, aboard their sailing vessel, "Flying Free."

Before you get to a new town, you kind of have a "sense" of what to expect.  We were expecting a nice, quaint, quiet, sleepy little town and we could not have been more wrong.  This place was hopping with more people, cars, boats, and activity of any stop on the trip (well, maybe except for New Orleans).  You may not be able to see it on this picture, but there are hundreds of people at this dock and restaurant.  And there were plenty more spread all over the town.

We had dinner at the Bayard House.  One of the activities contributing to the crowd in town was prom night.  They were taking prom photos outside the restaurant (bottom right).  I was looking at the students and thinking "either I'm getting really old or they are getting really young."  We later found out it was the "eighth-grade prom" so I felt a little better about it all!

And for the third time since we started cruising 5 years ago, we had a wedding right outside of the boat.  "Here Comes The Bride."

The full wedding party and guests.

And a view from land.  We wish them many happy years together.

We took a stroll through town and in fact it is a nice and quaint little town without all the people and activity.

And we conclude our stop at Chesapeake City with another shark's head coming out of a roof (see St. Augustine, FL)!

We left Chesapeake City around 11 AM the next day to catch the tide and current to our benefit. That's not always possible but in this case we were able to depart with the tide and current in our favor and an arrival time at Delaware City at slack tide which always makes docking easier. They only have 20 minutes of slack tide and we hit it perfectly - pretty good timing huh?  It's only about a 16-mile run but we stopped for 2 reasons - they had a looper 1/2 price special and the next stop afterwards is another 60 miles down the Delaware River.  En route on the canal there were about 5 bridges - they are all at least 135 feet tall for all of the ship traffic passing through.  Here are 2 of them side by side and then the only bridge that needs raising since it's a railroad bridge.

Leaving Maryland and arriving in Delaware seemed like a major transition.  Delaware City has a wide variation of home styles but most of the homes and downtown area stores seemed to have flat fronts where you immediately stepped onto the sidewalk or street.  Most of the homes were 3 stories on the front with lots of house left behind it, all fewer stories.  Hope that made sense. 

There were a few different than the above but not many.  This one is noted in the tourist info as belonging to a local ship captain and designed to look like a ship but we didn't see the analogy.

Maybe I've missed this over the years but I am not used to seeing the basement access from outside which seemed to be very common.

The biggest difference was the presence of so many evergreen trees.

It seemed to be a nice "safe" neighborhood with lots of kids out on their own playing/bike riding in the streets.

The city's claim to fame is that they still have part of the original canal intact.  It was very small and the boats were pulled through by mules walking along the sides.  It also had several locks in the first version. It was later purchased by the US and widened and dug deep enough to accommodate sea level on both ends, eliminating the need for locks.  Here's a section of the original.

The waterfront and marina area is the next expansion of the original canal, sort of a transition to the very wide and deep version today.  Both of these sections were completely removed from the canal system later when a new channel was constructed downstream on the Delaware River to the main canal.

Here's HMR docked on the old canal with a nice flower garden on shore, we assume planted just for us!  Joking of course, but the staff here do go out of their way to really make you feel welcome.  The dockmaster told us he had planned to have the Beachboy's tune "Help Me Rhonda" playing when we arrived but he got sidetracked just before we got there.  Also, the canal is so narrow, they insist on turning your boat around by hand and lines so you don't have to worry about current, wind, running aground, etc..

Ft. Delaware is across the river but accessible only by ferry so we did not make that trip.

We attended worship service at the Episcopal Church.  Our other choices were Methodist, Presbyterian, and Catholic - not many Baptists in this part of the country.  The Episcopalians are much more formal and ceremonial than we are used to but we always enjoy visiting other churches.

Rhonda got lots more flower shots but these two were very different than anything we have seen.

And one of the other loopers said we would no longer be seeing pelicans - this is the end of the line for them going northbound.  I may try and talk the dockmaster out of this one before we leave to remind me of my favorite bird for the trip thus far.  

Our next stop is Cape May, New Jersey.  Cool, never been to Jersey before.  There are lots of issues and problems to deal with after Hurricane Sandy but those traveling before us are either being very cautious running inside or they are running the 120 miles offshore to New York if they can get a good weather window.  Either way, we'll be in touch!

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