Inside the canal
• Because anchoring is prohibited in the canal, the cozy little basin at Chesapeake City on the western end (and southern side) is the only place for boats to legally drop the hook inside the C&D. It’s small and crowded on weekends, and its one waterfront facility — Chesapeake Inn Restaurant and Marina — has limited dock space. Immediately across from the Chesapeake City anchorage on the north side of the canal is the newly reopened Schaefer’s Restaurant and Canal Bar, which has bulkhead space for tie-ups. Boats should be well-fendered, as they will catch the wake of every passing vessel.
• Near the eastern end of the canal is Summit North Marina in Bear, Delaware, in a protected little creek 7.5 miles from the Reedy Point entrance to Delaware Bay. A limited number of transient slips are available, so call in advance.
Outside the canal
• On the eastern side, behind Reedy Island and just below the entrance to the canal, is an anchorage that is somewhat protected by a submerged rock wall that runs between the south tip of the island and the Old Reedy Island Light. (The rocks are exposed at low tide.) Although this gets you safely away from commercial traffic, it is fully exposed to the wind and reversing tides. Holding is said to be good, but a solid anchor set and anchor watch are essential and the view is less than charming: Directly across the river, on the New Jersey side of the river, looms the massive Salem nuclear power plant.
• Also on the eastern side, about 2 miles north of the Reedy Island entrance to the C&D, is Delaware City Marina, a full-service marina and perhaps a better choice in bad weather. During the summer you can catch a tour boat from here to visit Pea Patch Island (just off Delaware City), home of Fort Delaware State Park, to see the crumbling remains of a notorious Civil War prison that housed (and buried) many Confederate soldiers.
• On the western side, Chesapeake Bay offers far more (and far more attractive) stopover options. Small shallow-draft boats can navigate the skinny channel to Harbor North Marina, just west of Chesapeake City, below the entrance to Elk River. Deeper-draft boats can comfortably drop the hook in the Bohemia or Sassafras rivers, which often are used as stopover points by boats waiting out unfavorable currents or bad weather.
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December 2014 issue