“Branch Channel” – Delaware City DE

Thanks to my Looper Friend “Gene of Galene”He took my call today when I needed clarity.

Sometimes all the compass needles do not point in the same direction. We all like to poke fun at Navionics’ Auto Route. Here is my latest example of how it must be double checked..,. Triple checked even.

To give credit, there are cautionary symbols, which have no explanation. But this channel is un-navigable. Navionics’ “Dock-to-Dock auto-route algorithm should never have proposed this route.

There is a 6 foot vertical clearance bridge that does not open for boat traffic!

Here is the bridge (Rte 9) that Navionics describes as a bascule bridge (which means it opens for boat traffic). My admiral, Shelly, expressed concern several times today that the Waterway Guide gave no schedule or instructions for coordinating an opening with the bridge tender.
“No matter how long you wait or how many times you call on VHF this Rte 9 ‘bascule bridge’ ain’t gonna open for ya!” LOL
In addition to the low bridge / fixed span issue there is also a label that specifically advises against using this “Branch Channel” route.

Unaware of these issues, once we got there, I didn’t think this west entrance to the Branch Canal looked very inviting. As seen from the C&D Canal (below.). So, I called my very experienced Looper Friend Gene Rutkowski of Galene. He and Patty have become new lifelong Looper Friends of ours, having met up in multiple Looper ports all year.

“You gotta go around! There’s a bridge down there that won’t open,” Gene explained.

The US Army Corps of Engineers would never have put these pilings in the middle of a navigable waterway.
So, we had to keep going east (straight) then we took a sharp turn to the NW to get into “Branch Channel” from the other end!

There are some reports of shallow water at the entrance. To address that for everyone coming behind us, we recorded these bottom contours on our way in. See the explanation below.

This clearly shows a measured depth of 6 ft at the [navigable] east entrance to Delaware City’s Branch Channel. This was at 5:00pm EDT with 2-3 feet of water above mean low low water (MLLW). However my transducers are 24” below my waterline, So, coincidentally, those nearly offset each other. Therefore, at low tide we say you can expect about 5 feet of water at the entrance; it gets deeper once you are inside. Like stocks and bonds, “Past performance is no guaranty of future performance!” <wink>

5:00pm = 2-3 feet above MLLW this day as we entered.

As for the west end of this Branch Canal, it’s probably OK for an ambitious kayaker with strong arms to beat the current! … or one who knows how to time the tide’s ebb and flood.

April is early in the season, so they had plenty of room for us. We simply showed up unannounced on Monday night. But they do fill up later on in the season. The office is “closed” on Sundays and Mondays, so it may be tough to get a reservation. The river is too narrow to allow rafting. The transient docks are “further in” on the bridge side past the office and service area. (The furthest in we go, the less traffic and wake!).

Reservations are preferred. They clearly believe in a well-ordered universe. During the busy season, they would like to go 7 days per week. But, help has been hard to find.

The modest current in here will be “fun” for some to compensate for with their docking. It may not be for others.

The bridge end, past the office and service area.
The on-site marine parts and gift shop may have what you need in stock. There is also a West Marine on the local bus route, or take Uber.
They even had some OEM CAT expendables in the shelf, including one of ours.
Now open for the season. Kathy’s Crab House and many provisions are walking distance from the marina. Major grocers require an Uber or bus ride. Shelly’s fave: InstaCart works here!

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