DBOFS

Delaware Bay Operational Forecast System

This 12 year old sticky note hangs on the chart on the wall above Tim Konkus’s desk.

If you have heard about the informative “Briefings” that are part of staying at this strategically located marina to set up for transiting Delaware Bay, you are not alone. This place is known for them!

I think yesterday we were part of the first “briefing” this season!

Tim Konkus, owner, Delaware City Marina

Tim gives the briefings here. He teaches us how to use the DBOFS to safely and efficiently get to Cape May or alternative ports like Lewes, Atlantic City, Hancock Marina, etc.

Google DBOFS and CBOFS and get familiar with these tools.

Example, a case study: Shellerina’s passage tomorrow. First, you need a good WIND weather window. We’ve been tied up here for five nights waiting for ours. Tomorrow is a good (hard to find) weather window to leave here and head south to Cape May on our overall northbound Loop trip. I could elaborate more on wind and sea state, but I’m not going to get into that for THIS post. I’m going to focus on currents and TIMING our departure time from this wonderful port, as well as strategically altering our route a bit to avoid current.

Cape May is about 50nm from here. That’s 6 or 7 hours for us in our trawler. (( Mental note: 1/3rd of the way down is a security blanket on the east side: Cohansey River and Hancock Marina. Be ready for strong currents in that river if you need that lifeline. ))

OK… so lets see what is happening tomorrow for currents on Delaware Bay!

Legend: the arrow colors represent the speed of the current.
DBOFS show that tomorrow at 7:00am the lower “Bay” has northbound [flood] current, and up north in the “River” by us there is still some southbound [ebb] current, but it has started to become disorganized.

8:00am In the upper Delaware River area currents are starting to organize into Flood, northbound flow.

By 9:00am in the north “River” part of the Delaware, the Flood-Northbound current is well organized… especially on the west side of the river, where the big ship channel is. It is substantially weaker on the east side of the Delaware River. There is some evidence of a counter current “eddy-ing” south there.

By 10:00 am we see PEAK flow northbound Flood in the upper Delaware “River” section of where we want to go. Again, most of that 2- knot current is on the west bank of the Delaware River.

By 11:00am, the lower “Bay” is getting disorganized and preparing to EBB. However, to the north, northbound current continues to be strong! … especially on the west side of the Delaware River. Note that the east side of the river has less northbound current!
By NOON, things in the upper “River” section start to slow down a bit. The east side of the river is “tame”. The lower Delaware BAY section actually starts to get organized into an EBB action.
By 1:00pm the currents in the upper “River” are totally disorganized and the lower part of Delaware River and Bay is ready to fully cooperate on our journey south to Cape May.

Without getting into too much detail, we want to be at the entrance to Cape May’s canal by 5:00pm. The currents start to work against us down there by 6:00pm, plus we’ll start loosing daylight!

So given this scenario, what is Shellerina’s Float Plan?!?!

#1 We will exit the Delaware City Channel at 11:00am.

#2 We have plotted a course along the east side of the Delaware River (East & outside of the big ship channel). We are using +/- 20 feet of water depth as our guide. The currents against us are much milder on that side.

Some of our dock mates plan on leaving way before dawn in order to take advantage of southbound currents way BEFORE the 7:00am scenarios shown here. But, they’ll be navigating in the dark with that plan! Daring and adventurous.

Again, wind and weather come FIRST in selecting when to GO or NO GO. This post has been more focused on CURRENT which comes next (secondary) in your timing decision of when to push off. All are fun (and critical) to study for safe passages. Now that we have a weather window, timing the current becomes front of mind.

Tim Konkus’s “Briefings” here at Delaware City Marina will help you understand the very unique characteristics of the Delaware River and the Delaware Bay. It is very much part of the Americas Great Loop adventure to engage in this seamanship!

The southbound “route” labelled above as “Eddie Shortcut” I have entered into our chart plotter shows the path (east of the main shipping channel) which we plan to take tomorrow to find much milder currents against us.

It is also important to note that the upper “River” part of this waterway is more significant to consider CURRENT compared to the lower “Bay” part of this segment of The Loop.

Every other week, this segment of the Delaware gives Loopers tidal advantages in the morning when winds are typically lighter.

You might try to time your arrival/departure from in Delaware City to be one of those weeks when morning currents in the Delaware RIVER align with lighter morning winds. We didn’t!

I think that our “innovation” not read before in cruising guides or forums, is that favoring the east side of the Delaware River is a good strategy of minimizing the effect of current here when you need to be in this waterway in less than ideal currents… at least for this passage tomorrow.

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