Rehoboth Bay during offshore storm - safe to paddle?

Hi folks,

My family has some time planned down on the Delaware shore next week (thru 8/28), but Tropical Storm Henri is predicted to churn some nasty swell on the Atlantic side, making safe swimming much less attractive.

I’ve never been to the area, so I’m wondering if any local paddlers can comment on the likelihood of paddling Rehoboth Bay safely while there’s a storm offshore like there will be next week. I am generally a flatwater paddler, and while I can handle a little swell, self-rescue, carry PFD, flotation for my boats, pump, etc, I have no desire to push the limits. I don’t roll, and stay off the big water if there’s much wind or wave action.

Is it even worth putting the boats on the car in case conditions are OK later in the week? Or is the Bay totally out of the question without a bomb-proof roll for the week after a storm’s come by offshore?


There are a number of rivers and creeks off of Rehoboth Bay which would be protected depending on where you launch. The bay itself in protected from the open ocean by barrier islands, but is large. I’ve only paddled round trip on the Indian River from the inlet to Millsboro and so others would have a better idea as to launch sites.

Even on a calm day I’d avoid the inlets except at slack tide. At full flood or ebb paddling against the current can be impossible and three foot plus standing waves are not uncommon along with a lot of boat traffic. I’d only do this with a local group.

Be aware that the area can be very windy, especially in the afternoon when the onshore winds really kick up on hot days. If paddling from the barrier islands there is a lot of marsh with multiple channels. Make a careful note of your launch site when heading out. A GPS can be helpful. Even with a local chart there are sometimes few landmarks. Keep a close eye on the weather as thunderstorms are common this time of year and can form suddenly.

All that being said, I would definitely take a boat. There is a lot of great paddling there.

Although I’m not personally familiar with these places check out Delmarva Board Sports and Dewey Beach Watersports among others for local knowledge. Most kayak shops are happy to help out.

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Very helpful, thanks! I would not have guessed at standing tidal waves in the inlets, so I’m glad you mentioned that possibility. I’ll probably stop in at one of the outfitters before going out. Thanks again!

Do not mess with the ocean when a hurricane is in the forecast.

You want to be looking at the marine forecast for the bay. Any time you want to paddle open water like that. Can be found on NOAA web site.

When there are inlets etc as well, yes local knowledge invaluable.

Thanks, Celia!