jimgo - Jim McGee's concerns about rough water on the lower Delaware is worth further discussion, but if you're looking for a place within easy driving distance from Avalon, it's hard to think of a better place than Bayway. I've never been there, so I'm just posting my reaction to Ulladh's recommendation. (By the way, Jim McGee is the one who sent me the helpful comments on Barnegat marinas that I forwarded to you.)
We've driven through Toms River on the way to Island Beach State Park many times over the last 30 years. When I lived near Princeton we took I-195. From the Philly area we've always taken Rt. 70-37 through Toms River. It's only a two lane highway through the forested part east of Medford, but the driving is about as relaxed as it gets in New Jersey. That might be a longer route from Lansdale, though. (And be aware that we've never made the trip on a Friday afternoon.) From viewing it over the Rt. 37 bridge, Barnegat Bay looks like a fascinating place to sail, and I've been wanting to rent a daysailer there (or bum a ride off someone else - hint-hint) for awhile.
...the currents can be tremendous, especially if there is heavy rain or flooding on the upper Delaware as has been the case for the past 6 weeks...
I think this is an exaggeration. We have not had tremendous currents for the past six weeks. I view the glass as half full: Despite rainfall that has shattered all-time records, the currents were above normal only for a few days after Irene, and a couple days after Lee. You can check NOAA's current station
data to verify. But during that same time the Chesapeake also a lot of silt (which can clog water intakes) and large debris (which can inflict obvious damage), so neither body of water was well suited for recreational use during that time.
Aside from those few days, there has been no noticeable increase in the strength of the currents over the past six weeks - or at any other time this season or last. There has never been a time that I said, "I can't go out because the currents are too fast."
It can be argued that the only reason one would want to sail the Delaware is because it is close to home for some of us. But that can be a compelling reason for those of us who know we wouldn't sail if we had to drive longer distances. And it's still sailing! There are many other places where sailors contend with - and do enjoyable sailing in - much swifter currents than we have on the Delaware.
If you're a frequent cruiser, and you need to get "from point A to point B" on a particular day within certain hours, the current can be a killer. But if you're a daysailor, and you only need to get "from point A to point A", and you're willing to pick your route (upriver vs. downriver) to suit that day's currents and the slackwater schedule, the currents are entirely manageable.