I don't know why, but I feel funny about calling the USCG on a personal matter - I feel like I'm taking them away from national security business. Jim, the pointer to TowBoat US was perfect. I talked to someone there who said Barnegat Inlet isn't bad except when there are northeast winds; then it can get a little rough. There can occasionally be breakers there, but they tend to be toward the middle of the inlet, and the channel is along the north jetty. He said, depending on the conditions, it can get a little "fun" in the 200' stretch where the jetty is submerged, but other than that it's pretty easy. The bay isn't bad either; they've been updating the markers and there should be at least 6-8' the whole way from the inlet to at least Forked River, though he said the channel really snakes in places (especially near the #34 marker, where it makes a hard left as you're coming in from the inlet).
Thanks, that really helped me a lot!
Now I just have to watch out for whales.