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BrianKing 06-26-2007 07:55 AM

Cruising through Hell Gate
I'll be coming from Narragansett Bay RI to Lake Ontario starting late next week in an Ericson 32-200. Is it best to go around the east side of Long Island and up through NY harbor to the Hudson or is the East River and Hell Gate something the average sailor can do successfully with good planning regarding tides? Suggestions on stopovers along the way and any feedback is welcome. Thanks.

rperret 06-26-2007 08:20 AM


I've not done this myself, but have spoke to others that have. You are best to go thru Hell Gate. Just time the tides, make sure your motor is in good order, and have a good look out. Also plan to make sure that you have a place to harbor on the sound side of hell gate in case you time the tides wrong - City Island is likely a place to stay overnite.

Good places to stop include - Mystic, CT, Brandford, CT, Milford, Port Jefferson (NY) - alot depents upon winds, etc. Since winds are prevailing SW in the summer.....

Recommend you buy/go to library to get the appropriate cruising guides and download the NOAA coast pilot.

Good luck

Fairfield, CT

danjarch 06-26-2007 09:04 AM

I have sailed through hell gate on the mystic whaler. She's a 110 foot schooner. We had to do a lot of sail handeling due to the wind shadows that lurk around all the buildings. I would assume you are going to motor. It's not as bad as it's name implies. Be aware of the tides, and watch out for upstate storms. The only time it got harry, was after a nasty storm in albany made the outgoing tide a ripping 4-knts. it's normally about 2-knts if my memory serves. There my be alot of trafic, so try to go thru on a week day. Most of the traffic will be professional skippers. They're alot more predictable.

JimsCAL 06-26-2007 10:06 AM

This is not a difficult passage. You just need to start out at Throgs Neck as the current turns, and you will have a quick ride out into the Hudson. Get the current tables, not the tide tables.

camaraderie 06-26-2007 02:08 PM

Do the hell gate run...and you can stage in Port Washinton Harbor which is nice and protected so you can time your arrival to full high tide at Hell Gate
On the East River, use tide tables for New York. High tide at Hell Gate, Hallets Point, is 2 hours, 4 minutes later. SLACK tide only lasts for four minutes so you want to time things closely and NOT arrive early as you want the ebbing southerly current to help you. Stay OUT of the center of the channel and off to the sides where the current is weaker. Biggest issue is traffic so just monitor 13 and 16 and keep an all around watch.
You must plan carefully but it is a fun ride and wonderful sightseeing! You may want to make a stop off Liberty Island to wait for the flood tide up the Hudson as well since it is not much fun motoring at 2 knots! Have fun!!

BrianKing 06-27-2007 07:59 PM

Thanks for the feedback, it's been helpful. Any others feel free to comment.

paulk 06-28-2007 11:28 PM

I think the Coasties like to know you're coming as well. Check with your local USCG what you need to do about reporting before transiting NYC. Last time we did this was pre 9/11, so all we had to watch for was the current and traffic.

sailor25b 06-29-2007 09:40 AM

Hell's Gate is really no big deal at all if you time the currents right. I've done it many times with no trouble. You need to stay alert to the large commercial vessels that course through the narrow passage from Throggs Neck to the Battery. You may need a clothespin for your nose as you pass the garbage depot in the Bronx. I have spent the night on the hook, waiting for the tide to turn off College Pt., and watched the jets roar overhead into LaGuardia airport. Very cool.

I once missed the tide, yet still motored up the East River against a 4.5 kt current. With my engine at full speed, I could barely keep up with the pedestrians walking alongside the FDR Drive. Quite embarrassing!

bubb2 06-29-2007 10:26 AM

If I can can add My 2 cent's as I have done Hell's gate many times also, Time you passage with the tide at the battery. If your going out to the sound you want to enter the East river at the battery an hour or 2 after low tide. You can ride an 3 to 4 kt. push all the way past the brother's Island's. If you are coming form the Sound plan to be at Hell Gate hour or 2 before low tide at the Battery. The out going tide will pull you to the Battery. This is an fun trip and if you hit it right with tides your kt. meter will read your boat speed and the GPS will read 3 to 5 Kt. higher (speed made good)

SunDogNY 06-26-2011 11:17 PM

Did what bubb2 recommended twice
Fairly inexperienced but both times worked like a charm..

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