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mikeytino 03-30-2010 01:20 AM

Need advice: sailing Long Island sound through East River
I have seen and read a ton of fantastic posts on sailing down the East River from LI Sound.
I'm picking up my boat (Catalina 22 with a 4 HP outboard) on Sunday, April 11 (weather permitting) in Northport on the north shore of Long Island, and sailing it down the East River and around the South Shore to Long Beach where it will live.

A few questions:
- I've seen a bunch of references to the timing of the current. If I understand all the posts I've read - I want to be at the Throgs Neck 2 hours after low tide and ride the currents through the river. (that's 2pm on the day I'm planning)
If I'm wrong, please let me know - that's a mistake I don't want to make in a small boat with a 4HP.

- Anyone here ever do a similar sail - and know about how long it'll take? I'm not sure how long it will take, I'm planning on overnighting on the boat somewhere because I expect that this will take a full day to get from Northport to NYC (I don't want to sail overnight)


cruisingmom 03-30-2010 02:04 AM

east river trip
Best wishes!
Sorry, I do not remember the currents at the moment. Will try and look up if you do not get other posts. Eldridge's or Reeds would tell you.
It is reasonably quick once you get through. ? an hour??
Our initial trip through was complicated by having to take the eastern route ( and wait for a bridge) around Roosevelt Island due to something going on at the UN. You may want to double check with the Coast Guard, and the news. If any dignitaries are coming or the UN is in session, you may be routed around. Also, some days they close it all together.
Also, check the mast height vs that of that RR bridge on the East side of Roosevelt Island in case you are routed that way.
There is a little anchoring spot on the east side while you wait for the bridge to open. It is just a quick stop.
It is an exhilarating trip, past the Statue of Liberty, though watch out for the speedy orange Staten Island Ferry and all the cargo ships!

For a place to stay once through:
There is a lovely Yacht club at Great kills off Staten Island, if you are member of another Yacht club, to the right after you get out . Richmond something. Very reasonable mooring balls.Very friendly. A good place to stay the night.

Another option is to Anchor off Sandy Hook, though that may be a bit too far south.

There is also an anchorage in Sheepshead Bay, I believe. to the left.

There may be a quicker route for you further east. I would have to check the charts. There is a cut away by ? Orient Point? I believe, by that Island whose name escapes me at the moment. You need to watch the tides there as well.

Good luck. I am doing all this from memory ( 3 years ago). If you do not get other replies, I can look up the info in my guide books. I do not have a current Eldridge yet.
(WE don't hit the water until at least May in Maine. :))
Wishing you fair winds and best of luck on the new boat!

jdglasse 03-30-2010 02:06 AM

Hell's Gate & the East River
I made this trip last November on my Pacific Seacraft Mariah 31, and it was a blast. Like you, I obsessed over this portion of the trip for weeks; the truth is that if you time it just as you describe, you'll find yourself flying past manhattan in no time, and having a lot of fun in the process.

My only word of caution would be to watch out for sudden strange changes in current while riding down the east river in such a strong tide. Once your through the scary hells gate portion of the trip, it's easy to get complacent and think the worst is behind you, but I had one or two surprise course corrections due to turbulence. Nothing to worry about, just stay on your toes until you are through the Manhattan bridge, where things start to widen a bit.

Leaving at 8 AM from Stamford CT, I made it into Chelsea Piers on the Hudson River side of manhattan around 3:40 pm. A fair amount of that time was spent fighting the same currents that rocketed me down the east side of the island as I travelled north on the Hudson.

If you find yourself tempted to overnight at Chelsea Piers, drop by for a sundowner. I'm on Pier 70.



tempest 03-30-2010 05:59 AM

Hi Mike,

Which day are you looking at transiting the river? the 11th..or 12th?

I have the SW ebb starting at Hells gate at 8:46 a.m. on the 11th and 9:27 a.m. on the 12th. Ideally you would want to hit Hells gate at slack or as the current begins it's turn to the SW. Based on that, I'd be looking at hitting the Throgs neck by 9 am. You can certainly leave later, but you really have two needs in my opinion. You want to carry the current down the east River, but you will also want to keep the current with you all the way through the Verrazano ( the Narrows). The current turns against you at the narrows at 3:30 p.m. on the 11th and at 3:46 p.m. on the 12th. So with that in mind, I think you are looking at an early morning start...hitting the throgs neck around 9 a.m. It takes me about 2 hours to transit the river with the current, So you should hit the battery around 11 or so, and keep a fair current for another 4 hours as you go south.

As for the route, you can cut between the brother islands, keep to the right of Roosevelt island ( unless restricted, check ahead) once in lower manhattan I'd favor the left side of the river to avoid the ferries leaving the docks, Cut behind governors island ( buttermilk channel ) and then just head for the left side of the verrazano.

You can do this in a long day, if you leave early from Northport...otherwise you can stop at city island and head down the next morning. Obviously, weather plays a big part.
For you, strong south, southwest, winds would not be kind to you on this trip. which is another reason to get an early start, as the winds are usually down.

Hope this helps

sailingdog 03-30-2010 06:23 AM

You'll need to get Eldridge's, as Reed's has gone out of business.

BarryL 03-30-2010 01:27 PM


I assume you have a good reason for sailing and not trailering? The C22, at least the swing keel model, is pretty easy to trailer. At this time of year I would rather trailer the boat than sail it.

Assuming you have no trailer or tow vehicle, sailing / motoring can be done. Make sure you have enough fuel and that the motor is reliable. Make sure the friction lock works that the motor will stay aimed dead ahead. How many crew will you have? You'll need at least 2 people and preferably 3-4 total.

According to my copy of Eldridge, the current at Hell Gate, in the east river, just off Roosevelt Island, turns Southwest, at the ebb, at 8:46 AM on Sunday April 11. High water at the Battery is at 7:07AM. I would try to arrive at Hell Gate at 9:30AM or so.

It's about 30 mn from Northport to Hell Gate. Assuming you can travel at 5 kts, it will take you 6 hours to get to Hell Gate. It's low tide at Northport around 4:00AM Sunday morning. So if you get a nice early start you can ride the flood tide from Northport to Hell Gate and ride the ebb tide from Hell Gate down the East river and around to Long Beach.

It seems like Hell Gate is the 1/2 way point, so you have a fairly long trip ahead of yourself.

Good luck,

tommays 03-30-2010 03:25 PM


Issue #1 is having to due it on DATE X as if you look outside right NOW that could well be what you have which is 35 knots and 5" of rain

Issue #2 is you NOT buying fuel once you hit NYC so your really need to be sure about your range

Issue #3 is the trip could well be a piece of cake till right about the time you pass under the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and have to deal with and angry ocean

There are a few marinas in or near whitestone just past the throgsneck bridge BUT there kind of sort of really not open BUT you may be able to dock there

whitestone NY marinas - Google Search

Thsi will show most of the places

tempest 03-30-2010 04:49 PM

Hi MikeyTino,

I gave you the tidal/current information for the days you asked about. I avoided, giving the do-it, don't do it type of advice, since you didn't ask for that.

However, now that I've read your post again, and the other comments. I would add that I would not want to make this trip in 22 catalina that I've just purchased and haven't shaken out yet. If, in fact, this is a new boat to you?
I'd want to have confidence in that engine.
I would also probably have, at least my mainsail up..and the jib hanked on, secured and ready to go...just in case that baby quit on me.

I would also want an excellent Weather window. Fuel will be an issue, and I don't think City Island is a good fuel stop, I know I can't get diesel there.
So, for a re-fueling stop, you might have to stop in Manhasset Bay. The Capri Marina is the 1st stop inside there, I believe to port. I've re-fueled there once.

I sailed a Catalina 22 for a number of years on Barnaget's a great little boat, but..for the East River, New York Harbor, The Narrows, Etc...and the Ocean, you really want to pick your day! And hit your tides and currents. An early morning Weekend day, would be best..(If the weather was right.) The ferry traffic during the week is pretty hectic, and it gets choppy in lower manahattan....The Narrows can be a nightmare, in the wrong conditions in a small boat. ( wind against tide)

In great weather, it could be a great trip...Just know what you're up against if the weather is iffy.

mikeytino 03-30-2010 05:29 PM

This is all great advice!!
Thank you all and I will surely take every bit into consideration.
The good part is that we are flexible on date; so if the weather isn't right, we call off the trip to another day.

As of right now, we're planning on sailing out of Northport at 4am-ish. As long as we can make it to the Throgsneck in time to catch that Southwest current, we'll do it in one stretch. If we don't make it, we'll stay over somewhere to refuel and recharge, and head out to catch the current on Monday morning. (thinking Manhassett Bay)

I've heard that after the Narrows, it can be very choppy, and that there are 2 channels to pick - one along the shore (which can be very choppy), and one further out. I'd prefer to hug the shore if the sea is calm.

Keep the good info coming, it's very welcome and appreciated.

mikeytino 03-30-2010 05:31 PM

current maps vs tables
Quick question on Eldridge:
The tables show that the current is going to flow southwest around 830/9am on Sunday or Monday.
However, the maps (tidal/current charts) a few pages later show that the currents flow southwest 2 hours after high tide...

Can someone clarify?

Thanks again.

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