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liveincolor 05-15-2012 02:59 AM

Montauk: What's the point ?
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To go around it of course. This Saturday me and my father left from Amityville to sail my Hurley 20 around Montauk Point, and into Lake Montauk where my little boat is now safely moored. I had a deadline of May 15th to move the boat from its dock in my town. We watched the weather and the weekend couldn't have had a better forecast. West winds, turning SW 10-15 kts gusts to 20, high pressure, sun and pleasant. The forecast remained consistent and so at 1100 on the 12th we left the dock and set off for Montauk.
Although seperated from the ocean by only a few small miles and some outer islands, it took us 6 hours to make it there. In the Great South Bay (I call it the Great Shallow Bay) it is necessary to sail East past the Robert Moses Bridge to West channel, used by many ferries bound for Fire Island from the mainland. West channel allows you to head south, and then west towards the Fire Island Inlet, where it is also extremely shallow in many marked and unmarked spots, and the tedious navigation and vigilance required to keep the boat in the narrow depths of the inlet may remind one of threading a needle. Chart in hand and prudent eyes on wave and water texture allowed us to stay clear of all shallows and proceed to the North Atlantic with a favorable tide where finally we can turn East for the majority of the trip.
Its a great feeling to leave the crammed inlet behind, with all its fishing boats of various sizes and depths just as sporadic. We sailed for 3-4 hours in the daylight and at nightfall we went onto watch shifts, me taking the first one. This was our third time making the trip (last year we sailed there in June, and home again in October) and both times previous one of us was constantly at the helm. This time we had our new mate Steady Eddy aboard, a Simrad TP10 auto pilot, and it made the journey all the more pleasant. I can say from experience, being at the helm your entire watch for a 24-30 hour sail is exhausting, especially in the late night and early morning hours. It was my pleasure to let Eddy sail the boat most of the night, and keep a relaxed watch for other boats, wind shifts, and a consistent heading. Off watch I slept great. There's a lot of noises inside the cabin underway that you don't hear in the cockpit, some inside some out. Once you can identify all or most of them in your minds eye of the boat, it was simple for me to fade off until it was my shift again. We changed our heading a few degrees south in the night to accommodate a slight wind shift and keep us heading safely from shore. By morning we again altered course to head for the point which we timed perfect for the tide, and once there reached as much as 8kts rounding the point. The only thing that saddened us was that the wind picked up to a steady 15kts when we were just getting to Montauk Inlet, while is was very light and slow going all morning. At 1530 hours of the 13th we spotted a good friend, Darius who runs Sail Montauk (charters and lessons), just outside the harbor sailing his Catalina 22 and together we sailed into the harbor.

Edit: Attached is a mockup of our course. My dad has the real course line on his handheld GPS, I can upload that too at a decent hour if anyone wants to see it.

HPLou 05-15-2012 08:31 AM

Re: Montauk: What's the point ?
Thanks for sharing. Always a nice feeling to move from winter storage to the seasonal port. Enjoy the sailing season.

CalebD 05-15-2012 02:17 PM

Re: Montauk: What's the point ?
Montauk. The End.

Wow, a bilge keeler: HURLEY 20 sailboat specifications and details on

You say you transited Fire Island Inlet with the tide ebbing? Did you find the ocean swells to be exaggerated by the Great Shallow Bay pushing into them?

Do you keep your boat at the south end of Lake Montauk/MTK harbor? There is another member here who keeps his 50' Bene at that spot.

Nice write up.

liveincolor 05-15-2012 07:59 PM

Re: Montauk: What's the point ?
Generally I have found the swell directly outside the inlet to be exaggerated by the ebbing tide, and in a very small way it was again observed this time as well. However, the swell was so small and long period that it was hardly noticed, and only now remembering back I can say it was very slightly bigger at the inlet. I know Brad and his family, great people. We both spend a lot of time on our boats in the summer out there so I see them as neighbors and Brad's son and I surf the same spots all the time. Looking forward to another great summer.

WanderingStar 05-15-2012 08:19 PM

Re: Montauk: What's the point ?
Bold trip, nice report, thanks.

CalebD 05-15-2012 09:40 PM

Re: Montauk: What's the point ?
I figured you might know Brad and family. I guess you and Lucas surf the ditch a bit, eh?

I asked about FI Inlet as the only time I came out that way it must have been in full ebb and the harmless 3' swell had grown to 10' breaking waves in the race of tide leaving the Great Shallow Bay. That was in a MacGregor 26' S sailboat with a measly 8 HP motor pushing us along. Some white knuckle moments I will not forget. Once outside the 'race' and breakers the 3' swells were entirely benign.

liveincolor 05-15-2012 09:59 PM

Re: Montauk: What's the point ?
Ah yes, I've never encountered an experience quite as extreme as yours in the Fire Island Inlet, but when I was younger I sailed small catamarans (Hobie 16, Prindle 16 etc) out of Jones Inlet with my dad a lot and at times came upon some surprisingly large waves in the inlet while the ocean was much calmer. Just those times when all the right variables come together. I've noticed the swell direction plays an important role in how it enters the inlet. Generally this area doesn't get much SW swell, but when we do the ebbing tide can have that building effect on even just a small swell. Fortunately a lot of our swell is from the S/SE/E and the ebbing tides effect is less extreme until the swell has some significant size and/or a greater period.

CalebD 05-16-2012 01:29 AM

Re: Montauk: What's the point ?
Yes, it was weird because there was not even a lot of wind and the ocean itself was fairly calm but both Jones and FI inlet had these large, potential washing machine type waves caused by the GSB pouring out into the Atlantic.
The waves were against the tide which seemed to pile them up in height as they slowed down.
As we neared the ocean we saw nearly 50 boats anchored in Toe Nail Cove as they ate lunch and watched the white water out the inlet. We went straight on out and apparently lived.

weinie 05-16-2012 05:01 AM

Re: Montauk: What's the point ?
1 Attachment(s)
Big trip, little boat!
I grew up power boating on the south ndI used to make the loop around atlantic beach to jones beach in a 27' sea ray thru Rockaway and and back into Jones inlet. And I know I certainly would be scared as hell to make that trip in a 20 footer.
I suppose thats why even though I live on the water on the south shore, I keep my sailboat boat in pt. wash. on the sound.

Bene505 05-16-2012 08:54 AM

Re: Montauk: What's the point ?
Liveincolor is good people.
I figured that was you when I saw the boat link that Caleb posted. (Caleb is regular crew for our east-west migrations.)

What a great trip you had!

Lot's of news here, the boat was in a big-time movie shoot, we've been surfing through the winter, I've been re-doing the 12v compressors (cold beer at last!), we got a bigger solar panel.

You probably heard about Dave building a huge, Coast Guard certified cat. Look him up and he'll show you his progress.

Glad to hear that Darius is still doing his thing. Our ETA is mid/late June. Your post has me eagerly awaiting that day. Can't wait!


P.S. Did you get a solar panel yet? (Can't remember if you were getting your initial one or a bigger one.)

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