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ptgray 04-27-2010 10:34 AM

Shinnecock Inlet
Hi Gang!
My "summer cruise" in July is going to be a circumnavigation of Long Island. I keep my boat, a 31' schooner, Quintessence, on Tom's River, Barnegat Bay, NJ.
My plan is to head out Manasquan Inlet and make stops at Sandy Hook, City Island, The Thimbles, Mystic, Block Island, Fire Island, perhaps Jones Beach Inlet and then back to Mansaquan.
I will have a mixed crew on board, some very seasoned sailors, and some novices, so I am trying to avoid overnight runs for this trip. Right now my only problem is the run from from Block Island to Fire Island. I would like to split it in half (it is around 96 miles), and Shinnecock Inlet would be about perfect. I just don't know anything about it. By boat has a 5' draft, and the charts are not terribly clear regarding depths and channel marks.
Anyone familiar with Shinnecock that can share some local knowledge?

CalebD 04-27-2010 12:03 PM

Coastal Pilot 2 has this to say about Shinnecock Inlet:

Visibilities of less than 2
miles are observed about 5 to 10 percent of the time
from May through July. These frequencies are higher at
the eastern end in May and June and between
Westhampton and Ambrose in July. Locally, Shinnecock
Inlet is particularly rough when southerly winds climb
to 15 knots or more during ebb tide; breakers fill the

(17) Shinnecock Inlet, 31 miles westward from
Montauk Point along the south coast of Long Island, is
the easternmost entrance from the Atlantic to
Shinnecock Bay and the inland water route along the
south shore of Long Island. The approach to the inlet is
marked by a lighted whistle buoy. The inlet should not
be attempted without local knowledge because of the
frequent changes in channel depths.
(18) Tidal currents through the inlet can be dangerous;
caution is advised.
(19) In January 1988, an obstruction was reported
about 175 yards east of Shinnecock Inlet West Breakwater
Light 1A.

tommays 04-27-2010 12:29 PM


Other than needing to hit it slack as its a PITA even in a powerboat when its going :)

I have been out it in a 19' powerboat depending on weather, the big fishing boats will offen sit outside a LONG time waiting for what they feel is safe

southshoreS24 04-27-2010 02:07 PM

just make sure you it it at slack, it gets a good rip going through there! the channel changes frequently so you will want to watch a few boats go through first.

also you mention fire island. again watch the tides as a 5' draft will be an issue at some places. PM me if you need any info for fire island or some out of the way quiet spots.

hellosailor 04-27-2010 03:28 PM

Paul, Shinnecock Inlet can be a killer. The bottom changes rapidly and when the wind and water run contrary, it can look like a washing machine is running. Even the USCG boats turn back and won't run it in really bad weather.

Unless you have plenty of daylight and smooth conditions, I'd suggest passing on it and staying offshore. The south shore can be a beautiful night passage. But all the inlets (even Jones and Fire Island) can get real nasty real fast, you need to stay on top of conditions and *always* plan for the option of simply not entering the inlet if they are not good. Especially if you have engine trouble.

If you do go in, especially FI inlet or Jones, brings GOBS OF BUG REPELLANT. They'll fly a mile for a meal, and they bring ALL their friends.

sailstein 04-27-2010 03:28 PM

the inlet can be scary when the wind and tide are going in opposite directions. I took a 24' rainbow into her only because it was getting dark and I was trying to make fire island inlet to mountaulk in one shot. I was surfing down the face of a wave with the brakewaters on either side that looked close enough to reach out and touch. Not a sailing moment I'd like to relive. That said, its a long way to the next inlet .

ptgray 04-27-2010 03:47 PM

Thanks for all the quick feedback! It looks as though I may just have to plan an overnight run. I have been into both Fire Island and Jones Beach a few times and am pretty comfortable with them. Thanks again!

redhead78 04-27-2010 03:48 PM

I have been in and out of that inlet more times than I care to recall, its narrow always snotty as hell with current, tide, wakes, Last time I ducked in to give my crew relief from yakking on the way to block. Its tough to guage the entrance I followed a huge fish trawler in. It was so rough we stayed 2 days. When we got there they were searching up and down the coast for a teenage boy and girl lost on a jet ski, they found them the 2nd day some 20 miles away, both drowned. Be careful in the fire island inlet, very shallow don,t wander out of the channel..have fun be careful....Red

inthesprings 04-28-2010 03:23 PM

Hi Paul,

Well the good news is the entrance to Shinnecock Inlet was dredged over the winter. The bad news is its still tricky if there. Likely to still be breaking waves if there is any swell. Wind against current makes for interesting conditions too (the current runs through there at a few knots) so slack tide is advisable. If its calm, you should be fine.

Once your in Shinnecock Bay, it is imperative that you stick to the marked channels. Shinnecock is really shallow! In terms of where to stay, your best bet is probably Jacksons Marina which is just on the other side of the bay relative to the inlet. If fact, if you give them a call and ask to speak to Mr. Gordon Jackson, he will give you the lowdown on the inlet. He's and old sailing salt with lots of local knowledge and nice enough that he would chat with you about it.

Anyway here are some links...
Hampton Bays News - Workers finish dredging Shinnecock Inlet; project comes in $3 million under budget - 27east

Sea Conditions at Shinnecock Inlet, Long Island, New York USA

Jackson's Marina Enterprises Inc.


nk235 04-29-2010 12:33 AM


Your trip sounds great! I actually did the same trip (circumnavigating Long Island) 4 years ago with my first boat a 25' Mark 25 which is similar to a C&C25. I was 22 at the time and not too experienced and most of the time I was single handling but it was one of the best experiences of my entire life and I will remember it forever. Now that I have a much bigger and capable boat I would think twice about doing it again in that little 25' footer (especially the part where my girlfriend and I were punching into 30knts of wind coming back from Block Island headed to Greenport in 6-8 foot chop and having to constantly bail out the cockpit with a baseball hat since the scuppers where getting swamped!)

Anyway we did do Shinnecock inlet and while what everybody else mentioned is absolutely correct, if the conditions are good and you know the tides then you will be fine and it is not as bad. I would check the weather before you leave and make alternate plans that if you can time the tide right and the weather is good, enter the inlet and stay the night as it really is a beautiful little bay - BUT if it is not conducive then have a backup which would most likely just be sailing overnight. However one thing to keep in mind which no one else did mention is that if the weather is not too great, sailing on a dark night close to shore with fishing boats and other junk in the water can also be dangerous - As dangerous as navigating a tricky inlet? I don't know and obviously there are many factors to take into consideration while making that decision to see what option is best.

So I don't mean to ramble on. I do agree with everyone else that it is a very tricky inlet especially in poor conditions, but it is not un-doable and can actually be a peace of cake if the conditions are good. The upside is you won't wear yourself out sailing overnight and you get to experience a beautiful bay.

If you do stay, there is a marina just west of the inlet with a great (but kind of expensive) outdoor seafood restaurant. They let you dock for free if you stay just for dinner. For the overnight portion we motored further back in the bay and anchored in a little cove just south of the Shinnecock canel. It was such a nice night having a great dinner, watching all the boats come and go out the inlet and then having a peacefull night of solitude on the hook in a stunningly pretty back bay.

I used to keep the little 25' on the Great South Bay so I also did the Fire Island and Jones inlet and for the around the Island trip I actually went on the inside out to Shinnecock through the bays since I only had 3ft draft (and barely made it) but unfortunatly that way would be too shallow for you.

After that we did a straight shot out to Block - stayed a few days there then went to Greenport, Sag Harbor, Mystic, Port Jeff, Stony Brook Harbor, Northport Harbor, down Hell Gate and around Manhattan into Liberty Landing Marina on the Jersey Side - then out the narrows back into the Atlantic for a long day back to Fire Island inlet and into the Great South Bay back to Patchogue where I kept the boat at that time.

Now I have a 32' Morgan which I sail out of Mt. Sinai on the North Shore of Long Island. If you want, hit me up in July when you go on the cruise. My friend's and I have a number of moorings in Mt. Sinai harbor, Port Jefferson Harbor and Smithtown (stony brook harbor) so if your interested in staying in one of those locations I could probably hook you up with one of them so you don't have to pay.

Again sorry for the long rambling post but as I said before I had an amazing time on this trip and wish you the best on yours!


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