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downeast450 08-31-2013 08:17 AM

Planning a trip up the East River, Timing?
We are planning to transit up the East River past Hells Gate. Studying tide tables and current charts it looks like the following tide window will be good most of the time.

Please tell me if this is a good rule of thumb.

Round the Battery 2 to 4 hours after low tide there. Make 4 hours the limit to avoid the worst tidal currents at the entrance of the East River.

Make it to Hells Gate in no more than 4 hours.

IE: Low tied at the Battery at 6:00 am Be past the Battery by 10:00 am. A bit earlier would be better. Make Hells Gate no later than 2:00 pm.


tempest 08-31-2013 09:08 AM

Re: Planning a trip up the East River, Timing?
Down, Yes, 2 hours after low tide at the battery is the general rule of thumb. However, as you've ascertained you can enter 4 hours later and still catch a favorable current. I think you can enter even a little later than that.

Take a look at Eldridge and the currents in New York harbor beginning on page 128 of this years book.

It's a 15 mile trip. With the 7 or 8 kn. over ground that you could acheive going with the full flow the whole trip only takes about 2 hours. ( to the throgs neck ).

So if you enter with the flow @ 10 am...should be at the throgs neck by noon. I usually plan for a 2 hour transit.

downeast450 08-31-2013 10:20 AM

Re: Planning a trip up the East River, Timing?
When would the tidal turbulence at the Battery and up to the Brooklyn Bridge be worst? I am thinking 5 hours after low water would be as bad as it gets with the tide funneling in there.


tempest 08-31-2013 10:42 AM

Re: Planning a trip up the East River, Timing?
The current is at it's peak then if that's what you mean. How choppy it gets in there depends more on the wind direction and velocity and the amount big boat traffic.

downeast450 08-31-2013 10:55 AM

Re: Planning a trip up the East River, Timing?

Thanks, that is what I meant. We got a close up view of the confused seas rounding the Battery last Sunday. We were an hour late, 5 hours after low water. The wind was not an issue. It was blowing up the ER. Boat wakes against the surging tide created quite a messy situation. The sweep along the Manhattan side is very powerful then. I am hoping the tide against the wakes is not as busy if we make the 3 hour limit next time.


Plumbean 09-01-2013 12:04 PM

Re: Planning a trip up the East River, Timing?
This is from a prior SailNet thread on this. I saved it for future use but can't vouch for it personally -- just expect I will use it in the future:

Use Eldrige Tide Tables to plan to cross Hell Gate at SLACK WATER.
Your best bet is to plan the trip so as to keep moving, if your ahead of scedule run slower rather than just stopping. As a tug guy I want any pleasure craft to be predictable, I am relying on it really, which means not going in circles in confined areas. If you must stop for a bit, going east through the river I would wait well north of the battery. From there south there is just too much current as well as tug, ferry, and dinner boat traffic to be tacking or motoring around with no purpose. People do, but you asked.

"Coming the other way there is plenty of room anywhere east of the 'Brothers', but you need to be aware of the little stuff, sand scows etc. coming off moorings, coming and going from Flushing Bay, and the other little creeks. Most traffic is passing trough. Listen to channel 13!! Most tug guys dont really want to talk to you, but they probably will. Your best bet is to listen so you know what is happening around you. If you want to talk make your life easier by making your transmissions short, and knowing the difference between one whistle and two both meeting and overtaking. Plenty of recreational passes through everyday. Its really not a huge deal, but if you do decide to hit slack water in all likelyhood you will encounter a greater number of commercial vessels. Another radio hint, listen to vessel traffic, the east river is channel 12, anything moving through the East River checks in at the Throgsneck or Brooklyn Bridge, and each time somebody checks in they get a rundown of all the traffic and their locations. It would be kind of like listening in on a weather net. Channel 12 is also anchorage control and the Kills south of the AK Railroad Bridge so dont get you landmarks confused.
Todd is right most of the commercial traffic especially the big stuff tries to hit slack water or within 30 minutes to an hour either side of it. Thats not to say there wont be traffic at all stages of the tide, but it is not uncommon to have multiple units on both sides of the gates stacked up waiting on each other to get through. A week ago I was fourth in line on my side coming around N. Brother Island. You need the current tables for slack water, the tide tables wont help you here. I would agree that if your boat can manage it ride the flood through planing to be at least to Rikers Island an hour before Slack at the gate, beware of the current from pier 17 through the Williamsburgh bridge as they are very strong here and you will not want to be against them.
Going North start your trip at the Battery 2 hours after the low. Going south start your trip from Throgs Neck 2 hours after high at the Battery.
Wear PFD's, stay in the center, have a sharp lookout for barge traffic coming around corners. Have your VHF on Ch13 and an air horn handy. Know what one blast means, as distinct from 2. Have a camera ready at all times for magnificant views, and 2 days after a heavy rain,a boat hook ready, if you see any bodies or other debris that may foul your passageway.
The Coasties will not let you get in to much trouble--stay far away from the UN."
- author unknown

downeast450 09-01-2013 02:41 PM

Re: Planning a trip up the East River, Timing?
We had good advice last Sunday to get around the Battery by 10:00 am with low water there at 6:00 am. We were an hour late and I suspect the tides effect at that stage was doubled what it would have been between 9 and 10. It is quite a funnel coming in from the Ambrose Channel. The Hudson's current keeps things at bay for a while but when it is overcome by the tide it is "busy"!

We were paddling our 18' Sawyer Charger canoe with a cover. It was a white water run with big boat wakes working against the tide. The sweep up the East River under the Brooklyn Bridge was impressive.

We had no difficulty staying out of the way of the boat traffic. It took close attention and we watched and waited for ferries to dock or depart. The prop wash from The Staten Island Ferry was exciting! We did have to take on the bigger, steeper wakes head on and relied on our cover to keep from taking water over the bow when we punched into some.

We will not be late the next time. Perhaps an hour early. It was an interesting trip and an intimate look at the East River. In our Islander it will be a piece of cake. We made Hells Gate in 90 minutes after rounding the Battery. There were a couple of small ships headed up, too. The Harlem River was a "mill pond" except for an occasional wake. A police boat that was chasing some drunks on jet skis gave us little surprise. We heard the siren but thought it was on land as we were passing under two close bridges. He went by quite fast and from behind. No problems, just a surprise. Woosh! We had the current with us all the way through Spuyten Duyvil to the Hudson. Straight across to our start at Englewood Cliffs. It was a beautiful day that started at sunrise. My 67th birthday celebration.


justified 09-01-2013 07:34 PM

Re: Planning a trip up the East River, Timing?

Check out this site you can go to any date that you want and see what the tide/current is going to be doing.
Having done the East river several times in a 36' person and my own 33 Newport I have always found it best to pay attention to the current and plan your trip to ride the ebb/flood up or down. It will only be rough if you have an opposing wind.
Enjoy your trip. IMHO that is the only way to see NYC - from the deck of your sailboat.


downeast450 09-01-2013 07:42 PM

Re: Planning a trip up the East River, Timing?

Active Captain displays real time current in the East and Harlem Rivers, too.

From a canoe works, too. Ha! We paddled past Yankee Stadium!


Yamsailor 09-01-2013 10:26 PM

Re: Planning a trip up the East River, Timing?
I have always used the rule of being at the battery at Dead Low. This usually gives me the max push through the gate.

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