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Hello, sailors,

I would be very grateful for your advice about a route my boyfriend and I would like to sail: Jamaica Bay (NYC) to Cape May, possibly with two or three stops in between. My main questions are:

Would you recommend us to do this considering the given conditions (see below) or would you advise us to sail somewhere else?
If so: Do you have any recommendations where exactly to go, stay, length of trip legs etc.?
Is it possible to sail between the Jersey Shore's barrier islands and the main land with our draft of 4.7 feet?

We are not very experienced sailors. I learned the ropes decades ago on a lake, not on the ocean. For two seasons, I've been sailing in Jamaica Bay, New York Harbor, Long Island Sound.

Our boat is a 30 foot slope with a 4.7 feet draft, built in 1980.
It has a built-in motor.
We navigate with the NOAA charts, usually using the iPad app, setting waypoints.
We have an anchor but haven't used it yet (of course, we would train with it before our trip if necessary).
Our depth meter can be unreliable sometimes (it happens rarely, but it may suddenly turn off for a minute or start giving very high numbers).
We don't have an auto pilot or any other automated equipment.

I am looking forward to your advice!
Thanks,
Trinny
 

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Hi Trinny,

I have only sailed there once..., well, once in, once out :) so I am not a local at all.
I thought the area NYC to Cape May was pretty tame in summer... Mind you, there was some whopping great thunderstorms that were well predicted.

I did like the look of the Sandy Hook area, not that I went in there. Maybe some locals could give you some information about having a bit of cruising practice to there, anchoring overnight and coming home next day. Do that for a few weekends and gradually get the feel for the boat and the anchor.

:)

Also, I am not sure, but I think you need charts made after Hurricane Sandy as much of the Jersey shore aint where it was....
 
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Trinny,

Many of NJ inlets are not for the faint of heart or the inexperienced. For your trip, given your experience level; I might consider Atlantic City as your 1st and only needed stop.

You could accomplish that in a long day it's 80 miles +/- So 16 hours @ 5 kn. Right now you have about 16 hours of light, if you consider that you have about an hour of light on either side of sunrise/sunset. ( There's a full moon on August 10th)

The prevailing winds are typically SW ( against you). But, if you can manage to pick a good..clear weather ( no t-storms) day like yesterday with moderate NW/N winds or west winds you'd have a better ride. Otherwise, you're tacking or motor sailing down the coast.

Manasquan inlet is a good inlet in my opinion. But, once inside, there are some tricky currents and bridges to contend with ( the RR bridge, is the trickiest ). The Marina's on the river cater to power boats and the currents run very swift, even in a slip, so docking can be tricky.

Barnegat doesn't have the bridges to contend with but the sand bars once inside can shift regularly. There's an anchorage behind the old coast guard station. I would enter here only in benign conditions were I you.

Have you tried the Atlantic Highlands and Sandy hook for an overnight?

Other trips would be up the Hudson to the east river and into the long island sound. You could visit ports like City Island or Port Washington, Huntington harbor and Port Jefferson. They would be give you good practice dealing with tides and currents and navigating in to various harbors and smaller inlets.
 

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Mermaid Hunter
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Tempest makes some good points.

Foremost is that a test run to Sandy Hook and back is a good idea. Definitely get some practice anchoring.

You can certainly make Atlantic City in one jump but it is a long way for novices, especially without an autopilot. Barneget is not bad - there is a good anchorage inside the lighthouse there. It's a good start and a second day to Atlantic City isn't hard at all. AC to Cape May is easy.

My suggestion would be Jamaica Bay to Barneget to AC to Cape May.
 

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Trinny-
What Tempest said. If the wind or weather go wrong, either bad or simply against the current in most of the NJ inlets, they can be impassible. (The same can be said about the south shore of LI.) Because the water off the NJ coast is shallow for a long way out, it can also build waves as you try to come closer to the shore, making it harder again to enter the inlets.
Four foot waves are not unusual offshore, and that could be rough for your boat, so part of the question is do you have experience with rough water and what your comfort zone is.
IF you can have faith in the weathercast, if they're sure of what is coming and there's no nonsense about occluding fronts and mumble mumble, it would be an easy trip. But I'd suggest going out of the harbor, maybe making a run around the Ambrose tower or some other six to eight hour daytrip, in progressively hours conditions, to see how you like it out there.
Again, if the weathercast is steady, reliable, the trip can be great. Of course, sometimes they forecast 5 knots and overnight that changes to forty. Yeah, great forecasts sometimes.
 

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Fortuitous
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You can sail all the way from Manasquan to Atlantic City on the inside, but there are like 7 drawbridges, a canal, and a lot of it is narrow winding channels with very shallow water on either side. If you're concerned with time, it's probably faster to do it all in the ocean, although some of the bays can be a nice ride if you have the time and inclination. One of our favorite sails ever was to Atlantic City on the inside.

Cruise to Atlantic City | Sailing Fortuitous
 

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Hello, sailors,
Is it possible to sail between the Jersey Shore's barrier islands and the main land with our draft of 4.7 feet?

Our depth meter can be unreliable sometimes (it happens rarely, but it may suddenly turn off for a minute or start giving very high numbers).
If you're going to try to come into the bays through any of the inlets, i would highly suggest you figure out what's wrong with your depth meter. i sail a catalina 250 around the bay that only draws 2ft and i can tell you from experience the sand is a lot closer then the charts might allude to in places.

and heed the warning about the inlets, there are hordes of power boaters going through barnegat and the current through the canal is swift...

i can't add much else i haven't graduated to sailing outside the bay yet...probably need a bigger boat just to get through the inlet...
 

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To Sail between the Barrier islands, You'd want to enter Manasquan inlet transit the point pleasant canal and probably exit via Barnegat. You could do it with your draft but I wouldn't stray too far out of the marked channel north of the Mantoloking bridge. You have a little more room to sail south of there..but don't stray to far.

South of the Matthis bridge ( Tom's River) and Goodluck point Is the best sailing. It opens up a little more but you still need to be mindful that it's a shallow bay. The west side ( mainland side is mostly muck), but the east side is sand.

Getting in to the Barnegat Bay this way is tricky, but is done every day. You need to know how to communicate with the bridge operators. A good ships radio and a handheld radio are essential. The point pleasant canal has swift currents and in the summer a lot of vessel traffic ( mostly power boats that are more concerned about getting to their fishing grounds that worrying about their wake) Timing is very important you don't want to be in there with the full current flow in either direction. I prefer to have a little current against me..so I don't have to reverse against the current while waiting for the bridge to open.

There's some nice Marina's on the Forked River. And the Captain's Inn used to rent slips for a night with a key to the shower. ( better check if they still do)


None of this is meant to scare you or deter you; rather, simply prepare you and let you know what the logistics are. It's a good adventure.
 

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Having sailed this a good number of times I would agree with all the above comments especially S/V Auspicious as to the route. We will be hopping up the coast following that route in reverse Cape May___Barnegat____Sandy Hook with bailout to Atlantic City if necessary on August 14.

You are not to far off from attemptimng this, but learning some more techniques and makig sure your boat is outfitted appropriately ( working reliable depth sounder and VHF is important. Whille not necessary again a fgood safety factor. Also maybe take some one along who has done this.

Barnegat Inlet is NOT for the faint of heart which is tricky because when benign it doesnt seem that difficult, but the outward shallow water extending from the jetties 3/4 mile make for big crashing rollers across the inlet passage in the wrong conditions. One of my favorite anchorages in Meyers Hole once in you come in though

Manesquan is an easy in however no place to go but swift current and bridges...no anchorages.

Atlantic City and Cape May are big wide and pretty.

If you are looking for experience I would gain it first for a couple of years on the LI Sound and take it out to the end. Places to stop...things to see...ocean like conditions as you get to the eastern end and then of course some ocean passage to Block Newport and Mauntauk Lots of llaces to stop if it gets nasty...good experience learning tides, current wind and swells and what your boat could do

As far as anchoring, you need to get a good anchor...and good length of chain and rode and practice practice practice as your anchor actual is a piece of safety equipment in an emergency. Good anchoring technique is necessary if you want to take any kind of trip.

There are many previous posts on Cape May to NYC on Sailnet, and I suggest you read them and glean as much info as you can out of them.

Dave

Dave
 
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Discussion Starter #11
Thank you all so much, you are the best! I'd never expected so many replies coming in so quickly, and each and every one of them helpful - even the one about correct terms. ;-)

Looks like we're going to sail to Sandy Hook first to get some (anchoring) practice before we think about a trip as far as Cape May.
 

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Sea Sprite 23 #110 (20)
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I know this is three weeks old.. but as somebody who lives and sails in the AC area.. do -not- attempt to motor down the intracoastal once you reach Absecon Inlet (atlantic city) the Bridge for the AC expressway only has a 30 to 35 foot clearance.. and once you get beyond that, your next inlet to get out again is Great Egg Harbor in Ocean City..

GEH is an unprotected inlet with a zigzag course that changes with each storm. It is not an inlet for the unprepared or inexperienced. From there, the inlets between it and Cape May are all but impassable for a boat with your depth. Some are worse than others. Corson's Inlet, just South of Ocean City, for example, is so shoaled up it has breakers from OC to Strathmere and you might be able to walk across from one island to the other at low tide. Townsend's inlet further south is better, but also unprotected with an ever changing course
 

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I know this is three weeks old.. but as somebody who lives and sails in the AC area.. do -not- attempt to motor down the intracoastal once you reach Absecon Inlet (atlantic city) the Bridge for the AC expressway only has a 30 to 35 foot clearance.. and once you get beyond that, your next inlet to get out again is Great Egg Harbor in Ocean City..

GEH is an unprotected inlet with a zigzag course that changes with each storm. It is not an inlet for the unprepared or inexperienced. From there, the inlets between it and Cape May are all but impassable for a boat with your depth. Some are worse than others. Corson's Inlet, just South of Ocean City, for example, is so shoaled up it has breakers from OC to Strathmere and you might be able to walk across from one island to the other at low tide. Townsend's inlet further south is better, but also unprotected with an ever changing course
Art is 100 % correct. If you can't make Cape May 33 miles in the ocean. Stay put. The inlets south of there are not to be messed with as the change every week in the placement of the channel buoys By the CG.

We used to walk across the inlet at low tide to Strathmere when I kept our hobie cat on the beach in the state park. During NE sters we'd go down to that inlet as the breakers were absolutely spectacular.
 

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I grew up in OCNJ.. back before it became a haven of McMansions. Friends of ours owned the now defunct 59th street pier and we would go surfing in Corson's inlet. With an outgoing tide, it would build standing breakers and you could surf in more or less one spot for minutes at a time
 

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Sailboat Reboot
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If you are looking for experience I would gain it first for a couple of years on the LI Sound and take it out to the end. Places to stop...things to see...ocean like conditions as you get to the eastern end and then of course some ocean passage to Block Newport and Mauntauk Lots of places to stop if it gets nasty...good experience learning tides, current wind and swells and what your boat could do
I would second this suggestion. I have sailed the Jersey Coast a few times. It is one of my least favorite places to sail. Lots of current and shoaling in the inlets, lots of power boats, lots of fishing boats that will not yield to a sailboat. In decent weather this can be a nice run, with wind from the West the run from the Delaware Bay to NYC can be very pretty. In unsettled weather, particularly wind from the NE to SE it can get very nasty very fast. I did this in the USS Boulder (LST-1190) a Newport class landing ship tank - 522 ft by 70 ft @ 5,190 long tons. We got hit with bad weather and at least 80% of the crew and Marines were puking over the side. (Fair disclosure - these ships have flat bottoms so they can land tanks on shore, not the greatest hull design for heavy seas.)

A second question you should ask yourself is what are you going to do at the destination? LI Sound has lots of nice harbors with museums, historical landmarks, etc. The Jersey Shore is, well, the Jersey Shore.

Can you do it? Most likely. If not, the USCG does have a nice helicopter equipped base that can come and pick you out of the water. (That is a joke, but you should make sure you have the appropriate safety equipment. You are going offshore - even if it is only a few miles. That is quite different than Jamaica Bay.)

Anyway, the trip up the East River should be on everyone's bucket list. If you decide to do it make sure you get local knowledge. The current in the river is a killer if you don't time your transit correctly.

Fair winds and following seas :)

PS Boulder is in the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard in mothballs should anyone in the area care to see her.
 

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I would second this suggestion. I have sailed the Jersey Coast a few times. It is one of my least favorite places to sail. Lots of current and shoaling in the inlets, lots of power boats, lots of fishing boats that will not yield to a sailboat. In decent weather this can be a nice run, with wind from the West the run from the Delaware Bay to NYC can be very pretty. In unsettled weather, particularly wind from the NE to SE it can get very nasty very fast. I did this in the USS Boulder (LST-1190) a Newport class landing ship tank - 522 ft by 70 ft @ 5,190 long tons. We got hit with bad weather and at least 80% of the crew and Marines were puking over the side. (Fair disclosure - these ships have flat bottoms so they can land tanks on shore, not the greatest hull design for heavy seas.)

A second question you should ask yourself is what are you going to do at the destination? LI Sound has lots of nice harbors with museums, historical landmarks, etc. The Jersey Shore is, well, the Jersey Shore.

Can you do it? Most likely. If not, the USCG does have a nice helicopter equipped base that can come and pick you out of the water. (That is a joke, but you should make sure you have the appropriate safety equipment. You are going offshore - even if it is only a few miles. That is quite different than Jamaica Bay.)

Anyway, the trip up the East River should be on everyone's bucket list. If you decide to do it make sure you get local knowledge. The current in the river is a killer if you don't time your transit correctly.

Fair winds and following seas :)

PS Boulder is in the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard in mothballs should anyone in the area care to see her.
Not sure the description of the Jersey shore is entirely accurate. The part about the unforgiving inlets and rapidly changing shoals are very true. When ones view of a place takes place amongst puking soldiers in a storm, it really doesn't depict the area. Also I think you are over simplifying the types of sailing

Cape May, still part of NJ is one of the premier places to visit IMHO. The Victorian homes, the tremendous restaurants, the beautiful soft sand. Well let's say its Block on steroids. As you travel up the coast there are similar beaches and virtually none of the overcrowding or pollution the South shore of Long Island brings. Atlantic Highlands and Barnegat Bay are excellent sailing areas. Also a grounding in sand is better than one on the rocks.

The inlets on the south shore of Long Island facing the Atlantic Ocean like Jersey are just as unforgiving as the Jersey ones to make a true apples to apples comparison. In fact there is not one I would traverse in a sailboat, while Jersey has Manesquan, Atlantic City , and Cape May.

Sailing the LI Sound which we do each year has different challenges, but really is not sailing off shore either. It's good to develope skill sets in all environments. There are many times I'd rather be in the ocean with long intervals between swells, then in the Chesapeake or LI Sound where a 15-20 knot wind against current can lead to square chop at 4 second intervals, where the same wind in the ocean is a favorable sweet ride.

Both areas Long Island and Jersey have very positive attributes and your characterization may not be wholly accurate. Jersey is called the Garden State and not because of the chemical factories in Passaic or Elizabeth City.

If The OP wants offshore experience he can't get that on the LI Sound. However the OP needs to know the challenges he will face, one of them is not that the cities along the Jersey shore are not nice places to visit as that's not true at all.
 

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I would second this suggestion. I have sailed the Jersey Coast a few times. It is one of my least favorite places to sail. Lots of current and shoaling in the inlets, lots of power boats, lots of fishing boats that will not yield to a sailboat. In decent weather this can be a nice run, with wind from the West the run from the Delaware Bay to NYC can be very pretty. In unsettled weather, particularly wind from the NE to SE it can get very nasty very fast. I did this in the USS Boulder (LST-1190) a Newport class landing ship tank - 522 ft by 70 ft @ 5,190 long tons. We got hit with bad weather and at least 80% of the crew and Marines were puking over the side. (Fair disclosure - these ships have flat bottoms so they can land tanks on shore, not the greatest hull design for heavy seas.)

A second question you should ask yourself is what are you going to do at the destination? LI Sound has lots of nice harbors with museums, historical landmarks, etc. The Jersey Shore is, well, the Jersey Shore.

Can you do it? Most likely. If not, the USCG does have a nice helicopter equipped base that can come and pick you out of the water. (That is a joke, but you should make sure you have the appropriate safety equipment. You are going offshore - even if it is only a few miles. That is quite different than Jamaica Bay.)

Anyway, the trip up the East River should be on everyone's bucket list. If you decide to do it make sure you get local knowledge. The current in the river is a killer if you don't time your transit correctly.

Fair winds and following seas :)

PS Boulder is in the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard in mothballs should anyone in the area care to see her.
Great review of Fukyama by the way on your blog...good reading:)
 

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Sailboat Reboot
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Not sure the description of the Jersey shore is entirely accurate.
First, let me point out to you and the OP that this is a personal opinion. I grew up on the North Shore and have sailed LI Sound many times. I also went to school in New Jersey (we rode our dinosaurs in the rain and snow to school, up hill both ways) and so have spent a great deal of time on the Shore - admittedly years ago.

Within the past 5 years I have sailed the Jersey Coast both solo and with crew a number of times in my 42 ft sloop. Like the south shore of Long Island it is a place I do not prefer to sail, rather for me it is a necessary transit to get from the North (LI Sound, Mass, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland) to the south (Hampton Roads, Florida, Bahamas, Caribbean.) The biggest downside IMHO is that if the weather turns bad the difficult inlets become even more difficult. I would prefer to be in LI Sound when the weather turns bad than on the Shore or the south shore of LI. That's just my personal opinion.

Destinations are also very much a personal thing. There are places that people rave about that leave me cold. I have friends who spend months in the Bahamas drinking sundowners and watching the sunset - an activity I put up there with watching paint dry and cleaning the head. The OP needs to decide if they like the destinations - my opinion doesn't really matter.

So back to the original question - could the OP sail to Cape May. In the right weather conditions I repeat my previous comment - yes, most likely they could and it would be all right.

Off topic: Thanks, Part 2 - Political Order and Political Decay will publish on September 30th. I am looking forward to it and wish I could get an advanced copy.

Fair winds and following seas :)
 

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Mermaid Hunter
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Trinny hasn't been back for a while so we don't know if she is still reading.

I don't think it takes two years to get ready for ocean sailing. If that is your dream forge on. It shouldn't be too hard to find someone to ride along as a safety net. Personality compatibility is most important.

If you think gunkholing (it is for us) will be your passion then LIS is a great place. You may never leave.

If you think ocean sailing is nirvana (it is for me) then get out there and sail. Take classes or hire a skipper/trainer and do your thing.

Sailing is not hard. There are some basic concepts and you can and should certainly continue learning forever. Experience is most important when something unfortunate happens (weather, boat, medical) and you can't plan or predict that.

You can drive around your neighborhood forever but someday you have to get on the expressway if you want to go anywhere. Don't let people give you too long a list of prerequisites.

Apparently I'm a Bumfuzzle at heart. *grin*
 

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First, let me point out to you and the OP that this is a personal opinion. I grew up on the North Shore and have sailed LI Sound many times. I also went to school in New Jersey (we rode our dinosaurs in the rain and snow to school, up hill both ways) and so have spent a great deal of time on the Shore - admittedly years ago.

Within the past 5 years I have sailed the Jersey Coast both solo and with crew a number of times in my 42 ft sloop. Like the south shore of Long Island it is a place I do not prefer to sail, rather for me it is a necessary transit to get from the North (LI Sound, Mass, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland) to the south (Hampton Roads, Florida, Bahamas, Caribbean.) The biggest downside IMHO is that if the weather turns bad the difficult inlets become even more difficult. I would prefer to be in LI Sound when the weather turns bad than on the Shore or the south shore of LI. That's just my personal opinion.

Destinations are also very much a personal thing. There are places that people rave about that leave me cold. I have friends who spend months in the Bahamas drinking sundowners and watching the sunset - an activity I put up there with watching paint dry and cleaning the head. The OP needs to decide if they like the destinations - my opinion doesn't really matter.

So back to the original question - could the OP sail to Cape May. In the right weather conditions I repeat my previous comment - yes, most likely they could and it would be all right.

Off topic: Thanks, Part 2 - Political Order and Political Decay will publish on September 30th. I am looking forward to it and wish I could get an advanced copy.

Fair winds and following seas :)
I recently conveyed similar opinions and observations about our first trip North to LIS via the Jersey coast. I would agree with what you have posted. ;)
 
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