Not knowing what type of boat you have, this response can only be a guess.
I've gone up-down the shore there several times. For a sailboat, only a few places to cut in, so the best thing to do is wait for a good weather
window. Whether you go north from Urbanna in the Bay and down to Cape May via the C&D Canal and the Delaware Bay, or south and outside Delmarva, the logical staging place is Cape May, NJ. Coming down the Delaware, if your mast
is under 55', you can enter Cape May via the Cape May Canal, which is really a ditch. I do not recommend it in the dark. It is not lit and narrow. There are two bridges crossing it, 55' HW clearance. Low tide will give you a few feet more. If you cannot clear the bridges or are arriving at night, go outside the Cape and enter from the ocean. Same if coming up Delmarva. Lots of marinas
; some anchorages
in placid weather
It is about 100 miles from Cape May to NYC
. One can leave at midnight and motor-sail the entire distance, and if you keep 5-6 knots you'll get to NYC in daylight. That is recommended, especially if you have never been there. Nothing tricky going into NY harbor, but there is a lot of traffic and many channels leading into the harbor and within the harbor, all lit at night. Between the ATONs and the shore lights, it can be very confusing for the first timer, so time your entry to arrive in daylight if you can. The number of lights has to be seen to be believed.
If you cannot or do not want to make the run in an 18 hour day, the logical place to make the first stop is Atlantic City. One of the casinos (the name often changes due to economic slow rolls leaving one or another belly up) runs the marina. It is huge and you can book a reservation. There is a smaller one next to the USCG station, opposite the state marina. Nothing to entering Atlantic City (Absecon Bay) inlet, except last spring there were three unmarked red cans marking the north side of the channel. Not a problem in daylight. I came in late at night and the damn things are not lit. Not on my electronic charts
either as the USCG reserves the right to move them due to shoaling. And moved frequently they are. Radar
will pick them up. Not much for anchoring
at Atlantic City, but there is a spot along the shore line west of the entrance to the inlet leading to the marinas
and the USCG station. You'll see it on the charts
. One time I anchored further up river beyond the bridge (60' clearance for your mast), but my current
boat won't allow that. We paid for the marina last time I was there. Held up for a day in fact waiting out a storm.
Next up the coast is Barnegat Bay inlet. There is a USCG station there and a marina or two, plus an anchorage of sorts. Entrance is via jetties (like Cape MAy and Absecon Inlets). Guidebooks
say to avoid entering unless you really have to, and not to do it if wind
and tide are in opposition. I've never been there, but I know several boats which did pull in, and said it was OK despite the guidebook warnings.
Manasaquan is next--again, straightforward entrance between jetties. Several marinas just inside the jetties. At this point, you are about 35-40 miles south of Sandy Hook, so unless it is getting dark, might as well push on.
Rounding Sandy Hook (and the current
is strong either way), you can turn south and anchor
down near the USCG station just behind Sandy Hook peninsula or continue further south to Atlantic Highlands, about 6 miles from the Hook. That is a popular place with anchoring
, a marina and a good size mooring
field that takes transients happily. One can also go straight into Raritan
Bay (outer NYC bay) and direct into NYC harbor after rounding Sandy Hook. 6 miles or so across the Bay from the Hook to the Narrows, and you are then in NYC. There is lots of water
and well-marked shipping
channels. Lots of traffic but nothing like what is coming when you pass the Narrows. Inside NY Bay there are some marinas, but not much anchoring for private vessels. Water
is deep too. If you want to anchor
in NYC, I recommend Liberty Landing on the Jersey shore opposite the former World Trade
Center and now the new WTC building. Next to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. A nice marina but ouch! Be prepared to hand over your first born to pay the bill. But on the other hand, the view at night is worth every penny--but once in a lifetime. We stayed there last spring (in cheap
season, than God), but it was worth the view.
Our preferred route
is Cape May to Atlantic City, then to the Atlantic Highlands mooring
field, then through NYC to Long Island Sound
. A day for each leg, or three days. It can be a long one from Atlantic City to Atlantic Highlands, but it is easily done with good weather and a favorable breeze or a good bit of motor