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Old 11-10-2011, 19:12   #1
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Hell Gate Passage

Any local knowledge to share? Expecting to make a late season delivery from Connecticut to New Jersey on an older forty foot sloop.

Someone told me you couldn't transit Hell Gate and the East River without a motor, is that so?

I know there is a lot of big boat traffic but it seems like there is sufficient room. I'm not talking short-tacking up a wrong way channel just to make a point but I do see boats reaching down the East River in front of the UN.

Is it really the Hell Gate as horrible as it's name suggests? Or was the person who told me you couldn't sail the route just lazy.
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Old 11-10-2011, 19:48   #2
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Re: Hell Gate Passage

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Originally Posted by Delancy View Post
Any local knowledge to share? Expecting to make a late season delivery from Connecticut to New Jersey on an older forty foot sloop.

Someone told me you couldn't transit Hell Gate and the East River without a motor, is that so?

I know there is a lot of big boat traffic but it seems like there is sufficient room. I'm not talking short-tacking up a wrong way channel just to make a point but I do see boats reaching down the East River in front of the UN.

Is it really the Hell Gate as horrible as it's name suggests? Or was the person who told me you couldn't sail the route just lazy.
Delancy:

Well it's not as bad as it use to be. I find I can usually sail up to near North and South Brother Island "most times" coming from the sound. After that I drop sail and motor/drift until my boats off of 23rd street (a little south of the UN) where I can usually raise sail and enjoy the journey. In between you will need to motor because the winds usually swirl around because of the buildings and your boat will be doing boat spins at some point. Tug Captains are not amused. I've got electric propusion so I usually just drift along at river current speed (4 knots) and just power up to straighten out on occassion. With a diesel I would just keep it on.

Coming from Long Island Sound I try to be at the Throgs Neck Bridge around the time the current ebbs at Hell Gate. Makes for a good trip riding the favoring current. Recommend you pick up a copy of the Eldridge Tide and Pilot Book:
THE BIANKA LOG BLOG: FROM BIANKA'S BOOK SHELF: ELDRIDGE TIDE AND PILOT BOOK
Has lot's of info on the tides and currents. Including times of current changes on the East River and Hell Gate in particular.
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Old 11-10-2011, 20:03   #3
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Re: Hell Gate Passage

Thanks! About how long from the time you are at Throgs Neck until you get to the bottom of Manhattan?

Also, why do you say it's not as bad as it used to be? Very interested in the electric propulsion, by the way.
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Old 11-10-2011, 20:17   #4
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Re: Hell Gate Passage

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Originally Posted by Delancy View Post
Thanks! About how long from the time you are at Throgs Neck until you get to the bottom of Manhattan?

Also, why do you say it's not as bad as it used to be? Very interested in the electric propulsion, by the way.
I would say about three hours give or take depending how fast you motor. I think it's about a 17 nm passage. There use to be quite a few reefs and rocks in the Hell Gate area they were taken out back in the 1800's. Now it's just a little patch of turbulent water but, nothing too scary just keep a good hand on the helm. I've sometimes gone through when it was like glass too. Last time I had 20 knot winds on the nose and and wind against current and it was a little rougher but, nothing extreme.
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Old 11-10-2011, 21:44   #5
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Re: Hell Gate Passage

I leave the Throgs Neck at hi tide and ride the current down
river with the motor. Motor and current equals approx 9-10
knots over ground arriving at the battery in about 2 hours.
Motor gives me the steering I need as just riding the current
limits steering.
Hell Gate with current is not so horrible but does not mean
one should/could sail it.
Hell Gate could be horrible with strong opposing winds to current...sometimes resulting in standing waves... not good...
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