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Old 26-09-2011, 20:12   #1
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Intracoastal Waterway in NJ - Check My Chart Reading, Please

Hi! I may be picking up my "new to me" boat this weekend, if all goes well. If it happens, I'm considering one of two options: follow the intracoastal waterway from the Lavalette area of NJ down to the southern end of Peck Bay in Ocean City, or go out to the ocean. I'm still pretty new to sailing, so the prospect of a "first sail" out in the ocean is a little daunting, but not so much that I'm completely detered by it.

If all goes according to plan (and if the weather holds up) I'll be sailing/motoring a swing keel Catalina 25. As I read the chats (NOAA charts 12316 (http://www.charts.noaa.gov/OnLineVie...316.shtml) and 12324 (Chart 12324), I'm looking at a bridge-free pass from Lavalette all the way down to Atlantic City. I then count four bridges that will be a problem for the Catalina, assuming I take the ICW. As I understand it, the Catalina's mast is about 33' from the waterline. There's one other bridge that's 35' (assuming I hit it at exactly high tide on an average day, as I understand the charts), and I should JUST eek under it, if there isn't a wind vane on top of my mast (hmmmm...need to check that!). Would someone mind confirming this for me? I also don't think the 2' draft with the keel up should pose a problem for the entirety of the trip.

The "plus" side of that trip is that I will always be in protected waters, and will be VERY easy for help to get to. The down side is that the ICW makes so many twists and turns, I feel like it will nearly double my travel time! Plus, I'm not sure I'll be able to get much sailing in, because of those twists and turns. I COULD try to scoot over some of the deeper areas to make things quicker and straigher, but I'm a little nervous of that in unfamiliar waters (as the entire trip will be). That's what's motivating me to go the ocean route, instead. I'd like to try to make that trip in a roughly 8 hour day, and I'm not sure that I'll make it with all the twists and turns of the ICW.

The ocean route has the advantages of not having to wait for the bridges, and a more direct route between the origin and destination locations. But, of course, there's the whole "green captain" factor. I could mitigate this a bit by reefing from the get-go, and/or by partly furling the jib. It will slow my progress some, but it will make things a bit safer.

So, any feedback on my chart-reading is appreciated (as would a pointer to where to find the VHF channel for the bridges along the way), and any comments on the route alternatives is also VERY welcome!
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Old 26-09-2011, 20:42   #2
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Re: Intracoastal Waterway in NJ - Check My Chart Reading, Please

From my Google Maps reconing, it looks like about 60 miles from the origin to destination if I scoot out to the ocean around Little Egg Inlet. I'm guessing that will probably be more like a 10-11 hour day on the water. What would be nice is if I could time it so I was basically leaving at the peak of high tide and let the tidal current help speed my trip. Low/slack tide would happen probably just as I was hitting the Little Egg area, and then I'd have a 3 hour ride along the coast as the tide came back in. The last 10 miles or so would happen as the tide was coming the rest of the way in. Hmmm...I think I'll have to find the tide charts!
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Old 26-09-2011, 20:59   #3
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Re: Intracoastal Waterway in NJ - Check My Chart Reading, Please

LOL...doesn't it figure? The tides are almost EXACTLY opposite what I need if I'm going to do the trip this weekend! The boat is 2 hours away by car, and LOW tide is at 9:39 AM. Realistically, I MIGHT be able to make a 9:00 AM launch time, but that would be TOUGH. And even if I did, I'd basically be fighting the current almost the entire trip, except part of the "window" when I'd be out in the ocean (if I go that route).
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Old 26-09-2011, 22:17   #4
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Re: Intracoastal Waterway in NJ - Check My Chart Reading, Please

JimGo,

Congratulations on your new boat.

60 miles @ 5 knots if you could average that would be a 12 hour day. I think that would be optimistic. If this is your 1st time running an inlet, your choices are limited to two very tricky exits. Barnegat and Little Egg. It's been awhile since I've entered via little egg, but I remember it being largely unmarked and it had breakers near the entrance..as I picked my way through....If you're going to go outside, Barnegat is probably a better choice...call it the lesser of two evils. But, you'd definitely want to pick your weather window. Don't get locked into a schedule.

As far as timing goes, if you go outside...you want to time the inlets..and time your departure to get there at slack..if possible..

If you stay inside, you could end up motoring or motor sailing most of the way..especially if the SW winds are blowing...you'd be heading right into them.
( this could be true outside too )
If you stay inside..you might want to consider taking two days to make this trip..or leave very early in the morning..( pre-dawn departure) There's less than 12 hours from sunrise to sunset this weekend...so you have maybe 13 hours of daylight.or so.

I didn't hear mention of a crew? Do you have any experienced sailors, boaters with you?

If this is a shakedown cruise..I might take my time and stay inside..if something goes wrong...in Barnegat bay..you can get out and wade to shore...grin..

The bridges usually monitor 13. Drawbridge Schedule, Commuter Information

I'd have to check the clearances to Ocean City..as to whether you need openings, I'm going to guess that south of little egg, you will. I've never gone that far south inside.

Oh, and if the 35 ft bridge that you're talking about is the mathis bridge (rt 37) ..I would definitely call for an opening...
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Old 26-09-2011, 22:21   #5
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Re: Intracoastal Waterway in NJ - Check My Chart Reading, Please

Thanks for the info, especially the link to the opening schedule and the bridge channels. My wife is pushing to be part of the crew; I'm not sure that's the best choice - I'd like my kids to grow up with at least one parent!
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Old 26-09-2011, 22:37   #6
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Re: Intracoastal Waterway in NJ - Check My Chart Reading, Please

JimGo

Here's the NOAA Forecast for saturday. it's early in the week, I'm sure it will be updated. National Weather Service Marine Forecast

But, the good news for you is ..NW winds!! 20 knots..and 3-5's outside though...
Inside might be a better choice if this holds up ?

Great sailing weather...but maybe not for the maiden ocean voyage.? keep checking the noaa site as the week goes on.
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Old 26-09-2011, 22:41   #7
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Re: Intracoastal Waterway in NJ - Check My Chart Reading, Please

Thanks Tempest! Hmmm...maybe I will plan on splitting it up over 2 days. Just need a good place to overnight at the South end of Barnegat Bay; maybe shoot for AC? 20 knot winds should make things interesting!
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Old 26-09-2011, 22:51   #8
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Re: Intracoastal Waterway in NJ - Check My Chart Reading, Please

well...it was 15 to 20...and you might not see them all day..winds usually pick up on Barnagat around 1:30 on a typical day...but this is a cold front moving in...

Sailors headed south for the winter...typically wait for this weather..so they don't have to beat into the prevailing southwest winds....

You might be able to do your 5 knots with just a jib...in 20..
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Old 27-09-2011, 03:12   #9
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Re: Intracoastal Waterway in NJ - Check My Chart Reading, Please

Be careful of Little Egg. I went ashore there because charts were wrong due to the shifting sand. Getting out is tricky to0, shoals on either side with breaking waves. However, I hear ICW in New Jersey not well maintained. You may want to buy BoatUS insurance for towing if you get stuck. Why not take a friend and sail off the coast over night if needed?
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Old 27-09-2011, 06:21   #10
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Re: Intracoastal Waterway in NJ - Check My Chart Reading, Please

Much of the bay is what I call muck..you can usually get yourself free; it's nice to have that swing keel. There are plenty of spots of hard sand especially in and around inlets etc..you can usually kedge off if needed.

I might shoot for a 1st day stop in somewhere like Beach Haven...morrisons..marina..maybe? Toward the end of LBI. But see how you're doing at that point. You'd don't want to be looking for an anchorage or a stop in the dark. The channel on Barnegat is marked with single poles..Red right going south.
Make sure you look behind you to keep yourself between the poles...The edges get shallower the further south you go.
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Old 27-09-2011, 06:27   #11
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Re: Intracoastal Waterway in NJ - Check My Chart Reading, Please

If it were me and I were in your situation I would stay inside and not venture out into the open water.

Take the time to learn your boat and get your skills honed because if things go wrong they will do so quickly and you need to make sure that you can respond and not suffer from both task loading and inexperience. Those two together can be hazardous.
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Old 27-09-2011, 07:21   #12
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Re: Intracoastal Waterway in NJ - Check My Chart Reading, Please

Given all the circumstances and alternatives..........a Catalina 25 with a swing keel,(a fun boat to sail) is designed to be a trailerable boat. Borrow or rent a trailer. and drive it to it's destination.
The vagaries and difficulties of the ICW in New Jersey, are not worth the effort to traverse it. You are correct in the assumption that it will add many hours to your trip.
Going outside with a new(to you) untried boat and a being a novice to ocean sailing is also somewhat dangerous......especcially as a novice sailor.
Whatever you decide....safety first!!!!!!
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Old 27-09-2011, 07:58   #13
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Re: Intracoastal Waterway in NJ - Check My Chart Reading, Please

Captain, that's not bad advice. I spent a lot of time looking for trailers recently for another boat, and know that they aren't that easy to find. But, maybe I'll find someone local who will rent me his/her trailer.
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Old 27-09-2011, 09:35   #14
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Re: Intracoastal Waterway in NJ - Check My Chart Reading, Please

I think I like the trailer part...

My understanding is that you will need to go outside around AC. The good thing about Little Egg inlet is that it's the end of the boating season, and it tends to be better marked than early in the season! Choosing Barnegat will add about 25 miles (as I recall) to your offshore trip. Barnegat is an UGLY inlet - but it's well marked. Do NOT attempt it in anything but good weather.

As noted, there are several places at the end of LBI to overnight. I grew up in Brant Beach at Brant Beach Yacht Club (and visit every summer), and they allow overnighters. The ICW is well marked.

Also remember that this trip is likely to be a port tack beat much of the way.

You could also drop the stick at AC, and motor thru the ICW.

And make SURE you have an unlimited towing with Towboat US or Seatow.
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Old 27-09-2011, 10:57   #15
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Re: Intracoastal Waterway in NJ - Check My Chart Reading, Please

I have calls and E-mails out to a few people for rental estimates and just plain towing estimates. I also have contacted a few people about selling their trailers. We'll see how that goes. Otherwise, I think I like the idea of splitting the trip up into two days. If I do it that way, I can try to time my departure better (both days) so the tide won't be as much of an issue.

Bill, to your point, I don't HAVE to go outside around AC, but that seems a much straighter path. The comments about Barnegat and Little Egg inlets are appreciated.

Anyone have feedback on the Great Egg Harbor inlet? If I go "outside", I'll need to come in through there.
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